Tools Of The Trade. What Are Your favorites ?

As most of you may be aware I am an art supply and tool junkie. I wish there was a job would allow me to test drive all sorts of mixed media and art supplies. When I was told that my job had been eliminated my first thought was "how will I get art supplies"? Nothing about food, bills or jaunts - just a fear that I would be unable to enjoy new art tools! 

In honor of my addiction I thought it might be fun to share some of favorite art supplies and tools with you. These are the tools that I reach for almost daily. Although I love quite a few products from the same place all of these tools described in this post were purchased by me - none of them were supplied to me.

I'd love it if you would shares you secret tool fetishes, likes and dislikes with me !

Zinsser 98005 1-Inch Seam Roller $2.99 on Amazon. This handy tool got one star on Amazon but I love it! It works like a dream to roll things flat and assure adherence. I had to buy a second one to have in my "walk-about" journal set. Plus it has a lime green handle - so what's not to give it 5 stars?!!

Sakura 3D Crystal Lacquer. I've never been much of a glossy kind of gal but I had to give gloss a try. In the process I tried a lot of different brands and I have to admit to being partial to the Sakura brand. It really adds a great dimension and can be used as a gloss coat/sealer or, as I generally use it for, a highlight. It holds it shape well - doesn't run as some can and even a heavy coat will dry to a clear lovely gloss over night
Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel pencils. This is a really poor image of a really great product. I generally am not fond of pastels - other than Pan Pastels- but become increasingly curious about them when I saw them used by Lisa Fulmer. I'm glad I plunged ahead and bought them - they're water soluble pastel pencils that are super smooth, don't generate much dust and can really add a great dimension to your work. They work well when used 'over' another image.
Lyra Rembrandt PolyColor oil base pencils - Luscious color that's oh! so smooth!

Pan Pastels. This is one of those products that I hemmed and hawed about getting for quite awhile. I've never been a huge fan of pastels but these changed my mind. They're far more creamy than regular pastels and they blend beautifully. The new pastel tools, sponges, applicators and blenders really make blending easy!

Perfect Paper Adhesive by US ArtQuest. When I first tried this adhesive I thought it was just a tad arrogant to call it 'perfect', but is, exactly that, perfect! I think I have tried almost every brand of adhesive around the art block and nothing has pleased me as much as this . I love that it's matte (they also offer gloss) and, for some reason, it just doesn't seem as fussy and icky to use. Love this stuff!

Ah! Daniel Smith watercolors. Once again I have tried many different brands of watercolors and these just float my boat. They are super pigment laden so you use very little and, while they are most certainly not the cheapest brand, the color goes a very long way.  It's taken me awhile to decide on a favored medium - which is why I encourage experimentation - but I have a definite preference for watercolor now. I am not a water colorist but I can still appreciate the superior qualities of pigment laden, professional quality watercolors.  I also like some of the colors that Holbein and ShinHan have to offer. Holbein makes a line of antique Irodori colors that are beautiful and ShinHans brand of gouache is excellent
Water brush. Made by a variety of companies. This has become one of my all time favorite tools. My friend, Sarah, sent me my first two water brushes and I have to admit that I had not a clue what it was or how to use it . Once my brain connected the dots there was no going back. I love these brushes! The nylon - or whatever it is- fibers allow you to work with one color, then wipe the brush tip off and go right to another color. They are available in a variety of nib sizes from small to wash and also a variety of pen sizes. Small, compact ones to travel with (and have a cover) and 'regular' sizes that are consistently scattered around on my table. Thanks for the head's up on this on Sarah!

Derwent InkTense watercolor pencils have been a favorite for quite few years now. They have rich, luscious that can be applied as a light wash (adding color from a pencil to a water brush) or deep, dense color (adding the color to the paper and then blending with a watercolor brush). 

Another gem from US Artquest. This is their Excel board which comes in a variety of finishes( metallic) and colors. My favorite is 'manuscript' which features an embossed manuscript writing on the surface. I love to lay tissue paper prints on this surface because the embossing adds another layer of texture to the work. I cut the sizes for what I want - I love using it for ATC's
Many of you know that I am addicted to ATC's. Thus, I have tried many, many, different ATC materials from cutting Bristol paper to size to ordering at least a dozen other brands to try. This ATC canvas, another gem from US Artquest, is, in my opinion, far and away the best of the best ATC material.  Substantial, smooth and delightful. I cant use anything else any more. A bit more expensive to be sure - but it's darn near perfect. Comes in black as well as white. I wish they would offer larger packages of it with a price break. I like to use high quality materials for my ATC's because I do try to make them miniature art works.
Color Dusters by Judikins are another tool that I use on an almost daily basis. They are the perfect blending tool. It took a bit of time to figure out the tool I need to do what I wanted to do - which was blend on edges - but I'm sure glad I found these. Available in three sizes. I need some more of them as a matter of fact !
Gesso! Ah! What a wonderful medium it is! Until I discovered Venetian Plaster (below) I always reached for white gesso. There are many brands of gesso and it seems to me that many come close in quality. I've  used Golden brand for a long time but have recently switched to Daniel Smith's brand which I buy by the pint. Many people seem to be unaware that gesso comes in quite a few colors. I only seem to use white - but it's nice to know that other color options are available. I use this not only to seal but also to add texture and to build up specific areas. Another "love it!" item.

The newest addition to my favorites list is Venetian Plaster. When I first went to look for it I thought it was an entity onto itself. What I was looking for, in fact, was, the tinting base. Although this is a more affordable, polymer alternative to real Venetian Plaster it stills provides the sheen and polishing capabilities that the "real stuff" affords. It's cool to the touch like real marble - which really surprised me the first time I felt it. It has a much finer appearance than gesso and polishes to a light sheen. Yep, I love this stuff and reach for as much as I still reach for gesso. I use it it nearly interchangeably with gesso - but I love the fineness and polish I can get with this plaster. It's available in your local hardware store - just remember you want the tint base. The kind I have is from Modern Masters but there are other brands - one day I want to splurge and try the 'real' Venetian plaster made from marble dust.


  1. Thanks for the review of supplies. I always wonder which I should get.

  2. I am crazy about grommets, and any kind of metal fasteners. Gee, I should use them more in my work...

    Thanks for all the tips and photos!

  3. What fun reading with morning coffee...thanks so much for taking the time to share this information

  4. Sometimes you just make me so mad! Now I have a long list of things to check out when I go to the art supply store next week to by supplies for by art class. I was going to be good and just stick with the list...but you temptress you!

    By the way, I do have the water color brush and love it. I have a little traveling water color kit from Winston and it works well for me to play at work between calls.


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