The ‘MUST HAVE’ desk items | Blog Post by Connie

The winter has finally landed in Melbourne. Even though the morning is cold and dark, we have been blessed by a few sunny warm weekends which really cheer me up. I have been struggling with the content for this month’s blog and then an idea struck me while I was marking Art Folios at my desk (I was trying my best to distract myself from doing work !).  I am going to share with you some of what I consider the ‘Must Have’ items for journaling and crafting and at the same time give you a mini tour of my desk. So here we go!

1. Stamps

I am hopeless when it comes to pretty stamps. I see stamps as an honest representation of ‘analogue’ communication. I love everything about them, the wooden blocks, the fine carved lines, the marks they make.  I have a particular obsession with alphabet and number stamps, as I like the functional qualities they hold. I store the stamps I use regularly on a vintage upright printer press tray and several other wooden boxes. Here are a few other stamp designers I love and collect:

Oscolabo – Lovely geometric stamps, great for creating patterns and layering.

Krimgen - A Japanese illustrator who now lives in Austria. She produces the most adorable fairy tale like character stamps.

Rakui Hana - Japanese print maker who does custom order stamps. They are quite surreal and dreamy.

36 Sublo - Great range of fun and functional stamps.


2. Washi Tape

I still remember I bought my first roll of Washi tape from Muji and that’s where it all started. When I was on my trip to Tokyo earlier this year, I took home 30 rolls of tape with me. My husband thought I had lost my mind. Washi is by far one of the most versatile items on my desk. I use it for sticking things into journal, wrapping packages, collaging, using it as an index tag, sealing a letter etc. The list is endless! I consider Washi as one of the little things that brings a bit of sweetness in life and we definitely need more of that everyday.


3. Watercolours and brushes

As a paint maker, I literally own a cupboard full of paints and pigments. Apart from my own handmade watercolours (!) Japanese brand watercolours are among some of my favourite paints to use as they usually come in a great range of colours and they are brighter and more vibrant. I highly recommend Holbein and Kissho Gansai (The top two in pic). Holbein behaves more like the traditional watercolours and is highly pigmented, a very well balanced paint for any artist. Kissho Gansai is the tradition Japanese watercolours which use slightly different binders than the watercolours we are most familiar with. The colours are slightly less vibrant and move a little slower in water. If you are a beginner, you will find Kissho Gansai is easier to use due to its characteristics. The best thing about Kissho Gansai is that they come in sets of 18 up to 100 colours!!!! Kissho is also one of the biggest pigment suppliers in Japan, so they know what they are doing! I recommend them highly!


When it comes to brushes, I am a bit fussy! There are places for different types of brushes as they serve different purposes. However Escoda Rivera travel brushes are my go to brush everyday. They are handmade in Spain from Kolinsky sable. They are really well designed. The handle can turn into a cap for the brush tip. You can easily carry them in your pencil case. If you are animal lovers, you can also get synthetic versions which I found quite good as well. Regarding travelling brushes, you can’t go pass the water brush, a truly genius design for journaling on the go. They are great for calligraphy as well.

4. Journals

I journal everyday in my Hobonichi Techno to capture the moment or the vibe of my day.  It is becoming a daily ritual for me to reflect and relax. However, I keep quite a few other journals as well and they each serve a different role in my creative space.

In my last blog, I talked about how I used my Midori notebook as a plant diary. As I love painting plants, flowers and other natural things, I keep a few different art journals as well. My favourite watercolour journal is the Moleskin watercolour sketchbook. Like the Midori, the paper contains 20% cotton which means it is more absorbent and will allow for smoother and deeper application of  watercolours. Good paper and good brushes are just as important as good colours. You can see how vibrant the colours in my mushroom illustrations turn out on this sketchbook.

Who loves the smell of the Traveler’s notebooks?  ME ME ME! Apart from the good smell, the good thing about TN is that they come in a variety of layouts and paper-types which means we can all customise our notebooks to our needs - a very sustainable product indeed. I am having a struggling relationship with my TN at the moment. I love them as a traveling notebook, but I am still working my way to use them on regular basis.  Would like to hear some good ideas from you!


5.  Pens

An excellent writing instrument is a great start to success. Nothing more frustrating then a pen that has ink breaks while you are writing!!! I started using a fountain pen at the beginning of the year with the hope of correcting my bad hand writing - and it is definitely working! (Well, my students said they can now read my comments so that’s a good sign!) I now own several fountain pens with different tip sizes, most of them bought during my travels in Tokyo. Sarasa pens are high on my list of good everyday pens. I fell in love with it when I encountered it back in the March box. I hope to own the rest of the colours one day!










In the pic from top:

Pilot Prera - My everyday pen, very easy to service and very smooth!

Pilot Petit -  In navy, green and pink. Economic fountain pens that are surprisingly good!

Kaweco Sport - An easy fountain pen with refillables.

Platinum Calligraphy pen - Gift from a friend.

Sailor brush pen - From the June box, silky smooth! Excellent for calligraphy.

Zebra Mildliner - comes in a great range of pretty colours with a chisel end and a point end. Very handy for journaling.

Tombow Playcolour Dot - from the April box, a dot end and fine end, a great pen for making patterns.

Uni Jetstream - from the May box, if you are after clear and crispy sharp writing, here is the pen for you!

Sarasa Vintage and Three Colour pens - Best everyday pen ever! Just get them!!

Uni-ball Signo - Vintage Range Gel Pens, great colours, my all time favourites.


6.  Notepads

After I took this photo, I thought to myself, I really own a lot of notepads but I don’t really write notes to myself or to anyone. And then I realised that these note pads are essential elements to many of my craft projects. I use them as a tag or collage or wrapping paper. They make lovely gifts for snail mail too. I usually customise them with stamp or washi, sometimes I type on them to add a personal touch. Here are two of my personal favourites:

The Life note pad - simple yet versatile, great for fountain pen and typewriter

Nishi Shuku notepads and origami paper - Enchanting illustrations that spirited me away each I look at them!


Sorry for this extra long post. If you have made it this far, I thank you for reading the mumble jumble of my stationery treasures. I hope my humble insight into some of these items has enlighten you in someway! The Design team would love to see what everyone has on your desk. Show us by #thestationeryselection

Connie @pepperconarts


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  • Linda in Aus on

    Great post Connie, i love seeing what other people use and how they use them. I’m with you on the Travelers Notebooks I love them, the feel the smell. I currently have 6, the main one is in my handbag everyday and has a diary (for appointments and dates) and an address book that i made with one of the inserts. Other than that I use one as a travel journal for whenever we go away and the others look pretty sitting on my shelf. I do Project Life so I’m thinking next year I might change it up a bit and do my PL in a couple of inserts that will use one cover . As for the rest I guess I will just keep looking at them.

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