Treasures4Teachers
We admit we're not so touchy-feely around here at New Times, but we aren't ashamed to tell you that we got all warm and fuzzy when we heard about Treasures4Teachers. Well, that's not exactly true. At first, we couldn't believe that someone had such an incredible idea and made it happen! Then we got warm all over. And excited. And kind of wished we were teachers, so we could take advantage of this amazing nonprofit program. Instead, we'll just tell you all about it. If you are a teacher (and the definition of "teacher" has a wide range, from traditional public school teacher to home-schooler to daycare provider) you can show up at this Tempe warehouse with the proper ID (details on their website) and for $5 a bag (and we hear it's a big bag!) load up on all sorts of teaching supplies — everything from pens and pencils to sticky notes and file folders. Sometimes there's furniture (the rules are different there, no bag) and the stock changes daily, so you never know what you might find — but the teachers we've spoken with says it's always worth the trip.
Wet Paint Art Supply and Gallery
Wet Paint has been supplying the urban subversive with a wide array of aerosol paints, markers, and drippy inks for more than a decade. But if taking your art to the streets isn't your gig, you can count on Wet Paint for such traditional fine-art supplies as oil paints, charcoal, and watercolors. Over the years, this family-run establishment has extended its influence beyond the retail market with its involvement in community art shows and has fostered and helped shape the ever-growing Valley art scene.
Aaron Bros. Art & Framing
A friend of ours is an art teacher who's always scouting around for great deals, so we're deeply aware that sable hair brushes can't be had for less money than at Aaron Bros. The Camelback location of Aaron Bros. is the one to which the other stores in the chain ship last season's stuff, and anyone interested in a package of high-quality canvases for dirt-cheap or a handful of charcoal pastels should drop in here and head to the back. On our last trip, we scored a children's art set marked down from $30 to five bucks; a slightly dinged painter's palette for $2, and a whole box of artist-quality watercolors for half-off. Frames for your masterpieces are also super-cheap here — check out the always-overflowing table of marked-down frames and photo albums over in the corner.
D&I Beads
This family-owned bead store offers an extensive selection of beads, from Bohemian glass to freshwater pearls, in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Prices are reasonable and employees are friendly, not to mention patient with artists-in-training who are just learning the craft. D&I's trained staff offers free beading classes, guides you on how to repair or make your own jewelry and will even create special jewelry, for your special occasion, such as a wedding.
Scrapbooks Etc.
If you are a scrapbooking fool, then chances are you already know about Scrapbooks Etc. in Mesa. If you are a novice, then you need to see all the goodies at this East Valley shop. Beyond scrapbooking supplies, it carries fabric, ribbon, and loads of paper. It also offers sewing and scrapbooking classes as well as classes for kids. This shop offers so many gems you should plan a couple of hours when visiting.
The Creative Quest
The Creative Quest was born out of a love that four friends had for all things creative and crafty. While this place offers the best art rubber stamps in town, it also has a fabulous array of papers, book-arts supplies and embellishments. Love this stuff but not sure what to do with it? The gals of The Creative Quest also offer hands-on classes that teach techniques and materials, so plan on more than just shopping for stamps at this West Valley hot spot.
Quiltz
If you are a fabric junkie, then this is the spot for unique fabrics that you can't find at other places in town. The big-box fabric stores offer quantity, sure, but everything looks the same. At Quiltz, you'll find fabrics designed by artists, designers, and quilters who really know the wants and needs of crafty creatives who work with fabric. The shop is organized by brand and theme, and also by color, so this makes your shopping easier and/or makes you buy more — either way, the variety is where it's at.
SAS Fabric by the Pound
It's not pretty, and, at first glance, it may look like an unorganized mess, but trust us, once you go SAS, you'll never go back. Prepare for a treasure hunt as you wade through a sea of fabrics from a bygone era, dig through barrels of patches and sift through boxes of buttons. Don't worry — you're going to find what you need, though — we swear. And once you find it, you are going to be shocked at how cheap it is. We don't know of another place in town where you can literally put together an entire Halloween costume for under $10. Bonus: This isn't your mother's fabric store — the people-watching is just as good as the prices. We won't go into details — you'll have to check it out for yourself.
Family Arts Needlework Shop
This nonprofit needlepoint and knitting shop carries so many different threads and yarns that walking through the place feels like wandering a warehouse — or a big national crafts store (without, of course, the cranky employees who seem to not have time to chat about your project). At Family Arts, someone's always eager to hear about what you're stitching or knitting and to help in any way he or she can. The shop even has an in-house painter who'll take your ideas and turn them into stitchable pieces. And whether your piece requires silk, wool, suede, fur, or cotton, Family Arts has got the goods, with hundreds of threads, yarn, and accessories to choose from. If you don't want to start from scratch, you can pick up one of the store's more than two dozen designer canvases (or have them order one, if you don't see what you want). There are also regular needlepoint and knitting classes for newbies and veterans alike, as well as quarterly trunk shows. Idle hands? Not here.

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