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Shopping for the Impoverished Artist

The Holidays are upon us….

I find at this time of year that I am drawn even more to all the bits and pieces of equipment, tools and supplies that I don’t already have. That I quite simply can’t afford or justify either.

So. What do you do?

I try to cope by going to lots of thrift stores, and searching for bargain items to re-purpose. I look for the really good sales or buy only that one item that I can get with a 40% off coupon at the local craft stores. But for power tools, and materials – I have increasingly been haunting places like Craigslist.org or Freecycle.org – seriously.

My finds this year include:

an extra large laminater
a band saw (bench top 9″)
a floor standing artist’s easel
6 inch variable speed grinder
combo belt and disc sander
metal folding display shelf

And a variety of smaller things like wood mantle clocks, and computer accessories that I picked up for re-purposing.

There were more things that I could have bought – and their more things that I didn’t get.

The real beauty of sites like Craigslist and Freecycle is that you get to have your cake and eat it too. Something you want at a price that doesn’t have to make you cringe (often free if you start there), AND you save things from being thrown out…. so you aren’t buying new at the expense of sending older things to the landfill.

As a geek and an artist – I save waaay too many things. I know it, my husband knows it, our friends know it (and contribute to the chaos occasionally), and our house shows ALL the signs of becoming a black hole.

So look for those items that you want – be patient – be willing to drive a reasonable distance for the *right* items, and look at what you aren’t using and consider either trading or putting things up on site that helps your local area. It’s cheaper and you can list your terms: local pick up only – you haul, cash only.

If you are shopping for friends and family who are artists ….. a box of cool random bits and pieces can be even better than the latest tools and supplies. Someone’s cast off jewelry can be the parts they use to make something truly unique.

Don’t be afraid to bargain… do be polite and if you make an appointment to see the item – show up and be prepared to take the item right then. If you like it and you can afford it now is the time to buy it. Sometimes after you show up – you decide it’s not quite right – or that you aren’t willing to pay quite that much. Offer a compromise price…. or walk away.

While you look at these items – don’t forget….you can clean things up, you can paint or refinish things or you can pull items apart for parts to make something else… come on – we ALL do that – don’t we?

So – shop the internet and yes – the yellow pages (remember not all thrift stores are even listed online). Look for local consignment and thrift shops. Look for curb alerts (items being tossed out at the curb), freebies, and fair to good condition items at prices that will let you sleep at night.

Get going already…. there are things to find and more things to make!

Happy hunting and a Merry holiday season to all….

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