Essentials

Brendan McCaskey's 5 Crafting Essentials

Brendan McCaskey's crafting room looks like it was designed by none other than one of McCaskey's main inspirations, Martha Stewart. 

After two previous coats of paint, McCaskey landed on the current shade of dusty blue to contrast with the white and wooden features including the wooden trim around the room and the large storage unit that McCaskey got from the sorely missed Smeeks, a vintage-inspired candy shop where he used to work. 

It's in this perfectly laid out room where the crafter, tastemaker, and Jar of Buttons owner's "creative mess" happens, as he says. 

"I'm more crafty than handy," McCaskey says. "My mom was always crafty. I get everything from her." 


It's also in this room where McCaskey keeps the five things he couldn't craft without: scissors, baker's twine, masking tape, button machines, and television. 

McCaskey has several different kinds of scissors hanging from a workshop pegboard, including a dainty pair shaped like a flying bird and a large, dramatic pair made in India that he got from Frances. He also pulls out an entire box packed full of scissors that create decorative edges. 

But on the opposite side of the room, kept standing up in a container by themselves, McCaskey keeps hit go-to standard sewing scissors. 

"I think any crafter needs a good pair of scissors," he says. "No rinky-dinky kids' kind."

High up on customized Ikea shelves are an assortment of colored baker's twine in restaurant sugar pours — and idea he got from Martha Stewart. 

Baker's twine is finer than regular twine and, generally, more colorful, possibly McCaskey's favorite part. Honeydew, sweet pea green, rose, and 11 other colors of baker's twine sit on display, an inch or so of each of the strings hanging out of the respective sugar pour. 

"I'm one of those people where if there's multiple colors, I have to have them all," McCaskey says. 

He uses this twine for everything from making banners and name tags to tying around small mason jars filled with cupcakes. 

On the same wall, just below the jars of twine, hang a rainbow of rolls of Japanese masking tape. McCaskey says he uses these colorful patterned rolls of tape to seal packages, occasionally hang posters or pictures on a wall, and even to make buttons from time to time. 

Because the tape is so thin, McCaskey says it won't mess up his button machines and can add surprising pops of color to the buttons. 

If you've seen buttons with Arizona pride on them or punny sayings like "I'm kind of a big dill" around town, then you're familiar with McCaskey's work through his company Jar of Buttons. 

He purchased his first button machine six years ago for about $500 and lied to his mom when it arrived at the house, saying a friend had sent it to him for Valentine's Day. 

That original one-inch button machine stands out on a cart with a one-and-a-quarter-inch and two other one-inch machines. It boasts nicks and scratches that can only be achieved through years of use. 

McCaskey says he wouldn't be able to make all the buttons he does without his television and Netflix. 

"I'm not ashamed to say I love TV," he says. 

Will and Grace, Friends, Community, and other popular comedies all keep McCaskey company as he spends hours at his desk repeating the routine of pressing buttons. 

In his small home craft room, McCaskey views his TV, playing episode after episode of beloved characters getting in and out of hilarious situations, as his assistant in a way. 

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Evie Carpenter is a visual journalist. Using photography, videography, design, and sometimes words, she tells stories she hopes make a bit of difference in the world, even if those stories are in list form and include GIFs.
Contact: Evie Carpenter