Supplies for Creativity ~ Paper Crafts

This post is about paper crafting. For creating 3D art see supply list here.

I'm so psyched to bring you this post. Don't ask me why, since it's taken me an inordinate amount of time to write. It would seem that just writing about creativity gets me jazzed!

My last post on this subject introduced my philosophy and personal background to embracing creativity in our homeschool. But the real question that inspired that post went something like this (I’m paraphrasing a bit):

What kind of art supplies, tools, materials, etc. do you consider a must-have in the home?

Each family is unique in artistic and creative interests so I feel uncertain about what to recommend for other people’s homes. I am confident though to list for you the creative supplies we have stocked in our home over the years.

When I started to put together this list and realized just how long it would be I decided to divide the post into two parts. This first supplies post focuses on two dimensional paper craft - drawing, coloring, painting and the like. Anything relatively flat and done with paper.

My next supplies post will detail what we stock of three dimensional sculpture type materials - fabric, clay, cardboard, wood etc.


A few notes about how to fund art & craft purchases:

  • In the past our family were members at the SHARECenter - a distribution center for reuseable resources, funded by the local school board. For years this is where our family sourced many of our craft supplies for the kiddo’s learning. We couldn’t afford a membership this year and have decided to use up as many of our supplies as possible before moving.
  • Put the word out there in your community that you are looking for supplies. Places to check and post notices (“old school” and electronic) are Craigslist, bulletin boards at the local health food store or church, and homeschool group gatherings. The college where Damien works has an internal forsale e-mail list (like Craigslist) and this is how I have sourced much of our fabric and yarn over the years.
  • Holiday and birthday gifts are a great way to stock your craft supply and this is how our children acquired many of their supplies. Paints, journals, quality papers and fabrics have all been given as gifts. 
  • I view art and craft supplies as educational expenses. We spend more on these supplies than we do curriculum, books (we use the library), and other "traditional" school materials.

In the list below I've marked the most basic items with an asterix (*). The remaining items are more costly and have been added little by little over the years as our children developed skill and were ready for better quality supplies.



  • Basic paper * - White & colored. I encourage my children to use recycled paper but sometimes they want a clean white sheet and I’m ok with that. I try to buy 100% recycled. Most of our papers have come from the SHARECenter. We have a variety of sizes and colors. When the kids were little we used construction paper.
  • Patterned & fancy papers * - Gift wrap, tissue paper, old calendars, magazines, and nice scrapbooking papers. Find a “scrapper” who is wanting to downsize their collection. We’ve come into some really lovely papers this way.
  • Journals & Sketchpads * - Lined and blank pages. We've had a wide variety over the years from dollar store finds (when I used to shop there) to high quality handcrafted nature journals. Nicola shows how to make your own notebook. Acid free sketchbooks are available at any office supply store and are a step up from basic paper for your budding artist. 
  • Coloring Books & Pages * - My kids went through phases with coloring books but overall these were not favored in our home. What the kids do like is finding pages online to print. Brienne's favorite for the last two years has been princess coloring pages. I feel like I've seen them all. The kids got Dover Coloring books at Christmas which are the nicest coloring books I've seen.
  • Misc. paper - Cardstock, file folders, plastic sheets, and more have all been used in art projects. As I type this Brienne is custom making a sticker book by drawing scenes, putting them in plastic sheets and placing stickers on top.
  • Stickers * - My only child who still enjoys stickers is Brienne. But stickers are a must have for little ones. You can make your own with sheets of sticky paper.

Pencils & Pens

Our family are “writing utensil” snobs. I blame my engineer husband who likes good quality design materials.

  • Pencils *- We prefer mechanical (clicky) pencils but any ol’ yellow pencil will do. We also have a Staedtler sketch pencil set.
  • Black Pens * - I think it’s important to have good pens to encourage drawing and penmanship (I'm old fashioned). We like the Pilot brand ink pens, with refills. For Christmas Laurent upgraded to Prismacolor Premier Assorted Black Markers. Laurent uses this set daily for drawing. We have also used the Staedtler Pigment Liner Sketch Pen Set set of 4 though don’t like the flow as much with them as the Prismacolor black markers.
  • Misc. Pens  - Highlighters, gel pens and the like. Brienne has a collection of gel pens for when she wants to express her "Fancy Nancy". I like to organize information with a variety of highlighters. But light colored markers work just as well.

Crayons, Pencil Crayons & Markers

  • Crayons * - My children outgrew crayons long ago so I looked to my friend Nicola @ Which Name? to recommend something and these are what she suggests for little ones, "I really like the Faber-Castell brand items. Their pencils are especially good. We also have Prang soy crayons. These are far more affordable than beeswax crayons, which I understand are also environmentally friendly." 
  • Pencil Crayons * - I wrote specifically about upgrading our pencil crayons and markers in the post Prismacolor supplies. After owning those supplies for over 2 years I can heartily recommend the Prismacolor Colored Pencils. The Prismacolor Artstix have remained mostly unused.
  • Markers * - Our first quality marker purchase was Prismacolor Markers, which I highly recommend once your kids have outgrown washable markers *. After two years of heavy use the most popular of the Prismacolor markers are now dead and when I couldn’t afford to replace them I bought a set of colored Sharpies at the local Staples. They work, though not as well. For his birthday Laurent received his first professional set of twelve markers from Copic. These are refillable with replaceable nibs. We hope he's still using these when he "graduates" from our homeschool. 
  • Pastels  - We own these Pentel Oil Pastels but the kids never use them. Our Prismacolor NuPastels share a similar fate. My kids just aren't "into" pastels.



  • Basic watercolor paints & brushes * - Anything will do to get you started. I have no particular product to recommend based on experience but this watercolor opaque set looks like good quality with refillable paint discs. Less waste, I like that. When our kids were younger we used tempura type botttled paints that I picked up on sale at local craft and discount stores. They kids haven't used them for ages so we are passing them on. 
  • Watercolor pencil crayons - The Prismacolor Watercolor Colored Pencils are a fun way to experiment with watercoloring painting. Laurent and I have enjoyed using them, the girls not so much.
  • Painting papers & canvases - Once Laurent showed aptitude and keen interest in art we upgraded to better quality paper for painting. Before that we used our regular paper stash (see above). We currently have high quality archival paper pads (Seth Cole brand but I don't know that it matters) and 90 & 140 lb watercolor paper. Out of these Laurent most uses the 90 lb watercolor paper for select pieces of artwork (this paper is expensive so there is limited access to this resource). Laurent also likes canvas panels which we found at our local craft store. 
  • Higher quality paints and brushes - If your child shows an aptitude it might be time to upgrade your paints. Good watercolor paints are expensive and this is where it’s beneficial to price compare online or use coupons for the large chain stores such as Michaels, which sometimes carry better quality paints. Our most recent paint addition was an afffordable Reeves Gouache Set (which is more opaque than watercolor). Dick Blick has a mind numbing array of paint options. We purchased our brushes from a local art supply store.
  • Stamps & Stamp Pads - Our kiddos use these so rarely I question owning the very few we have (left over from my brief foray into scrapbooking). Without a doubt it is much more fun to make your own than to use pre-made patterns. A readers advice is to, "use erasers to carve into...much cheaper than actual stamp making material." This activity has "rainy day" written all over it!

Home Office Tools

  • Scissors * and Cutters - Scissors are a must. We own 4 pairs of every day scissors and I still can't find a pair when I need one! We also have 2 pairs of sewing scissors (one pair belongs to Celine) and pinking sheers. I'll mention sewing scissors again in my next post on 3D craft but paper scissors are definitely required. My kiddos outgrew blunt baby scissors around the age of two or three. We just taught them how to properly use the real tool. A large paper cutter (I cringe at the word guillotine) is a luxury but one I wouldn't give up. We use that baby so much. 
  • Binders & clipboards - You probably already have binders, they can be used for art portfolios. Clipboards are inexpensive and handy for keeping separate everyone's paper projects.
  • Holepunch & ruler * - Three hole punch and single *. We like our metal ruler with the cork base the best. 
  • Pencil sharpener * - A small portable one * (we've had a metal one for ages that works really well) and large desk model. Variable hole sizes are useful for a variety of pencil sizes.
  • Tape *, glue *, & fasteners - Basic clear and masking tape are a must. As is white or stick glue. I will talk more about adhesives in my 3D post.

Looking to buy some basic art supplies for your own budding artists and paper crafters?

You'll want to check out the supplies at Stubby Pencil Studio. They have a nice selection of kids art supplies, many of them eco-friendly. Something, I admit we haven't given a lot of thought to when purchasing art supplies. 

I think Stubby Pencil Studio is a great place to start especially for younger children. They carry quality crayons, a nice selection of colored pencils, misc. craft supplies and much more. 

Your turn! What basics or not-so-basics do you stock for paper craft?

Stay tuned for my post later this month on what we stock for 3D crafts - sewing, clay sculpture, cardboard and wood creations, etc. 

« Welcoming March @ FIMBY
Encouraging Creativity in Your Home »
  • Nicola @ Which Name?

    Nicola @ Which Name? on March 3, 2011, 6:20 a.m.

    Awesome awesome awesome post! This is selfishly so fabulous! I admit, I took Isabella to the art store today for some new supplies, primarily some nice pens for myself, to go with the coloring book Mike bought me for my birthday. (The pens he ordered never came and I told him all for the best as I wanted to choose some for myself.) We ended up walking out with mostly Faber-Castell items again (hey, I am consistent for once and they make supplies for adults as well as kids!), but given your little artist, I am thrilled to now know what he is using! Thanks for the link love and the fabulous post! Nicola


  • Rebecca

    Rebecca on March 3, 2011, 12:18 p.m.

    Yay! I've been looking forward to this post for some time :-) Thanks for the great ideas and advice. Considering that we're just barely ready to move out the coloring books and crayons stage, I was a little daunted by all the art materials available out there but now I'm excited to start ordering some art supplies for the upcoming homeschool year!


  • Sara S

    Sara S on March 3, 2011, 1:05 p.m.

    Wonderful post! We are frequent Stubby Pencil customers and I have been impressed with the quality of their products.

    Our basics for paper crafts are similar to your supply. I didn't think about adding black pens for drawing. I think I'll add those to our supplies.

    It's funny that your kids are not into pastels...neither are my three. We've had some for a few years, but they don't get alot of use. Maybe when they are older?


    • renee

      renee on March 3, 2011, 2:02 p.m.

      I'm keeping the pastels around, they don't take much space even if they are currently not used much, thinking that maybe someday the kids will like them.

      Black pens (with black flowing ink vs. the cheapy ball point pens) are probably the most frequently used "art" item in our home. Drawing with Children recommends using markers or pen, not pencil (I can't remember why) and Laurent has always preferred that bold line of the dark color, though sometimes he'll start with pencil and then trace over in pen. 


      • Jill Foley

        Jill Foley on March 3, 2011, 3:16 p.m.

        My oldest loves drawing with my black pens. I had to go out and buy a new set last week because I can never seem to find mine anymore. It's interesting to read that Laurent prefers these too.

        I enjoyed this post. My oldest definitely spends the majority of her time drawing, and this was helpful in knowing how I can help support her.


  • debra

    debra on March 3, 2011, 2:02 p.m.

    this is great - i could talk about art supplies for hours! they are such an essential and yet feel like such a luxury...

    i have a question that could take a few posts to answer, i imagine, so i understand if you don't have the time, but with a prolific artist in our house (and a budding younger one), we produce SO MUCH WORK and i at times feel really overwhelmed both trying to give them a space for unfinished works-in-progress and the finished results. they are loathe to recycle anything...i am talking predominantly paper here. any thoughts or tips?


    • renee

      renee on March 3, 2011, 2:06 p.m.

      Yes, I do have some thoughts on that... let me get back to you (smile).

      This is where I feel minimalists must not be parents to young creative children.


    • renee

      renee on March 3, 2011, 3:26 p.m.

      Just saw this today on Make & Takes, What To Do With All Your Kid's Projects. Might be of some help.


  • Amy@Let's Explore

    Amy@Let's Explore on March 3, 2011, 3:52 p.m.

    This is a wonderful resource, Renee - thank you! My eight-year-old loves to draw and is ready to move on to nicer colored pencils and drawing markers. I'll be checking out your recommendations. :)


  • Kika

    Kika on March 3, 2011, 10:13 p.m.

    Black ink is very important around our home too. Staedler pigment liner is nice but we also have prismacolor sets including the manga illustration set (8 black markers with different tips). Even a pilot can be fine. I love multi-media and black ink looks beautiful with pastels, watercolor, whatever! Throwing a pen or two into Christmas stockings, along with a new sketchbook or notebook can work well as we go through these regularly.Something else my girls like is a fine tipped "waterbrush" used for blending water color pencils. We bought ours from a Close to My Heart (scrapbook) consultant. We keep supplies of glue dots, brads, buttons, etc. also b/c my middle daugher makes tons of cards but she mostly spends her own allowance on these extras (but again, I put items like these in her stocking). I agree that good quality tools are important and even my five year old appreciates nice art supplies.


    • Kika

      Kika on April 19, 2011, 4:05 a.m.

      I am sad to say that we've recently bought and tried a few copic markers and are not thrilled with them. While we appreciate that they are refillable, have replacement nibs and nice colors, they bleed. I suggest that anyone interested not invest in too many at once - just try them out first and make sure you'll like them before investing in too many.


      • renee

        renee on April 19, 2011, 12:01 p.m.

        Oh no! I'm sorry to hear that. Especially since you saw them recommended here. To be honest, the only person in our house who uses them is Laurent and he either has not experienced the bleeding or it doesn't bother him. In fact, because of he likes them so much we just replaced his dying (running out of ink) Prismacolor black marker set with a professional Copic black marker set.

        I just talked to Damien about this and he says that bleeding is also a function of the paper you're using. Maybe that's something to look into. 


  • Casey

    Casey on March 4, 2011, 4:40 a.m.

    I am an artist, so there are always art supplies around, most of which I let them use. :) We have some favorites, including the Alpino Tri colored pencils (soft leads, rich color) from Stubby Pencil and their sketchbooks. I have a binding machine so we make many of our own books, but their sketchbooks are so cute! I would recommend using your coupons and buying the Speedball carving blocks for stamps. It is much easier to transfer and carve into their material, versus an eraser. It is rather easy to cut yourself when carving erasers, and the Speedball material gives a much cleaner print. If you have an older artist who likes ink, use those coupons again to try different pens. They all have very different properties, and once you find one you like, it is magic in your hands! I would never give up my Micron pens.


    • renee

      renee on March 4, 2011, 12:08 p.m.

      Thanks for the tip about the Speedball. We liked us the Staedtler MasterCarve. Is the Speedball better than that? Micron pens... I'm going to check those out.

      Thanks for your ideas!


  • Shelley R.

    Shelley R. on March 4, 2011, 2:39 p.m.

    I, too, have been looking forward to your posts on creativity--I had no idea you would take the time and effort to catalog and reflect on such a variety of materials! Amazing!

    I have discovered one local resource that may be also be discovered elsewhere. Our local newspaper will provide a family in the city (once a year) with a free "end-roll" of unprinted newspaper that is left over from the printing press. Typically the ends are recycled, but over a year ago I called the company, picked up our roll for the year, and used it in making our downstairs a painted pre-historic dinosaur jungle for my son's 3rd birthday. (Every wall was covered) We were given yards and yards of the thin paper, it's 6 feet wide and some sheets are 20 feet long! I've cut sheets into sketch size pieces, used it as a coloring table 'cloth' for playdates, and a year later we still have about a fourth of the roll left. It doesn't work for watercolors very well (too thin) but a great, free resource of paper if you can find a similar source.


    • Kika

      Kika on March 4, 2011, 4:22 p.m.

      When I lived in the city I could get end rolls like this too - what fun! Sometimes they lasted several years, there was so much paper on them.


  • Granola Girl

    Granola Girl on March 4, 2011, 10:43 p.m.

    Has Laurent discovered Stippling? My brother is a professional artist now, but found the arts really early like it appears Laurent has as well. Somewhere in high school his art teacher showed him stippling and he has been neurotically sold on it. It is done in ink as well so he might like it.

    Your post was very timely! We have to use up the rest of our allotment of federal money for homeschool supplies and The Barracuda has recently begun inquiring about art stuff. My brother's list was very over-the-top for a beginner.


  • Dee

    Dee on March 5, 2011, 1:57 a.m.

    My kids also like using black pens. Pilot Easytouch are my favs. They say they like pastels, but those are rarely used here too. Hmm. We have pretty much everything you've listed! One thing I really love is our electric pencil sharpener. Oh, and remember I was buying my baby some p'kolino crayons a few weeks ago? She has broken most of them BUT consistently reaches for them on our low art shelf!


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