Best Place to Get Creative on the Cheap 2010 | Tempe Sales | Shopping & Services | Phoenix
Far away from the bustle of chain craft stores is Tempe Sales, the little gem of a craft-slash-fabric-slash-furniture-parts store in a dilapidated old building near the railroad tracks. If you're searching for the perfect bun feet for a reclaimed chair project or need some braided trim for an apron you're sewing, this is the place to go. They even carry marble slabs and high-end upholstery fabrics. Be forewarned — you might have to dig through bins or poke around in the back room to find what you want, as it's not exactly as organized as Jo-Ann or Michaels. But it's worth the effort.
There's a reason ASU art students flock to Tempe's Wet Paint for supplies, and it's not just because it's within spitting distance of the college. The family-owned store carries a large assortment of drawing pads and specialty papers, oil and acrylic paints, sculpting media, and screenprinting supplies. When we needed oil-based colored pencils for an art project, this was the only place in town we found them. And Wet Paint's staff actually practices what they preach. Because most of the workers here are artists, they'll steer you directly to the clay you need for modeling or the best paint for plastics without upselling you a bunch of art crap you don't need. Not that we don't get distracted by the ever-changing selection here. On our most recent visit to pick up some Letraset, we were mesmerized by the Munny vinyl toy customizing kiosk and the huge cache of spray paints — for legal tagging only, of course (wink, wink).
If you're desperate to make bad vacation snapshots look like golden memories, try browsing through Scrapbook Barn's extensive selection of decorative papers and accessories. They've got ribbon by the yard. Decals. Die-cuts. Even machines that will crop, trim, and punch paper shapes out for you. Unlike other scrapbook stores with static inventory, supplies at Scrapbook Barn follow pop culture trends. Gothic and Victorian culture is huge this year (thanks, Twihards!) so the place is packed with faded Victorian flowers, flocked velvet chandelier paper, and "bite me" stickers. On recent trips, we spotted some sweet retro paper with blurry photos of 1920s bathing beauties in swim caps and a pretty stick-on scroll design done with miniature pearls. With those tools in your scrapbooking arsenal, no one will even notice how sunburned and totally blitzed you look in your vacation photos!
If you are a stamper, this little hidden gem at Old Town Market Square in Chandler should be your headquarters. Not only do they carry all the rubber stamps you'd care to own, this shop is filled with many other must-have cropping goodies. Look for markers, paper, and adhesives to serve your creative needs. They also offer a monthly class schedule filled will projects that will make your heart sing. Some examples include Card Blitz, Sassy Ladies, and It's a Date. Sounds like a lot of fun and worth making a date. "Dream it, Believe it, Create it" is Stamp Works' motto, and they have created a lovely little space to invite you in to do just that.
DIY, it seems, will never die — not as long as the economy's down and Martha Stewart's still upright. If you're a soap-maker, or want to try it out, we've found your materials. Janca's Jojoba is the only local soap supply shop that also sports a storefront. (Most are mail-order only.) Known best for locally growing and processing the high-end cosmetic grade "liquid gold" jojoba oil, Janca's has now branched into full soap and cosmetic making supplies. Find a wide variety of other oils from coconut to apricot kernel, a full line of essential/fragrance oils, all kinds of soap additives like pumice and lavender flowers, and chemicals you can't pronounce that soap makers get giddy over as they play chemistry lab in their home kitchens.The people at Janca's are super-helpful and can order you anything you can't find elsewhere. If you've ever wondered what to do with mango butter or pink French clay they'll be sure to help you with some ideas. And then sell them to you with a smile and without a shipping fee or a wait.
If you can actually find this store — tucked away in an industrial park near the three-way intersection of Grand Avenue and Dysart and Bell roads — you will be rewarded with beads in nearly every shape, size, color, and texture you can imagine.But there are rules before you can browse the seemingly endless selection of bead strands, findings, and loose beads. Purses and bags must be left behind in lockers. Grab a tray on which to place your selection of beads and a marker to identify your purchases. Don't stick your hands in your pockets. And be prepared to pay a surcharge if you use your debit or credit card and spend less than $20. Okay, once all that is settled, you can embark on this wonderful world of beads. If you love a bargain, head to the tables with the bead buffet — all-the-beads-you-can-stuff-into-a-baggie for only $2.99. If you're short on inspiration, check out the employees' crafty creations or a display case with the designs of individuals who have taken classes at Confetti.Bracelets, shoelace charms, earrings, necklaces, key chains — at Confetti: The Bead Place, you are only limited by your imagination.
We started going to Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint because we were addicted to needles. Knitting needles, that is. The store, owned by Rebecca Deeprose, is a Shangri-La of knitting supplies and needlework knowledge. Then we took one of Arizona Knitting's wonderful classes on beginning crochet and we were hooked all over again. Hundreds of blankets, booties, hats, socks, and scarves later, we still can't find a store that beats the selection, the service, or the atmosphere of Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint. If crochet is the gateway drug to fiber crafts, then Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint is the fix we can't live without.
We're not sure what first attracted us to this crafty Scottsdale shop — the cheeky name or the crocheted bikini we spotted in the window. This ain't your granny's knitting store. While older folks are welcome to stop by and knit one, purl two with the shop staff, Knit Happens was created for the stitch-and-bitch crowd of bored singles and busy moms who find inspiration in skeins of yarn. The store's cubbies are always overflowing with brightly dyed yarn, and they have every knitting supply imaginable, from needles to patterns and looms. Knit Happens is also the best place to get felted up, which isn't as lewd as it sounds. We're actually talking about felting, the process by which wool is matted down until it becomes a solid sheet. Sign up for the felted wool classes at Knit Happens and your heart will go all warm and fuzzy. So will your feet. And your hands. And anything else you can craft a cozy cover for.
We're all about remnants, so plowing through the big, waist-high cardboard boxes full of bolts of fabric at SAS is our idea of a good time. The thought of wholesale-priced silk and cotton blends that have been marked down makes us a little dizzy, so after grabbing some nice yardage, we move on to the long, long row of smaller boxes lined up along the low, wide counters of this Phoenix institution. There, we find vintage carded buttons, fabric ribbon at a dollar a roll, and enough imported lace to make an endless supply of mantillas. Finally, we head for the clearance aisle, which is filled with end-of-bolt material that's been reduced in price at least three times. We're giddy with glee as we head for the register, weighed down with tons of textiles and enough cash left over for a fun lunch. We love SAS! But consider yourself warned: Not all SAS locations are created equal. You'll find them across the Valley, but we much prefer the Central Phoenix SAS — victim of a fire a few years back, it's now much cleaner and better organized than its SAS-sy sisters.
It's tough to find good fabric in Phoenix. We don't have serious fashion design students (or the cast of Project Runway) to necessitate a Mood Fabrics store, and we aren't enough of a "real city" to have super high-end places like Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. Sure, you can order online, but colors are never the same on your laptop screen as they are in real life, and it's tough to keep track of all those dang color swatches. Danese Creations can help. The funky spot (yes, the one with somewhat creepy mannequins in the window) carries more than a healthy handful of silk, satin, brocade, velvet, chiffon, organza, charmeuse, lace, and fine cottons. Feel free to wander through the bolts and see the beautiful hues first-hand. But be warned: You'll need to empty your wallet for these tough-to-find fabrics.

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