Learn how to protect your craft projects to make them last and stay looking brand new over time!
Ok, friends, today we’re going to talk about how to protect your craft projects. We’ve all been there, you spend a ton of time crafting or making something and then you don’t know what to do with it when you’re finished. How can you protect a delicate paint job? Or keep it from being completely ruined by moisture?
It’s hard to know what to do, I totally understand! There are like a million different protective coatings and they’re all different. So let’s talk about it! First we’ll go over types of protective coatings and then we’ll talk about which crafts to to use them with!
Types of Protective Coatings for Crafts
Spray sealants: This includes products like spray polyurethane, clear acrylic spray, and spray Mod Podge. Spray sealants provide LIGHT protection from scratches or dirt. These products are still primarily water based which makes for easy cleanup but the downside is that they need to be applied outside for ventilation and they can be super messy. It can also be difficult to apply spray sealants evenly and they can drip.
Paint on sealants: This includes products like polyurethane, gel medium, Mod Podge (or other decoupage medium) and other brush on sealants and varnishes. Water based products are always easier to use. These can be easier to apply than spray sealers, but can also leave brush marks. They also can yellow over time (even though they’ll all tell you that won’t happen). So think carefully before applying one of these products to a pure white craft project! They also are fairly “wet” sealants which can cause wrinkles and bubbling in craft projects containing paper or cardboard.
Glue sealants: Ok, technically some of the paint on sealants above would count as glue sealants, but longtime crafters know you can also use regular old school glue to seal projects. The main advantage to this is that you probably already have it at home and it’s super cheap. Using glue to protect your craft projects is best for things like your child’s painted popsicle stick creation. It will not be waterproof but will help with scratches and dirt.
Dimensional Glazes / Pour on Sealants: This includes things like Dimensional Magic or Diamond Glaze. These thick sealers are usually pour onto a surface that has an edge around it (like a jewelry pendant) and they dry clear. Upsides are that they are very durable. The downsides include the possible of air bubbles and that they are totally permanent. If you don’t like a dried dimensional glaze, there’s not much you can do about it.
Resins: Resin is kind of like the armored car of craft sealers and probably best used by advanced crafters. It’s thick, it’s strong, it’s waterproof, it’s permanent. Resin is also often applied by pouring and may require some finishing like buffing after application. The downsides are that it has strong fumes and it’s permanent. There are different types of resins including epoxy resin and polyeurethane resin which each have their own advantges and disadvantages.
Tips and Tricks for choosing a protective coating for your crafts
- Consider whether or not you actually NEED a protective coating. If the item won’t get much wear and tear, you may not actually need one.
- The best general advice for protecting all craft projects is to store them in a stable temperature out of direct sunlight.
- Always DO A TEST RUN! Don’t try a new product on an important project. Instead test it out on some scraps and see how it works!
- Multiple thin coats (except for pourable sealers) are always better than one thick coat.
- Follow the directions for drying time and curing before you handle your project.
- Be skeptical of “dishwasher safe” options. Just hand wash it.
- Extra ventilation is always a good idea when applying any sealer.
How Should I Protect My Craft Projects?
How should I protect paper crafts?
Keep in mind that any time you add a sealer to paper products, you run the risk of it wrinkling, so the wetter the sealer, the riskier it is!
Mod Podge seems to be the sealer of choice for paper crafts with many a devoted follower. I also like it but would say that the main disadvantage of mod podge is that it can really show brushstrokes. So imagine how excited I was the first time I tried MATTE Mod Podge. Friends, it’s so much better than the regular glossy type, no brushstrokes! So if that’s something you struggle with, consider trying the matte version.
Other people are big fans of gel medium for decoupage. It can be more expensive but is usually a bit thicker. I would recommend either one but as always, suggest that you TEST it out on a sample piece of material! Don’t try a new sealer on your favorite project for the first time!
How should I protect drawings?
If you want to protect a drawing made with graphite, chalk, or charcoal, first decide if you are completely finished with the work. If you are not and plan to continue working on your drawing later, but want to add some protection from smudging, you can give your drawing a light coat of workable fixatif.
If you are completely finished with your drawing and want to protect it from smudging and damage, the best option is to frame it behind glass or plexiglass. If you choose not to do that then try another fixatif spray and follow the application directions for best results.
How should I protect wood crafts?
I do a lot of wood based crafts and when they are home decor items, most of the time I don’t even bother to seal them. Like this sign, or this tray. Especially if you are using acrylic craft paint to decorate your wood craft, that’s enough protection for something that will just be used as decor.
If your wood craft is going to get more use, then consider a paint-on or wipe-on polyurethane to really protect the wood. These products are made for wood and will be the most durable. Keep in mind that unless it says OUTDOOR use, it will not actually provide full protection from water. So for something like coasters, furniture, or a drink tray, be sure to use a truly waterproof outdoor sealer.
How should I protect chalk paint?
Chalk paint is the exception to the above. If you have painted something with chalk paint (not the same thing as chalkboard paint), I always recommend using the chalk paint wax of the same brand to finish your project. The chalk paint and wax are designed to work together in a system and you’ll get the best results if you follow their directions. Waxes for chalk paint can be clear or tinted so there are lots of options!
How should I protect chalkboard art?
This is a topic that interested me SO much that I wrote an entire post about protecting chalkboard drawings. It’s really hard to find a good sealant to protect chalkboard art without smudging. And honestly, you are not going to believe what I found that works! It’s kind of magical and tons of people have tried it and had success!
How should I protect ceramic crafts?
The only way to really protect ceramics is to use fired clay and fired glaze to create a water safe and food safe finished product. If you are working at home and don’t have a kiln (who does?) then you’re probably using air dry clay or polymer clay.
If you are using air dry clay, I have had success sealing it with acrylic craft paint and then a coat of matte Mod Podge. This produces a nice and fairly durable coating for home decor items and will protect it from scratches and dirt. Keep in mind that this will not be food safe or totally waterproof. It also will not provide significant protection from breakage (not much you can do about that with clay). To have the best results, make sure your air dry clay is 100% dry all the way through before you apply any paint or sealers.
If you are using polymer clay, the consensus is, that once you bake it, polymer clay does not have to be sealed (it’s essentially plastic). But if you want extra protection (for example, you are using the clay to make jewelry that may have a lot of wear and tear) you can add a glaze or sealer. Some clay companies make their own glaze (like Sculpey Glaze) and other clay enthusiasts recommend a polyurethan like Varathane but say to avoid Mod Podge, spray sealers and nail polish!
How should I protect fabric crafts?
Most fabric crafts won’t require protection because you can wash them. However if you are making something like a pillow or couch throw that could get spilled on, consider a fabric protection spray like Scotch guard.
How should I protect yarn and fiber crafts?
The best way to protect your yarn and fiber crafts is to only wash according to yarn directions, store them folded in airtight containers when not in use, and consider storing them with cedar packets or cedar balls to keep moths away.
How should I protect needlework crafts?
If you are an embroidery/cross-stitch lover, the best way to protect and preserve your needlework is by having it professionally framed with UV blocking glass. This will stop bugs, dirt and fading and it’s probably worth it given all the hours you put in!
How should I protect diamond art?
This is a great question! Thanks to the reader that emailed me to ask!
I did some research because I’ve not done much diamond art and it sounds like there are pros and cons to sealing diamond art. It seems like, for maximum protection and to seal gaps between the diamonds and really glue them well to the canvas, a brush on sealer is best. I saw recommendations for both glossy Mod Podge and Americana Triple Thick Gloss Glaze. A brush on sealer can fill in gaps between diamonds and act as additional glue to make sure none of the diamonds come off.
There are several disadvantages to choosing to seal diamond art though. For one, it can change the sparkle and shine of the diamonds. And for another it will make the canvas stiff and you won’t be able to roll it up or bend it. I guess if it were me, I would be most concerned about changing the shine/sparkle/finish so I would definitely try adding one of these sealers (I’d probably start with the Mod Podge) on a small sample piece in order to see what it looks like without worrying about testing it on one of my finished artworks. I think it will be up to your personal preference whether you like the finished look or not.
There are also lots of people who say that sealing diamond art isn’t necessary at all so again, you may have to experiment and see what you like best.
The info I found also mentioned that you can add spray sealer to diamond art, but since that doesn’t fill in gaps between the diamonds or make them adhere better to the backing, I don’t see the point of doing that.
How should I protect my kids’ crafts?
My best advice for “protecting” kids crafts is to photograph them and then let (most of) them go. Kids can make SO many artworks and craft projects, there is no way most people have room to store them all. But we also feel guilty about getting rid of anything. So my advice is to gather them all each school year, choose a few favorites and then photograph them all. Then we put the pictures into a printed album to enjoy later. It frees up space and guilt and makes it easy share all that precious art with loved ones.
For the artwork that you do keep, get one airtight plastic container per child (size depending on how much closet space you have) and keep the ones that you love best in there. If you can store them in a closet (rather than a basement or attic that gets super hot/super cold) they’ll last much longer!
And that’s all I’ve got for today, tell me, is there anything I forgot to cover, let me know and go forth and protect your craft projects!
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