Creativity, while “one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul,” can be difficult when you are working on a budget. Oftentimes arts and crafts fall under the category of “wants” and seem like an unnecessary frivolity when you’re trying to cut costs.
However, there are several ways to satisfy the need to be creative without breaking the bank:
- Look for high-quality materials in “low places.” In our haste to get from one task to another, we often tend to overlook the usable media that come into our homes and workplaces unnoticed. That’s because they’re wrapped around the items that get all of the attention! Yes, packaging materials are well worth a second look before tossing into the trash if you are looking for high-quality paper to use in both two- and three-dimensional craft projects. Let’s face it–some purchases and orders are necessary for our everyday lives. Taking a discerning look at the boxes and papers that they come in can mean free craft supplies for you.
- Make big purchases where it matters. If there is one type of media that you love to produce, invest in the equipment that will give you satisfying results every time. For example, a visual artist who needs to produce a large number of high-quality prints could consider buying a Xerox 1000 color printer for arts and crafts. Investing in reliability is a lifestyle, and your creative pursuits will be that much more enjoyable if you have reliable tools to help you produce and function.
- Buy in bulk to save money. In the digital age, access to bulk purchases is easier than ever before. Think beyond the members-only warehouse stores (although these might be worth checking out, depending on the materials you need), and get to the suppliers where industry players are sourcing their materials. While a walk through a brightly-merchandised chain fabric store might be inspiring and fun, many wholesale fabric dealers are accessible to the public online and offer yardage of material for a small fraction of standard retail prices. Minimums are fairly low in this economy, as suppliers are eager to sell, so remember to check for bulk prices before you make an impulse purchase at a brick and mortar store.
- Build a community of crafters. Speaking of those bulk prices, there’s nothing better to offset the price of a huge craft supply haul than a group of other like-minded people to go in with you on the purchase! Having a tribe to split bulk costs will not only increase your access to lower unit prices on art and craft materials, but there’s a good chance you will find a supportive group of friends in the process, too.
- Upcycle. In the spirit of not overlooking discarded packaging and other useful media, don’t forget to consider creative repurposing as a way to achieve your creative flow. Upholstery and drapes from a thrift store can become part of a Halloween costume as easily as brand new fabric. Discarded dishes make beautiful and modern mosaics and backsplashes. A beloved relative’s clothing can become a cherished heirloom quilt or toy.
Fortunately, once you are in the creative mindset, you are likely to find inspiration for a project–and inexpensive materials to bring it to life–just about everywhere you go.