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Hi!  Welcome to Hello Small Empire, a friendly and fun space for kidlit creators!  

Low-tech Toolkit

Low-tech Toolkit

 

I love having just the right tool for a task. Even so, I've read enough Marie Kondo to balk at purchasing ANOTHER item for my studio. I'm not even talking about the big tools like my computer or Wacom. Just the unsophisticated, relatively inexpensive ones. They take up money and space, and holy moly I have a hard enough time keeping my studio tidy as it is. But here's a list of items that I've been glad I've purchased. The ones that give me a little thrill of happiness when they're near at hand, ready to use. As Marie would say, they spark joy. I'm curious what supplies or tools you've found that ease your work day, or just make you happy by how awesome they are?

Guillotine paper cutter. Might be my favorite thing in my studio. How I love those straight edges and whizzing through a whole stack of papers. I do all my sketching on paper, so quickly cutting up tons of same-sized paper to make dummies is pretty key. Plus, I love to cut scrap paper into note-sized sheets for my zillions of to-do lists. 

Guillotine paper cutter. Might be my favorite thing in my studio. How I love those straight edges and whizzing through a whole stack of papers. I do all my sketching on paper, so quickly cutting up tons of same-sized paper to make dummies is pretty key. Plus, I love to cut scrap paper into note-sized sheets for my zillions of to-do lists. 

Pencil extenders! The best! 4B pencils are my faves, but the lead is about as durable as warm butter, so it's nice to get a little extra use out of them.

Pencil extenders! The best! 4B pencils are my faves, but the lead is about as durable as warm butter, so it's nice to get a little extra use out of them.

Without this beast I would never have actual points on my pencils, because hand-sharpeners take up so much valuable work time. I know it's only moments, but I sharpen my pencils SO MANY times per day. I would go absolutely crazy trying to draw without this at my elbow. 

Without this beast I would never have actual points on my pencils, because hand-sharpeners take up so much valuable work time. I know it's only moments, but I sharpen my pencils SO MANY times per day. I would go absolutely crazy trying to draw without this at my elbow. 

Super thin LED light tables. Wow. Game changers. The paper here is Arches 300lb, and I can still see my sketch through it, even in the daytime. I have a small travel light table as well, because I really can't live without one. 

Super thin LED light tables. Wow. Game changers. The paper here is Arches 300lb, and I can still see my sketch through it, even in the daytime. I have a small travel light table as well, because I really can't live without one. 

I'm always misplacing my mechanical pencils, so I like to have several on hand, as well as plenty of extra lead. Plus, I recently "discovered" 3B mechanical lead. So soft and dark. Heaven. Rivals my 4B pencils. 

I'm always misplacing my mechanical pencils, so I like to have several on hand, as well as plenty of extra lead. Plus, I recently "discovered" 3B mechanical lead. So soft and dark. Heaven. Rivals my 4B pencils. 

I'm always amazed by how often I pull out my X-Acto knife. I stole this one from my husband back in 2002 and I won't let it go. Wonder tool! And I only recently started using artist tape. It's strong yet removable! So nice that.

I'm always amazed by how often I pull out my X-Acto knife. I stole this one from my husband back in 2002 and I won't let it go. Wonder tool! And I only recently started using artist tape. It's strong yet removable! So nice that.

A bunch of random tools that make my heart sing:   Ever-present ruler: I keep it in on a nail right on my desk leg, literally six inches from my right leg. I make myself put it away each time, so I always know right where it is.  SCISSORS. They disappear like nobody's business, so I keep a bunch on hand.   Desk brush. For all my eraser shavings. And for keeping me sane. I felt so frivolous buying it, but it really is wonderful, and was actually only a few dollars. Get one.  World's best eraser: Faber-Castell art eraser.   Bone folder. I weirdly use this all the time! Great for scoring and smoothing.   Fave pens: Micron, Sharpie, nib pen + Daler Rowney FW acrylic artist's ink.

A bunch of random tools that make my heart sing: 

Ever-present ruler: I keep it in on a nail right on my desk leg, literally six inches from my right leg. I make myself put it away each time, so I always know right where it is.

SCISSORS. They disappear like nobody's business, so I keep a bunch on hand. 

Desk brush. For all my eraser shavings. And for keeping me sane. I felt so frivolous buying it, but it really is wonderful, and was actually only a few dollars. Get one.

World's best eraser: Faber-Castell art eraser. 

Bone folder. I weirdly use this all the time! Great for scoring and smoothing. 

Fave pens: Micron, Sharpie, nib pen + Daler Rowney FW acrylic artist's ink.

They were right, you do need math in the real world. Like all the time. Thankfully I'm mostly just adding and subtracting, but I'm always so happy to have this little tool close at hand. It's quicker than using my phone app, plus the buttons are more satisfying to push. 

They were right, you do need math in the real world. Like all the time. Thankfully I'm mostly just adding and subtracting, but I'm always so happy to have this little tool close at hand. It's quicker than using my phone app, plus the buttons are more satisfying to push. 

Flat file. Found this beaut on Craigslist, and thankfully it's in two parts for hauling up the stairs to my attic studio. It's great, and allows for some primo paper hoarding. 

Flat file. Found this beaut on Craigslist, and thankfully it's in two parts for hauling up the stairs to my attic studio. It's great, and allows for some primo paper hoarding. 

Hoping some of these items might make your studio life go a little more smoothly and happily, and I'd really love to hear if you have any amazing supplies that work well for you!

-Deborah Hocking   @deborahhockingstudio

 

 
"Where do we start? Books." Rachel Noble talks about grief and loss and trusting the child on your knee.

"Where do we start? Books." Rachel Noble talks about grief and loss and trusting the child on your knee.

Hello hello!

Hello hello!