One of the greatest joys of being an artist is building your own art supplies stash. Whether you’re a seasoned fine artist expanding your collection or a beginner just learning where to start, the supplies you stock are a deeply personal choice that come from time, learning and experimentation.

As your skill grows, you will find that your stash builds organically and comes from testing different supplies, media and techniques, but we’ll help you get started with our ultimate guide to building your own stash of eco-friendly art materials.

Drawing and Painting Essentials


Drawing and painting essentials


Drawing and painting supplies are some of the largest fine art and general craft categories with virtually limitless possibilities. No matter what particular medium you choose to work with, your best bet is to have as many of these items on hand for when you find your inspiration, including:

  • Crayons.
  • Markers.
  • Colored pencils.
  • Graphite pencils.
  • Charcoal.
  • Erasers.
  • Pencil sharpeners.
  • Pastels (oil, chalk).
  • Chalk.
  • Acrylic paint.
  • Tempera paint.
  • Oil paint.
  • Watercolor paint.
  • Pan watercolors.
  • Palettes for different paint types.
  • Gesso.
  • Gouache.
  • Impasto.
  • Pigments.
  • Acrylic paint remover/brush cleaner.
  • Paint thinner.
  • Decoupage glue.
  • Easel.

You’ll also need a variety of brushes suited to different mediums. Brushes typically come in handy sets designed for specific mediums, so try to get a set each of acrylic, watercolor, oil and all-purpose brushes and if you have kids, a set of children’s paintbrushes and foam brushes.

For drawing and painting surfaces, there’s plenty to choose from. Sketch/drawing pads come in a variety of sizes, weights and textures, so it will take a little experimentation to find the one that works best for you. Watercolor, acrylic and mixed media pads are available as well, which are specifically designed for these mediums. Otherwise, canvases are an option, which come in several sizes, thicknesses and wrap styles. Keep in mind that canvases are a little more expensive than pads, so it may be best to keep the experimentation to the more disposable pad paper.

Modeling and Sculpting Essentials


Modeling and sculpting essentials


This is another broad category, ranging from artist’s modeling clay to children’s playdough. In either case, the supplies and tools you need remain the same, such as:

  • Homemade clay.
  • Homemade cold porcelain.
  • Modeling beeswax.
  • Molding and casting kit.
  • Basic sculpting tools.
  • Clay knife.
  • Armature wire.
  • Aluminum foil.
  • Wire cutters.

For three-dimensional crafting, you’ll need some additional materials, like:

  • Wood craft sticks.
  • Wood shapes.
  • Toothpicks.
  • Pipe cleaners.
  • Googly eyes.
  • White glue.
  • Wood glue.
  • Glue stick.
  • Feathers.
  • Cotton balls.
  • Pom poms.
  • Craft foam.
  • Craft scissors.

Jewelry Making Essentials


Jewelry making essentials


Jewelry making is a simple craft to learn and requires few materials to get started:

  • String.
  • Fishing line.
  • Pony beads.
  • Wood beads.
  • Glass beads.
  • Needle-nosed pliers.
  • Wire cutters.
  • Jewelry-making forms.
  • Jewelry glue.

Millions of options are available for jewelry beads and charms, so it’s best to collect supplies as you go. Getting a divided organizer to hold beads and charms is a helpful addition as well.

Sewing, Knitting and Crocheting Essentials


Sewing and knitting essentials


Sewing, knitting and crocheting are unique in that the supply list is the same for beginners or experts, and it only grows with time.

If you’re looking to sew actual clothing or elaborate costumes, a good sewing machine is in order, but a cheap machine and hand-sewing needles are suitable for light crafting.

You’ll also need:

  • Sewing scissors.
  • Seam ripper.
  • A cutting board, preferably with a grid.
  • Fabric pens and pencils.
  • Seamstress tape.
  • Thread in a variety of colors.
  • Pins.
  • Pincushion.
  • Fabric.
  • Stuffing and batting for plush projects.
  • Fabric glue.
  • Embroidery floss.
  • Embroidery needles.
  • Embroidery hoop.
  • Buttons.
  • Garment/wool dye.

No matter what type of sewing you intend to do, the biggest part of your sewing stash will eventually be your fabric. Go to the local fabric store and pick up remnants, shop sale fabrics and cut up any old clothing to use for future projects. Before you know it, you’ll have a huge stash of different fabrics at a fraction of the cost of buying fabric to prepare for a particular project.

For knitting, crocheting or rug making, you’ll need:

Like sewing, the biggest part of your knitting, crocheting and felting stash will be a range of different wool and yarn colors, textures and types so that you will have the most options for your next project.

General Craft Supplies


General crafting supplies


Here are some all-purpose craft supplies that you should always have on hand, especially:

  • Card stock.
  • Construction paper.
  • Tissue paper.
  • Wax paper.
  • Coffee filters.
  • Brown paper bags.
  • Newspaper.
  • All-purpose glue.
  • Craft tape.
  • Wax and varnish.
  • Extra scissors.
  • Craft vinyl.
  • Ruler.
  • Hole punch.
  • Floral wire.
  • Aprons.
  • Old sheets or tarp.
  • Small, reusable containers for water or mixing.

You can also collect supplies for future projects from the recycling bin, such as:

  • Cardboard boxes.
  • Magazines.
  • Junk mail.
  • Egg cartons.
  • Milk cartons.
  • Cans and jars.
  • Bottles.
  • Container lids.

Keep your arts and crafts stash in mind any time you’re in a thrift store or see a sale. You never know what you may use in the future, so this is a great way to collect unique odds and ends for upcycled craft projects.

This list of art supplies covers the basic, and the not-so-basic, supplies you need to get started with arts and crafts. Start small, gather a little bit at a time and experiment to find your niche, then continue to build your collection until you have all the supplies you need for whatever project inspires you on the next rainy day. Be sure to check out our collection of eco-friendly art materials and craft supplies as well, so your projects can always be green and sustainable!

What are the absolute essentials in your art supplies stash? Tag us on Instagram @ecofriendlycrafting and let us know!

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