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8 Surprisingly Useful Art + Calligraphy Supplies

8 Surprisingly Useful Art + Calligraphy Supplies | The Postman's Knock

When it comes to art and calligraphy supplies, it’s difficult not to hoard. You never know when something will help you to add the perfect finishing touch to a future project! Still, there are some supplies that tend to just sit and collect dust while others get used all the time. In today’s post, I’d like to enumerate eight art and calligraphy supplies that I — surprisingly — use all the time. These supplies aren’t the obvious hard-hitters like pens and inks, and you may be a little taken aback by some of them!

1. Toothbrush

Toothbrushes are incredibly useful for adding the perfect amount of spatter to any piece! Just dip the toothbrush in paint or ink, and use your thumb to stroke the bristles. The stroking motion will cause the pigment to spread across the paper.

3 Speedy Mail Art Tutorials | The Postman's Knock

You can use a toothbrush and gold watercolor to easily make this “galaxy” mail art! Learn how in the 3 Speedy Mail Art Tutorials post.

If you’d like to see a demonstration of how to use a toothbrush and pigment to add spatters to a piece, you can check out this short video.

2. Blank Watercolor Greeting Cards

If you don’t have the proper materials, DIY greeting cards can feel flimsy and unprofessional. For a substantial, quality feel, try using 140 lb. blank watercolor greeting cards.

Watercolor Initial DIY Birthday Card Tutorial | The Postman's Knock

I created the Watercolor Initial DIY Birthday Card Tutorial on a blank watercolor card.

While you can, obviously, paint with watercolor on these greeting cards, you don’t have to! In the Let’s Go to Paris Greeting Card Tutorial, for example, I glued a graphic on the card. The Folded Heart Handmade Card Tutorial features a tiny bit of watercolor and a cleverly-creased heart. Try to think of the blank greeting cards as a base on which you can paint, collage, draw, or cut!

3. X-Acto Knife (a.k.a. “Hobby Knife”)

People tend to think of X-Acto knives as something that only serious crafters can utilize. Don’t fall into that trap! X-Acto knives are easy to use … it’s like drawing, but with a little knife. Everywhere you “draw”, you’ll be rewarded with a cut in the paper. X-Acto knives are valuable tools because they allow you to make clean cuts that scissors can’t quite accommodate (see the Cut-Out Ornament DIY Holiday Card Tutorial for a good example). At $5.00-ish, an X-Acto knife is a fantastic investment, and I use mine at least once a week!

Creative Birthday Card Tutorial: Paper Armoire | The Postman's Knock

This “paper armoire” greeting card is much easier to make if you have an X-Acto knife!

One note about the X-Acto knife: since it’s intended to cut through your paper, you’ll want to make sure you keep something under the paper. For years, I’d just cut over cardboard, and that worked great! Now, I use a self-healing cutting mat. A cutting mat isn’t necessarily a game-changer for a casual X-Acto user like me, but it looks clean (as opposed to a piece of cardboard with lots of slashes in it) and is easy to store.

4. Parallel Glider (a.k.a. “Rolling Ruler”)

A parallel glider is, essentially, a ruler with wheels. You can draw a line, roll the ruler down, then easily draw a line that’s exactly parallel to your first line. This is especially useful if you want to create guidelines for calligraphy or hand-lettering!

Calligraphy Guidelines | The Postman's Knock

A parallel glider is almost essential for drawing calligraphy guidelines on envelopes.

5. Black Eraser

One of the most impressive calligraphy/lettering “tricks” is writing with an opaque light-colored ink on dark paper. Once it comes time to erase your pencil guidelines, however, you may find that your white eraser leaves a noticeable residue. To avoid that, you can use a black eraser instead.

Calligraphed DIY Menu Cards Tutorial (Diagonal Concept) | The Postman's Knock

Try using a white mechanical pencil to draw guidelines on dark papers, then erase the guidelines with your black eraser!

Black erasers are good for using on dark-colored papers because they don’t leave any residue. The paper doesn’t have to be black: I’d use a dark eraser on deep purples, browns, grays, blues, etc. as well.

6. Dusting Brush

As you erase calligraphy guidelines, you’ll notice that little bits of eraser have a tendency to collect on your paper. Most people brush off eraser bits with their hands, which sometimes renders disastrous results. Remember that our hands have oils on them, which can cause smudges on the paper! Also, it’s difficult to be gentle with your hand. You almost have to exert excessive pressure to get all the little bits off.

8 Surprisingly Useful Art + Calligraphy Supplies | The Postman's Knock

The dusting brush is nice because you can use it to gently encourage eraser bits off of the paper. You just need a couple of strokes to make everything look nice and polished! The dusting brush is also amazing for those who enjoy drawing with pencil. The brush gets excess graphite and pieces of eraser off of the page without smudging any of your hard work!

7. Light Pad/Light Box

If my light pad broke, I would purchase another one immediately — that’s how much I enjoy using it. A light pad shines light up through your paper, allowing you to trace (handy for illustrations) or see guidelines (handy for calligraphy).

Vintage Roses Illustration Printable Being Used with a Light Box | The Postman's Knock

Here’s a process photo of me using a light pad and the large Illustrated Roses Template to make a greeting card.

I use my light pad for watercolor illustrations, mail art (see #2 in the “10 Inspirational Mail Art Envelopes” post), and calligraphy guidelines, among other things. Many art and calligraphy purists don’t believe in using these wonderful little machines, but I am a fan of anything that makes a project faster and easier!

8. Bone Folder

A bone folder is basically a smooth, dull-edged tool that you use to give your projects clean and professional creases. To use it, you just make a preliminary fold with your fingers, then run the bone folder along the fold.

Spider Halloween Mail Art Printables | The Postman's Knock

Bone folders are fantastic for making DIY envelopes!

The bone folder is a bit of an esoteric tool, but once you have one, you’ll be surprised at how much you use it. Mine comes in handy for making DIY cards (like this one, which was created from folded cardstock), reinforcing place card folds, and folding stationery.


I hope that you found a couple of art or calligraphy supplies in today’s blog post that will make your creative endeavors a bit easier. If you have any questions about how to use any of these tools, please feel free to contribute to the comments! Similarly, if you have a favorite tool to contribute, I’d love to hear about it. It’s always invigorating and inspiring to discover a new gadget!

Thanks very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your week!

Warmly,

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