Let’s talk about Craft Hoarding…

I think many of us feel the need to hang out head in shame at this topic. We collect supplies with the best intentions or we stock up when we find a good deal or we go a bit overboard when we start a new hobby. I am not judging, I am right there with you. Then we find that we spend as much time sorting, organizing and storing out supplies as we do creating with them. What’s worse is when we find a supply so amazing that we can’t bear to use it up on just anything so it sits there on the shelf looking pretty. The tragic thing is that many of our art supplies have a shelf life, just like food, and you have to use it or lose it!

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I live out in the willy-wacks and I don’t like to shop so I keep a well stocked craft room. There are many staple items you can keep on hand that will last indefinitely with proper care and conditions (out of direct sunlight, stable temperature between 55-70 Fahrenheit, low humidity):

Watercolor paint

Oil Paint

Ink (refills (shake pigment inks often!), ink pads and spray inks if you clean the nozzles)


Paper (if acid free and out of sunlight)

Beads/buttons/plastic stuff

Polymer Clay (store away from heat, be sure to properly condition it before use!)

Acrylic Felt and Yarn

Natural Fiber Yarn and Cloth (Kept in ceder)

Hot Glue sticks

Rubber stamps

Paint brushes and well maintained tools (keep humidity low and oil on occasion)

Ribbon and trim


Matt Board and Foam Core (If kept dry/low humidity)

Plaster (if kept dry!)

Wax/soap base and wicking (fragrance will go stale after time)


Colored pencils, crayons, pastels

Mylar glitter and Mica powders (some metal glitters may tarnish)

But many craft items have a short shelf life:

Markers and pens

Resin (6 months)

Glue and other adhesives (2 years)

Embossing powder (varies with heat and humidity and if oxide metals are present)

Acrylic Paint (tubes will last longer than bottles) (2 years is stored properly)

Light sensitive materials such as solar print paper, photo emulsion, photo-polymer (you can greatly extend the life of these by keeping them sealed in a dark drawer or shelf!)

Copper foil tape and metal wire and items than can oxidize (you can keep these much longer if humidity is controlled!)

Friendly Plastic (after 2 years it becomes brittle, you can still use it but it will not be as easy)

But sometimes the supplies you buy are bad from the start so it is important to check everything out within 30 days of purchasing. Avoid ordering polymer clay in the summer, sometimes clay is “truck baked” en route. If you don’t check on this you might end up with solid bricks of clay when you go to start a project, if you check and report it in time you can get a refund. Acrylic paint and PVA glues shipped in the winter can freeze en route and you can end up with chunky paint or glue, check it as soon as you get it. Tube acrylic paint (artist quality) is usually designed to survive 5 freeze/thaw cycles so that problem is not common with the tubes but craft acrylic sold in bottles will get chunky in a  few years despite good care so don’t buy more than you can use. Also check rubber stamps to make sure the image is clean, I can think of 3 times I purchased stamps for various companies where the red rubber was flawed and they all replaced the damaged stamps BUT I let them know as soon as possible!

So, if you are buying supplies that you cannot bother to check or try within 30 days of purchasing maybe you don’t need them right away? Art supplies are not for collecting, they are for using! We buy these beautiful bits and baubles with the dream of what they may become. Play with your supplies, enjoy them, create! Turn the craft hording guilt into creative rapture! If you have any items on the shot shelf life list challenge yourself to use them up so they don’t go to waste! I bought a jug of resin before I realized that it had a shot shelf life, can you guess what I’ll be playing with next? Also be a smart consumer and check all of the materials you purchase to make sure they are in good working order as soon as you buy them. That also goes for tools and machines, get them out, try them and make sure they work because if you wait you will be S-O-L my friend:)

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I’d love to hear what you think on craft hoarding. I think as creative people we tend to see the potential in everything from discarded wine bottles and soup cans  boxes, fabric, stones, glass, wood, odds and ends and bits and baubles. We are the magpies of the word and we see potential in everything…come to think of it, that’s pretty great! But we need to make sure that we do more than imagine and save, we need to create, otherwise we will just leave a bunch of junk behind for our loved ones to toss when we die. Now that’s reason enough to make cool stuff! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

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