Yesterday I spend a good portion of my Saturday afternoon arranging my pens, pencils, markers, and brushes. It all started because I bought some new pen holders. I bought a pack of four of them. I actually thought I was buying four marker holders, as I recently bought a similar marker holder, but it turned out that the pen holders I bought were too small to hold markers. At least too small to hold Copic markers and other art markers that size.

First of all I already have about ten different marker, pen, pencil, and brush holders that hold hundreds of my art supplies. They were actually a little bit crowded and it’s tough to get stuff out of them. I ignore the problem as often as not. So I decided that since I have these four new pen holders I may as well organize all my stuff. It should be easy. Famous last words.

Although the new penholders are too big for Copic markers they do fit Sharpie (and their type) markers. That was good. I have a set of about 36 regular Sharpies, 36 extra fine point Sharpie markers, 36 Bic Mark-It markers, 12 Metallic Bits, 24 Amazon markers and various other odds and ends markers. Each of the new pen holders holds 96 markers so I split up all the Sharpie-types into two of the new holders. That was the easy part. They were already organized.

Next I dove into my tangle of brushes and dip pens. I have two spinning circular pen holders plus a square brush holder that have been sitting on my side table since the 1990s. They have a lot of stuff in them. Too much stuff to easily grab something from that mess.

They key to organizing the pens and brushes turned out to be separating the long handled brushes from the sort handles brushes. I didn’t even realize there were so may short handled brushes in the holder. The long handled brushes were leaning over the short handled ones and covering them up. They were all supposed to be straight up and down but there were a lot of diagonal ones.

I used one of the new pen holders to put all of the short handled brushes in. It turns out that I had somewhere around fifty of them. I would have never guessed that. Especially since about half of them are busted up old watercolor brushes that got ruined, over the years, by the India ink that I use with them. I hated to throw them out and eventually developed my “Busted Brush” technique with them so it’s good that I still have them. The other half are random brushes that I bought over the years.

I have about forty long handled brushes that I use for oil and acrylic on canvas painting. They are mostly flats and duplicates in size that are in all different states of wear. Since I’m planning on making a few acrylic on canvas paintings this summer these ones will get some use.

The brush holder that these ninety or so brushes were in looks like it was meant to hold about fifty brushes. I had long and short handled brushes doubled up in some on the brush holes. No wonder it was such a mess.

The two spinning circular pen holders were the next ones to be organized. They have a lot of stuff stuck in them and they hold all the odd shaped things. The holes that the pens go in get larger as they go away from the center so there is room in them for big barelled things. Things like the four pallet knives and two architect’s scales that I have. They can’t go anywhere else.

Around the inside edge in the smaller circular holders I put all of my dip pens. There are the ones that I have to dip in ink to draw with. Being mostly a brush guy I’ve never used them a lot over the years but I also had a hard time getting to them. They were all lost as they were mixed in haphazardly with brushes and everything else. Now I can easily reach them. Maybe I’ll even use them!

As I dug through all my pens I even discovered a couple that I had forgotten. They are two “Drawing Pens” (from the 1990s) that are more like fountain pens. They both take ink cartridges of which I have none so I cleaned then up and ordered some fountain pen ink cartridges. I’m curious to see if they still work. All cleaned up they should. I remember the one pen always clogging on me. I have since learned that it was probably the drawing ink that I was using in it. Fountain pen ink is thinner and might work better in the pen.

I have a few empty marker holders now but I might still have to get a new marker holder. The empty marker holders are from the 1990s and they don’t quite fit Copic markers (I had some Sharpies in them). They’re made for 1980s to 1990s Ad Markers which were round rather than oval or square like the Copic markers. The oval Copics sort of fit in them but not really.

As I mentioned in an earlier post I have been reviving some old and dried out Copic markers and using Teflon Tape to fix the seal on their caps so Now I have extra markers that I have to put somewhere. I have all of my “Active” and most used markers on a shelf I built on the left side of my drawing table but I think I have to improve that shelf. It was built in two or three stages (and widths) over the years so I think I have to rebuild it in one stage with one width. That way I can fit more markers on it. Maybe this summer. After all I am just about to add more markers to the collection.

It was accidentally buying pen holders instead of marker holders that got me started on this organization journey. I didn’t even realize that I needed to get my pens, brushes, and markers in order but now that they are I think that I was ignoring them for years. Now I look over on that table with satisfaction. I can look at the tools and get ideas of what I want to make with them. That’s a good feeling.