ART
Catherine Winter-Hébert

REVIEW: Darby Smart Kits Take All the Stress Out of DIY

filed under: Art, DIY

If you’re anything like the average Pinterest user, you’ve likely collected a gazillion projects that you’re dying to DIY. Home decor, pillow-making, garden decorations… there are so many fabulous ideas out there, and chances are you’ll look at a dozen of them today and think “I can make that!” Of course, reality doesn’t always match ambition, and amassing the right tools and materials and sorting out exactly how to fit them all together can be a bit daunting. This is where Darby Smart steps in: with their kits, everything you need to create a fun, fabulous project comes in one cute package (including instructions).


Darby Smart kits come in all shapes, sizes, and themes to suit your individual tastes, and you can try out some great crafts that you might otherwise have been a bit nervous to experiment with. Looking for a great wedding favor? You can paint some coasters, stencil prints onto tea towels, or even etch some glass champagne flutes. Avid gardeners can make mini terrariums or chalkboard planters, or home-loving folks can try making their own gin, or pillows, or countless other fun projects.

Related: Make Your Own Bath Mat with Recycled Wine Corks

Since I’m a rather domestic sort and I live in a woodsy rural home, the kit I chose had a fairly rustic lean: a wood-burned recipe box. The kit contained a wooden box, wood-burning tool, letter-burning stencils, varnish, brush, and a very detailed set of instructions. Fortunately, said directions kept me from burning my house down, so that made everyone happy.

Letter stencils were laid out across the top to gauge their placement, and were even traced so I knew exactly where they’d go once heated up. Since I live in Quebec, I wrote out the French word for recipes (recettes), just in case I ever want to give this away as a gift. As mentioned, I’d never done any kind of wood burning before, so I was a bit nervous about the process. As instructed, I used a couple of scrap pieces of wood to test out the burning tools before using them on the box itself, and I felt a lot more confident after a few trial runs.

The burning itself went quite quickly, and I actually managed to burn the letters pretty consistently. A few of them needed to be touched up, but the burning stencils came with a variety of tips as well as letters, so I just fussed over a few of the contours until I was happy with them. Once the letters were all burned, it was just a matter of staining the box and letting it dry for 24 hours. The result: a beautiful little keepsake box for storing all of my canning recipes. I’ll be putting a coat of varnish on it eventually just to keep it from getting stained by jam-spatter, but even without the sealant, it looks beautiful.

Related: DIY Vintage Teacup Candles

Although I’ve been embroidering and painting and such since I was a kid, wood burning was a new adventure and I don’t think I would have even tried it if it hadn’t been so perfectly put together in that craft kit. There was never any worry whether I had the right tools for the job, nor was I comparing my own work to some immaculate piece posted by another crafter who may have had a lot more free time to fuss over their Pinterest-perfect piece. This was truly a pleasure to create, and if you’ve been thinking about trying a home decor project that’s outside of your comfort zone but have been too intimidated to take the plunge, I can’t recommend these kits highly enough.

+ Darby Smart

Lead image via Darby Smart; all other images by the Author

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