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What I Use

I've gotten a number of e-mails recently asking about the various products, tools, etc. that I use.  I have some of it listed on my FAQs page, but I figured it was time to go over some of it in detail.  I've tried to include the items that I most frequently get asked about.  If there's something you're wondering about and don't see it listed here, leave a comment and I'll get back to you. 

I really am all over the map when it comes to paint, but these are my go-to choices:

  • Gesso: Golden - I've tried other brands, but I like the way Golden dries.  The surface is my favorite.
  • Acrylic Paint: Studio by Claudine Hellmuth for Ranger, Making Memories - I like the translucent and yet creamy qualities of the Studio paints, and the opacity and quick drying time of the Making Memories.  Color wise, the Studio line has a fabulous skin tone color called traditional tan.  And Making Memories just comes in such a wonderful array of colors (school bus yellow is my fave).
  • Watercolor: Koi by Sakura - Great intense colors.  I use the tube watercolors, but their pan watercolors are nice too.  (Here are some opinions on the subject of tube vs. pan.)

I tend to buy whatever is on sale at the store.  Some quick guidelines:

  • I buy student grade brushes.
  • I buy both synthetic and natural bristles.  I'm cheap, so I go off of price.  And usually end up with synthetics.  There's some belief that you should use synthetics for watercolor and acrylics and natural for oil paints (since natural bristles tend to dry out faster), but it's a fast and furious debate with opinions on both sides.
  • A great starter set of brushes (at a nice price) is the Studio Art Brushes from Claudine Hellmuth for Ranger.
  • My most used brushes are a #12 flat, #6 round, and #2 round.
  • Sponge brushes have their place in the world, but I'm going to tell you that you will be a better painter and get better results if you use a bristle brush instead.  Using a sponge brush is kind of like trying to bake a cake in a box instead of a pan.  It will work in a pinch, but it's really not ideal.


  • Dye Based Ink: Ranger Distress Ink - It's water reactive (runs when it comes in contact with water), archival, can be used for embossing (unlike most dye based ink), dries relatively quickly, and comes in lots of delicious colors.
  • Solvent Based Ink: Staz On by Tsukineko - I can't stay away from my StazOn.  It comes in lots and lots of colors.  It is permanent on lots of surfaces (including non-porous ones like plastic and glass) and won't run when you paint on top of it or pour water all over it.  Love that!

Spray ink is the best stuff on earth.  It is my constant companion.

  • Adirondack Color Wash by Ranger - This is my #1 favorite.  It is fabric dye and deeply pigmented.  It is also highly reactive with water and other mediums like gesso.  Warning: it will get all over your hands.  Use shampoo to get it off your skin.
  • Glimmer Mist by Tattered Angels - This is the first spray ink I ever discovered.  It's easy to find and easy to use.  I do have some issues with the nozzle clogging, but the solution is not to shake the Glimmer Mist.  Twirl it like a nail polish bottle.
  • Homemade Glimmer Mist (directions here) -I have Mini Misters full of custom colors.  These are the ones I tend to take to crops and in my traveling art journal case.

I use a lot of pens.  Here are my faves:

  • Black Journaling Pen: Sakura Pigma Micron - In point sizes from .005 to .08, I adore these waterproof, archival, pigment pens.  (By the way, follow that link and you'll see a video I made on the Pigma line of pens!)
  • White Journaling Pen: Uniball Signo White Gel Pen - I buy mine by the box full at  Best white pen ever.
  • Pen on Non-Porous Surface: Permapaque by Sakura - This is a paint pen without the mess of a paint pen.  Nothing to shake and no tip to mush around.  Opaque color in metallic and matte tones.  The markers have a thin tip and a thick tip and I use them instead of Sharpies all the time.
  • Coloring Pen: Sakura Glaze Pen - When it dries, it's dimensional and slick looking.  (Click through the link to see a video I did for Sakura about their Glaze and Souffle pens.)  They're delicious!

The only albums I currently purchase (other than minis) are American Crafts D-Ring albums.  As you can see from the photo above, I number my albums with a sticker so that I can find my layouts (I have a database that lists the location of each layout - yes, I have a enough layouts that I need a database).   Here are some reasons that I like the D-ring albums:

  • Easy to remove and insert pages.
  • Bulky pages don't get squished and flattened as they do in traditional post bound albums.
  • You can include many different page sizes - 12x12, 8.5x11, 6x6, 6x12 - in the same album.
  • The albums hold a ton of pages.  Love that!

This is my sewing machine.   It is *awesome* and amazing.  It's a Bernina Virtuosa 155.  They don't make this machine anymore, but Bernina is a fabulous brand.  However, if you're not a quilter and you're just looking for a machine to stitch paper, I have heard excellent things about Brother machines and Singer featherweights.  Janome also makes good low-priced machines.  Sears, Target, and even Amazon carry these machines for under $200.  Please do not buy a toy machine or hand held sewing thingy.  They are a waste of money and wil make you crazy when they keep jamming up.   And remember, most sewing problems can be solved by re-threading your machine and changing your needle.

Everyone has their faves when it comes to adhesive.  Here are mine:

  • Tape Runner: ATG - Love the value.  So much adhesive for so little money.  (The gun itself is pricey, but the refills are dirt cheap.)  It takes forever to run out and really sticks.  I have the red gun, which takes 1/4" tape.  Be sure to buy the "gold" adhesive, which is acid-free.  It looks huge, but it's not particularly heavy and surprisingly good for folks with arthritis because the rolling motion is so easy.
  • Wet Adhesive: Gel Medium by Golden - So much more than just an adhesive, gel medium should be in every crafter's stash.  It acts as an adhesive, sealant, resist agent, transfer agent, and paint extender.  I use a palette knife to apply it, so there's no brush that gets all icked up with glue.
  • Adhesive Dots: Glue Dots - I like the ones in the flat package.  I buy mini and craft size.
  • Foam Adhesive: EK Success 3-D Dots - Love that they come in black and white.  They are a great height, excellently sticky, and just all around rock!
  • Glue Pen: Zig 2-way Glue - I like the ballpoint tip of the Squeeze and Roll one.  Makes it easy to glue on those tiny little details.
  • Fabric Glue: FabriTac from Beacon Adhesives - It smells awful, but it really works.  Holds down your felt, ribbon, fabric, and thread.  And it's washable!

My typewriter is a Royal Touch Control from 1935.  I bought it in the bargain basement section of the Vintage Typewriter Shoppe.  I also use the font Kingthings Trypewriter on a lot of stuff.  It is hands down, the best typewriter font out there.  It's super realistic and it's a FREE download!  Gotta' love that!

Let me know if you have any questions!  Thanks for stopping by!