I frequently post to Facebook or a forum about the stuff I find at a craft store on a given visit.  My trips to a craft store aren’t frequently project specific.  My wife and I go to the stores when we are out for other reasons or she might have a project she needs to complete for a wreath (http://wreathsbyjenn.com | https://www.facebook.com/WreathsForEverySeason/).  No matter the reason we’re at a craft store, I usually spend a decent amount of time wandering.

AC Moore wandering found me some Red Moss, Orange Foam Terrain
and I always need a new sanding pad.

We have to set the scope of a craft store run first.  We live in a rural community called Waterloo in the Finger Lakes of New York.  We have a Walmart, a north-eastern grocery chain store, various franchise restaurants and a Lowe’s.  Not shabby but not exactly a local gold mine of crafting suppliers.

There are several craft stores within 30-40 minutes of us and more at 45-60 minutes. Of course, I like them all.

Closest (30-40 minutes):

  • AC Moore (Auburn, NY)
  • Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts (Canandaigua, NY)
  • Michael’s (Canandaigua, NY)

 Reasonable Trip to a City (45-60 minutes):

  • Hobby Lobby (Ithaca, NY)

That covers most of the regular craft stores around us.

There are other stores which allow for shopping for miniature related materials that are within the same range and they include:

  • Christmas Tree Shop (Syracuse or Rochester, NY)
  • The Art Store (Rochester, NY)

Naturally there are other stores but I don’t frequent them so I won’t touch on this today but you get the picture. I don’t live in a very urban area so a craft store run is an afternoon/evening affair and so I spend a decent amount of time when we go to ensure I covered any needs or wants.

I know many people love the craft stores who participate in the miniatures hobby and we all go on about the 40% off one regular priced item coupons that Jo-Ann’s Crafts and Fabrics, A.C Moore and Michael’s all have as a regular option.  But this story is about the other percentage of these stores that I bet most of you don’t look at or even glance at as you head straight to the brushes, etc.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s how to re-purpose.  As I’ve written before, you can use caps as fancy bases, but do you realize there’s miniature-related product everywhere?

For example, we ran to AC Moore’s last Sunday for their 3-hour Sale of 20% off your entire purchase.  A great sale to pick up lots of small things and get a good deal over their clearance or sale price.  I added to my basket a couple of basic options; a medium/fine Eversand sanding pad from the paint section and some Create-a-Project autumn orange ground foam from the diorama section.  But I also grabbed some Quality Growers red moss from the flower arrangements section, a four pack of Greek-style columns from the wedding cake section and a Safari Ltd. Great Horned Owl from the plastic toys section that will be re-purposed as a Giant Great Horned Owl for the gaming table.

AC Moore run for 3-hour 20% off Sale last Sunday.

But those might be obvious finds, right?  You prolly want to hear about more interesting materials I’ve found on excursions to the nether realms of the craft store.  Bah, these are mere details and specific to me.  The key is to look and consider.  You have to pick it up, turn it around in your hand, feel the heft of it and then think about how you can use it for your hobby.

Ever look at the doilies in the wedding section and consider using them as a mask for painting cool patterns on the tiles of your courtyard diorama?  How about the strange and amazing shapes of dried flora in the flower section?  Fake or real, they can make some interesting patterns or cool terrain for your dungeon explorers to find.

Check out this dried flower:

Dried Lotus Pods

Now, carefully cut them parallel to the surface and you have a natural looking warren for animals or weyrs for fire lizards or even a cool looking patio for your woodsman’s home in the forest.  Just fill in the holes with putty or paste and ta-da, natural mixed with miniature world.

Filled and made to look like stones

Take the time to look at everything … jewelers tools work great for our hobby sure but did you look at all of the pendants and beads for use as tiles or reliefs on walls?

Pewter Eagle with Snake

Glue it down over a small piece of baked flat clay and then cut around the eagle’s outline to get the plaque it’s sculpted on to.  Reverse it and press it into the clay as a sunken relief on a sculpted wall.

Imperial Eagle Relief as an example

In the future I will pick some specific items to apply this to, figure out some projects for the item and maybe even do one and then post about it here.

Let everyone know what great oddities you’ve found in the comments below.  If we share our ideas and the hobby prospers.

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