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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Connect with Sparleberry Industries at:

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.

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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Connect with US Art Supply at:

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.

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.

Bstean Industrial Syringe applicators with Blunt Tips

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!

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One thing I wish they came with was a needle cap for when one is filling the syringe from the back. Another is the lack of 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 12, you get three different sizes, too: 5ml x 8, 10ml x 2, and 20ml x 2 with gauges from 14 up to 25, 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 . 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.

Blissful Lotus: Lotus Flower Incense Burner and Votive Tea Light Candle Holder #Review #LotusIncenseBurner

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When it comes to candles and decor, I am always seeking something unique that adds both beauty but usefulness too. A double-duty item!

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Blissful Lotus offers a lotus flower shaped incense burner, which is cast from plastic (poly-resin) and hand painted. The lotus center has holes, which would hold the incense sticks. You can also use the holder as a tea candle/votive holder, so it has several different uses.

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Verdict:
The item came nicely wrapped and in a white colored box. Upon opening the box, the first detail I noticed, was that the bottom of the lotus has a painted flower too (almost like a brand emblem) however the glaze/coating used to protect the paint, was only applied about 3/4 of the way. You can actually notice the brush stroke and color change, since a clear coating tends to give that “wet look” when the sealant is applied. Yes, it’s the bottom of the holder, however this also means as you move it, use it and/or place it in different rooms, the paint will begin to flake off the plastic and leaving black colored flakes behind. It’s the small details that only took one more second when the sealant was applied. Next, comes the holes, which represent the center of the lotus flower. Some are bigger in circumference and depth. This means my incense sticks do not rest properly in some and only at a slant in others, while some holes are just too small. This limits how many holes I can use because of how the uniform shaped incense sticks rest in the uniformed holes! Some of the holes look like the form used when the plastic was injected, had debris and you get that look of clumping when casting (old material mixed with the new injected one). Yes, the item is plastic and a small drop will not break it, however I don’t plan to be careless and especially with an item that most times will have a slow burning incense stick or candle going. Last but not the least, the paint job. When the original image does not represent the care the final piece was made with. Okay, if the product retailed for $4.99 or something, not okay when it retails for $13.99! Yes, a plastic flower that really the only thing it has going for it is weight, meaning no worry of tipping if you are even are able to use 1/2 the holes with incense sticks that are a little fatter than usual but that is about it. Real wood or glass items cost less and some of the wood ones even come with brass metal details…….it’s hard for me to just tell you buy it, it’s cute. I will be drilling the holes to at least have a matching size so my sticks rest evenly too, and then painting it. Again, a craft project where the items costs almost $14 is not something I can push even with the positive spin I am sharing here because I dislike just throwing something away if I can save it.

Connect with Blissful Lotus and they sell just this one item, at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Blissful Lotus. 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.

Colorona Beginner’s Acrylic Paint Set

 

I’ve fallen back in love with crafting, and one of the things I’ll never tire of is paints. Your basic, main colors will always be in need and when I get a chance to try out a new brand, I’m always looking forward to see if they’ll be better than my last brand. While they missed that mark by a bit, this Colorona set was decent for kids and beginners, but priced a little too high for the quality of product you receive.

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I’ve used many, many sets of paint from quite a few companies, and they are always comparable in quality, with a slight edge going to the paints and stains I’ve bought from U.S. Art Supply for overall quality and value. These Colorona paints miss that mark by a fair bit. They’re on the light and loose side, some even slightly runny. The coverage is mediocre, and they don’t seem to level at all, which means that every brush stroke will show when it dries. The pigments are not the most vivid or deep, and you need several coats just to get a solid color without the base material showing through, such as painting bare wood. This would be fine for watercolors, where one would expect the grain to show through the lighter paint, but these are supposed to be acrylic paints and have full coverage, and they just do not. The included accessories are great for getting started, with the brushes holding their respective points and edges well with little feathering and no lost bristles. The wood shafts felt light and may not last too long, but I think they’re meant to be disposable. The plastic palette is always welcome and does the job it’s designed for, and does it well. The sponge is fun for some textures, and seems well suited for these lighter, looser paints. A word of warning about opening these paints: Every set of acrylic paints I’ve ever used had a small point on the cap to puncture the seal, where these have a silly little star shape, and they will “pop” when punctured and spurp a little paint out. I’d recommend doing this over a sink, and well away from your body to avoid any spills or stains.

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In the end, were the set priced more accordingly, I could see recommending this for kids just getting started, but the lack of coverage and leveling means you might end up with a budding artist frustrated by poor materials. At $21.99, it’s priced far too high to be reasonably considered for a “starter” kit with this quality of product. Colorona needs to either step up it’s game with quality or drastically lower it’s price.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Colorona 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.

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