Today, I want to talk about how I store my colored pencils. To begin, here’s the reader question.
Is it best to keep pencils in medal tray in which they were purchased or do you put in a container that allows pencils to stand up? Thanks
Since those beautiful colored pencils can be expensive, it’s important to know how to keep them safe and useful when we’re not drawing.
Now I know every artist is different, and we all have our preferences about storage. So the best way to tackle this topic is to tell you what I do. If that works for you, great.
If not, that’s okay too.
How I Store My Colored Pencils
I use a variety of methods for storing colored pencils. How do I decide when method to use? There are a couple of factors.
My first choice is to keep new pencils in the tins in which they arrived. What’s my thinking on that?
First, if a tin is sturdy enough to keep the pencils safe during shipping, then the tin is probably sturdy enough to keep the pencils safe on my shelf. Even if a cat happens to knock the tin to the floor.
Second, many tins also include slotted plastic trays, with a slot for each pencil. Faber-Castell does this and it’s a great way to keep pencils from rolling around if the tin gets jostled.
It’s also a great way to keep pencils from rolling off a desk or table while I’m working. But now I digress.
Third, tins are compact and stream-lined. I can slide them into a tote or carry case so I can take pencils when I go traveling.
Fourth—and this may really be a stretch for a lot of you—I arrange my pencils according to height in the tin. It’s easy to see what colors I need to restock.
(Yes. I really do this with the Polychromos pencils. It’s the best way I’ve found to easily manage inventory and re-ordering.)
When I started taking art supplies to horse shows, I bought a couple of plastic lure boxes designed for fishermen. I actually found them in the sporting goods section of Wal-Mart.
Two of them handled a full set of Prismacolor pencils back then (there were only 96 colors, if I remember correctly.) I sort pencils by color, with the most often used pencils in one box and others in the second box.
Those Prismacolor pencils are still in those trays and, although the trays are starting to show wear-and-tear after thirty years or so, they’re still very solid and sturdy.
They’re not as compact to pack for travel as the pencil tins, but I can get both of them into a laptop carrier along with a couple of pads of paper, a working in progress if it’s in a working mat assembly, and even my trusty mechanical sharpener.
Cups & Jars
Now sometimes, I don’t buy new pencils by the set. For example, I’ve been collecting Derwent Lightfast pencils and Caran d’Ache Luminance one or two colors at a time. Obviously, there are no tins to store them in.
I also don’t want to put them into the trays with the Prismacolor pencils, so I keep them in ceramic mugs or glass cups. The cups are on a shelf along with the tins of Polychromos and other pencils. I admit that they’re not as secure as the pencils in the tins. If they fall, they scatter.
But I have put them high enough that even the adult cats are wary of jumping up there.
I also recently purchased a set of Blick Studio pencils, and while I like the pencils quite a bit, the tin was less than ideal for storage. The pencils arrived in good shape, but I put them all in a big coffee mug. The mug is easy to carry to my front porch or back yard for sketching.
And I like the message. Not bad advice!
Open stock replacement pencils and Prismacolor Verithin pencils are also in cups.
I also keep a few select pencils in a light-weight plastic sleeve. I can easily grab them for short trips, along with my package of 4×6 sketching papers.
So How do I Store My Pencils?
Short answer, I store my colored pencils in whatever way is the most secure, and the most convenient.
That’s what I recommend for you. If you have a permanent studio space and rarely travel with pencils, then storage cabinets and shelving are probably the better solution for you.
But maybe you’re like me. You don’t have a permanent studio space and you like to travel with pencils and paper.
In that case, then you might do better with some of my storage solutions.
Got a question? Ask Carrie!
Good article. Like you, I have an adult, male cat and his name is Rascal, therefore, he gets into things. Right now I store my pencils in the original packaging.
The original packaging is definitely the most “cat proof.” No doubt about that!
I store my open stock pencils in cigar boxes padded with foam.
That’s a good idea. Thank you for that tip, Stacey.