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Where to Buy Art Supplies

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Cheap art supplies for toddler

June 2014

I am looking to stock up on some arts and crafts supplies for my three year old -- markers, paints, crayons, various kinds of construction or tissue paper, glitter, stickers, maybe various textured things like fuzzy balls or beads. Since she is just 3 and not exactly expert yet at taking good care of her things, I don't need fancy items and would prefer to do it cost effectively but also without having to visit five different places. Any recommendations? Is Michael's a place where one gets things like this? I walk and bike most places, so stores or suppliers in or close to Berkeley are a big plus, but I would consider driving someplace farther based on a good recommendation. Thanks! Mom of art lover


Try the dollar store. I know there is one in N. Berkeley on San Pablo and probably others. They always carry very cheap art supplies. Of course, the quality is not the best (for markers, crayons, pencils) and so for longer lasting/better quality stuff, yes Michael's is the place to go where they will have everything you could possibly want. artsy mama
You can always get construction paper, kids sissors, color pencils, etc. at Dollar Tree (they have a pretty good selection). Probably any other dollar store will have some supplies too. For paint and play dough, you could look up recipes on Pinterest to DIY it, so you make sure is non- toxic. In my opinion, Michael's is great too, but you will end up spending more. Good luck! Annon
Check out East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse on Telegraph at 47th. You won't necessarily find all the things you're looking for but with creativity can make fun projects with the stuff there. L
The factory store for Hero Arts just opened, and they are a great bargain! Hero Arts is the fantastic manufacturer of rubber stamps. Their factory store carries all kinds of rubber stamps, stamp pads, a wide selection of papers, stickers, felt pens, etc. (Lots of things for scrapbooking.) All discounted. I was just there on Monday and bought a slew of things for my grandsons. I was very pleased with the selection and the prices. They are located at 1200 Harbour Way,Richmond; just down the road from the Rosie the Riveter exhibit. They are open Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 - 3:00. It's a beautiful bike ride along the trail near Costco to their store. Or, take 580 freeway, exit at Harbour Way, South. P.S. They're a GREEN Company.. nice extra.. Barbara
Have never been to this place in Oakland, but heard it's good/cheap: http://www.yelp.com/biz/east-bay-depot-for-creative-reuse-oakland Mel
I get all of my art supplies cheaply from two places:

1. the dollar store has all that you asked for. Everything is... you guessed it, one dollar! The only 'dollar store' I have found that is any good is the one actually named 'THE DOLLAR STORE'

2. I also get a ton of stuff in bulk from oriental trading and then I just put it all in jars. We have had some of our art supplies forever and it is not as if pompoms go bad

Enjoy! Michelle


Center for Creative Reuse. Lots and lots of stuff very cheap. Its on Telegraph just before it merges with Shattuck. a friend
Go to Dollar Tree (largest you can find) and 99 cents only store (the Richmond store is better than the Berkeley store). Scissors, books, colored pencils, all around $1.

If you want more options and are in the mood for a day trip, try Daiso and/or Ichiban in SF Japantown or Colma. Items around $1.50.

Then gather up old calendars and magazines for pictures to cut out and paste. (I find mine at an exchange area at my local library in Marin. You could ask friends & neighbors, check the El Cerrito recycling center, used bookstores, etc.)

I still have a book my mother and I made filled with pictures cut from magazines and my scribbles. -Have Fun!


My kids love to do art, too. I know you did not ask for a book recommendation, but I highly recommend 'The Artful Parent' by Jean Van't Hul. (She also has a blog by the same name.) The book is filled with cool, simple art projects for kids toddler to age 8, I think, and it is awesome. We've done many of the activities and they've turned out well. She also has a whole section on art supplies, including her own specific recommendations. We've bought several of her suggestions and have been really happy.

In regards to art supplies, I usually place a fairly large order through the online store Discount School Supply once a year, and the rest of the time I shop at Michael's with my 40% to 50% coupons. I tried to do the small local art store thing, as well, but it can get very expensive, and Michael's has some good quality stuff.

The big suggestion I have after doing art for quite a few years with my kids is that while you do not need to spend an arm and a leg on art supplies, don't completely cheap out on everything or you'll regret it. I spend a bit (around $16 for 500 sheets) on good quality drawing paper (80# white sulfite), and a bit more on watercolor paper (student quality). I also really love Stockmar crayons. They are expensive but last *forever*, and they blow regular crayons out of the water.

Other items that we use a lot (I have kids ranging from toddler age to 8 years):

- Crayola Slick Stix - oil pastels for the younger set - the color is super rich and vibrant. This is my 4 year old's favorite drawing implement, currently. They will cost you around $4 with a Michael's coupon. So, relatively cheap.

- My older kids love regular pastels - we have the Crayola brand, and it's great. Again, very vibrant and color-saturated.

- Liquid watercolors - did not even know about these until I read 'The Artful Parent' book. They run around $4 a pop, and are great; super easy to use, and last forever. You can use them straight out of the bottle or dilute them. I get mine through Discount School Supply.

- Tempera paint - I get the washable variety for our art easel. All the brands we've bought have been fine.

- Collage materials like buttons, feathers, glitter, googly eyes, sequins/spangles, etc. I tend to get these from Michael's, as well.

Hope this helps! Monica


The Dollar Tree (or similar). There's one on San Pablo and Gilman. They have a pretty good selection of stickers, crayons, pens, chalk, tissue paper, doodle pads, glue etc. And best of all EVERYTHING IS $1 so if she breaks all the crayons and spills all the glitter, no problem! Michael's is great for 'real' art supplies, but not cheap in my opinion. Happy crafting
Michaels has all sorts of supplies, but cheap it is not. For cheap and also unusual materials, I suggest http://www.creativereuse.org/ located on 45 block of Telegraph Ave in Oakland.

Michaels sells a lot of 'typically expected' art supplies and kits that I find rather stile creativity. However, for a toddler their material and drop in 'classes/workshops' might be fun for your kid. Lakeshore offers something similar, but I believe cheaper. The kids take home their project. Happy crafting


To add to the great ideas... when my daughter was little I would cut out characters/pictures from food boxes -- such as the bunnies on the Annie's boxes to play with. She is 8, but just mentioned that she remembered this. Another one - subscription cards in magazines. One time at the doctor's office, and desperate for a diversion, I picked up a magazine and handed off every subscription card (there were a lot) and she loved them. WIth both of these things, she didn't necessarily do art with them, but was excited by the objects. Anyway, just to say that all sorts of things around you can be stimulating at this age. Have fun! box cutting mama

Wooden art easel for toddler

March 2011

I am looking to buy an art easel that can be used by my daughter as soon as she learns to walk (or at least when she's two). I strongly prefer wood or other natural material rather than plastic, and I'd also really like something that will last a couple of years (presumably adjustable?). If anyone has a recommendation for an easel that would serve this purpose, I'd love to hear about it (or alternatives that others have used for their budding artists...). -let the children paint


I would recommend the wooden easel from Ikea hands down. Is it a state of the art easel? No, of course not. But for $19.99 it does the job and does it well. It has a white erase side, a chalkboard side and a holder in the center for a large roll of paper (also Ikea) and a tray on the chalkboard side for markers, chalk, paint, etc ... My only real wish is that it had a tray on both sides, but it is not even a real concern since my son mostly uses the chalkboard side. It's not heavy duty, but is sturdy enough for the kind of use it will get. It is also a good size for a small room. Happy painting! Reluctant Ikea fan
The Ikea one worked well for us. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50021076 N.L. Harris
Alex Toys and Melissa & Doug (available online or at many local toy stores) and Lakeshore Learning both make nice wooden easels - but they cost $50-$150 new. You might keep your eye out for one used or even try building one yourself if you're handy - Google 'make kids art easel' for links to several eHow tutorials and other instructions. Art Mama
We have a Melissa & Doug wooden easel with a white board on one side and a chalkboard on the other. It's adjustable and my six year old and three year old use it almost every day. We've had it for 5 years! I'd say it was well worth the $50...

Inexpensive easel and washable paints?

December 2001

I'm looking for inexpensive art supplies: ie paints that wash away very easily, an easel, etc. Ideas? The web site lists an easel in hearthsong in Berkeley, but it seems to be gone. I'd prefer to shop locally than a web site, because shipping on an easel won't be cheap. Thanks. Sarah


I found a table-top easel at Toy-Go-Round on Solano for $30 (the stand-up easels are $80), and that is a reasonable price compared to other places (like Crate and Barrel) that I looked. Toy Go Round said they were almost out of easels a week ago though, so you might want to call first to make sure they still have some. Good luck. LUISA Luisa
We got a good standing easel, plus rolls of newsprint at Ikea. You can also get sets of paints, brushes, and paint cups fairly cheap at Costco. Lauren
I know that you mentioned that you would prefer a local store for art supplies, but I just heard about a catalog/website that is wonderful. It is called: Discount School Supply. The website is: discountschoolsupply.com They have lots of nontoxic paints as well as toys and furniture. Best of Luck, Michelle
Regarding looking for an easel, Ikea has a great one for $24.99. One side is chalkboard, the other side is whiteboard, with a roll of tear off paper that fits over the whiteboard side. It has a tray for art supplies and is fairly sturdy. I also saw a great looking one (similar to the Ikea easel described) at Costco-Richmond for $29.99. It came with the first roll of tear off paper included. There are a ton of Crayola products-packages at Costco for between $10 and $20...a lifetime supply of crayons and markers. Alexis
I am not sure if IKEA qualifies as shopping locally, as you prefer, but it is a good place to shop for a basic easel and washable paints. If I recall correctly, IKEA sells a wood easel/ chalkboard combo for about $30. They sell inexpensive rolls of paper, paints and chalk. Incidently IKEA is also a great place to shop for children's kitchen ware: tiny plates, cups, kettles, brooms, etc. Claire
The Art Store on 6th and University has a nice easel for about $35.00. It has a chalk board on the reverse side. I went to Amsterdam Art after they told me over the phone that they had children's easels, but when I got there they didn't. They sent me down the street to their discount store saying that they had them there. When I got there the employees there insisted that the main store had them, so I went back to the main store. In the end they didn't have them AT ALL, nor did they carry children's easels! On my way home I spied The Art Shop on the way to the freeway and got it there. Mariannef
I recently received the holiday flier from Amsterdam Art containing a letter from the founder, saying they are struggling for survival. Amsterdam Art, a local homegrown art supply house, has been a great supporter of arts in the public schools, gives discounts to teachers to help them bring art into the classroom and has even given small grants and donations of supplies to teachers who want to expose students to the art process. I personally have made many trips to Amsterdam Art's University Ave (corner of Univ and 9th I think) store for classroom supplies, materials for girl scouts, great stuff for my own kids, birthday presents and many batches of sculpy for assignments my kids have had. But it is their support for public school teachers that I think is worth mentioning here. I just thought parents might want to know about this and think about shopping at a local treasure that has supported our kids being creative and artistic, and having access to high quality supplies! thanks Kathy
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