Frankly, The Folksy Magazine

My Essential Kit – Michelle Collier, Bisabuela

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 3 minutes.

Bisabuela Bird pendant

Michelle Collier is a self taught designer maker living in Manchester. Using wood, resin, paper collage and dried flowers she has created a vintage inspired jewellery collection for her folksy shop Bisabuela. Her essential tool kit contains lots of everyday items and proves you don’t need an expensive craft kit to create something beautiful.

Looking at my essential kit sitting together all in one place, it becomes really apparent to me how many everyday items can be ‘repurposed’ into useful tools. I set up Bisabuela in my spare time around my full time job, which meant that I didn’t have a great deal of money to buy expensive materials and apparatus. So I took to trying to solve creative or technical problems using items that I had around my house, or that would be easy to come by. I’ve since managed to pick up some ‘proper’ kit along the way, but there are many simple items I still can’t live without…

1. Grease proof paper – good for cakes, great for resin. Grease proof paper protects your work surfaces and won’t get stuck to drying resin like ordinary paper does.

2. PVA Glue – a school classroom staple, this simple and cheap glue is perfect for sealing porous surfaces that resin would otherwise soak into.

3. Plastic shot glasses – no, not for downing a cheeky tipple when something goes horribly wrong! I find these little fellas are perfect for when I want to mix small quantities of resin, plus when you can get 40 for £1 (bargain!) they are much cheaper than buying miniature mixing cups.

4. Measuring spoons – in a previous life these spoons measured their fair share of cooking ingredients… now however they are my number one measuring tool for resin. They can be really easily cleaned which makes them especially appealing to someone like me (note: I don’t like cleaning!)

5. Lollipop sticks – ah the trusty lollipop stick… cheap, versatile… I use these for lots of things from transferring images, to mixing resin or glue – they are very handy!

6. Pliers – I have several different types of pliers which I find truly essential. When it comes to adding rings, chain and so on a good pair of pliers will save you a lot of time.

7. Tiny paintbrush – a lot of my wooden jewellery is small and fiddly! Small paintbrushes allow me to add bits of detail here and there without getting paint all over everything!

8. Needle files – My trusty needle (miniature) files allow me to shape and smooth my wood or resin pieces, no matter how small! I also use a good quality nail file for softer edging (yep that’s right – the kind you use on your lovely fingernails!)

9. Toothpicks – these are one of my favourite items and always help me out in a jam. Good for mixing, balancing, popping air bubbles, tiny flower arranging… who knew the simple toothpick could be so adaptable!

10. Latex gloves – although I have been using these for ages, I still always feel a bit like a mad scientist when I put on my latex gloves. However, when working with resin it is imperative you protect your hands unless you want to potentially develop permanent skin irritation!

11. Miniature power tool – oh how my friends laughed when I told them my boyfriend bought me a power tool for my birthday! But, this is one of my most prized and handy pieces of kit. Plus it’s in miniature again (my favourite!). It has lots of different, useful attachments but primarily I use it for drilling and sanding.

12. Dust mask – last, but not least (and yet another thing I feel weird wearing in my house) the dust mask. I don’t need this all the time, but when doing any sanding or drilling you will find it firmly attached to my face. No nasty cough for me thanks!

Thanks to Michelle for her inspiring contribution! You can browse and buy from her Folksy shop Bisabuela.