I'm lucky to have lots of experience with tools. Accessories design was honestly the coolest major. We really rolled up our sleeves and got dirty making bags, shoes, and belts.
I was delighted to be buying hammers and knives instead of sketch paper and muslin, like my FD (fashion design) counterparts. Old-fashioned handbag and shoe construction is CRAZY. The amount of tools and skills needed is kind of insane.
We only had 25 people in our program, which is offered at less than 10 schools worldwide. Ours being located in Midtown Manhattan, the supplies we needed were niched, expensive, and all of the stored closed at 5pm--not very convenient. I do NOT miss the days of commuting to school with a huge duffel bag of sharp implements on a barely-post-9/11 transit system. I also don’t miss all the glaring financiers on the 8:32 to 33rd Street who were not happy with the extra space said bag took up.
Learning which tools you needed to spend the full monty of Sallie Mae’s insidious dollars and which ones you could dupe at the hardware store was a very important skill to be able to afford ramen for my gullet in between all night sew-a-thons. Becoming familiar with the ins and outs of Home Depot and the other neighborhood hardware stores could save your grade, literally, when things went wrong with a design.
Another thing I noticed about big-box hardware stores: they have TONS of stuff that is extremely useful to the creative and frugal. Besides chains for bags and slabs of wood to protect your floor from the sharp blades used to cut leather, a veritable paradise of strange, affordable, useful items are hiding in these shelves.
I traveled to Home Depot on 23rd street with my roommate, Darnell, to shoot some of my favorite beauty tricks hiding within your local tool box.
I have always been a filtered water user. Something about the crust in the nooks of the stairwell in my apartment building tells me that the inside of the pipes probably don’t look too much better. Now imagine bathing in it, drinking it, brushing your teeth with it. Meh. I mean have you seen the fatberg in the London sewer? Gross.
But on the real, I remember coveting the $99 Jonathan shower purification system for years. I do NOT have that kind of dough, especially when the filters are pricey, and I know my roommates would never chip in on them.
My stingy ass was taking an ADHD stroll through the aisles for moving supplies once, and I saw the holy grail of home-improvement beauty: AFFORDABLE SHOWER FILTER!
This universal guy is 1/5th of the price as the brand name, and frickin’ works. I tell you this as I stroke my even-softer skin and dramatically softer weave hair. Yes, weave hair, softer--this is a hard thing to achieve!
The filters last six months and have a marker so you can keep track of when you need to replace it. The replacement filters are around $12, which brings total cost for your first year to $32. THAT is the icing on the frugal soft skin cake.
Next we have sanding sponges. I use these while sewing to rough up pieces before gluing. Sponges are delightfully cheap--way cheaper than the pedicure-oriented sponges that fall apart and don’t do jack for my city-walking callouses.
These are meant for sanding walls and projects, so they are a bit more powerful than the ones you might be used to. This would work best on post-shower feet, being careful to not over exfoliate. I probably wouldn’t use this on any other area of my body, though, it is a bit too rough for my aforementioned soft skin.
It is probably also smart to not go below coarse grit. The angled sponge and four gritty surfaces really allow you to get your entire foot with more leverage than a hand held foot file.
The last item you probs didn’t know could be used for a plethora of things is diatomaceous earth. This stuff is a natural insecticide and works wonders for city bugs like ants and bedbugs. (If you are looking at an apartment and see sprinkled white powder, that is a pretty good indicator that they have had bedbugs in the past. Stay away!)
Aside from a lovely all-natural bug buster, diatomaceous earth is used in face masks, foot soaks, and many crunchy health remedies, but since it is not FDA-approved for internal consumption, I am not really in a position to recommend eating it, though external application is safe.
There are many different grades of DE. The usual three are pool grade, garden grade, and food grade. I haven’t the slightest idea why they would allow it to be labeled food grade but not approve it for consumption, but that's the American government for ya.
Pool grade is dangerous to inhale, touch or consume. It causes silica dust to coat any and all surfaces, and should never be applied to skin. Garden grade is what you can find at Home Depot, and this is OK for external uses and applications. Food grade is supposedly ingestible, but more research and testing needs to be completed before I will back up its health claims.
Simply adding a ½ cup to the bath or mixing with water to make a paste will make an absorbent mask that will help draw dirt and impurities out of the skin, like a clay mask.
Take a stroll through your local hardware store; it may just give you ideas for all kinds of beauty projects!