I received great feedback on my first article on art supplies that are sparking joy. Here are additional art supplies that make me happy and that I enjoy using. Please leave comments about what are supplies spark joy for you!

Note – I have no affiliations with these products.


Black Pencils – A simple #2 Ticonderoga pencil can get you going, but there are many more to choose from that will perform better. For everyday work and sketching, I suggest the Kimberly #5 H or #6 H graphite pencils by, General Pencil Company –, they are smooth and work well on most paper surfaces.

I am wondering if anyone has tried Blackwing pencils – I have heard great reviews, but haven’t purchased any yet. The price per piece is only $2, but you have to buy a box of 24. Please comment if you have tried them.

My favorite charcoal pencil is made by General’s and I like the 557-6B, extra soft. The extra soft makes blending and shading very easy to do.

Colored Pencils – I have used Prismacolor pencils – or, for years and find them to be perfect for layering, blending and shading from very light to bold colors in just a few strokes. They do however have a soft core and will break fairly easily.

If you haven’t tried Stabilo Aquarellable pencils, you must. The pencils are great for mark making on almost any surface including paper, glass, plastic and metal. They are my go to for card making, watercolor or mixed media projects where I just want to add a bit more definition and outline. The “Aquarellable” mean that you can also apply a water brush to your pencil work and soften the line or drawing. Available at Blick’s and Amazon.


Stabilo Aquarellable

I just picked up some Koh-I-Noor, Progresso woodless colored pencils from Czechoslovakia and I am in love with them! They are so smooth to draw with and almost float over the paper. The color selection isn’t as broad as the Prismacolor pencils, but I like the color intensity of the lead. The finish on the pencils and the round body makes holding them very comfortable too. 



This week I picked-up my first Caran D’Arche pencils, which are Swiss made. I have read so much about them that I can’t wait to try them and of course, I’ll let you know if they spark joy!

Another fun colored pencil to have in your stash is again by Koh-I-Noor and it is their Hardtmuth Tri-Tones. Each pencil has three different color leads, so as you write or sketch the color will change as you move the pencil over the paper. It is definitely bringing out the inner preteen in me!


Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Tri-Tones

Vintage Pencils – I love vintage and old pencils really do write and sketch differently than new ones. Not only do they write great, but as an added bonus they usually have very cool graphics on the body of the pencil. I find them at garage sales, vintage shops and flea markets. Be on the alert for vintage Prismacolor pencils; the colors are amazing and seem more pigmented than the newer variety.

Tip – Stop pencils from rolling off your work surface and breaking the lead inside. When not using the pencil, rest it on a chop stick holder. Electric pencil sharpeners are hard on the lead of the pencil; always use a manual sharpener.


Online learning is at your fingertips and there is great content for free or very reasonably priced. I stumbled upon Everything Art – run by Kasia and Jamie Avery based in the UK and I really like the format and content of their courses. I just finished their free, Encasutic Collage and Image Transfer, mini course and at over 45 minutes, it’s hardly “mini”. Kasia’s directions are clear, concise and jam packed with great tips. I’m putting their yearlong 2020 Wanderlust on my calendar for next year. The program will include 27 teachers and over 60 video lessons, one for every week in 2020 and at it’s current price of $99 for the entire year it’s a bargain.


Art Clips – I hate when my journal pages flip open and the big file folder clips either stick out too far or cover parts of the page. I found art clips at Michaels and at $1.49 each, they do the trick. I had to make mine pretty, so I added washi tape to each one.


I love these clips. Yes, that is a beaded belly band for my journal!

Brush Cleaner – After falling in love with “The Masters” Artist Soap, I thought I would try “The Masters” Brush Cleaner and Preserver. The product works like a charm and got even caked on paint off my brushes and left them soft and supple. I even bought a mini container of the cleaner for when I travel to workshops.


Shopping Local – I know that many many small art, scrapbook and rubber stamp stores have closed. If you are lucky enough to still have an independent store in your town, stop by. The owners are usually passionate about their store and very knowledgeable about the products.

Breville Tea Maker – While certainly not “technically” an art supply, I love a cuppa tea. I use the Breville Tea Maker – and it heats the water to the right temperature if I want a cup of green, herbal, oolong, black or white tea. It is a splurge, but I love it and the pot keeps the tea warm for an hour. Now, if I just don’t put my paintbrush in my tea cup….

Luna – My cat Luna, studio cat, extraordinary companion, and art critic.


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Mixed Media Metamorphosis – Butterfly Collage


I had an opportunity recently to attend a mixed media class and create a beautiful collage. While the subject matter was the same for all the participants, it was fun to see how each person interpreted how to use the materials, where to place the various papers, paints, drywall tape, and where to shade and add marks.

The instructor who taught the class is Lisa Thill and her YouTube information and link to her channel is in the, Check Out These Blogs tab. Lisa will be posting a step-by-step video on the project.


First few layers on a 9”x12” Artist’s Canvas Panel –, include Golden Fluid Matte Medium –, ephemera, Golden Regular Matte Gel – , Sizzix – Tim Holtz Gears die –, drywall tape –, white gesso, medium body – ProArt Gesso – or Claudine Hellmuth Studio Gesso – and a Wagner Studio Precision heat gun –


Changed the orientation of the piece.

Second set of layers – DecoArt Media Crackle Paste –, Basic Acrylic paints –


Third set of layers – a piece of wallpaper, StampinUp butterfly stamped on tissue paper –, brads, Dylusions paint –, Matte Gel, Ranger’s Archival black ink –, Finnabair Alchemy Metalique Waxes-


Fourth set of layers – General’s charcoal pencil extra soft –, Stabilo pencils, –,  Ranger’s Archival black ink –, stamps, Tim Holtz Distress Crayon –, Finnabair rust –, Prismacolor pencils –, or, Tim Holtz Distress Ink –, Krylon Spray to seal – or

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Too Cool For School! Book Covers for Journals!


The kids are going back to school and are excited about all their new school supplies. One of the first things that I had to do when I went back to school was to wrap all of my books with a brown paper bag to protect the cover. That got me to thinking about my journals that had boring covers. Here is a fun way to cover your journals in original art work!



  • Cold press watercolor paper 22” x 30”, 90 -140 lbs.
  • White gesso, medium body – ProArt Gesso – or Claudine Hellmuth Studio Gesso –
  • Chalk or acrylic paint in two or three of your favorite colors
  • Ranger Adirondack dye re-inkers (not alcohol ink). Chose colors that compliment the paint. These re-inkers have been discontinued, but you can find them on eBay.
  • Flat paint brush in 1” or 2”.  Read my previous post on favorite brushes, Art Supplies That Spark Joy.
  • Stencils with bold pattern. Check out StencilGirl stencils for a great selection –
  • Craft mat to mix gesso and paint or small cups. The best mat out there is my opinion is the Heidi Swapp silicone craft mat –
  • Offset palette knife
  • Cup of water for paint brush
  • Pan of water large enough to soak stencils
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towel or rag
  • PVA glue – Books by Hand –
  • T Square – available at Blick’s –
  • Exacto knife – Fiskers Soft Grip Detail Knife – or
  • Self-healing mat – Dahle Vantage self-healing cutting mat –
  • Large binder or artist clips

Optional Supply



  • Mix each paint color separately with gesso and brush the watercolor paper with a thin coat of the mixture. Allow to dry.
  • Lightly rub re-inker over painted surface in a random pattern.
  • Use palette knife and randomly stencil the paper with the colored gesso. Use white gesso on the stencils for contrast. Allow to dry.
  • Once the stenciled areas are dry add additional re-inker or Luster Rub-ons for contrast.
  • Allow to dry.
  • Measure journal and cut watercolor paper large enough to roll the paper over the edge of the book by at least 1/4” – 3/4”.
  • Use PVA glue to adhere paper to cover. Clip edges with binder clips to hold in place until dry.


  • It is a good idea to have separate brushes for acrylic and watercolor paints as the acrylics are much harder on the brush.
  • Place brush, palette knife and stencils in water immediately after use. Dried gesso is almost impossible to remove, but Krud Kutter – will also do the trick.
  • A mushroom brush is a great tool to use to clean the stencils. It is not abrasive and won’t tear the stencil.

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The Art of Organizing – #1 Mark Making

As a creative person, I like to get into my studio and let the process take over; however, I have been stymied and stalled by not being able to find the things needed for a particular project. Over the years, I have developed many organization solutions, which I will share on a regular basis.

Like many of you I have pens, inks, pencils, watercolors, acrylic paints, stamp pads, markers…you get the picture. At times I didn’t know what colors or types of products that I owned.

Take Inventory

First, gather all of you mark making tools and sort them by kind – all the pencils together, markers together, etc. Get rid of all the broken bits and bobs and set aside a pile of duplicates or things you don’t use anymore to be given away.

A pickle jar comes to life with some glitter and an old Crayola tin holds more supplies.

Create Color Charts

Second, do you have a bunch of products from one manufacturer? If so, go online and find the color chart associated with the product. Go to the product maker or Pinterest to find the chart. Can’t find one? Create your own chart and swatch in the colors. Once you have identified the colors, store the chart in a sheet protector or laminate the sheet. My favorite laminator is the Minc –, but there are many others available from Amazon,


Ink swatches for my fountain pens. Swatches can be stored on a clip ring or in plastic sheet protectors used for baseball card. Col-o-ring ink testing papers –

Store Creatively

Finally, storage can be an issue, so think creatively. Many of the big box stores have plastic storage solutions, but I like to upcycle and repurpose. Two of my favorite solutions were truly outside the box. I repurposed a chicken feeder and hung it on the wall to hold pens and brushes. I also found a mechanic’s tool chest and used that to store my markers. Take a trip to your local thrift store and look for mugs, cigar boxes, old vases and decorative glasses. 

Mechanic’s tool chest used to store markers. I store the color chart with the markers.


Repurposed chicken feeder stores all kinds of art tools.

What storage solutions have you found? Make sure to share!

Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions and make sure to like, share and post this article.

Heat It Up With Melt Media

It has been so hot these last weeks that when you go outside you feel like you will melt. That thought got me thinking about another technique that I love to do, which is Melt Media developed by FRAN-tage –


  • Embossing powders in your favorite colors
  • Glitter that coordinates with embossing powder
  • Stampendous – fragments and embossing enamels –
  • Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel (UTEE) in clear – or
  • Chipboard. I got mine from The Paper Cut –
  • Large die with distinctive shape. The samples shown are made with Tim Holtz dies –
  • Die cutting machine
  • An old non-stick electric skillet, no longer used to cook on
  • Metal spatula
  • Tim Holtz craft mat or other teflon cooking mat. I used an old Tim Hotlz craft mat that had worn out and I had cut in half –
  • Pot cover large enough to cover die
  • Rubber stamp with very distinctive pattern. Do not use poly or acrylic stamps as they will melt.
  • Pigment ink pad
  • Versamark


  • Using dies, cut shapes out of chipboard with your die cutting machine.
  • Warm skillet up on low temps, you may need to increase heat. Use caution around the skillet.
  • Place teflon mat on the skillet.
  • Place cut out chipboard on top of mat.
  • Sprinkle base coat of colored embossing powder on top of chipboard, covering the entire surface and let it melt. You may need to increase the temperature if the powder isn’t melting. Covering the chipboard with the pot lid will help melt the powder faster.
  • Once the base coat is melted, sprinkle on fragments, embossing enamels and glitter. Add a layer of UTEE on top of the melted coat. Cover with pot lid.
  • After the UTEE layer is melted, use spatula to remove silicone mat and chip board together.
  • If stamping the image, use either Versamark or a dye based ink pad. Versamark will not color the image and the dye based ink will.
  • After the image has been removed from the skillet and the UTEE is still warm, press rubber stamp into image and remove after a few seconds. Let image cool.
  • Use spatula to push chipboard off the mat.
  • Clean mat with spatula. Rub firmly to remove melted powders.


These finished works of art can be used on cards, in art journal or even made into pins by adding a pin fastener to the back of the chipboard.

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There is a lot of talk going around about what sparks joy in your life. I thought I’d share what art supplies make me happy and that I enjoy using. Please leave comments about what sparks joy for you! 

Note – I have no affiliations with these products.


Brushes – I’ve never spent much on paint brushes and usually bought whatever was cheap and available. As I’ve begun to take my art more seriously, I have been trying different products. I bought Simply Simmons round point and flat brushes for both acrylic and watercoloring. I have a set dedicated to acrylics and a separate set for WC, since acrylics are very hard on the bristles. I got mine for about $2 a brush from, Dick Definitely give them a try if you want an affordable and versatile set. If you really want to up your game, try the Escoda Versatil brushes also available at Blick. The Escoda brushes hold water and pigment much more readily than the Simply Simmons set, making for an overall smoother experience.


Acrylic Paints – Again, I have tried many brands over the years and I love my Golden Acrylics, but my new favorites are Paper Artsy acrylic paints from the UK. The pigmentation is outstanding and they dry with a bit of a chalky finish. The Paper Artsy paints come in opaque, semi transparent and transparent. I found mine at, Ephemera –, in Paducah, KY.  The owner, Kristen, is happy to ship.

While on the topic of acrylic paints, I can’t say enough good things about the Masterson Sta-Wet Palette. Typically, I mixed my acrylics on a paper plate. However, more often than not, they would dry out during a session. The Sta-Wet Palette has a special paper and sponge system to keep the paints wet for at least a week #moneysaver! Available at Blick.

Watercolors – Gansai watercolors from Japan have been a staple for a while and are good quality watercolors. What’s been sparking joy in watercolors for me recently are watercolors from Daniel Smith and the German brand Schmincke (professional grade Horadam Aquarell). I am really finding that investing in supplies makes a big difference when it comes to pigmentation and mixing colors. You don’t have to go whole hog, just pick up one tube or pan and give them a try. Available on the web.

If you love metallic watercolors, a must have are watercolors from Coliro or Fine Tec, both are made in Germany. The colors and shine are simply amazing! Available from Amazon –, or Blick.



Fountain Pens – When it comes to writing letters or adding detail to watercolors, fountain pens are a must have. A great entry level pen is the Platinum Carbon pen for about $9 which can be found on Amazon. They come with ink cartridges, but you can buy a converter and buy bottle inks. If you want to step things up a bit, get a TWSBI ECO or a Lamy, both at about $29. I love the Lamy AL Joy with a 1.9 stub. This pen makes my penmanship look great! Both pens are available from Goulet Pen Company – Intimidated by fountain pens? Goulet has a fabulous library of short videos on fountain pens and maintenance. 


Washi Tape – I have too much washi tape and I seldom used it as it was stored willy nilly. I found a storage container at Michaels designed just for washi tape with multiple bins to separate colors and themes. Now it is hard to put the stuff down! Score one for Joy!



Handmade Paper – Through my travels and gifts from friends and family I had tubes of beautiful papers that were stored at the top of the closet. Not likely for me to use them there! I did have to cut them down, but they are now stored flat (key!) in an Itoya 13”x19” Profolio portfolio. Genius! 

Ephemera – I am a paperholic and I love all kinds of paper. I have a stash of ephemera and wasn’t using it. Stay tuned! I will be posting examples of how I store it and how I am incorporating it into my artwork! 


Podcasts on Art, Crafting and Pens – I am a lifelong learner and I enjoy online classes and YouTube, but there is something about listening to the radio that I like. I can now combine listening and learning while creating by listening to podcasts. There are many podcasts out there, but here are a few that I have found, Art Supply Posse, Erasable, RSVP, and The Pen Addict.


Eraser – Hard to believe that I would find joy in an eraser, but I do! My Moo Eraser was only $2.99 and it takes up even the darkest lines and doesn’t leave marks or tear the paper. Available on Amazon.

Teflon Bone Folder – Seriously, is there a difference?? There is and for about $12 this large flat teflon bone folder is triggering joy. Available on Amazon.

Chop Stick Holder – What? How did that end up on the list? Pens and brushes roll off the table all the time. Using a chop stick holder to rest the pen or brush ends that frustration! Shop local to find one!

Soap – Yes, soap. My hands are always full of paint, inks, gesso, etc. and I have tried so many soaps with limited success. I stumbled upon “The Masters” Artist Soap and now my hands are spotless after hours in my studio – ah the little things!


Luna – My cat Luna, my constant companion in the studio. She brings me joy each day!

What’s sparking your joy? Please share!

Spark more joy for me by commenting, liking and sharing this post!



Starting with a background that is all black seems quite strange, after all, where is the white space?!? I did just that when I used black gesso on an entire deck of playing cards. The adventure began during a class with Seth Apter, US based mixed media artist, instructor designer and author.  I joined Seth for his, Fifty-Two Card Pick-Up class, at Valley Stamp and Scrap  Using mixed media techniques we created a unique mixed media journal with a deck of playing cards. Techniques included paints, inks, stencils, pencils, stamps and ephemera. 


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Anyone that knows me knows that I love to write letters and of course receive them. I have a deep love of stationery and that’s probably what lead me to creating cards. Today I found a great way to combine my creative side and upcycle by using wallpaper remnants from discarded wallpaper books to create note cards and matching envelopes. While I was at it, I also used some of the handmade papers and even blueprints I’d been hoarding to create additional stationery.

I created matching note cards by adding a strip of paper either horizontally or diagonally to coordinating card stock. Each envelope has two note cards.


  • Wallpaper book or discarded rolls
  • Ruler
  • Paper trimmer – my favorite is, Fiskars 12” ProCision Rotary Bypass Trimmer – 
  • Envelope punch – We R Memory Keepers Punch – 
  • Two sided tape – sookwang tape – 
  • Bone folder – my new favorite is a large flat teflon bone folder – 
  • Coordinating color card stock 80 lb. – The Paper Cut –
  • PVA glue – Books by Hand –

Optional Supply

  • Corner rounder – Fiskars – 
  • Book press to flatten envelopes and cards

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Think Spring!!

Here are two quick cards that took less than ten minutes to make. I hope they inspire you since Spring is right around the corner.


The butterflies were die cut from alcohol inked Yupo paper, by Legion Paper, which can be found on Amazon,  Alcohol inks used were Rangers, Tim Holtz inks, Ranger – or Tim Holtz – The two smaller butterflies are Sizzix, Thinlits, Tim Holtz – 661802 – and the big butterfly is from Gina Marie Designs. The Hello stamp is from Studio 18 and the Thank You is a PSX stamp.


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* Let it Snow * * *

We are having record cold in the Midwest this week, but alas, no snow. Here is a card I made that reflects my love of both snow and skating.



  • 80# paper in white, pink and brown. I prefer paper from The Paper Cut – 
  • Pink envelope
  • Clear acetate. I used acetate from The Paper Cut – 
  • Pink glitter paper
  • Bone folder – my favorite is Martha Stewart’s
  • Paper trimmer – my favorite is, Fiskars 12” ProCision Rotary Bypass Trimmer – 
  • Spellbinder 3.25” circle die
  • Lawn Fawn, Let it Snow die. Lawn Fawn – 
  • Die cutting machine. I prefer Tim Holtz Vagabond 2 die machine. Tim Holtz – 
  • Impression Obsession, Skaters Silhouette. Impression Obsession – 
  • Pink Ink Stamps, Pair of Ice Skates. Pink Ink Stamp Company – 
  • Snow stamp by StampinUp. StampinUp –  
  • Tim Holtz Distress Oxide Inks – Spiced Marmalade, Warm Lipstick, and Peeled Paint. I also did some backgrounds in Warm Lipstick and Broken China. Tim Holtz – or Amazon – 
  • Tim Holtz blending tool and separate foam pads for each Oxide color. Tim Holtz – 
  • StazOn black ink. Tsukineko – or Amazon –
  • Memonto Luxe ink in Wedding Dress. Tsukineko – 
  • Misti Stamp Positioner – 
  • Stampendous, Shaved Ice glitter. Stampendous – 
  • Adhesives – Towbow adhesive runner –, double sided foam adhesive and Tombow liquid glue – 
  • Fan brush
  • White acrylic paint
  • Water
  • Small white cotton ball 
  • StazOn All Purpose Stamp Cleaner
  • Swifer



  • Cut white, pink and brown papers and acetate to size. White base cut to A2, pink 4” x 5.25”, brown 3.75” x 5” and another white 3.5” x 4.75”. Clear acetate cut to 3.50” x 4.75” .
  • Die cut circle on brown paper and cut out Let it Snow on pink glitter paper.
  • On smaller cut white paper, create a sunset by blending Tim Holtz, Oxide Inks. 
  • Stamp Skaters using StazOn ink. A stamp positioner is very helpful to get a crisp and dark image. Stamp snowflakes on acetate with white ink. Stamp skates on pink envelope. I used Tim Holtz, Walnut Distress Ink for the skates, but you can use any color.
  • Adhere pink layer to white base and skaters to the pink layer.
  • Outline the edges of the skater paper with double sided tape. I used a sheet of double sided adhesive and cut 1/4” strips on my paper cutter.
  • Adhere snowflake stamped acetate to back of brown paper.
  • Sprinkle Stampendous Shaved Ice glitter on top of skaters. Place brown paper with acetate on top of double sided adhesive. Make sure that there are no gaps at the corners.
  • Adhere, Let it Snow die with Tombow liquid glue to front. Adhere cotton ball.
  • To create snow on the pink envelope (the Memonto ink did not show), dilute white acrylic paint with water and flick on the with a fan brush.