I lived in the States for 4 years and fell in love with their GIANT craft stores - Michaels and Jo-Anns were my favourite shopping spots and I could spend HOURS roaming around and finding inspiration among the abundance of trinkets available. Although I miss these large American craft stores, I must say that exploring local craft suppliers around the island has been fun and eye-opening as well. Hence, I’m doing a series on Craft Stores in Singapore and I'll be sharing my favourite places to pick up tools/ materials for paper crafting.
In this post I'll be highlighting my favourite local art store - ART FRIEND. I'll be sharing the top 8 things I buy from here plus how you can apply for membership (see bottom of post). If you're looking for a more comprehensive list and a comparison of prices and such, feel free to also take a look at this document I've compiled: Crafting Supplies in Singapore. This document is a compilation of items and their prices at different stores and I hope it helps in your crafting journey too! I'll try my best to update it regularly, and if you have anything to add, do drop me a message and I'll be happy to add that in! :)
Art Friend is that one-stop shop for most, if not all, of your artistic needs! Its my go-to place when I’m in a rush. My favourite branch is in Clementi - its a 5 to 10min walk from the bus interchange/ MRT station and at 13,000 sq ft, it is the biggest branch in Singapore! Since its not too crowded or cramped, shopping here is rather relaxing, I'm not kidding! :P
8 THINGS I BUY FROM ART FRIEND
1. CREPE PAPER Not my Italian 180gsm crepe paper, but ordinary lower-quality crepe paper that can be used for smaller parts of a flower. Please be warned, this quality feels more like fabric than paper, and doesn't stretch at all, but it comes in handy for smaller parts of the flowers that does not require stretch. For instance, I have gold (which I use for my Poinsettias) and brown/ black (which I use for my Sunflower centers). At $0.79 per packet or $1.50 per packet (for gold/ silver) - its pretty cheap! Usually I look out for the brand with the head of a horse as its logo.
They also do sell a limited selection of Doublette Crepe from the brand 'Momo Craf'. I've used it for special projects but for $2.99 per packet (25x100cm), this crepe will not be my first option. (See my post here about different types of crepe paper)
2. FLORAL TAPE While it is definitely cheaper to get these at a Wholesale Florist, when I’m desperate, I get them from here. If you're wondering whether the price difference reflects a difference in quality, I would say not much! My personal experience is that the tape from Far East Orchid (a wholesale florist I visit, more on this store next time!) is much stickier which is good for the flowers but also means the crafter gets sticky fingers!
3. FLORAL WIRE If you’re a beginner and only need a small amount of floral wire (as opposed to the 100 wires per packet from Far East Orchid), Art Friend is a good option for you. Please note that floral wires have DIFFERENT THICKNESS - THE SMALLER THE NUMBER = THE THICKER THE WIRE. E.g. #16 wire is super thick and hard to bend while a #22 is very thin. I recommend #18 to be used as flower stems, and #22 for secondary stalks (e.g. leaf stalks)
4. FOAM BALLS I use these for my Icelandic Poppies, Ranunculus, and Anemones. If you prefer not to use foam, you can also use cotton balls but they’ll be more expensive. 2cm 20pcs Polystyrene Balls = $2.45 1.5cm 20pcs Polystyrene Balls = $2.20
5. HOT GLUE GUN + GLUE STICKS Hot glue guns are my main weapon of choice (I use a mini one), and I always stock up on glue sticks. I’ve realised recently that the sticks packed in the clear bag with no brand are cheaper than the ones packed by Sellery (in yellow, first photo below)! They both have the same quantity so look for the ones in the clear bag (usually at the bottom of the shelf) and not the Sellery ones!
If you're looking to invest in a hot glue gun, you can get one from Art Friend, they're all in black/ blue though, and if you're like me and you like more colour in your life, there are pink and purple ones in Spotlight. :P
6. WHITE CRAFT GLUE I highly recommend Elmer’s. I often need a strong white glue that dries clear and won't make my crepe paper soggy and Elmer’s Glue-All is just the best I’ve tried so far! The twist cap is also great for adjusting the outflow of glue. I have yet to see this brand in other craft stores in Singapore and hence this is making my Top 8 list.
7. CRAFT KNIVES Art Friend has the most diverse selection of craft knives I've seen so far in Singapore. Because I used X-acto knives in the States, I was really happy to see them in Art Friend! X-acto is expensive compared to the Asian brands (e.g. Olfa or NT) but I like how big their blades are and that I can buy a pack of 40 blades in one box (vs Olfa with 25 blades in one pack) - that's pretty worth it in the long run. Otherwise, if you're just a beginner, Olfa or NT are decent brands too.
8. CRAFT MAT Art Friend stocks good quality craft mats at a decent price and in various sizes. They also sell NT cutting mats in pretty colours if you’re not a fan of dark green.
ART FRIEND MEMBERSHIP
If you visit Art Friend as often as I do (on average I visit at least once a month aha), then being a member is completely worth it. Having 10% off every item you purchase is a great deal!
HOW TO APPLY:
1. You have to be a Singapore resident
2. There's an application fee of $10.70 which can be WAIVED if you purchase a minimum of $100 in a single receipt when applying
3. Just fill out a form in store at the counter and the sales representative will file it in for you
4. There's no membership card, you just have to present your NRIC in the future and you'll get the 10% discount!
5. The membership is valid for 2 years (Renewal fee is $5.35 for another 2 years)
Alright I hope this has been a helpful post! I’ll be writing about other stores like Golden Dragon and Far East Orchid next so please check back for more! Happy Crafting!