Visual Arts 10 — Where do I buy art supplies from?

Sometimes people ask me who buys my art supplies for me, and I laugh. Part of being an art teacher involves budgeting, sourcing, and buying materials for an art program.

This can be a fair bit of work. I have noticed that the usual sources of art supplies profit a lot from the daunting scale of the task. This is true both for retail and bulk educational sources.

Artmaking can range from incredibly cheap (pencils and paper) to incredibly expensive. I teach in a public school, so I have a responsibility to use public funds to strike the best balance between the cost and effectiveness of the materials I buy for my students. I track prices from many sources to make sure my students have the best learning experience they can have. Sometimes this means making my own materials (like our light tables, or watercolour paint) or sourcing supplies from China. Often I can also use a institutional discount from Deserres to get a dicount better than elsewhere.

You might notice that Micheals does not show up on this list. I can use my institutional discount or find sources in China to get a better deal than I can get at Michaels, even with the 50% off coupons. As well, I should caution that Michaels' Artists Loft brand is often such poor quality as to frustrate real learning.

Here is a list of the typical materials I buy, including local alternates.

Drawing materials What I buy Local alternative
HB, 2B, 4B, 6B pencils Staedtler Norica HB graphite pencil set Costco
2B pencils AliExpress Deli Achin Store
4B pencils AliExpress Honesty & Customer First Store
6B pencils AliExpress EZONE Shoppe Store
Faber Castell set of 6 graphite sketching pencils Deserres
Blending stumps 6pcs blending stumps AliExpress WJ stationery Store Pack of 3 stumps various sizes Deserres
Erasers Offix® white vinyl eraser Hamster bulk order Derwent precision erasers Deserres
Classroom pencil sharpener CARL Angel-5 pencil sharpener AliExpress Xizhi Store CARL Angel-5 pencil sharpener
Coloured pencils Marco Renoir professional color pencils AliExpress FineDraw Store
Marco Renoir watercolor colored pencils AliExpress FineDraw Store
Prismacolor Premier coloured pencils Deserres
Staedtler Ergosoft® watercolour pencils Deserres
Alcohol markers Touchnew marker alcohol-based pen set AliExpress Litchi Tree Painting & School Supplies Store Double tip markers Deserres
Drawing papers Fabriano Accademia drawing paper paperpack (A3 and 8½x11") Deserres
Fabriano Accademia drawing paper (50 X 65cm) Deserres
Strathmore Bristol paper pad (smooth or vellum surface — 9x12, 11x14, 14x17) Deserres
Canson mix media sketchbooks (9x12, 11x14, 14x17, 18x24) Deserres
Watercolour painting What I buy Local alternative
Brushes Round and flat white nylon brushes AliExpress XueSheng Official Store
Watercolour brushes AliExpress XueSheng Official Store
Watercolour paint We make our own watercolour paint at Citadel. Our recipe (16 parts total):
  • 6 parts liquid gum arabic
  • 1 part liquid honey
  • 1 part glycerine
  • 8 parts pure pigment dispersion
Aqua-Dispersion Arylide yellow Medium Py74, 250 ml Kama pigments
Aqua-Dispersion Phthalocyanine Blue Pb15:3, 250 ml Kama pigments
Aqua-Dispersion Quinacridone Magenta Pr122, 250 ml Kama pigments
Set of 24 Koi watercolours Deserres
Palettes Plastic paint palettes Dollarama
Watercolour paper Watercolour paper pad XL (9x12, 11x15, 18x24) Deserres
Masking fluid Pebeo drawing gum masking fluid Deserres
Pebeo precision drawing gum marker Deserres
Watercolour ground Daniel Smith watercolour ground, 16 oz — titanium white Deserres
Drawing boards Standard hardboard panel - 1/8" x 4' x 8' Rona
These are also used as an alternative to canvas for acrylic painting.
Masking tape Scotch 2020 masking tape 18mm Hamster bulk order Masking tape Dollarama
Ceramics What I buy Local alternative
Clay tools Stainless steel clay ribs AliExpress SeeKood
Pottery sculpting set AliExpress IM LIVING FURNISHINGS Store
Wooden clay tool set AliExpress Funny tool Store
Ball stylus clay tools AliExpress VANKOOD Store
Clay Red clay Deserres
White clay Deserres
Cups and wax paper 2 oz sauce cups and lids Wholesale club
Scale paper Wholesale club
Plastic bags and gloves 20pk kitchen garbage bags Dollarama
20pk zipper seal large bags Dollarama
Clear disposable gloves, medium 500 pack Wholesale club
Parts for light tables What I buy Local alternative
Glass table top Tempered glass railing panel 24x36" Rona
LED lighting strips 5m 600leds LED 3528 12V 120 leds/m tape AliExpress SLM LED Lighting
12V LED power supplies DC12V switch mode power supply 24w AliExpress VBS Lohas Store
Power plug connectors IEC 320 C14 male plug panel power inlet AC 250V 10A AliExpress ELECAPITAL Store
On/off switch Electrical device box Rona
Quiet toggle switch Rona
USB charging outlet USB wall socket US plug dual port charger AliExpress Shenzhen RM Electronics LTD
Classroom supplies What I buy Local alternative
Pencil & brush boxes White jewelery boxes Staples
Aprons black polyester apron AliExpress WITUSE Online Store
Magnets 200pcs 6mm x 3mm N35 cylinder rare earth neodymium magnets AliExpress China Neodymium Magnets Factory Store
Galvanized steel strips for magnet display system 60" long S-shaped cleat Rona
Photo backdrop High quality 1.6m*2m anti-wrinkle backdrop for photography AliExpress Gaosheng Television Equipment Co.,Ltd.
Refill rolls for label printer Brother continuous labels for label printer AliExpress XD BARCODE CO.,Ltd
Glue sticks Lyreco glue stick 20g Hamster bulk order Glue sticks Dollarama
Scissors Lyreco compact scissors 16cm Hamster bulk order Stainless Steel Scissors Dollarama
Materials for other teachers' projects White Bristol board sheet - case of 50 Dollarama
48 sheets construction paper (assorted colours) Dollarama