The Crafter’s Box Subscription Review – August 2017
The Crafter’s Box is a monthly DIY subscription “for people who love to make, build, shape, design, and create.” Each box includes supplies for one craft as well as access to online instruction by the featured maker of the month.
My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
The Subscription Box: The Crafter’s Box
The Cost: $65 a month + free shipping, or $60 a month with a 3-month subscription. An optional add-on kit is also available; its price varies each month.
The Products: A curated box of craft materials and specialty tools assembled in collaboration with an artist/maker.
Ships to: US (for free), $10 to Canada and $20 everywhere else.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
August’s featured artist is potter Melissa Tolar of A Question of Eagles, who has designed a selection of projects for this month’s kit. They all use a low relief clay carving technique that involves carving away a thin top layer of clay to reveal another color underneath.
Instruction with Melissa Tolar – Value $25 (This is the ‘video only’ price during their twice-a-year pop-up sales.)
Melissa Tolar’s video lasted about 19 minutes and explained how the layered carving technique could be used to make three projects: a small dish, a flat piece that could be used as a tray or pierced to make a wall hanging, and a napkin ring that could also be used to hold an air plant. She is a good instructor who demonstrated the technique perfectly. However, this is one of those techniques that’s simple to understand but harder to do well. My pieces certainly did not turn out as well as the ones in the video.
Original Sculpey Oven Bake Clay in White, 1lb – Value $4.94 (originally $8.25)
Original Sculpey Oven Bake Clay in Terra Cotta, 1lb – Value $4.94 (originally $8.25)
There was more than enough clay to create all three projects. It was easy to work with once it softened up, though kneading the clay to soften it was good exercise.
Kemper Wire Loop Sgraffito Tool – Value $3.39 (originally $4.09)
Kemper Straight Needle – Value $1.79 (originally $2.39)
I love that these tools are made in the USA. They worked well with the clay and I’ve already used the straight needle for another project.
Acrylic Clay Rolling Pin – Value $6.92?
This is a clear length of acrylic that’s perfect for working with clay because the clay doesn’t stick to it. (And after a weekend of using clay, I can tell you that it sticks to just about everything else.) It is unbranded so I based the value from a similar rolling pin.
Acrylic Straight Edge Ruler – Value $0.57? (value based on a similar item)
The ruler was useful for carving straight lines into the clay.
Small Glass Bowl (oven-safe) – Value $2.98? (similar item is $17.85 for six bowls)
This little bowl is oven safe. It’s used for shaping small dishes.
Round Cutter – Value $1.77? (similar item is $7.07 for four)
Washi Tape – Value $2.99? (value based on a similar item)
The round cutter is for cutting a perfect circle of clay, and the washi tape is for taping down paper to protect your work surface.
Parchment Paper, Length of Hemp Cording and a Straight Pin
The paper is included to protect your work table. The hemp is for the wall hanging project and pin is for piercing tiny air bubbles in the clay.
The first piece I made was a small ring dish. After rolling out a thin layer of white clay on top of a 1/4″ layer of brown, I used the carving tool to create lines.
There’s no special pattern for the lines; every piece will turn out differently. Once I was happy with the arrangement, I used the cutter to make a circle.
I then put the circle on the bowl and pressed it in gently. The next step is to bake the piece in an oven for 15 minutes.
Actually, the middle dish was my first attempt. For the dish on the left, I wished that I had carved the lines again after curving the dish because they closed up a lot. The third dish is marbled because I wanted to use up scrap clay – and there was plenty of that, as you will see…
I only got up for a second and hadn’t even realized my cat was in the room, but this is what I came back to. I had been working on the largest piece for my wall hanging, so this used up a good amount of clay.
But the cat wasn’t to blame for this piece’s failure – I had badly misjudged the clay thickness and made the brown layer far too thin, and the white layer far too thick. When I tried to pick up the finished panel, it fell to pieces.
Obviously, I wasn’t happy about that. However, improving a skill is partly about practice, but also about responding constructively to mistakes, which are an inevitable part of the process. I wasn’t about to give up!
I used a detachable nail polish lid to cut rectangles out of the stronger parts of the damaged piece.
Then I threaded them into a bracelet, which can best be described as rustic. With clay, it’s a thin line between the beauty of organic handmade variation, and a first-grader’s art project.
I did eventually finish the wall hanging; I like its simplicity.
The third project was a napkin ring or air plant holder. It uses the same technique as the bowl and wall hanging, but you cut it into a strip and press the ends together to make a ring. I knew I wanted mine to hold air plants, so I made it a little bit larger than a napkin ring. Look how thick the brown clay is – I wasn’t taking chances after my first failed experiment! There was enough clay to make a set of napkin holders, but I only needed one for my plants.
I had enough clay left for one more item using the technique, so I made this monstera-ish leaf dish. The June box taught how to draw a monstera leaf, so monstera leaves have become my default motif whenever I can’t think of anything to draw. When I become famous someday, art historians will refer to this as my monstera period.
I then squashed all my remaining clay together to make this eclipse-inspired wall hanging. At this point, I was pretty tired of clay and just wanted to clean up the mess I’d made.
Here’s everything I made: two wall hangings, three ring dishes, a leaf dish, a bracelet and an air plant holder. I made all this at a leisurely pace in one weekend.
Verdict: I estimate a retail value that’s just below the cost of the box, if you include the value of the video. I made six different projects, which works out to around $11 each, though I’m not sure they’re all worth that. Most are practice pieces I won’t keep, but I did like the larger wall hanging and the air plant holder. I made a lot of improvement as I progressed from piece to piece, and I enjoyed being able to thoroughly explore the technique and a medium that was new to me. I probably won’t continue with clay, but this is the sort of project I’d hope to see from a craft subscription.
What do you think of August’s The Crafter’s Box? Do you enjoy working with clay?