I regularly find myself on the look-out for items that can be used in the studio, that aren't necessarily intended for studio use. While I don't mind spending more on quality materials, sometimes my most useful tools came to me free or for under $10. Thrift stores, discount stores, hardware stores and yard sales are often a treasure trove of ideas.
For agitation, I was tickled to find this pet food tray. Not only is it a great surface for wet felting smaller objects, but it can be used as a washboard. Same with the soap dish (Thank you, Dollar Store!). It bends easy to go around smooth rounded surfaces. The exercise ball is heavier than it looks. I use it for fulling only.
I don't often need to blend my own colored wool, so spending $60-$100 on carders simply didn't make sense. So, when I saw these grooming brushes at my local pet store for $4 a piece, I couldn't resist. Perfect for rolags and small batches. The pink shiny fingerguards have saved my little fingertips more often than I'd like to admit. I've only seen them offered by FiberInfusion on Etsy. Eyebrow & bikini razors are fabulous for shaving finished pieces.
One of my favorite "cheap" tools is this salad spinner from a store that rhymes with Shmig Shmots. For quick drying pre-felts or smaller objects that simply won't towel dry easily. The shelf liner is ribbed and make for a great alternative to bubble wrap.
I can't tell you how often I use tulle in my practice. It's great for laying out delicate designs. It's great bundled up as a 'scrubber', although it creates a lot of soap foam. Most importantly, its fabulous for blocking (shaping wet wool.) A friend of mine gave me oodles of tulle leftover from her fabric stores. The smaller the weave the better, but even the larger stiffer tulle can be useful in stuffing & shaping a vessel.
Speaking of shaping, binder clips are a great tool for creasing/pinching felt. I have them in all sizes. Foam-covered wire comes in handy for stabilizing and hanging wet felt. Some are from New England Felting Supply & some from a leftover kid's toy called Toobers & Zots.
Workspace ergonomics is essential for good studio health. I grabbed some inexpensive PVC pipe and a hacksaw to raise my wet table to a comfortable height. And the padded flooring was the best $15 investment! Before finding it in my price range (Costco), a doubled-up yoga mat worked well for standing on for long periods.
I think that was more than twelve, but I hope this has been helpful for both newbies and experienced felters & crafters alike. Did I miss anything? What are your favorite non-traditional tools? Please share!