Revamping my Face Paint Kitbox Part 2 – recovering my CraftnGo with new vinyl.

As stated in the previous blog “Revamping-my-face-paint-kit-again-craft-n-go-part-1”, I’ve tried many variations of how to carry and use/ display my kit over the last 20 years.

Since 2016 I have stayed with theCraftNGo. I work, teach, demo and judge at events all over the EU and further, in public & in the face & body art and beauty industry, as well as at festivals, so have seen many variations of kit boxes over the years and think this is the best& toughest available just now for free-lance face-painters.

Makeup artists who face paint face different environments mostly so don’t bite my head off, I’ve just seen too many of the fancy makeup rolling stations suffer on rough ground and outside bookings to want one. And tough/ portable as the lovely Zuca bags are, at that price I don’t want to waste time pulling out lots of wee bags of paint to still then need a table and to have to set it all out.

I originally covered the inner grey metal base plates with sticky back black vinyl, which I have done with many kits, etc, as it looks smarter and stains less. I do a lot of clubs, adult events and corporate gigs, and they usually ask for a plain black setup.

However as the inner lid had had mirrors etc magnetized onto it, I had never covered it in vinyl, and after several years of constant use, it had stains that wouldn’t come off. The vinyl was a bit nicked and stained too, so I peeled it all off easily and got ready to start again.

I have loads of ‘nice’ craft vinyls I use in my Cricut for art projects and other bookings – my current fave is this stunning holographic pearl in all its shades which I often sell as a laptop decal (not this design, this was my test with  a non-original pattern). But I know how easily that scratches and  wanted tougher, cheaper, larger sheets for this.

I’ve still a large roll of the black gloss vinyl but fancied a change, so searched on ebay. LOADS of options! I went for a 3 for 2 offer on glitter gloss vinyl, 610 mm x1 meters each, which worked out at £10 a roll including some new squeegees. It is cheaper if you buy a big bulk roll as I did for the black gloss (still loads left and its done about 4 kits plus assorted signs) but I wanted to see these in real life first. You can get cheaper but I wanted it fast as I have bookings I need to use my kit at.

I went for black, silver and green holographic glitter, incase I went green as I mainly work for Paintopia when not on my own bookings and thats the Paintopia green.

I decided I liked the black for the base plates which see the most use, and  the silver best in the lid as it would reflect light onto the paint, helpful in darker bookings even when I have my lights etc.

If you ever had to cover school books in clear sticky back plastic (aka Fablon) this is the same idea.

Sorry for the wibbly videos & lack of proper time-lapse, our builder stacked giant mirror sliding doors in front of my cupboard so I can’t get my tripod out atm.

And now for that a wee bit slower!

1 – Draw around each bit you want covered, leaving a 1 inch at least wider border when you cut it out. The back of the carrier sheet is usually gridded papery stuff so easy to cut out/ draw on.

2 – Make sure your metal plate is clean. You can either do this dry if you are used to it/ its an easy flat shape, or drip or spray a little water or weak soapy water onto the metal. This means you can slide the vinyl around a bit so it is easier.

3 – If you have it, put a spare non-stick surface under the  metal sheet so the overhanging edges of what you are adding won’t stick to your table.  (Makes it all more awkward). Place your cut bit vinyl side up over the metal plate, making sure it is centred.

4 – Starting at 1 corner or edge, peel a little of the backing off the vinyl to stick it to the metal. Hold that corner of metal & vinyl and make sure the peeled off backing is rolling off the other side. Start slowly, methodically, pushing at the ‘join’ where the rest of the sheet is meeting the metal. It sort of slowly peels/ forces itself off and unrolls onto the metal, hard to describe!

I used my hand, a soft cloth or a soft edged squeegee so as not to scratch the vinyl for this.

5 – Inspect. Even if you haven’t used the wet application method you can sometimes unstick and reposition the vinyl to get rid of any air bubbles, but squeegee as many out as you can. Or make a TINY prick in the middle of each bubble to release the air, and flatten.

6- Flip over to the back of your metal plate, you should have a nice edge border of sticky silvery vinyl showing. Cut 45 degree angles at any bends and then lots of strips around curves/ bends.

7 – Pulling towards the centre of the metal, pull the longer flatter flaps along straight edges tight to the edge and stick down. Repeat with all the wee corner strips.

8 – If, unlike me, you need both sides covered, cut another sheet of vinyl exactly to the size of the metal (or lightly smaller – the central strip that holds the metal plates in place will catch and push any open edges), and stick down on the ‘back’ using the same method. Glossy plain vinyl really shows any imperfections under it, so you may want to trip your stuck -over edges neatly if you do that.

The lid is harder so definitely wet application method! (I do all my car decals this way). Measure and cut a sheet of vinyl a good few inches larger than needed.

Spray the inside of the lid, peel and stick 1 corner or the top edge (leaving overlap where you started), and squeegee diagonally.

When happy with positioning, get rid of any bubbles (none this time, yay).

Push the vinyl as close into all edges and corner as you can, it will ‘frill’.

Using a sharp craft knife, make little cut in the frill down to the edge / corner of the inner lid. Sort of like the hospital corners on the boards wrapping. This will let the ‘frill’ relax so you can flatten it to the sides of the lid.

Using a sharp knife trim the flattened ‘frill’ neatly or even just cur around the inner lid board. I left a bit of an edge as theres glue etc caught in the seams I could see from earlier incarnations of my craft n go kit.

That is as far as I have got so far. I’m waiting on new clamshell paint holder inserts (I sold my old ones a few years back), and a flexible LED light strip and El-wire this time, as they are all much cheaper now.

My brushes are currently usually stuck onto the lid with magnets on their handles but I want to change that. I’ve tried brush stands, brush bars, foam , etc and not been completely happy with anything over the years. So I’m trialling the sticky pad brush holders from Real Techniques. 

They have those ‘magic’ sticky pads, allegedly clinging to any smooth clean surface once left to cure for 24 hours. The long grey multi brush holder has held on full of brushes so far (will have to see if it can stand them being pulled on and off at a gig), but the hideous pink pocket one fell off with 2 brushes in it after a few hours so I’ll be complaining about that…

Cricut Crafter Sugar Skull

My final official Cricut Uk Crafter of the Month project is based on a holiday that was very popular over the border from Belize where I used to live – the Day of the Dead celebrations. They seemed very joyful with families cleaning and decorating their ancestral graves and alters to welcome back their ghosts. Papal picado (colourful intricately cut paper flags / banners) decorate everything, and the too-pretty-to eat compressed sugar skull or coffin decorations are left out.

I was really glad when Day of the Dead style face paint started getting popular in the UK. I get fed up of being asked for blood and gore all the time, especially at Halloween, and the Sugar Skull genre gives so many creative possibilities as well as a kinder, happier, more colourful vibe. Now its all anyone wants in October (and many other months too).

Looking at the lovely materials Cricut UK sent me to try, I decided that the red and orange pearl papers, glitter sparkle card, black cardstock and some Hobbycraft white glitter card needed to be used.

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I set up the Cricut Design Space (CDS) using the same flower shapes I’d made for my Once Upon A Time demo, and cut them in different sizes and materials.

Again in CDS, using the simple shapes, I built an upright headdress shape in several layers,  and added flowers and sugar skull shapes to be cut out of it. I hoped this would give a stiffened lace mantilla effect.

I curled and then glued the flowers together to look like marigolds and other blossoms.

Rhyana was able to come over early one Saturday (squeezing this in before I had a 10 hour UV paint booking in an immersive rave!) and I started painting in the giant eye sockets and shading her to look more hollowed out.

Using a lacy stencil I’d cut, I added colour to make it seem as if Rhyana had a lacy carved or decorated surface to her skull.

Then we pinned in the various Cricut accessories and voila…


I hope this might help some of you with Halloween costume inspiration.

So that’s the last of my 3 official Cricut Crafter of the Month projects, but I’ve several more I’ll be posting as I do use it all the time, not just for face & body paints.

Thanks for looking and thanks to Cricut UK and all the models involved with this – and Mark for the amazing coral body paint photos!

Easter Face Paints & Cancer Charity face painting for Tesco

This was a lovely booking, over 2 different weekends for Mel’s face paint company.

We were set up (Claudia and myself) in the foyer of Poole Tesco, with 2 other ladies doing related crafts beside us.

It was sometimes a bit difficult to encourage customers to stop and be painted (for donations into the cancer charity bucket) but everyone that did was lovely.

And the staff really joined in.

Training holiday staff at Butlins to face paint

I have just had my annual trip up to sunny Skegness to train, refresh and enthuse their holiday entertainment staff in the art of face & bodypainting.

As usual the chalet I stayed overnight in – a flat really – was lovely, I have been in a different style/ zone each trip. (I also did the glitter weekend here for a Rave Weekender in the winter so have tried them all now).

This time we did our workshop in the rather luxurious spa which was cosy, warm and bright despite the changing weather. Although sea gulls fighting on the glass roof was a bit noisy and definitely odd to see from below!

On my advice they have added a large selection of stencils from Illusion Magazine Shop to their kits, as well as  Cameleon petal brushes and some other professional essentials from the Paintopia Shop


Their manager is impressed with how their skills have built since I started training with them so do pop in if you are there on holiday and let the ladies decorate you!

Glitter Eyes in Bath Southgate Shopping Mall – Walkabout Face Painting Kit for Student Night

This was an unusual booking; the client wanted ‘walkabout’ mobile painting at an outdoor event in Bath’s Southgate Shopping Mall.

I did a few mobile gigs when I lived in Hong Kong about 11 years ago, walking up to decorate guests at dinner tables or around in bars,  and they never seemed as successful (to me) as when I have my kit set up on a table with a tall client chair. But I have done a few since then, so it can be done, but I had a think on a new kit setup…

I used to have the Snazaroo walkabout ‘ kit wheel’ which you gripped in one hand, but found that too heavy and cumbersome. Plus you really need both hands free, one to work, one to steady/ rest on the customer as standing people are even more likely to wibble about than seated!

So, I created a walkabout kit that fitted into an old face paint bag I converted into an apron, with a few extra bits. Not the most stylish but handsfree and pretty comfy apart from when I dropped it all at one point! I’ll tweak it a bit before the next booking as some things I ordered to make it didn’t arrive in time…


Basically its 2 of the magnetic panels I use in my face paint kit, taped together, taped onto 2 of the Ikea pots I sometimes use as brush holders which fitted tightly into the ‘apron’ pocket.


The paints (mainly one strokes and mini black, white & skin tones) I already have with magnets on their bottoms, so they sat nicely on the panels. The new Pixie gels I’d decanted into bottles that sat tip down in a nail varnish holder inside one of the Ikea pots, with space for brushes in the middle. A bag of sponges, a ring of stencils (I didn’t use either in the end) and a facecloth clipped onto the apron and my water spray & glitter were in a side pocket.


Helen’s red snazaroo wheel & my kit as we warmed up hands with hot mochas before the start!

I’d got the lovely Helen hired too, (she ended up with a tired arm from her Snazaroo wheel) so we arrived to find that it was outside and a bit chilly… a special Student Shopping Night promo in the Southgate Shopping Precinct. Its funny as I do lots of student club body art/ face painting bookings but sober, ready-to-shop students were very different! We started by working down the huge entry queue and did eventually have our own little queues going.


I stuck to using the new Pixie Cosmetic glitter gels around simple eye abstract or flowers as that is what most people wanted. All the stencils and extra paints I had squeezed in were not needed! Various acts and stalls were set up and the Scare crew from Avon Valley Wildlife & Adventure Park kept making clients jump, but we wanted to follow around their evil clown as he had a real flamethrower which was cosy! 


The kit worked reasonably well but I need to re-think the brush holder being under the paints – my fingers got horribly messy as I kept having to grab the brushes by their painty tips to reach them. I have an idea for a brush holder for next time…

Not many photos as we were so busy & it was dark, but an interesting evening!


Face Painter’s Kit FAQ/ My experiences No 1: – Pop Up Gazebos & Tents

Now, when I started this ‘habit’, like many face painters it was my fun hobby and partially funded by my proper day job (running a Nature Reserve as an Education & Visitor Centre/ SSSI).

This was in the days before Facebook when the internet was quite ‘new’ and only 1 face paint chat-site existed. Libraries only had the terribly basic & dated old books by a certain paint company which did not impress me even as a beginner. Pretty much everything was suck it and see, trial and error….

This kind of advice I don’t mind giving out for free as it saves wasting a lot of money. I plan to do a whole series as I am repeatedly getting asked it and don’t always have time to type huge answers especially on my phone.

I don’t bother going on many of the myriad Facebook pages/ chat-sites now, I find it too annoying that a loud % will ignore or shout down any sensible advise/ experience, and declare that they are right despite never having tried it/ their ideas being downright dangerous.


Having always worked for big companies, (the Natural History Museum, 3d Adventure & Education/ Superchoice, The Suffolk Wildlife Trust, etc), I was used to corporate branding, and knew the usefulness of everything being matching and easy to identify. It was also a distraction disguise as a couple of times I had kids who I’d painted at events locally knock on my door asking to be painted, which is not ideal in a child-safety paranoid culture.

       Tiger side smile view catc_2

So, as my first big successful face had been a self-painted tiger (as in I face-painted it on myself to transform my own face), I went for orange, black & white as my colours.

2nd business cards hk white

My marvellous best bud Jake of JP74 created a cute ‘cats-creations’ logo for me in tiger stripes. I had an orange folding table, painted picture frames and a stand with tiger patterns to match, and  had black or orange shirts printed up with my logo/ website. I had that photo blown up as a car sticker and orange & black car lettering. And, as at that stage like many beginners I still accepted pay-per-face bookings (where I turn up, charge the public per face and give the organisers a fee), I needed a matching gazebo.

As I worked for a national charity I had already met the wonderful new ‘pop-up’ gazebos that were slowly replacing the old-style slot-in pole ones. So I started researching prices for them.

One of my earliest corporate bookings was painting in a well-known DIY chain. Sadly their colours were orange & black too and I kept getting mistaken for staff! Plus that was the end of my orange T-shirt, I hadn’t realised how badly facepaint stained bright colour shirts before then. Anyway, they had an orange gazebo on sale which I snapped up.

Me facepainting at Whitlingham open day

My first day’s work in it showed me how useless it was; I could hardly tell the difference between my colours, and as to blending, I couldn’t see where the colours were on a face let alone blend neatly. (It was also rubbish and broke the 1st time I took it down).

Cats tent Whitlingham facepaint

I tried again with the replacement I was given; but no, just look at the tint on my own skin. It did make me start to plan the ergonomic paint layout I now use though, as I realised I had to place paints in a pattern that meant I knew which was which just by where they were, not the colour. That gazebo also broke on 1st take-down so they gave me a green one. Don’t ask – all kids looked like sick zombies in that light even when they were butterflies etc.  And it buckled the 2nd time I was putting it up. I even tried a clear ‘greenhouse’ for night-time outdoor bookings – not good for shade of course, and smelly!


Work then invested in their own navy and blue popup gazebos, which taught me those colours were no good to paint/ photo under either… soooooo what to look for?

Gazebo set up kit banners farm day .21Kit n Pete Tshirt

My colour adventures continued in Hong Kong, as you can see, where organiser had to provide me with shade/ shelter as like most I relied on public transport, and HK is not big on wheel-accessibility either. This is the ‘whitest’ I could get a photo under a green tent and its still not quite right.

After trying a 4 different cream or white popups from various places (1 wouldn’t open when it arrived and the other snapped a pole the first weekend), I listened to my dad ‘always get the best you can afford’ and invested in an expensive professional white one from GalaTents. It was much heavier, much stronger and I could JUST put it up on my own. But it was quality!


It was brilliant – in the end that did me for 4 years of bookings and then was borrowed by family when we emigrated to Hong Kong. I hear it stayed up year round for a while, in windy Norfolk, had lots of use for 2 more years and it was up for a year covering our woodpile when we moved back. Finally a storm flipped it 2 years ago when it was in our garden; the frame was fine but it needed a new canopy. Definitely buy the decent stuff!!! Or get clients to put up a luxury one like this…

Cat at work-143

However, if you go to any festival/ event, 99% of the tents will be white. And the whites/ cream does get so grubby so fast and isn’t that easy to wash. Ditto any mould stains – very visible.

I then spent 4+ year painting daily, full-time, at a Norfolk visitor attraction.

Cat at work-54April bewilderwood platform umbrella

They went from having me in a treehouse (where many people with kids couldn’t get to me as had buggies – plus do you realise how much big trees sway? Like boats!),

 Cat at work-44Cat at work-43

to having me under a large green umbrella (wet & windy)

Fenced spot bewilderwoodJenns 1st Bewilderwood day me new skirt

to giving me shelter walls, then finally, a marvellous, lit, round-a-tree-house with electricity. Still a bit breezy but my fave ‘gazebo’ so far… 


I’d love to get a custom coloured tent, or striped, or anything with a random colour mix but those are outside my budget especially now I rely solely on face & body art for my income.


I was then booked by KJ Entertainments to paint alongside her which was fab. I arrived to find they had put up a bright yellow tent and winced. KJ saw and said she knew, she’d had a moment of madness/ forgetfulness when replacing their kit that year and was really regretting it.


Everyone had jaundiced skin even when the sun wasn’t out and we had to take photos outside not under the canopy if we wanted them to look normal, even photoshop didn’t help that much. Spot the diff in the 4 faces- 2 inside, tried to correct with much computer fiddling, 2 outside…

Looking through my archives I realise that even though I did use take a photo of every face (I had my 1st digital camera!  – & wanted to be able to email them to clients, have them to see what to practice/ change etc), I deleted nearly all of them as the colours would not go back to reality under the tinted light….

It was KJ who put me onto black as the colour of choice, she was going back to that with her next tent.

So, I tried a smaller black tent. Until now I’d had 3mx3m gazebos, which TBH was more space than i needed and cost more at events charging by size of pitch. I found a 2.5 m (cheapie) popup in black on Ebay and thought I’d try it. KJ was right – its great to paint in.

Balck gazebo new banner setup windy.192014-08-04 14.42.23

So far it has done multiple VW festivals (most in mud & rain, 1 in a scorching hot dry & dusty range of fields), massive music festivals and several smaller occasions.

2014-08-01 13.56.04VW fest gazebo.17

It didn’t feel too hot inside and many commented on the coolness of its shade at the dusty week, whilst I painted with the sides rolled 1/2 down watching the white tents around me turn brown with the dust. Mine stayed looking smart and still stood out from the pale crowd.

2014-08-14 15.55.01 Beautiful Days open facepaint gazebo.22

The big Beautiful Days fest was a total washout with torrential rain and much mud; we actually squished in 3 painters as the other one bringing a gazebo couldn’t make it in the end, on a 2 way slope, not an ideal pitch!

But even in horrible weather we could see to paint apart from when big thunder clouds had people switching on head torches- but that wasn’t just in our tent, they put on the ‘street’ lighting too as it was so dim!

Balck gazebo new banner setup windy.19

Sooooo, although there are a huge range of colours now available in a huge range of popups now, listen to the old hands; unless you invest in some lighting systems (more expense & awkward to get charge/ power plus some fest won’t let none PAT tested things be plugged in, etc); unless you are an excellent photoshopper/ don’t take pics, painting in most coloured gazebos is difficult and most photos will be useless. 

Tangled wings Rockit

Stick to white, cream or (my personal fave), smart dirt-hiding black! And go for the most professional-weight one you can – it lasts longer (many of the cheapies don’t last 2 trips out),and  it is heavier so less likely to flip (I have seen that happen a lot).

Tip: DO Invest in at least heavy-duty tie-down kit & leg weights, either the bags that hold litre bottles per leg (I get cheap spring water/ soft drinks & drink them through the event, replace with non-drinking water if that is all that is available), or the screw-together plastic ones that hold water/ sand. Etc. Many events now insist/ check your gazebo is properly secured, there have been too many accidents/ scares with gazebos taking off ( I have seen it many times, not fun). the flimsy cords most come with are like tooth-floss holding back an elephant and pointless. I have changed the thin lines with stronger UV/ day-glo cords too as well as weights and tie-down straps, with heavy duty ‘screw-in’ ground pegs. All helps!


Tip: if its hot & you want a breeze, don’t waste time, money & weight getting those expensive ‘half-side shop-counter’ panels with a horizontal bar at waist height.

Just undo the top edge & top sides of your regular side walls, fold over about waist height and velcro to the poles again at about waist height downwards (double it up IYKWIM).

Gives you the breeze but still stops people wandering through/ gives your kit more protection etc. The velcro on the back/ other walls holds it up in place high enough.