You might be surprised to hear this, but I’m at the point now where I don’t buy huge amounts of stationery. For the most part, I’ve figured out the stationery items and art tools which work for me. This means I don’t go looking for new stationery bits, I just buy more of what I know I like. So today I thought it could be interesting to share my favourite art and stationery supplies.
MD Paper notebook
I love my MD Paper notebooks. I have written about them extensively over the years and I’ve bought at least 2 or 3. These notebooks have held up to pretty much everything I’ve thrown at them. They’re designed for fountain pens so cope much better with ink compared to other notebooks I’ve bought over the years (rip Moleskine).
I have one MD Paper notebook on the go at the moment which I’ve been using as a sketchbook. And I’ve found it to work extremely well. MD Paper makes a sketchbook version of their notebooks but I’ve found the dot grid notebook works perfectly for my needs. I mostly do calligraphy in my sketchbooks so having the dot grid is a huge help. Honestly, I like it so much I wish sketchbooks came in a grid version. The paper holds up to almost every media I’ve used in it, even heavy acrylic inks. The only issue has come from the Pilot Parallel Pens where the ink took over a full day to dry.
If you’re the sort of person who does a little bit of everything in their notebook I’d highly recommend checking out the MD Paper brand.
Pens, Pencils and everything else
I’ve got into fountain pens this year. This mostly means I remembered I have a few Lamy pens and have been using them. Mostly I use the Lamy Safari pens for monoline calligraphy. I’ve been getting into that this year however don’t have many small nibs for this style and the Lamy’s work just as well.
I’ve also really been enjoying buying ink for the Lamy pens. I mentioned last year that I had bought some metallic inks from Troublemaker. I loved the mango colour so much that I bought a new mango Lamy pen to match this shade.
I’m still on the Muji pen bandwagon, again mostly because it’s what I have. But I also bought some gel pens in neon colours which I’ve been loving recently. Yes, the ink is so bright it’s a little hard to read, but I love how it brightens up the notes in my sketchbook.
As for pencils, I’m still working my way through the set of Blackwings I bought back in 2019. I’ve been surprised by just how long this pencil set lasted. Though I prefer working with mechanical pencils, I’ve used a good few of the Blackwings down to nothing. Not to mention my brother-in-law stealing a few.
I have not made it a secret over the years that I prefer mechanical pencils to standard wooden pencils. You might call it laziness, but I prefer not to have to constantly sharpen my pencils. For a long time, I used the Muji mechanical pencils (in both styles because yes, there’s more than one).
In 2022 I discovered the Leuchtturm Drehgriffel mechanical pencil and certainly for me I would call it a game changer. I spend a significant amount of my time doing calligraphy and I’d say at least half of this is done in pencil. The Leuchtturm mechanical pencil uses 0.7mm lead which is larger than I prefer. But turned out to be perfect for doing pencil calligraphy as it meant I could get an angle on the surface of the lead which mimics the effect of writing with a pointed nib.
Since buying the pencil it has become something I use every day. And yes, I know most people won’t want to go out spending money on a £20 mechanical pencil. However, for me, it has turned out to be a worthwhile investment. The actual mechanism inside the pencil works so well that I never know when one piece of lead ends and another begins. And I’m hoping it lasts me for a long time to come.
Tom’s Studio dip pen
The Flourish dip pen from Tom’s Studio is something I bought for myself in 2020. It was a bit of an impulse purchase at the time but over the years it has become the dip pen I use most often. The craftsmanship on this pen is incredible, it is an extremely well made bit of kit. The actual mechanism which holds the nib, a piece which screws into the flange, works far better than other dip pens I’ve tried. Most other brands use a flange which you slide the nib into. This works fine, but it can become loose over time and the nib can potentially fall out.
The one downside of the Tom’s Studio range is that they are quite expensive compared to similar dip pens, currently retailing at around £50. This means it’s not something I would recommend to anyone just getting started with calligraphy. But it is very well made which means it will last you a long time, and Tom has a repair program which means if there are any issues with your dip pen it will get fixed.
I have a variety of inks which I use depending on the circumstances. For metallic colours, my go-to inks are the Finetec range. These have mica powder in them and are extremely shiny in the right light. For white ink, I can’t look past the Dr Ph Martin bleed-proof white. The actual ink is solid so you need to mix water into the right consistency but it will last you years. For black ink, I prefer a Sumi-E mixed with walnut ink. This gives a deep black.
When I need waterproof ink I use the Daler Rowney acrylic inks. These come in a range of shades. I’m a fan of the neon colours but I also have the primary shades so I can mix the exact colour I need. The consistency of these inks is a little thinner compared to true calligraphy ink, so it takes some time to get used to working with them. But they are great inks in bright colours.
My Silhouette Cameo 4 is something which (again) I bought back in 2019. It’s something I had been thinking about buying for years. I had originally bought a Cricut but after trying the design software I sent it back for the Silhouette instead.
These machines are great for any cutting and drawing needs. I have the professional version of the software, which admittedly doesn’t work very well on a Mac. But it means I can design things in Adobe Illustrator and bring the SVG files into Silhouette Studio for cutting. This is a tool I use more for my business than personal work. However, I have also used it for making vinyl decals.
Those are my most used art and stationery items. I’m sure there are a few things I’ve forgotten to mention but those are the important ones. Do you have any favourite stationery items? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.