Tuesday Reviews-Day: Holster Brands

Tuesday Revews-Day

Have you heard about Holster Brands? Started by an ER nurse as a solution to getting ready each morning with a pedestal sink in the bathroom and no place to set her flat iron, the line of stick-anywhere silicone holsters includes a number of sizes to meet all sorts of household needs.

I encountered Holster Brands at the 2018 Creativation show (on one of my few forays from the Imagine booth–I’ll try to see more this year!) and they were kind enough to give me one of the Lil’ Hoster (affiliate link) size (which I believe falls under the “ANY” application in the picture above) to try out.

I’m embarrassed to say that all the stuff I brought back from Creativation got put aside “for a moment” and I just recently uncovered it as I’m getting ready to head out for this year’s show, so I wanted to be sure I repaid the kindness of the convention swag and gave them a shout-out.

While they do make an actual Hobby Holster (affiliate link) specifically for use in the craft room, I decided to put my Lil’ Holster in The Abyss where it would do me the most good.

It really does stick well, even to my work desk (which was not exactly smooth and clean at the time of use), and the silicone flap that rest on the table to anchor the holster made a perfect “drop zone” for those little beads of hot glue that sneak out the nozzle between uses.

My mini glue gun (which I don’t use super often these days, but did have out for the first #StashCraft19 project) even fits into the holster itself if I needed to get it off of the table without worrying about singing something while it cooled, so that was a bonus.

According to their website, Holster Brands products can be found at Walmart, Amazon, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and many more retailers as well.

Thank you to Holster Brands for the sample! It wasn’t offered specifically in exchange for a review, and I was not otherwise compensated for this review. There are a couple of Amazon affiliate links included for those who wish to support the brand and this blog.

Major Giveaway Going On At The Crafty Branch!

Creative Business

Good morning, friends!

Most of you know I started a craft kit business last fall–I’ve mentioned it a few times in passing–and this week we’re hosting a rather massive giveaway on the new The Crafty Branch Blog with more than $350 in prizes.

Hemiversary Giveaway (1)

Clicking the image above will take you to the post with all the details and the amazingly long list of items included in the grand prize, plus the other four prizes up for grabs. You’ve got all week to enter, until noon (EST) on February 24, 2016, and I really encourage anyone who loves crafting and craft supplies to enter.

It’s true that I started the kit business after my plans to open a brick & mortar shop didn’t pan out, it was my “Plan C” this time last year, but it’s a little more than that, now. After six months of putting together kits (5 so far) I’ve learned a lot, both about the vagaries of this sort of business and about myself as well, about what I’m capable of, the parts I like and maybe the parts I’d outsource if I could. Maybe one day, depending on how things go, you never know!

It all comes down, though, to helping people be more creative. Or, more to the point, helping people access their own, innate creativity. I still believe we all are creative beings, and I still believe you can do a lot with just the stuff around you, but more and more I come to realize that the “fancy” tools and supplies out there exist not merely because someone figured out a way to market them but because, by and large, they work incredibly well! And that, while I can get by with the stuff I have on hand or can pick up here and there for cheap, investing in good tools and supplies is worth it because they will take you farther.

So when I put the Creative Mischief Kits together, I’m striving for a good mix of basics and high end. For brands we recognize and suppliers we might never have heard of. For the tools that get us started as well as those that can take us farther, beyond the scope of the kit and that will last for a good long while. Granted, that also means that our headliner kits are not the inexpensive things you find in the craft store or your local big box. Maybe we’ll come out with some smaller kits in the future, I’m still noodling around on it, but for now, the Creative Mischief kits are there for people who want to discover a new technique or hobby but don’t want to have to search out all the bits and pieces on their own. They offer convenience , wrapped up in gold tissue paper and a paper twist bow.

The giveaway that’s running right now gives you a chance to win favorites from our kits so far–both tools and supplies–plus some original art. If you’ve been curious about the Creative Mischief Kits, now would be a great time to check us out, dig a little deeper into what we do, and maybe that prize, above, will be landing on your doorstep in a couple of weeks.

Good luck!

the 9th Art: Mosaics

64 Arts

To decorate the floor with small chips of emerald or other stones.

Why don’t we leave the emeralds out of it for a while, okay?

Any picture created from bits of glass, beads, tiles or broken stuff held together by some sticky medium can be called, at least in my opinion, a mosaic. Granted, the original mosaics, at least those that first come to my mind, were made of very small tiles and incredibly intricate.

Being a Latin nerd for 4 years means I’m a little familiar with the tiled floors of Roman ruins and, the summer after my Freshman year I made a valiant (if somewhat pitiful) attempt at my own version of the traditional Cave Canem (beware of dog) entrance mosaic. At least I think it said Cave Canem but I distinctly remember putting the evil eye (as a ward against it) in the center. Probably because it was easier.

Come to think of it, this could be why I didn’t even place in mosaics that year (it was for Nation Latin Convention–yes, I was that much of a nerd). But I got 1st in my division for jewelry, so it’s all good.

It might also have been my workmanship. You know, today I’d consider it pretty diy of me to take basic 1″ bathroom tiles and paint them the colors I needed rather than spending a fortune on special tiles and tools. And since we’re not competing or being judged, I think I still will.

Because this is no-holds-barred anything goes mosaic we’re talking about now, in the real world, not trying to be like the old guys in sheets.

If you want to play along with me, here’s what you’ll need to make your own mosaics:

A Base

Could be wood, metal, glass or something you’ve molded yourself out of plaster. Cardboard might be a little too weak to support tiles, glass or heavy beads but for small pieces with tiny elements, you can always try. Go for something sturdy, though: no sense in wasting effort only to have your foundation let you down.

Pieces of Stuff

Very technical term, yes? But this could be anything, which is why it’s a little vague. Yes, tiles are traditional, as are glass beads like you find in the floral aisles for putting in vases or on tables. Also consider pieces of broken china and pottery, sea glass, buttons, beads, bits of metal or molding and just about anything else you can think to use. Seriously, branch out and try some new stuff.


I put this third because it depends heavily on what you chose for your base and your stuff. In the specified area of your local craft store you’ll probably find something called mosaic adhesive. Sure, this will work great sticking tiles onto plaster or glass, but it might not work if you’re using a more eclectic mix of bits in your piece. Your adhesive could be anything from standard Tacky Glue or something stronger like E6000. If you’re really not sure what to use, head over to thistothat.com, pick your materials and use their suggestions when you get to the adhesives aisle.


A little less subjective, grout can be found in the craft store in small packages or at the hardware store in bulk. You might find it powdered or pre-mixed and you can find it in different colors or buy tints specifically for it. White is nice and all-purpose, black a little edgy but great for decor and, of course, colors for creativity.

Miscellaneous Supplies

Newspaper or drop clothes to protect your work surface, a container and dowel or other stirrer for mixing grout, a trowel or spatula for spreading the grout, gloves to protect your hands from chemicals or sticky stuff, and a sponge to wipe away the extra grout at the end.

Of course, you can also find all of these things in a handy kit, too, depending on the sort of project you want to start with.

So, gather your supplies and let’s make something fun this week, okay?

Cool Tools

64 Arts

So, what do you use when you draw?

Contrary to some thoughts on the matter, you can create some awesome art with very simple tools. We’re talking crayons and copy paper. For real. And even if you’re not into creating the next Mona Lisa, the point is to loosen up and have some fun while being creative which is why I wholly support the simple joys of a coloring book!

Of course, it wouldn’t quite work for what I’m trying to do with my comics to use crayons (more’s the pity some days) so, for the curious, here’s what I use

  • Strathmore Bristol, Smooth–a very nice sheet of heavy paper with a smooth surface that accepts pencil, ink and brushes with equal ease
  • Mars Technico Pencil Lead holder and Staedler 2H leads–this is a fairly hard lead so it makes fairly light lines on the paper, perfect for inking over and dropping out the pencils in Photoshop without having to spend time erasing (which sometimes rubs off the ink, as well–not good!)
  • Zig Writer Pens in black–yes, the scrapbooking pens! I love the larger barrel compared to those skinny-minny Microns (which, yes, I also use for one of the comics) and the plastic nib puts up with a little more abuse that felt tips or brush tips
  • Occasionally I’ll also use India ink and some small brushes to ink instead.
  • Canson 7×10 spiral-bound sketchbook–nice creamy paper with a good tooth that accepts pencils and pens easily, plus it’s small enough to fit in most of my purses without need to draw micro-small
  • Crayola (yes, really) colored pencils for loose sketching and Prismacolor colored pencils for more detailed work–the latter are a bit of a splurge and I still wonder if I’m putting them to their best use
  • General’s Charcoal pencils–so fun to get big thick lines and shading, if a bit messy
  • Photoshop CS4 for the occasional digital color job (really want to get more proficient here!)

Of course, I write all this and realize that I’ve haven’t played with my coloring books lately. Maybe I’ll be able to fit some in tomorrow now that I’m thinking about them again (and just rearranged the bookcase they are stored on).

Now, looking at this list it seems a bit long–I don’t use every tool every day. Usually it’s just one or two at a time, but they’ve all been used in the last month. The point is, each has it’s own uses and it’s up to me to know when and where to employ each tool. It’s not always about having the best tool for the job (as in most expensive, most popular or most hyped) but having the right tool for each. And it’s not just limited to art supplies 🙂

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Daily Doodles 3.1.2010

Here’s my doodles for Monday, the 1st. I was a busy doodler last night but 2 of the items aren’t really doodles–the Short Ogre Cook (top right) is actually an inked piece getting ready to be digi-colored for a wallpaper design for the cookbook project and the food icons on the bottom right are for the same project, just a different application. Still, they were all worked on tonight so I decided to collage them in with the real doodle.

That, of course, is my tablescape on the left. Now, this is just a quickie sketch I did of what happened to be in front of me. The lampshade was a little skewed and I exaggerated it in the sketch.

Even though this was not a staged still life (the candles are usually on the entry table but were moved to make way for wedding shower door prizes, the same shower with a beach theme that yeilded the shells and sea glass that are clustered on cheesecloth at the base of the lamp) there are some good bones here for a future study. There are 5 elements–odd numbers are always good! It’s asymetrical, another plus, and the lamp leads the eye down to the candles and the cluster at the bottom which adds movement.

Granted, doodles are like brainstorming: no editing allowed! Show me yours!

The Oil Can


Pausing in my back-log of restaurant experiences and pseudo-reviews, I want to talk about a neat little thing I picked up for the kitchen not too long ago: an oil can.

No, not the poppa-poppa-sounding one they used to keep the Tin Man from freezing up, a cute little can to store and pour my olive oil when cooking. Vessels like this are not uncommon and I’ve seen a lot of ceramic or porcelain models painted prettily, but this one (found at my local Marshall’s for all of $2.99, this oil can from StainlessLUX is very similar) is stainless steel with a cute little handle, easy flip-up lid for refilling and long spout to pouring easy and mess-free (for the most part).

Like most households these days, we use olive oil (extra virgin, of course) almost every day when making dinner. Sure, pouring it straight from the bottle into the saute pan or stock pot is fine, but what about when you drizzle oil over steamed vegetables? Do you just let it glop on out of the bottle or do you put your fingers over the opening, trying to stem the flow a bit? Or do you try to hold the cap half-on, half -off to keep your fingers from getting oily (which never really works the way you want)? That’s when an oil can or cruet has a definite appeal.

From a practical side, it’s often cheaper to buy olive oil in larger bottles. But those bottles, even if they are molded to afford a slightly better grip, are still unwieldy when full and awkward when nearing empty. And I don’t know about you but I’m usually grabbing or stirring something while I drizzle, so having to maneuver the bottle with both hands isn’t ideal.

Aside from all that, it’s just plain fun to use! The night I brought it home was like Christmas morning playing with the new toy, swirling and swooping the oil can around. It’s almost balletic and you feel a little dainty, a little more elegant, a little more special for using a simple oil can instead of a bottle. Find one and try it and tell me if you don’t agree.