I often get asked what my favourite supplies and products are so here is the master list of what I use when crafting. This will be a long post with a lot of links to my preferred suppliers, with affiliate links used when possible at no cost to you!
If you have any questions, or even most welcome suggestions, please do get in touch!
Stamps and Dies
I have too many favourite companies to list here, but my favourite suppliers are listed below. If the company is based in the UK I will generally try to order direct from them, else I will order direct from Seven Hills Crafts. I’ve not had a problem with SHC ever – Tara and Rick are always efficient and friendly and will tell you if they expect a problem with delivery. If the brand is something SHC don’t carry, I will use other UK based companies.
PAPER AND CARDSTOCK
BASIC WHITE AND COPIC/ALCOHOL MARKER FRIENDLY
For the majority of my crafting, I tend to stick to using Neenah Classic Crest Solar White cardstock or ClareFontaine 210gsm DCP Paper as it is Copic/alcohol marker friendly and is readily available in the UK. I have yet to find a cheap UK supplier for the more heavyweight version that a lot of the US crafters use so I think these are the lighter weight version. I find these to be good cardstocks as they are bright white, don’t bleed or smudge and I can get some good ink blending if I use a light hand. They are also easy on the hands if I need to fussy cut and will go through my printer without a fuss. There is also a Kraft version of the Neenah, Desert Storm, which is a beautifully smooth paper in a kraft colour. It is also Copic/alcohol marker friendly and works well with coloured pencils or as a card base.
I use Winsor and Newton Cotman water colour paper for the majority of my water colouring as it is cheap and readily available in UK high street shops like The Works or the Range for a decent price. I generally use the cold pressed paper as it has a finer grain (less surface texture) and I have it in a range of paper weights. It isn’t true white and looks creamy when paired with the Neenah cardstock if left uncoloured, but I find it can cope with lots of water layers. Distress Inks also blend well on this paper. I haven’t yet managed to get a piece of this paper through my printer, no matter the paper weight, but I haven’t given up hope!
I do occasionally bring out the Tim Holtz Distress Watercolor Cardstock for some select project.
Since the Zig Clean Colour Real Brush Markers were released, everyone has been raving about the Strathmore Bristol Smooth Board. The Zigs blend really smoothly on this paper – I think it is coated, causing the ink to pool on the surface and giving you extra time to blend. I’ve experimented with water colours and Distress Inks on this paper and as long as you are careful with how much water you put down, you get good results. This one is a little harder to source in the UK but there are a few sellers on Amazon that supply it.
Although I started off with Spectrum Noirs (the cheaper alternative to Copic markers), I quickly found the colour options and the nibs limited in what I wanted to do with them. I have taken a number of online colouring classes with Kit and Clowder and I found specific techniques (like hair flicking, for instance) very difficult with these markers. That’s not to say that it can’t be done – just that it was taking me longer to progress than I would like. These markers are good for beginners and finding out whether you want to continue with markers, though if you know for definite that you want to do some more advanced techniques I would suggest going straight for the Copics.
Since I made the move to Copic Markers, I really haven’t looked back. They are much juicier, have a better brush nib and come in a much wider variety of colours. The Ciao markers are about half the price of the Sketch markers as they hold less ink and don’t have the marker number embossed on the lids. I have printed and hole punched some identifiers for mine, attaching them with Glossy Accents to the ends of my markers to get around this problem. If you are thinking of purchasing Copics I would recommend purchasing them individually rather than in the pre-packaged sets as you are not always guaranteed colours that blend well. Sandy Alnock has a very useful Hexchart where she has grouped all the colours by hue instead of name, which has helped me to decide which markers to invest in. She also has a very handy chart showing some of her favourite colour combos, if you’re looking for somewhere to start your collection. I always get mine from CultPens – they are a fantastic UK based company with fast, efficient and friendly customer service!
I prefer to use a lot of pigment to water when I am painting with water colours, and my go-to favourites are Kuretaki Gansai Tambi. These paints come in a variety of set sizes (I have the 36 set), you can replace each pan individually when you run out and they are more opaque than a lot of watercolours. For the price point they are really good value. Team it up with a waterbrush or normal paint brush and a water spritzer for good results.