Product Review: Loew Cornell Clay Modeling Tools

One of the first things you’ll need when you begin working with polymer clay is some sort of tool set.  You can get by for a while without tools, but eventually you’ll realize they just make things so much easier.  I started out with this basic set from Loew Cornell, which can be found at Michaels or Hobby Lobby for only a few dollars.  The Loew Cornell Clay Tool Set includes three tools, each with two ends, and are perfect for smoothing, shaping, and contouring. 

While there are many more advanced sets out there that you can do a lot more with, this set is a great one to start with – it’s basic enough that everyone from beginners to more serious crafters can get good use out of them, they’re plastic and very easy to clean, and best of all, they are cheap!

 

What modeling tools have you used?

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Michaels vs. Hobby Lobby





For those of you who are crafters, chances are when you need supplies, you hit up either Michaels or Hobby Lobby.  Being familiar with both, I thought I’d put a little more thought into how they stack up against each other.

I used to be a strictly Michaels girl – for years and years, I was a loyal customer, not interested in shopping elsewhere very often (aside from going to Joann Fabrics for fabric projects and sometimes Archiver’s for scrapbooking).  I cringe to think of how much money I’ve spent at Michaels over the years!  For some reason I wasn’t keen on Hobby Lobby – I had gone a couple times and it had left me feeling pretty ‘meh.’  But this past summer, we moved, and while there is a Michaels a few miles away, there’s a Hobby Lobby literally around the corner.  So, I decided to give them another try…and I have to say I’m a little bit in love.  

So here is how the two stores compare in the categories of selection/layout, price, and customer service, based on my experiences over the years.

 

Selection & Store Layout

I find that Michaels is easier to navigate, probably because the stores are typically smaller than Hobby Lobby stores.  The aisles at Michaels are well organized and well stocked, and I’m rarely unable to find something I need.  Hobby Lobby is a much larger store, and while it is also well organized, it can be a little bit overwhelming.  Due to its size, the selection is greater at Hobby Lobby.  They also have departments that Michaels doesn’t, such as more home goods.  (On the other hand, Michaels has lots of candy near the checkouts that is great for those impulse buys.)  For what I usually shop for – clay, jewelry making stuff and scrapbooking – either store will do, so it comes down to price and customer service.

    

Price

In terms of price, I’ve found that Hobby Lobby is cheaper overall.  If I’m just popping in for a pack of clay or some artificial flowers, I’m not going to end up spending too much either way, so either store will do.  But if I’m planning to stock up on supplies, it’s worth it for me to shop at Hobby Lobby and save a little bit of money.  However, both stores have coupons on a regular basis, as well as pretty decent frequent sales.

   

Customer Service

I don’t usually have the best of luck with customer service at Michaels.  Despite a couple of employees that stick out in my mind as being especially helpful, most of my experiences there have included high school students who avoid eye contact in a desperate attempt to not help you find something, and elderly women who seem bewildered by the modern technology of a cash register.  Now, the first time I went back to Hobby Lobby, people actually smiled at me, and asked if I needed help.  Most employees there seem knowledgeable about where to find things despite the vastness of the store.  (Though a little off topic, I have to say that the employees at Archiver’s are by far the friendliest I’ve come across, in craft stores and maybe even retail stores in general.)

So while I love Michaels, I’ve quickly come around on Hobby Lobby.  They come out ahead in selection, price, and customer service.  I’m still more familiar and comfortable in Michaels stores, but I think that will continue to change as I continue to shop at Hobby Lobby more often.

Where do you do your craft shopping?