Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I have a lot of art materials and supplies. I admit it wholeheartedly and am not ashamed of my wonderful stash. I love everything in my studio and all the little annexes I have created in my house from my sewing room to my journaling table and even a little box under my coffee table and a tote in my backpack. It gives me great feeling of wealth to know I have so many possibilities just lying up for grabs. The same way I like it that I have a whole stash of books that still need reading and a nice collection of dvd's that still need watching.

It is good however to take a little inventory from time to time and to really get to know every little bit of your stash so you have at least handled every colour once and know how your materials respond to different ways of handling. A good way to start with this is to make samples. Colour samples and/or swatches can be really helpful when picking materials and colours for a project whether you are planning one or in the middel of making one. So today I thought I would give you some examples of my sample collection.

For mark makers like pencils, pens, markers and crayons and such I have adopted a hot pink binder. It is about A5 in size and is filled with these punched pockets in which you can slide papers, which obviously I did.

I make colour charts for all my mark makers (I haven't done all of them yet, but I'm working on it). And if a material is watersoluble I will show that effect as well. With pencils I will show the differences in different amounts of pressure on the tip. This little book is slowly becoming a wonderful reference for all my mark making supplies. 

Another form of 'sampling' is making swatches. For now I don't really have the need to do this with papers, but I do have the need with fabrics. So what I did is this: I cut a small rectangle of all the fabrics in my stash and then stapled it to a card. In this case the cards were old library catalogue cards that I had lying around unused for years (they came with some old library drawers that I bought at a flea market). 

The hole that they all had for the catalogue system was just what I needed. I hung them on this iron ring and now have all my fabric samples together to peek in at a glance and mix and match without having to take all my fabrics out. The ring hangs from a storage cabinet in my studio, always at the ready. I'm thinking this idea would work with decorative papers as well. Other options that spring to mind are index cards in a box or a rolodex.

I hope I gave you some ideas for your own inventory of materials. If you know what you have it's more likely that you will use it (that and having it right on hand, which is why most of my mark makers are ON my studio table ready to use). Making such samples is also a great way to become aquainted with new materials. I will for instance always make a colour chart to put in a new box of paints. Especially water colours look very different on paper than in a box.

So maybe you'd like to sample some sampling. Or maybe you already do make swatches and samples from your materials. I would love to see them, so if you have any just leave a link in the comment section or just explain your personal 'system'. I'm fascinated by things like this.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy Wednesday!


  1. nou jaaaa zeg... zit ik net op jouw blog alles in te halen/lezen wat ik gemist heb de afgelopen weken, hoor/zie ik op de achtergrond jouw commentaartje op míjn blog binnenkomen. Haha... hadden WIJ even contact vandaag!!! Gefeliciteerd met je minder-urige-werkweek trouwens. Heerlijk vooruitzicht!

    1. Haha, great minds think alike! ;-)

  2. LOVE this!! Making sample books to me seems like as much fun as the art!! Thanks for the nudge to get on this!

    1. It really is relaxing and it's also a useful thing to do when the Muse abandons you from time to time.

  3. I like your idea of samples of papers except I don't want to cut a bit off in case I need it! I am simply too lazy to do all the marker and paint swatches. It does look quite handy though.

    1. I don't do paper samples either. I like the swatches of mark makers because often their true colour will differ from the packaging colour and it's a good way to try all new colours you buy.


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