US Art Supply 82 Piece Deluxe Artist Studio Box Set

Every emerging artist needs a decent set of tools to foster their growth creatively, and US Art Supply’s 82 piece studio box set is just what the doctor ordered! From paints, to oil pastels, to the always needed colored pencils and erasers, rulers and graphite pencils, brushes… you’ve got everything you need to start makin’ some art!

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I like that the pencils are easy to sharpen, hold a point well without crumbling, and go down smooth and even. The watercolors are bright and vivid, and the oil pastels apply evenly. The erasers aren’t the best, but truly I’ve never found one in a set that was everything I needed it to be. This one, like most of those, tends to smear and smudge stuff a bit, and doesn’t fully clean the desired “mistake”. Also, the brushes are fine for starter brushes but you’ll want to upgrade those almost immediately.

The storage box is a nice completer to the set and makes storing everything simple and easy. It protected the mediums inside well enough that not a single watercolor disks was damaged or cracked or crumbled, and with Amazon you know that’s a true rarity. I’m truly loving this big, comprehensive set, and I think it would make an awesome bift for the budding or experienced artist in your home.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from US Art Supply. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Royal Imports: Decorative Rocks, 5 lbs Polished River Rocks #Review #RoyalImports

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I am always hunting for polished rocks for projects in the garden but because I work on small projects at a time, I don’t require a huge bag from the local hardware store. Most of those rocks as it is, are not as polished and glossy, as the ones I received from Royal Imports. I usually would purchase the smaller bags for orchids and such but they always cost a bundle and I was never happy with the colors, tones and sizes. They were too mini and the hues the rocks carried were usually one tone, like gray/black or light tans. The Royal Imports polished rocks, they come in a double mesh bag, which helps in keeping all the rocks no matter the size from falling out. Much better than dealing with a plastic bag that when it spills, you are picking rocks out of the dirt. The mesh bag has elastic so as the stock lowers with use, the bag always accommodates the amount in it and will shrink down enough so none spill.

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I used the rocks in my pots, which have succulents and then the rest along a stone path I created where my larger variety of succulents are along with my ceramic mushrooms. The colors and sizes made the area pop and added just that extra texture that my garden very much needed. For the price and quantity given, plus the ease with Amazon Prime shipping, well you just can’t beat the value. None so far have lost color, so they do not seem dyed or enhanced where you would lose luster with time. I also have a bird that loves to pick at my pots and many times uproots a succulent. These rocks keeps the bird from reaching the root system and the variety in sizes makes it harder for the bird to get a good amount of damage going. I no longer find hanging plants off of pots or worse, when the bird picked enough that the plant fell out of it’s pot.

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Royal Imports. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Sparkleberry Industries: Premium Wood Burning tips, Soldering tips and Stencil Kit Review

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Crafting is something I have been slowly trying to get back into and it has not been easy. Not having the energy or time can be a big obstacle, as can be having the wrong tools. I had to research long and hard to even find a dependable wood burning pen because many would not work correctly, to just give out after just a few uses. Finding tips I thought was the easy part, but later I found that it was not the type, size, or style that would become the problem, it was the tip actually lasting. I had one tip from another manufacture just bend out of shape from the medium heat setting on the pen. I literally watched it just warp slowly as the pen heated up. Not a great start!

When Sparkleberry Industries offered to have me try a kit, well I have the pen and even the nice plastic box to carry all my essentials in, so why not. The kit includes:

  • 15 Pyrography Tool Tips (Brass colored tips, plus silver colored “stamps”)
  • 10 Soldering Tips (Silver colored tips)
  • 2 hot knife tips
  • 2 Plastic Stencils and
  • 3 Metal Stencils

I know, that is a pretty comprehensive list and the perfect starter set or even one you can compliment your collection with!

 

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Retail Price Point: $13.97 via Amazon and if you are a Prime member, shipping is free.

 

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Verdict:
From the get-go, Sparkleberry Industries lists what each tip is used for and does not leave the consumer just guessing. Any of the silver toned pieces are softer, so less pressure is advised when using. I heated up the first tip, which was a heart shape and the tip warmed evenly and allowed me to stamp a perfect heart on the scrap of wood I was using. I then went down the list and tested both the Pyrography and some of the soldering tips. Again, none took a different shape or did I have issues when using them. I did not test the hot knife ones and it was mostly because I have no current need for them, but come Halloween, these knives are great at shaping tombstones for the holiday, which we make out of Styrofoam that is used for insulation/noise dampening. I tried pricing the kit and you add the stencils and I have a need for them not just for outlining but just for simple labeling, plus all the other accessories and it really is a great deal. Not complicated, as all tips twisted on and off with ease and they are true to their shape and remain that way during use. My wood burning box is now filled with so many tips that I just need to score a wood crate on sale and get crafting!

 

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Sparkleberry Industries. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Bstean Industrial Syringe applicators w/ Blunted Tips and Caps

How many times have we tried to apply glue, lubricant, water, or alcohol to a very specific place only to have it spill over, dribble, or miss and nearly ruin what we were trying to protect, clean or preserve? It’s happened to me countless times, but it won’t be happening again in the near future thanks to these wonderful Bstean Syringe applicators.

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Content in the past with being inaccurate or buying those cheap, disposable bulb applicators, or even a cotton swab or Q-Tip, these syringe applicators are a crafter’s DREAM! I never again have to worry about slopping glue or oil or even droplets of paint, I can now apply them all with laser accuracy! With blunted tips to keep from accidentally jabbing yourself, you still get pin-point application or whatever viscous liquid you want to apply. Hubby even swiped a few because let’s face it, gun and knife lubes are not cheap, and you don’t want to be slopping oils on parts that absolutely don’t need it or could damage the tool. Need to apply a light grease to a hinge? Problem solved. Need a few drops of that expensive, fancy Benchmade lubricant? Got you covered. Want a single drop of glue for a delicate crafting project? Yup, Bstean’s syringes are up to the task. Single droplets of paint on a project? Done and done!

BStean actually took some of the criticisms to heart and have included rubber caps or stoppers for filling your syringe applicator from the back with particularly viscous fluids. Still lacking, though, is the notice on the Amazon order page that all the syringes come printed with “Single Use” on them. Hubby disregarded that, and stuck his for his knives and guns in a zip top baggie and squirreled them away with his other tools for his “stuff”. No problems to report from re-use, though. The ones used for glue are almost always single use anyways, because the glues will harden in the tubes. But at only $9.89 shipped for a pack or 10, you get four different sizes, too: 1ml x 3, 3ml x 3, 5ml x 2, 10ml x 2  with needle gauges ranging from 1.5” 14Gx2, 1” 18Gx2, 1/2” 16Gx3, 20Gx3, and color coded for your convenience. Really sturdy, industrial grade, really well-made with metal needle syringe applicators, I plan on buying more in the future as my old ones get used up. Great product all around with a multitude of uses, and a fantastic price.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from BStean. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation for this review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

B&C Home Goods Foldable Fabric Cube Containers

This week we looked at a set of 6 fabric storage cubes from Safari Foldables. I liked them, a lot. They were solid, strong, and made to last. And I thought I’d hit the jackpot when B&C Home Goods approved me to try their versions. I’m sad to report that while they’re decent, they just don’t fly as high as the Safari Foldables versions. They’re still very decent, but they didn’t blow my skirt up the way the last set did, and I’ll explain why.

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On the surface, everything is practically the same. Same size, dimensions, similar construction, similar materials. But the little details are where the wheels come off the little red wagon.The sides aren’t as strong. The handles aren’t as strong. The bottom isn’t as strong. The fabric isn’t as thick. The sewing is not as neat. They almost feel, I don’t know…flimsy. If I hadn’t already tried the Safari Foldables, I’d think these were decent but I’d use them as supplements to something more solid-feeling, and not have fallen in love with them like I did with the Safari Foldables versions. Even the gray coloring is not as pleasing, more industrial looking. They do the job adeqhately, but they also lack the label window from the Safari Foldables versions. Taken together I think the B&C Home Goods 6 pack of foldable fabric storage cubes would warrant 3 & 1/2 stars, but since Amazon only likes whole stars, I’ll be generous and round it up to 4, but at $21.97 for the B&C Home Goods storage cubes, for my money I’ll spend the couple of extra dollars for the far superior Safari Foldable cubes instead.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from B&C Home Goods. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Amaze Creation’s Safari Foldables Foldable Fabric Storage Containers

 

There are a few axioms we live by around here, and one of them is that you can never have enough storage solutions. And there’s many choices out there for collapsible cloth storage “boxes”, but my new favorite is, hands down, Amaze Creations’ Safari Foldables 6-pack of fabric storage bins.

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I’ve had, tested and reviewed storage boxes like these before, and more than a few failed to pass muster. They were flimsy, small, poorly designed or made, looked or smelled funky. Safari Foldables is none of those things, and at $24.44 for a six pack, you will not find a cheaper, better made set of fabric foldable storage bins. There’s strong, sewn-on fabric handles, with a firm, strong bottom that doesn’t bow or crease even under a heavy load of 4 5lb bags of flour, 2 large bags of brown sugar, and a canister of baking powder. That’s no joke, but the Safari Foldables Fabric storage bin just took it all and laughed. And as if these weren’t too cool already, there’s a small pocket in front for a label, with a label included!! (Pro-tip: Don’t write on them, use a P-Touch so that you can reuse the label if/when the contents change) These storage bins are a generous 10.5 x 10.5 x 11 inches, so storing extra dry goods, seasonal clothes, small kitchen appliances…it’s entirely up to you, but rest assured these Safari Foldables storage bins are up to the task.

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Safari Foldables also offers a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee, but I guarantee you, you’re going to love them. They’re a neutral beige, so they’ll go with any decor as well. They look stylish and keep my storage shelves neat and organized, because clutter and mess is just no bueno. You should pick up one or two, I know I need to get another set!

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Connect with Amaze Creations/Safari Foldables:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Amaze Creations & Safari Foldables. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

U.S. Art Supply’s 40″ Professional Quality Mat Cutter

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U.S. Art Supply has single-handedly re-awoken my crafty nature. From painting to framing, airbrushing and more, the only thing I needed to have done professionally was my matting. No more, because U.S. Art Supply has made a mat cutter that puts the one I saw being used at Joanne’s to shame.

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With solid, strong aluminum hinged guide rails and aluminum mat channels (with 2 production stops) mounted securely to a solid, heavy premium MDF backer, it’s build like a tank and designed for heavy-duty use for years and years and years. There’s also a fold-able 27″ 90 degree 27″ squaring arm to keep things even and straight, and you get both straight and beveled cutting heads that use a simple razor blade to cut, so keeping a fresh, sharp blade in there is a breeze and the cost is minimal. It’s so simple to use that I can’t imagine I ever having paid someone to do this for me. Quick, sharp, precise cuts every time, and perfectly square too. And I love that I can set the bevel I want and not just have flat edges. The unit comes mostly assembled, so the box is huge, and even though I saw that it’s a 40″ unit I was still in awe of the sheer size of the system. You’ll need an extremely long counter or table to operate it on, and thankfully it has non-marring feet on the bottom as well.

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Gone for me are the days of hoarding framing discount coupons for my art projects, because with U.S. Art Supply’s Professional-Quality 40″ Mat cutter, I’ll never need to rely on someone else to cut mats for me, or pay an exorbitant or ridiculous price for pre-cut mats. after a few projects, this mat cutter pays for itself, and with U.S. Art Supply you’re also getting top-notch customer service, soup to nuts. They only want 100% satisfied customers, and always go above and beyond to get you there. I recommend this product highly!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from US Art Supply. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

American Golden Oak Barrel, Co.’s 2L Oak Aging Barrel

From time to time, you buy those little things that are just too cute to pass up, even if you don’t have a place for them yet, or it serves no practical purpose. This American Golden Oak Wood Barrel fits squarely into this category.

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I’m a sucker for things like this, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that if you’re thinking of actually using it for spirits or beer, I would strongly advise against this. Primarily because it’s full of wood shavings and splinters, and the workmanship is so poor that the water we put in it to rinse it out leaked like a sieve. There’s also some issues with QC overall, because the stand had an exposed nail point that if not for Hubby’s rhino-skin, would have punctured mere mortals and left them bleeding. Now, to be fair, the amazon page claims that after “initial soaking and curing” there is a “NO LEAKS GUARANTEE” and should it leak they’ll replace it, but since I don’t plan on using it for liquor storage I’m not going to bother. It’s strictly decorational here. And it’s just adorable. Whether on a wine rack, in the kitchen, or in the dining room, it is a wonderful conversation piece, especially since the spigot and bung are both functional. There’s also a 356 day warranty and satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re looking to make this a party favor or use it for liquor, the worst that can happen is a little booze will be lost and you’ll still have a cute little knick-knack.

Like I said, my American Golden Oak Barrel (2L) did leak, and the craftsmanship was a little spotty, but since I don’t plan on using it for liquor, I was satisfied, but if your plan is to use it for it’s intended purpose, I’d be cautious and make sure you get one made a little better than mine, because I’d definitely be sending mine back if i were using it for more than decor.

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Connect with  American Oak Barrel, Co.:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from American Golden Oak Barrels. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Ohuhu Jute Storage “Basket” Set

I’m not the biggest Ohuhu fan, and when I apply to try and review products, I try to avoid Ohuhu because of the usually poor quality of their products and the complete lack of aftersales support. Unfortunately, Ohuhu obfuscates their name on Tomoson, using many pseudonyms, for reasons I’ll not speculate about here.

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At any rate, I ended up getting these just storage “baskets”, but they’re not really baskets as much as bags of a sort, made from jute string and coated with a plastic on the inside. There’s no rigid sides or bottom, so they tend to slump and crinkle, so storing them less than completely full will lead to them slumping and semi-collapsing. And I don’t know what they coated these with in their plant in China, but there’s a funk to these Ohuhu “baskets”. I’ve left them out in the hopes that the smell will dissipate, but short of that I don’t know what I can do to get rid of the smell, because they have a water resistant coating. For $14.99 you get two sizes (Large: 16.5″ L x 13″W x 9.7″H and Small: 10″ L x 8.7 “W x 5.7″H), and they should hold a good amount of stuff so long as the bottom is supported. Without that support they turn more into the oddly shaped bags. And the goofy “ohuhu storage” logo in bold black letters on the side? Tacky and ugly. Thankfully it’s just on one side.

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For your money, you could do worse, but there’s still enough wrong with them for me that i can’t recommend them too highly. There’s no forms or support on the sides or bottom, and they smell really bad. On the plus side they’re affordable and seem like they’d be fairly durable. I’ll leave it to my readers to decide if the negatives overpower the positives.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ohuhu.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Rorabacks “Premium” 45mm Rotary Cutter

Since rediscovering my “crafty” nature, I’ve found there’s a world of tools and accessories that passed me by in the many moons that I was away. One of them, that has become nigh indispensable, is my Rotary cutter. And anyone who’s come to rely on a tool knows, you can never have too many of them lying around for the if/when one fails. I’m please to say the Rorabacks cutter should do nicely for most folks.

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Made from injection-molded plastic, with a rubberized “no-slip” grip, the Rorabacks cutter fit nicely in my hand, and the ergonomics felt good. The blade release slide was placed well, and can be reached easily without having to constantly adjust one’s grip. It’s large enough to get a sure hole on, but no so large to cause had fatigue with long or large products. The standard 45mm blade is sharp and cuts almost everything I threw at it with just one pass. The blade also has a coating of titanium (though it lacked the usual tell-tale gold-ish tint that most titanium coated blades have) should help with edge retention and keep the cutter sharp. It also accepts the plethora of “notched” 45mm blades for replacements. The price is decent (I not the lowest) for the quality and Rorabacks has a “replacement or refund” offer of indeterminate length, so they should stand behind their products.

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There’s a few caveats here, though. The blade has a fair amount of “wobble”, which could lead to losing your line on precise cuts, and anyone who’s worked with rotary cutters knows, once it wanders off that line, running it back can lead to disaster. Next is the blade cover. While the blade safely and securely retracts back to avoid any accidents, I tend to put a thin coat of machine oil on my blade when it will stored for a prolonged period of time (Thanks to Hubby’s almost obsessive oiling of his tools, it rubbed off on me). Putting the cover on is a great way to keep the oil from staining things in my craft box. But putting the cover on and off means your fingers come in contact with the cutting edge of the blade to seat the cover properly, and that can lead to cuts. Lastly, and it’s a common grip of mine, is that the Rorabacks Rotary Cutter is more expensive that the industry-leading Fiskars. Like them or hate them, they set the bar here (and elsewhere) for quality and reputation. and while it’s only a dollar or so, I can’t understand why you would be charging more than the one everyone knows and loves to get your foot in the door? And everyone knows every Fiskars product is guaranteed for life, no problems or questions asked. I can’t see ever recommending Rorabacks over Fiskers for those reasons alone. It’s a good tool and functions well but for the reasons stated above I would rank this item about a 3 & 1/2 star, rounded up to 4 because you can’t give 1/2’s on Amazon.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Rorabacks. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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