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6 Invaluable Studio Tools

Old Towels

Towels have saved many trees in my studio!

This week I’d like to pay homage to the handy objects that I frequently use in my studio.  Only one of them can be actually be found at the art supply store.  Most are cast-offs that I repurpose for my own needs.

Old Towels/Rags

These are a must to avoid the cost and waste of paper towels.  They’re also much more durable and absorbent.

I use them underneath artwork if I’m working flat and wipe off brushes as I use them.  I also bring them to the sink as I wash out brushes and containers to let everything air dry on them.

I’ve been using the same towels for a over a year now.  (Tossing them in the wash now and then).  I wonder how much it has saved me in paper towels?

Kneaded Eraser, the best eraser ever

Best Eraser Ever!

Kneaded Eraser

This unassuming little tool does not get as much attention as it deserves!   It can be found at any art supply store or craft/hobby store.

It works really really well and never leaves residue like regular erasers.  You can mold it to get into tight spots and use it to rub out smudges on various surfaces, much like those miraculous Magic Erasers.  Once its dirty you just knead it a little and the dirt goes away.  Where does the dirt go?  Who knows!  Plus, its fun to play with while you’re thinking…

Plastic Shoeboxes

Clear plastic shoeboxes hold a special place in my heart.  For one, they are the perfect size.  Not too big, not too small.  For another,  you can see everything in them.  They are far and away one of my favorite organizing tools for my studio as well as the rest of the house.

Paint Brushes Floating in Water

Another great use for plastic shoeboxes- water container!

I’ve also found that their low, flat size makes them perfect for water containers.  They aren’t tippy and hold a decent amount of water.  My brushes also fit well within them- which is good because I often use the back end as well as the the tip.  This way I can submerge the entire brush in to prevent the paint from drying.  The Paint Brush Nazis would say its a good way to damage my brushes.  But I do try to wash them out periodically and not leave them overnight very often!

Post-it Notes

I love me some post-it notes!  I have them in every shape and size.  Some are good for marking sections in books, others for making tabs in notebooks.

I also like to have them as I paint to make notes for myself if I need to step away from the canvas to take care of daily life (kids, laundry, errands- all the necessary evils that take me away!).  Often I’ll listen to podcasts as I work and I’ll jot down quotes or bits of inspiration on them.

A collection of Post-it Notes

My collection of Post-it Notes in various colors, shapes, and sizes

Lastly, they are good for keeping me on track.  I’ll jot down my priorities for the day, dates to remember as I’m going through email, or the things I need to remember for the next day.  How did anyone ever live without them?

Old Socks

There is life after a sock loses its pair or gets a hole in it!  Here are some of my favorite uses for them:

1. Duster for small crevices in frames and canvases.

2. Holder for small objects when I’m working “in the field” (elsewhere than in my studio)  Long tube socks are best for this because you can knot the end.  They’re great for transporting pencils and brushes as well.

Hand Warmer Made From Worn Out Socks!

Hand warmers made from worn out socks!

3. Hand Warmer- Recent discovery in my drafty studio over the garage during the sub-zero temps here.  I just pulled a decommissioned pair over my hands, cut out where my fingers were, and found that they kept my wrists and palms cozy while giving me freedom of movement in my fingers!

4. Excellent for picking up spilled beads or other little doodads.  Stretch over a vacuum hose and the suction will pick them up while the fabric prevents them from going in the vacuum!

A non-studio use for them is to fill a long tube sock 2/3 full with rice and knot the end.  Heat in microwave for 30 seconds and you’ve got yourself a headache tamer!  (Add a few drops of essential oils for the spa treatment!)


This is one essential that I’m still learning to utilize and becoming much more efficient in the process!

For tasks that I’ve been procrastinating (like filing or clearing my desk), I’ll set the timer to force myself to focus and not get sidetracked.  For days when I have limited time, I’ll set the timer and allow myself to work worry free and not stop to glance at the clock so often.

Timer on Smart Phone

The timer on my smart phone is well-used!

The timer works the other way around as well.  For times that I need a break I’ll set my timer and relax knowing I can let myself go for awhile and not worry about what awaits me on the other end.

I’ve also learned to use it as I go into stores.  I have a tendency to lose track of time in amongst the aisles.  I’ll set my timer for the amount of time I have minus 5 minutes so that when the timer goes off I can grab my last item and head to checkout.  Try it, it works!

What are your favorite creative tools in the studio, home, or in your daily life?  I asked this question on my Facebook Page and one person wrote that old cd discs make the best circle makers.  Great idea, Maryann!

Hope you all have a great week and stay warm!  This is turning out to be one cold winter!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a TOTALLY awesome post, Dawn!!!! Wow – I love your suggestions. Sharing the heck out of this post, indeed – great info for all artists! And YES on the kneaded eraser – I could not believe some of the new students out of CIA actually aren’t familiar with it!!! (maybe from doing so much computer art).

    January 24, 2014
    • Thanks Wendy! I’m glad you agree and confirm my admiration of the kneaded eraser!:) I appreciate you sharing this as well. We artists need to stick together!!:)

      January 28, 2014

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