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…
Like all painters I have been forever trying new ways of carrying and presenting my kit.
In the beginning (wayyy back in 2000), all that was available was the blue plastic trays forSnazaroo. Nice idea but the blue looked very kiddy, they snapped really easy and I soon had them all taped around the edges, and the lids didn’t last long either. Plus I didn’t stick with Snazaroo paints for long, and other paint brands didn’t fit in unless I gouged them out of their pots.
I went back to my art school roots and had a small black artists toolboxwith everything, then when I was doing a lot of big mad music festivals, a larger upright toolbox with wheels. I rightly thought that would be tougher than the arty ones, it wheeled OK across endless fields and didn’t take up too much floor-room in a tent.
For bookings in New Zealand I cut right down to a small packable kit.
Living on a catamaran in Hong Kong, relying on boats, buses and taxis and no lifts in buildings, I learnt I had to be minimal. I reduced down to 2 laptop sized inserts in a ‘clamshell’ lidded palette box, which was carried in a rucksack or shopping trolley with all the other bits. I had a good look at the pull-about makeup kits a lot of makeup artists there had. A waste of time, too small, the larger were too heavy, too complicated, not sturdy enough and really only any use in nice flat makeup studios.
When we emigrated back to the UK, I switched to a bigger handled bigger wheeled much larger ‘trunk’ toolbox . This was fab fortrundling through the Norfolk woodland theme park to my daily painty gig for several years at Bewilderwood, as originally they only gave me a platform with a dodgy parasol to work under. So everything had to be sturdy and very waterproof for the British weather all year – I could stuff everything back in it fairly fast if it rained. (Not always fast enough). I still have this, it stores all my acrylic craft paints & brushes I use when I am doing murals and urban art statues. It is fab as I can stand or sit on it to reach higher.
Bewilderwood then built my a stunning painting treehouse, in keeping with the rest of the park, but with a tiny shelf to paint on – I was in the middle with 2 stencillers and a till on either side, so I really had to downsize again.
Eventually I upgraded to a ‘DJ Hero’ Case which was a style I liked better as you could more or less open the lid and be ready to paint. However the legs were rubbish, and had to be carried separately, it was heavy and awkward to carry, and quite flimsy as it was just cardboard walls (not waterproof either).
I then converted a golf flight case which was even heavier but I also magnetised that so paints etc with magnets taped on would stick and not slide about. I liked that idea but never did have the tools to attach a salvaged suitcase extending handle, or wheels.
Eventually I bit the bullet and imported a Craft N Go, the smaller paint station specially designed with painters in mind. It’s not perfect – the handle even with the extension is a bit short for me (I’m fairly tall) and I would prefer a stiff extending handle. The attached legs are still a little wibbly if bumped, but its pretty darn good. Tough shell (I went for black as most corporate gigs ask for all black setups), OK wheels (not much ground clearance for gravel/ field gigs, but I tend to stick it all in a big trolley anyway), magnetised base and inner lid.
I’v had it for several years now and its seen a lot of use at my own bookings and demos as well as being the test kit for the Paintopia shop at events. The inner lid metal was stained – I’ve tried various cleaners and even isopropyl but no joy. Its had mirror acrylic etc magnetized on at various points but now I wanted a change. The black gloss sticky backed vinyl on the base boards was also stained and a bit nicked and dinged.
I’m doing much less work abroad now the kids are older, so I also wanted to go back to single colours in the palette inserts (minus the lidded palette box) rather than repotted doubled up paints in a tray, its easier to keep track of the dates and batch numbers of the paints for insurance purposes when they are in their original pots anyway . (But do take a photo of the base and note the date you started the paint as some labels do get worn away!).