Tag Archives: art supplies

My own 10 must have art supplies list

Inspired by this post at Katherine Marie Photography (via Whipup),  I’ve been musing about what’s on my own top-ten list.

It’s a tough choice, but here, I think, are the things I rely on most:

  • A good pen. I’ve got lots of these.  I’m a little bit fickle about my favorites, and I’m always looking for one that’s sharp, very black, doesn’t bleed through paper, and doesn’t break the bank. The one I keep reaching for these days is this one, perfect for everything from the grocery list to a pen and ink sketch:

  • My watercolors. I’ve got several kinds, in both cake and tube form, in large and small sets, but the one I keep turning back to is my ancient set, the one pictured (at least until I change it on June 1) in my blog header above.
  • Staedtler Mastercarve art carving blocks. LOTS of Staedtler Mastercarve art carving blocks. I use other things for carving stamps and illustrations, too, but this is my favorite material so far.  I wish it were easier to find in my area, but there’s always the internet.
  • Speeball carving tools. I have other sets, but I reach for my basic set–2 handleswith interchangeable blades–more than any of the other.

  • My self-healing cutting board and my cork-backed steel ruler–these count as one to me, since I’m always using them together.
  • My Japanese screw punch, a gift from the Better Half. This one is so useful and so amazing that it should probably be higher on the list. Every time I use it, I find myself exclaiming out loud about how brilliant it is. Makes perfect holes of just the right size; essential for book-binding projects and all kinds of other useful tasks.
  • An assortment of wonderful papers. Sorry, this counts as one thing, too.
  • My scanner.
  • My jar of colored pencils.
  • My camera.

And just because Katherine Marie gave us two lists of 10, here are 10 little doodads that I suppose I could live without, but working with art materials wouldn’t be nearly as easy without them.

  • My pinkie-sized spray water bottle for keeping the watercolors wet. Also works on my wrists and the back of my neck during hot flashes.
  • Single-edge razor blades. I buy them in boxes of 100 at Lee Valley.
  • My Gorillapod tripod.
  • My tiny little spring shears, again from Lee Valley, who will sell you a dozen pairs for only $4.95, which gives you enough that you can share with a few friends and still not melt down in tears when the TSA confiscates the pair you accidentally leave in your knitting bag in your carry-on luggage. Yeah.
  • Cat whiskers, which Nemo kindly provides for me on a regular basis. Nice for manipulating the pattern of the ink when you’re doing suminagashi.
  • My little froggie incense bowl (which doesn’t actually have any incense in it in the photo below) and a steady supply of Viva pine/sandalwood incense sticks. I like to start each art session with a short dedication and this frog bowl pleases me very much.
  • frog bowl brush bowl on creamA little hand fan–good for moving inks on water (and again for the hot flashes). Can also be used carefully to hasten the drying of an over-wet watercolor mark.
  • Knox unflavored gelatin for gelatin monoprinting.
  • Sheets of baking parchment to put under the area where I’m working with paints, glues, and inks. My studio is my kitchen table, and this makes clean-up easier. I keep several sheets just for this purpose and use them over and over again.
  • A family who (mostly) doesn’t mind when dinner is late (or sandwiches) again because I just want to pull one more print or because the table is covered with little crumbs of Mastercarve and half-finished stamps.

Actually, that last one should probably be way at the very top of this post.  I Excuse me while I  go now and make supper.

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Getting organized

Neatness is not, I’m afraid, my strong suit. Those of you who have been to my house, stop laughing. No, really, I mean it. Oh, never mind.

Anyway, I do manage from time to time to make little corners of the place liveable, and recently I’ve been tackling my art supplies and trying to coax some kind of order out of the chaos. Our house is 218 years old, a little tiny old country farmhouse. The farm itself was gone long before we bought the place 20 years ago, but we’ve got a couple of acres with a pond, a few of hives of benignly neglected honey bees, and many beautiful trees, among them towering black walnuts, an old apple tree that offers more in the way of character than actual fruit, several huge hemlocks, and splendid swamp maples that we actually tap in the late winter to make maple syrup. All very charming and picturesque and Little House on the State Highway.

Inside the house, though, we’ve suffered from too little space (my 6′ 4″ tall son and 6′ 6″ tall husband would ruefully rub the tops of their heads and add that in certain doorways we also suffer from too little overhead clearance). In 1790 they weren’t building houses with closets or walk-in basements, so we’ve had to get creative about storage. I laid claim to a short, narrow hallway next to the stairs, which is too small to be of much use for anything else, and lined one side of it with bookcases for my art supplies. Still they got out of hand, so I was delighted to snag some interesting cupboards at an antique show last weekend, and spent several days this past week putting them to good use:

Here’s a detail shot:

The top shelf is actually a heavy old wine crate, its partitioned spaces just the right size for small watercolor pads, small books I’ve made that haven’t found homes yet, stamp ink pads, and small cuts of papers for books, cards, and other projects.

The lower shelf (in the upper photo, natch) is my favorite. Its spaces are just the right size for larger sheets of paper, larger books that haven’t found homes yet, oddments of ephemera, book board, and medium sized sketch, watercolor, and colored paper pads. Off to the right, in the area that’s still under construction (pretend you don’t see those cobwebs) you can see how I store large sheets of art paper and spools of linen thread.

The thing I like best about this larger cupboard (my cheap fans are hiding the words painted on the side) is that it was originally a grocery display case (or delivery case?) for Table Talk pies. Makes me think of walking to the cool, dimly lit old corner grocery store when I was little and visited my grandmother in Tennessee, and of the Patti Griffin song:

It’s not far
I can walk
Down the block
To Table Talk
Close my eyes
Make the pies all day . . .

Oh, and the plastic stage beetle Transformer toy? He’s an old friend–don’t ask.