Crafting is a fun hobby or side business. To get started, one really just needs to gather a few supplies and either take a class, watch videos, or learn from a friend. However, figuring out where to buy specific craft supplies can be more challenging than you might expect.
When it comes to finding just the right craft supplies, you have several avenues you can explore, including online shops, local vendors, and even estate sales.
What Kind of Craft Supplies?
When we talk about a craft, we’re talking about an activity involving skill in making things by hand. That simple definition includes countless hobbies and different types of crafts.
While you might be thinking about felt puppets or popsicle-stick structures, crafts can include handiwork like tying flies, embroidery, woodworking, basketry, metalwork, sewing, candle making, and endless similar endeavors.
You could be looking for anything as common as knitting yarn to something more specific like original aged barn wood. Whatever it is, there are a few common sources where you can begin your search.
Crafting is big business, as humans intrinsically want to create with their hands. So much so, there are countless stores dedicated to selling craft materials. Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-Anns are all identifiable brands.
These stores regularly stock common threads, notions, scrapbooking supplies, craft paper, fabric, craft kits, needlework materials, and myriad other offerings.
Whether you’re working on framing a picture or making clothing to sell on Etsy, the craft store is a good place to start.
In today’s modern world, there are ubiquitous options for buying crafts from online retailers too. Most chains with brick-and-mortar stores also sell craft supplies online.
In addition to those already mentioned, look for Dick Blick (Blick Art Materials), Craft Warehouse, and Artist & Craftsman Supply.
Some vendors only sell online. While it can be challenging to know exactly what you’re buying when you can’t hold it, with special attention to the written details and a follow up with questions before purchase, you can probably find exactly what you need.
Click into established online craft supply retailers like Craft Supply Depot, Factory Direct Craft, CreateForLess, Mister Art, S&S Worldwide, Craft Direct, and Stuff 4 Crafts.
Since you’re likely already on Amazon for other household goods, you might as well check out availability of the craft supplies you need too. In addition to its own name branded items, Amazon is the ultimate online connection to craft supplies available from large and small retailers.
Even if you have another favorite online site for your craft supplies, comparison shop on Amazon where you may even find it discounted.
When someone liquidates an estate, there are any number of different items for sale. In addition to the standard furniture, kitchen goods, and clothing, you’re likely to find crafting supplies.
Depending on the life and interests of the person who lived there, you might find entire rooms of crafting gold. A home may feature a garage full of fishing tackle, sporting goods, tools, and other items you can use in your crafts.
Get on a mailing list from your local estate sale company and watch for advertisements of sales on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.
If an ad lists craft supplies, take a look at what they have. You might find yarn, crochet and knitting needles, embroidery cloth, needlework floss, paint-by-number kits, fabric, sewing notions, paints, brushes, ceramics, rubber stamps, scrapbooking materials, candle making supplies, or rope, reeds, and fabric you can use in basket making.
Speaking of online resell sites like FB and CL, it’s highly likely you can find both mainstream and specialty goods being sold by people with similar interests. Peruse the ads frequently and run searches when you’re looking for something in particular.
Also check to see if there is a Buy Nothing group in your area. Although this isn’t a place to buy craft supplies since everything is free, you’ll need to put forth the effort to locate the group closest to you through a search on Facebook.
The Buy Nothing Project was started with the idea of minimizing waste by finding new homes for items that may otherwise end up in the landfill. However, that goal is married with the idea of strengthening the threads of community.
The hyper-local groups connect people who are wanting to give away household goods, garden-fresh food, vehicles, and anything else they had in abundance or no longer needed. Similarly, people can post a request for items they are seeking and if someone in your local community has some to give away they’ll let you know.
Where to Buy Specific Craft Supplies
While the above list will allow you to find many of the everyday craft supplies you need, there are some items you’re less likely to find in the craft section at your local department store.
You might need to get a little more creative to find some items, especially if it’s very unique or no longer in production.
Glycerin is used in a wide variety of household products we use every day. Most notably, it’s included in many personal care products. If you’re using it to make your own toothpaste, skin and hair care products, moisturizers, laundry detergent, shaving cream, and soap, you’ll be trying to hunt down a continual supply.
Fortunately, glycerin is easy to find if you know where to look. It’s available on Amazon and other online retailers, but it’s also in most pharmacies and many craft stores.
You can also make your own glycerin with a few basic ingredients. On the stovetop, warm one cup of olive oil and one cup of coconut oil. Use a low-temperature setting until it’s heating through. Then add one teaspoon of lye and one cup of water.
Allow it to warm for about 15 minutes while it thickens. Stir frequently. Once thick, add one-half cup of salt and allow the mixture to cool completely. Once cool, skim off the top layer to access the glycerin below. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.
2. Etching Cream
Not everyone busies themselves with etching vases, glassware, and mirrors. Therefore, knowing what to look for is part of the crafting experience. Run a quick search for etching cream online and you’ll find it’s sold at many online retailers, as well as brick and mortar stores.
While you can find leather scraps or rolls of prepared leather online and at craft stores, you’ll probably find the selection to be limited and lacking in diversity.
To source unique options, buy from a specialty retailer like Leather For Craft, Weaver Leather Supply, Montana Leather Company, District Leather Supply, Springfield Leather, or Rocky Mountain Leather Supply.
Also see if you have a specialty shop in your area.
4. Mosaic Tiles
Tiles are a great material for many craft projects, mosaic work is perhaps the most ubiquitous. From giving old side tables a facelift to creating wall art, mosaic tiles can be put to use in a variety of ways.
With the sheer number of projects that make use of tiles, it’s a good thing they are easy to find. However, mail ordering them can be expensive due to weight, so it’s better to source them locally.
In addition to checking the community pages online, head out to your local stores. Home Improvement giants like Home Depot and Lowe’s will certainly have tiles, as will many smaller stores like Ace Hardware.
Since mosaic work is the ideal opportunity to upcycle discarded tiles, part of the fun is getting creative with finding used or discounted tiles rather than buying new ones.
Head to your local Habitat for Humanity, where you’ll find partial boxes of donated tiles for sale. Thrift shops will often stock some random tiles as well.
In addition, walk the back aisles of the home improvement box stores. They often discount discontinued or low-inventory items so you’ll likely find some options in the clearance section.
Another great source of free or highly discounted tiles is floor covering stores. Ask inside your local floor covering shops. They’ll likely have some discontinued options for you.
5. Wood Scraps
There are no limits to the creative ways you can use wood in your crafts. Be just as creative in finding the wood to start with. Again, check those online resources. Then tap into a readily available wood option--pallets.
Businesses around town will set pallets on the curb or near the dumpster and are usually happy to have someone take them away. Just be sure to ask first. Pallets can be used whole for furniture, bookshelves, bars, and other projects.
Use a reciprocating saw to cut the boards away and you’ll have piles of useful lumber for all of your woodworking projects.
Keep your eyes open when traveling around town too. If someone is replacing a fence or tearing down a barn or shed, drop by to ask if you can take some of the waste off their hands.
Construction sites also often have an assortment of scrap wood that’s free for the taking.
If you’re into jewelry making and other bead-worthy enterprises, run a search for local bead shops.
Typically less well advertised, they may not come to mind when on the hunt for beads. However, bead shops specialize in, you guessed it, beads, so you can expect to find a wider variety and overall selection than you might find prepackaged online or at a craft store.
Also check out antique malls and flea markets where many vendors peddle their wares.
7. Glass and Plexiglass
Working on framing artwork, creating mini-greenhouses, or building wooden lanterns? You’ll need to source pieces of glass and plexiglass to complete your projects.
Both materials come in a variety of qualities so once you know what you want, make sure it matches with what you find.
Habitat for Humanity is a useful resource for finding pieces of usable glass and plexiglass. Scour the donations to see if you can repurpose glass sheets or glass in windows.
While you’ll be able to find glass and plexiglass at small and large home improvement stores, craft stores, and online, it’s best to check with your local glass dealer so you can discuss your needs and take advantage of their cutting services, if available.
Woodwork, metalwork, and other types of crafts rely on staples, nails, and screws to hold projects together. Costs can add up, so when you know what you want, buy it in bulk.
It’s not difficult to find basic hardware, but it’s much better for your bottom line if you can source them inexpensively. Look for boxes of hardware at yard sales and Habitat for Humanity as well as other second-hand shops.
For unique hinges, gate locks, and other larger types of hardware, scour through dismantled fencing and debris from construction sites.
Antique hardware can be found for sale on Etsy too.
9. Paper Making Supplies
The nice thing about making paper is that it doesn’t require many supplies.
You can buy a mold and deckle to press the paper or make your own. Try using two old picture frames or stretched canvases as your press materials. Remove the canvas, if applicable, and mount a fine screen material to the frame using a staple gun. Wrap the edges with tape.
You’ll also need a blender so ask around or head to the thrift shop.
Make paper from old paper. If you need a lot, ask to grab the recycling at work, your children’s school, or the church office. You can also use other paper materials such as tissue paper or paper bags.
10. Steel Blades
If knife making is your thing, you’ll need some steel for the blade. Head online to Amazon or find a vendor you like and potentially get discounts with repeat business. Check out Maker Material Supply, Jantz Supply, Blacksmiths Depot, USA Knife Maker, and Get Metal.
11. Beer and Wine Making Supplies
Grab bottles you can recycle from restaurants, and watch for people selling carboys online. You can also buy kits if you’re just getting started, which will include basic supplies you can use repeatedly afterward.
Consider some other fun craft topics in our related articles Turn Rags Into Crafts and 10 Scrap Wood Craft Projects.