My Favorite Art And Craft Products Before Creativation, Creativeworld And Stitches Really Get Going!

If you are an arty, crafty bod then you might know that it is the craft trade show season! Yay! What with CHA or Creativation, as it is now called, just starting RIGHT NOW in the US and going on until 23rd January. Then we have Creativeworld in Germany 28th to 31st January followed by CHSI or Stitches in the UK 19th to 21st February.  So be prepared to see a lot of exciting new products flood onto the market in the next few months! Well, actually, some can take many, many, many months to get over to the Europe, so yep, patience is need!

So ok, before we all go new product CA-RAY-ZZZZ (crazy, in case you weren’t sure!), ‘coz you know that we will! We can’t help ourselves! I thought I would do a run down of some of my current favourite art and craft products that you can get your hands on now to play with and try out whilst you wait for the new stuff to filter through!

[I do use affiliate links and there are some in this blog post, which means that if you buy after using one of the affiliated links I get a small amount of money with no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!]

In no particular order we have:

1. Gouache Paint

Gouache Paint to buy, Kim Dellow

I am just loving painting with Gouache, I feel it is being a little ignored by the craft world at the moment and the designers seeming to be getting all the fun with it. If you haven’t yet played with gouache paint it is often described as an opaque watercolour paint, but I think it might be best to think of it as thicker, brighter paint than watercolour but a thinner less ‘plastic-y’ paint than acrylic, perhaps closer to the chalk paints that have been very popular. Ok, that is a very rough description of it, but I hope it gives you an idea of what it is like!

I’m still playing and discovering what it can and can not do for me, I love the strength of the colour, which makes it perfect for scanning projects and I think that it is why it is strongly favoured by a lot of designers. I’m thinking of doing a longer blog post on these so keep your eyes peeled and let me know if you have any particular questions you would like answered.

2. Watercolour Paper And Sketchbooks

Art Paper suggestions from Kim Dellow

Ok, so am I the only one who gets excited by paper? No surely not! I’ve tried lots of different papers for lots of different uses and will probably keep experimenting with different ones. There are a lot of papers that I could talk about but I’m going to concentrate on just a couple today as these are top quality at really good prices.

I’ll be honest, I am a little wary of some craft companies (not all, but some) that package together ‘art’ quality paper for a BIG price and the paper just does not hold up to the promise. Shop around guys! Because you can find better quality paper at smaller price points.

Ok I’ll get off of my soap box! Here are some of my suggestions of paper that are good quality and at a good price:

  • Curtisward Paper Pads – Curtisward is collaborating the St Cuthberts Mill papermill to bring out a great low price point, high quality watercolour paper. So for example their A4 10 sheets of hot press (that’s the really smooth surface one) is £4.79 (plus the postage of course).  Well worth trying out their whole range (which I plan to do btw).
  • Seawhite Sketchbooks – I love Seawhite sketchbooks and if you haven’t discovered them yet then I would strongly suggest you try them out. You can find them on their wholesale website, or their customer website and also from places like Curtisward and CassArt and a load of other art shops. They also make branded products so you might already be using Seawhite’s products but may not have realised it! Again shop around, their products can be at different prices from different sources. 
  • Fluid Watercolor Blocks – ok so these are not like super cheap but if you have ever tried buying watercolour paper in blocks then you will know that blocks can be pretty expensive. Blocks are great for fast watercolour work, or out in the field work, because they are gummed on at least two sides so that the top layer stays flat, meaning that you don’t have to stretch the paper or tape it to a board to do some watercolour techniques. At the moment the re-branded fluid pads (I think they are re-branded and not a new product but I could be wrong) can be found at discounted prices in places like CassArt so grab them! (But leave me some!).

Watercolor paint suggestions from Kim Dellow

3. Watercolours and Mop Brushes

Watercolours are also still in my top medium to work with list and I play with different brands and different qualities. I don’t think I have a complete favourite brand, although I still love the Prima Marketing Decadent Pies colour palette, but that is more for the colours than the paint itself. Again shop around, I have no help for you on what to buy, I am afraid, I tend to go for artist quality where I can and when I spot a discount. But I also have some student and craft quality paints which are useful for testing stuff out and just messing about with.

Teo Yi Chie from Parka Blogs has a great YouTube Channel that is worth watching for watercolour paint comparisons.

Then there are mop brushes or quills. I have absolutely fallen in love with these and have been using the Jacksons Art synthetic quill series 777 or their newer Raven Synthetic mop.

4. Ceramic Palettes 

Alright so one of the palettes in the picture above is actual plastic, and one of the watercolour sets too, but I am really trying to cut down on the plastic in my studio. Let’s face it there is just too much plastic everywhere. But plastic is cheap and easy and finding alternatives is actually quite hard. So I’ve turned to some small ceramic palettes, like the little flower one in the bottom right of the picture above and I am trying out an aluminum one too.

This little seven-well porcelain palette from Curtisward is the cheapest I have spotted so far and is great for watercolour.  If you have any non-plastic alternatives please do let me know! I am not beyond using tableware by the way!

5. Masking Fluid And Fineline Tips.

Fluid mask suggestions from Kim Dellow

Ok so my last product is not a money-saver tip and does actually require the buying of two products! You can also find masking fluids that already come in a bottle with a fineline tip. But this is my favourite masking fluid, not that I’ve tested loads, about three brands in total so far but this one won.

So get the pen version of the Schmincke Aqua Watercolour Paint Masking Fluid, white or blue up to you and swap out the top for the 18 gauge Fineline Applicators top.

Oh yes! Super easy pen applicator. Takes a little practice to learn how hard to squeeze to get which line thickness but it is a very handy little thing! I did try a 20 gauge as well but I think it was too small for the consistency of the masking fluid. Oh and by the way you can get refills of the masking fluid which work out quite cost effective.

These are my favourite art and craft products, well at least this month, so what are your current favourite products? And if you are watching Creativation, Creativeworld or Stitches what are you really looking forward to seeing?


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Kim Dellow

Kim Dellow is an artist–designer–film-maker living the creative life in London, UK. She's a freelance creative for the craft industry and others, and she loves to share her art-ventures on her blog.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. kartenkunst

    As you say, tableware is a good palett. You don't have to use the Wedgewood of course 😉 but mismatched saucers, side plates or when you need bigger ones like diner plates. Often you can buy them often enough just for pennies. Or ask around if somebody has some spare ones.
    What I also use is the plastic trays or sort of bowls in which are fruits and veg packed in the supermarket. I never throw these away and most of them are so thick that they last a very long time. They can be washed like a plate. Why pay for something you can have for free?
    Before you throw anything away always ask yourself for what it can be used. This way you not only save money but also reduce the waste.

    1. Kim Dellow

      I am totally with you Kartenkunst! I too use old packaging all the time for all sorts of art projects, they are great resources aren't they?

      When I use them as palettes I tend to use them with thicker acrylics as I can't get on with them so much for watercolours and inks, they just don't have the wells I need. I've looked for small shallow ceramic sauce bowls but so far not quite found what I'm looking for, but I will always keep looking for thrifty and environmentally friendly alternatives where I can! Glad you do to! Great minds and all that 🙂

    2. kartenkunst

      Hi Kim,
      I never throw anything away LOL you should see my workroom, or cellar for that matter. As I have mentioned to one of your posts I do love craft paper which comes in masses in parcels for stuffing. I must have at least dozen moving boxes full of that. And every box is kept of course as well. And newspaper as that makes lovely embellishments and wrapping. And several boxes with bubble foil and stretch foil which I used to pack and wrap stuff with as I moved not only house but country… and… and…

      As I was still living in the UK some years ago I bought about 10 plain white saucers at co-op for 50p each. For paint brushes I use also normal brushes (like for painting the wall or such), dishwashing sponges, rubber bands around brayers, paint rolls, toothbrushes do nicely not only for making a mess but also they do stripes with one stroke when you use these where the bristles are lower and higher, you know what I mean?

      I also have old mismatched and ugly cutlery which I use when working with structure paste, a cheap comb comes in handy as well.

      One does not have to spend a lot of money for stuff. But if one does, then get the best you can afford. Of course we need to have professional tools lasting a life time to work with as well. But often enough other things works just fine too.

      Oh… and you can use lids from jars as palettes as well, one for each colour.
      I could go on and on LOL

      Greetings from freezing Germany

    3. Kim Dellow

      Ha ha! Oh my goodness! I think we may be as bad as each other! We moved a couple of years back and I still could not bear to throw out anything. Luckily we have moved somewhere that is great on recycling but I am still finding it hard to thin down. You just never know when something will come in handy do you?

      I keep and use it all too, toothbrushes, rubber bands the lot. I have a bundle of old clothes that I keep in case I need them for fabric projects. My partner has gotten into the habit of asking me if I want what he is about to throw away! I feel like we are fit to bursting 🙂 Might have to go on one of those hoarders television programmes 😀 😀

      Great tip on the jar lids! I had not thought of that, I will give it a go!
      Hope you are keeping warm!

    4. kartenkunst

      Well.. every time you throw something away you can your grandmothers teeth that will need it shortly after!
      Everybody around me asks before he throws away clothes if I have use for the buttons… I tought them well LOL also nobdy is allowed to throw away any sort of ribbon or string. Or shoe laces for that matter.

      Btw… when you only use very small amounts of paints you can also use bottle caps from ie water bottles as they are a bit deeper than the metal ones.

      I mean why would you throw useful stuff away when you always can get a bigger house?

      Oh.. and when you find pieces of lace… ie old net curtains or from clothing… it makes beautifully patterns when you work with a gelli plate, or when spritzing colour with a bottle or use the ink pad to dab on the paper… but not so good with a paint brush obviously.

      And you wouldn't guess what I made out of sandwich bags for christmas… or is that known in the UK by now as well? I have just sent you an email, hope you don't mind 🙂

      Looking forward to your next ideas!

    5. Kim Dellow

      They are amazing Rena 🙂 Thank you for the share. Really pretty how you have made them!
      Ha ha! Yep we could always get a bigger house couldn't we? LOL!
      Thank you for the lovely words and for sharing your great tips!

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