Earlier this spring I had the wonderful opportunity to be a guest on Scrapbook Soup and appear in a segment on crafting tools that help you make crafting easier as you age if you have vision, hand, or posture problems. I personally know a lot of crafters UNDER 40 that have conditions such as RA, Lupus, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel– so using adaptive crafting tools isn’t just for the senior citizen crowd. I wrote this article to accompany the segment- but since the show is not available to view in all markets, I thought it would be good information to post here.
UPDATE: Here’s the clip for you to watch!
If you are over 40, you will notice the effects of aging on your crafting. It’s not a judgement, just a simple fact: once you reach “a certain age” your joints get stiffer, your eyes work differently, and you may need to upgrade your tools to help you keep crafting without pain and frustration!
If your eyes are failing a bit, here are some great products that will give you a boost!
- Natural Spectrum Lightbulbs or Lamps. Did you now that aging eyes need more light? Just swap out your old incandescent bulbs for an immediate boost and use task lights. You’ll see colors more clearly & you’ll save yourself the eyestrain.
- Magnifying Lenses. Use hand-held lenses for quick tasks, or head-mounted visors for more long-term crafting. No more fumbling with your “cheaters!”
You can also find a number of paper trimmers- such as the Martha Stewart Brand– that has a mini-magnifier in the cutting housing that will help you see the increments more clearly!
I started experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel in my mid-twenties- so I take my hand comfort seriously. And with these simple tools/ modifications, you caSwn reduce a lot of strain and pressure on your hands.
- Paper Trimmers over Scissors. While Paper Trimmers aren’t the best for every job, you certainly can swap out your scissors for a number of tasks- even cutting coupons! And if you are doing a big job- like making holiday cards- a paper trimmer saves time and effort.
- Spring-Assist Scissors. When you MUST use scissors, use the ones that spring back- they reduce the work load on your hands by 50 percent! That really adds up! (You might want to read my review of the Westcott Spring-Assist Scissors for more infomation.)
- Squeeze Punches. I love my paper punches- but they can be hard on your hands and wrists. Swap out your most-used ones with squeeze handle punches. They make the most of your hand strength and are very ergonomic. (I have more information about squeeze punches here.)
- Look for built-up handles. You can save yourself a lot of hand strain if you use tools that have built-up or “chubby” handles. My favorite awl has a soft, ergonomic grip that makes it so much more comfortable to use. Even SweetHeart Inkers have handles that make grasping easier.
I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, I’m having more neck and shoulder pain- and some if it is from hunching over my craft table! Just a few simple tools can help with poster issues, as well.
- Spin the project, not you! Sometimes when I’m working on a three-dimensional piece, I catch myself reaching around to paint the sides or back. By using a Versa Craft or a simple kitchen lazy susan, you can spin the project around and keep your posture intact.
- Elevate your work surface. There’s a reason that architects and illustrators use drafting tables that elevate to a 45 degree angle- it saves a lot of strain on your neck and shoulders. You can do the same by propping up your work in progress on a book stand or a Scrap ‘N Easel. Your shoulders will thank you!
I hope that you’ll think about how your tools can help you to prevent- and alleviate- pain or discomfort as you craft. Which of these products do you already use? Which ones do you want to purchase?
Disclosure: some of these products are were provided for review; others were purchased with my own funds.
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