Crafts Off the Beaten Path

By Beckett Nodal

With pandemic-related closures and shutdowns keeping people at home more than usual, perhaps you’ve had a chance to pick up a new hobby or get into some kind of crafting. Or maybe you are looking for a new project and just need something to spark your imagination. Either way, there are a vast number of options to explore no matter if you have a few hours to spare on weekends or are looking to set up a small side-business. You can get into everything from macrame and punch-needle (remember those old fads?) to laser-cut woodcrafts. Your only limit is your imagination – and possibly your budget.

Here are a few ideas for crafts that you can do without breaking the bank and some of the lesser-known places you might consider for purchasing crafting supplies.

First are thrift stores such as the local Goodwill and Thrift Town. You probably know that thrifting can be great for finding a vintage side table or a gently-used sweater, but these locales are also prime destinations for crafters. That’s especially true for people who enjoy giving creative new life to old objects by repurposing them. Turn found silverware into wind chimes; use books for decoupage and collage work; take record albums, apply heat, and mold them to create decorative bowls. It’s easy – and rather satisfying – to turn vinyl into cute coffee table centerpieces in no time. Everything from vases and baskets, to dishes, and even some textiles can assume a new life with a touch of creativity.

Next up are the retail chains. While national big box crafting outlets can be great for finding exactly what you need, you are often left paying a higher price for the convenience. With a little more effort and some regular visits, it’s possible to find excellent deals just off the beaten path. First mention goes to department stores Ross and T.J. Maxx, which you may identify more with clothes than with raw materials for hobbying. Not only have I been getting discounted threads and shoes at each for years, but they also have some household goods and often a small section of discounted craft supplies. Some of the items I have found on the cheap include pastels, paints, sketchbooks, small canvases, and even some adult coloring books that allow you to combine art and meditation.

Even dollar stores can be a source for canvasses, which are at the center of one of the latest crafting fads: making a reverse canvas. This involves removing the canvas from its inner frame, staining the frame and reattaching the canvas to the backside. It’s an easy project that results in an exposed-frame canvas that’s perfect for simple artworks that are ready to be hung in your home.

Finally, a special shoutout goes to Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore off of Menaul. If you are craft- or DIY-minded, this nonprofit home improvement store is paradise. Think thrift store but full of raw materials and building supplies. Looking for a chair to reupholster? They’ve got you covered. Thinking of making your own bench or hall tree for your home entryway? They’ve got old doors that are perfect for that type of project. You can find tiles for mosaics, pipes for making your own towel racks, and many other useful materials just waiting to be repurposed. Plus, your purchases support the ReStore’s efforts to provide affordable local housing in the community.

There are myriad crafting opportunities these days, but if you’re left scratching your head, wondering where to start or what to do, try a basic internet search to find ideas that interest you and appeal to your crafty side. For example, you might search for “craft ideas for old books” or “repurposing teacups.” You will find a plethora of ideas to try. Then get out there and check out some of these local hotspots for your discounted craft goods and start creating. It should be rewarding, simple, and most of all, enjoyable.

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