You may have noticed that I usually praise Aliexpress in my arts and crafts posts. Craft supplies are generally only of interest of a narrow group of people, so with low demand – and rather limited supply too – come high prices in local craft stores. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against supporting local businesses and there are items I buy from them. But when I see the exact same tool that I had bought on Aliexpress in a local store, for 5 times the price, I feel no guilt or shame for buying the thing directly from China.
Buying cheap craft tools and supplies also allows you to play around and experiment with various mediums and techniques, and once you get hooked on something, you know what’s worth spending money on and you can buy higher quality – and more expensive – tools, knowing that you’ll actually use and appreciate them.
Here’s a list of my favourite random creative tools and supplies that I bought on Aliexpress!
In case you’re new to Aliexpress, one little note to keep in mind before you buy anything there: be prepared to wait. It’s not Amazon Prime, items won’t arrive at your doormat the next day. Shipping from China (usually free, so there’s that) takes time. Typically, it will take anywhere between one and two months for items bought on Aliexpress to arrive to me (I live in Poland). So if you’re desperate to get your supplies immediately, get them somewhere else. Otherwise, if you simply want to experiment with different types of crafts for the sake of personal satisfaction and don’t mind the wait, Aliexpress should be right for you.
Ever since I was a child, I loved the idea of sealing envelopes with wax and a personal stamp. It was something I saw in films and it seemed almost magical. An envelope sealed that way always made it seem like there was some obscure secret hidden inside. Years passed and I accidentally came across these wax&stamp sets on Aliexpress while browsing the store in search for craft inspirations. Around $5 to make a childhood dream come true? Yes, please! I decided to get a few sets of wax beads in different colours, a fancy little spoon for melting them and a stamp with a floral sign (there are also ones with letters available, if you’d like it more personalized).
Do I write letters? Not really.
Do I use this set often? Not quite, only when I make a birthday card and want to seal the envelope.
Was it a purchase worth the money spent? Absolutely!
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may know that I love quilling – the art of creating designs out of thin strips of paper (I’ve recently posted the first part of my guide to it, describing tools used for quilling – you can check it out here).
Back when I made my first quilled card, I had no idea that quilling was an actual branch of papercrafts, with tools and supplies designed specifically for it. I simply wanted to make something new and unique, so I cut a sheet of paper into strips, quilled them in my fingers and glued to the card creating a floral pattern. I was pleased with the result, but didn’t like the time, accuracy and patience needed to cut sheets of paper into even strips. So I thought ‘you can buy everything online – someone, somewhere, must be selling paper pre-cut into strips’. And that’s how I found out that quilling was actually a thing.
You can buy a full set of tools (including every single tool from my guide) for about $15-20. These tools are all you’ll ever need for your quilling (except paper strips and glue, naturally). I’ve never seen any other quilling tools. Well, maybe those electric ones, but that’s a bit much anyway. I’m sure this set of tools will cover all of your quilling needs.
And speaking of paper strips, I like to buy those on Aliexpress too. The price difference between those available on Aliexpress and those I’ve seen in local stores is insane! I’m not paying for overpriced paper, no way. I prefer to stock up, ordering them off Aliexpress, reasonably priced.
I’ve posted a few ideas for handmade gift tags on this blog (you can check them out here and here). I like to include handmade gift tags in my gift wrapping, I believe it’s a nice little detail that adds a lot to the overall image. I’d made them even before I bought these plain tags, so buying them wasn’t necessary, but I believe that $5 for 300 neatly cut tags in a pretty shape was worth the money. And it saves me a lot of time, I don’t need to cut sheets of paper into smaller rectangles whenever I want to make some tags. Cutting sheets of paper into pieces isn’t the most creative part of the whole crafting process anyway, so I didn’t mind letting it go.
Although I usually dabble in papercrafts, there are times when I feel the need to paint and/or play with decoupage. However, I’ve never quite understood the price of wooden boxes (or any other decoupage-able items) in craft stores. A few times higher than mass-painted boxes in the same size in IKEA and such. Why do plain, raw, tiny wooden objects cost so much?! Thank goodness for Aliexpress!
Although I don’t draw as much as I’d like to, I made a solid resolution to finally make time and push it and – hopefully – improve a bit. I’ve always felt tempted to buy one of these wooden mannequins that you can bend and twist and set in a chosen position to serve as proportion and perspective reference. They’re not perfect human proportions but I’ve always preferred a more cartoonish style anyway, so they’re good enough for me. But again, I was rather disgusted with price tags next to these models in craft stores (do I sound like Scrooge? Am I turning into Scrooge? Have I already turned into Scrooge?). When I accidentally came across these mannequins on my good old Aliexpress, it was just a matter of seconds before the model was in the cart. No more excuses for not drawing!
Do you shop on Aliexpress? If so, what kind of items do you usually look for there? I’m a huge Aliexpress addict, always looking for inspirations for things to put my money in next!