It’s really hard to come up with a limited list of favorite items! There are a lot of products I use, and I love most of them. However, there are definitely a set of products that are my go-to’s.
My Favorite Stampin’ Up! Products
I have a whole page dedicated to what I think are the must-have, uniquely Stampin’ Up! products!
My Favorite Stamp Sets
My favorites tend to change on a regular basis, so I will continue to update this page periodically. Regarding Stampin’ Up! stamps, I will only list sets that you can purchase (i.e. sets not retired). The problem is that they regularly retire some of my favorites! Anyway, here are my current favs:
- Stampin’ Up!: Flower Patch, Gorgeous Grunge, Papillon Potpourri (with this matching punch), Itty Bitty Banners (with these matching framelits), Thank You Kindly (retired, but still needs to be on this list!), and Pleasant Poppies.
- Simon Says Stamp: Summer Garden, Best Fishes, Stripe Greetings, and Sketchy Banner Greetings.
- Hero Arts: Cupcakes Clear Set, Delicate Blossoms, Tiny Stars Background, Lil Hoot, and Everyday Sayings.
- Penny Black: Posies, Paisley Outline Stamp, Blooming Garden, and Words Express.
- Impression Obsession Cover-a-Cards: Herringbone and Knit
- Paper Smooches: Chubby Chums and Sentiment Sampler
- Others I love: Avery Elle Cupcakes, Lawn Fawn Lucky Stars, My Favorite Things Woodgrain, and Some Odd Girl Hipster Pets.
Did you know that I have made all the stamp sets on my blog searchable? For example, if you enter “tiny stars” into the search box (located in the blue menu bar above), you’ll see a list of my blog posts that use that set.
My Favorite Inks
I do a lot of embossing, so Versamark is probably my top choice here.
Who doesn’t love Ranger Distress Inks?? My favorite colors are Broken China, Peeled Paint, Antique Linen, Squeezed Lemonade, Spiced Marmalade, Barn Door, Picked Raspberry, Dusty Concord, and Walnut Stain.
So you ask, what about StazOn? I don’t use it much, but it is a must for stamping on acetate. Because it’s permanent and won’t bleed, it’s a great ink for watercoloring too.
My Favorite Paper
It’s really important to use the right paper with the right medium.
For Stampin’ Up! inks, you really need to use Stampin’ Up! cardstock. I buy Whisper White like it’s going out of style. The paper absorbs the ink beautifully – these products were designed to work together. I compared the use of Stampin’ Up! ink on Stampin’ Up! paper and Neenah paper with some photos in THIS POST.
For Copics and colored pencils, I use Neenah Solar White cardstock. The Neenah cardstock really blends the Copics well with not a lot of bleeding. And, for colored pencils, this cardstock allows for a really smooth application. When I use SU cardstock with colored pencils, the color goes on really waxy and does’t blend very well.
I also make sure I have watercolor paper handy. My favorite brand is 90lb Strathmore. It’s thick but not too thick, and it has a fairly smooth surface so you can still heat emboss on it. It doesn’t pill up or tear when you apply water to it. This paper is also great for blending Stampin’ Up! markers. And, of course, it’s ideal for using an Aqua Painter.
If you’re a regular blog reader, you know that I am not a fan of patterned paper. I think it’s because I just don’t know what to do with it, lol! I use it occasionally on a card, but I will say that I use it A LOT in my scrapbooking. There’s just no way I am creating my own paper for all those scrap pages!!
My Favorite Tool Basics
As far as the necessities, I prefer these:
- Heat Tool – I use a Stampin’ Up! heat tool. It’s pretty quiet, which is great because I do a lot of crafting after the kids go to sleep!
- Blender Pens – I love these! There are so many uses. You can use them for blending markers or for picking up ink and coloring. They come in a pack of three, which I bought maybe 5 years ago? I’m still working on my first pack!!
- White Gel Pen. I have used several different brands and the Uniball Signo Broad Tip Pen is the absolute best. It is awesome for faux stitching, dots, and general coloring. I will say, however, that if you plan to use it for handwriting in small print, it might be a little difficult. It has a lot of ink coming through, so fine lines are not what it’s good for.
- For covering a panel of white cardstock with ink, you need an Ink Blending Tool. I have 8 of these with a rack that holds them. I find that 8 is about the minimum you need without having to constantly switch the pads that are adhered with velcro. So, I have one for pinks and reds, one for yellows, one for blues, etc. You can use a sponge for applying ink, but you don’t get the same coverage. I created a video on how to use Stampin’ Up! ink pads with these blending tools (it’s the second video on this page). I tried six different ink brands with this technique in my Die Ink Comparison.
- For inking edges in a very small and subtle way, I use sponge daubers. These little finger-fitting ink applicators allow you to be very precise in your ink application. They are great for small things like leaves, owls, and just when you want a fine edge of color. As with the ink blending tools, I have one for each color family. They come in a package of 12 for $10.95.
- I get so many questions about my Ranger craft sheet. It is awesome and completely indestructible. I heat emboss on it, ink on it, glue on it, you name it. All it takes is a little wipe with a cloth and it’s back to its original condition. One thing though – if you wrap a present on your craft sheet, a scissor will cut it right in half!!
- I have two paper piercers. One I use for poking holes in paper, like on this card and this card. The other one I use for picking up small things. I found that if I dip it into some glue, little pieces of paper, such as owl eyes and little hearts will stick to it. I also use it for picking up pearls and gems. I’m sure you’ve also seen me use it for dying string! I’m telling you, it’s one of the most versatile items I own!
- Of course, a big-time necessity is a paper trimmer. I’ve been through all kinds – plain blades, rotary blades, choppers, etc. It’s weird how so many of them just don’t cut a straight line! (Um, or maybe it’s user error!). I’ve been using the EK Tools trimmer for a long time and am very happy with it. It used to be called the Cutterpede trimmer, but they recently changed the name and packaging.
- Another absolute necessity for stamping wood-block mounted stamps is a stamp-a-ma-jig. It’s a little right-angle tool that helps you line up your stamps so that your image come out exactly perfectly. I use it pretty much anytime I’m working with a wood block stamp.
- Another multi-purpose product is Eclipse Masking Tape. I use it mostly for masking, but I also use it to hold my die in place when running it through my big shot. I purchase mine in a tall roll, but now they only sell it in sheets. It’s reusable! So, mine is lasting a very long time. I’ll use a piece several times before retiring it to the trash.
- Finally, I love my Sizzix Big Shot. I started with a Cricut machine. Then I moved to a Silhouette. But honestly, the Sizzix is just so simple. No cartridge and keypad, no pressure dials, no sticky sheet that moves, etc. Granted, it’s not nearly as flexible and you can’t cut all different sizes, but sometimes less is more.
My Favorite Copic Colors
With 346 colors, how can you choose? I recently went into my craft room and asked myself, “If I had to start over, what would I purchase?” I really like 3-color combos, as it gives you enough color variation to blend. So, I pulled out my favorite combinations and colored some examples for you. I would choose the combos you like below and start there. As far as E’s go, I would choose your favorite. And, I would get either the W or C set to start. Click the image to enlarge:
I also recommend getting the Colorless Blender. You’ll also need Copic-friendly paper and ink. I use Neenah Solar White cardstock and Memento inks, Tuxedo Black (at Ellen Hutson or Simon Says Stamp) and Rich Cocoa (at Ellen Hutson or Simon Says Stamp).
I wrote a short post on getting started with Copics. I also created a beginner’s tutorial. I have all sketch markers. You can buy the markers for $5.24 each at Dick Blick. Ellen Hutson sells them for $6 per marker (they also sell lots of other crafty goodies to add to your order).
My Favorite Watercolor Products
Watercolor is so popular right now, and there are so many great techniques when it comes to using water with inks, markers, and pencils. The most basic watercolor supply you need is watercolor paper. I use Strathmore 90lb paper. It’s thin enough to layer, yet thick enough to withstand the water and not warp too much.
When it’s time to apply color, there are three products I use regularly…
- Inktense Pencils – these pencils are incredibly vibrant, and they are really easy to use. Not only that, they work great as a dry pencil. I have the 72-count set, but I think the 24-count set is probably sufficient for a beginner.
- Distress Markers – my favorite use for distress markers is watercolor. Just use the same technique as the Inktense pencils – color your cardstock, then blend with water.
- Peerless Watercolors – These watercolors come on a swatch of paper, believe it or not. The amount of color that is released from this paper is truly amazing. These watercolors are a little more difficult to use, but the results you can get with multiple layers is truly artistic. If you want to take your coloring to the next level, these watercolors are the way to go. You can check out my Peerless Watercolor Review for more information. I would purchase the basic pack AND the bonus pack.
The only other product I would recommend is an Aqua Painter. Stampin’ Up! sells them in a two-pack, one has a thin tip and the other is thicker. Ranger also sells a wide waterbrush that is much larger and works great for backgrounds. You can use a regular old paintbrush, and sometimes I do, but I love how these brushes have a built-in water tube that supplies water to the brush automatically.
My Favorite Dies and Punches
Simon Says Stamp has some amazing dies. My favorite is probably the A2 Curve die. I also love Heart Parade, Butterfly Drift, and Borders and Frames. You can search this site for cards I have used these products on.
My Favorite Embellishments
I really don’t use a lot of embellishments on my cards. I definitely use a lot of string. I love Stampin’ Up! Linen Thread, which matches pretty much anything. I also love plain white bakers twine, which you can dye with ink and water to match your card. A lot more economical than buying string in every color!
I will occasionally use pearls. I have this pearl set by Stampin’ Up! that is awesome because it has a ton of every size. None of this “3 of this size, 3 of that size”.
You can color clear rhinestones with Copic markers. Instantly, you have any color gem you need! Love that. And this set of clear rhinestones from Stampin Up!, again, like the pearls, has a ton of every size.
Probably the only other thing I use consistently is Ranger Stickles Glitter Glue. So clean and easy.
My Favorite Adhesives
There’s nothing cool about this category, so it’s last, lol! I use my ATG gun for adhering big items, like full size card panels. For small things, thin things, and string, I use the Stampin’ Up! Two-Way Glue Pen. This glue pen is so easy and it sticks fast – no waiting and holding.
For popping up card pieces like flowers and little animals, I use Stampin’ Up! Dimensionals. And for super-stick, I use mini glue dots. You can roll them into a ball or into a snake – and it ain’t coming off. You’ll find them under every butterfly I put on my cards.
Okay, I think that covers it. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff! Questions? Feel free to email me.