This guide was written by our graphic designer Cathryn. She’s been bullet journaling for over 2 years and considers herself an expert. For more tips and inspiration, follow her bullet journal on Instagram @well.thats.sketchy
In my previous blog post, I went over the basics of bullet journaling and how to get started. But I wanted to give a more comprehensive list of supplies for those of us who are hoarders interested in doing decorative themes. This list of supplies will give you a nice start and make sure you’re prepared for just about any theme you come up with.
Size A5 with a dot grid is the favorite for bujos, but there are other options out there - and it just so happens 1canoe2 makes three great ones! I really love using our dot grid journal and I absolutely recommend it.
I’ve started keeping a spare notebook (as a sketchbook) around so I can do a test run of my spreads/themes and work out all the kinks. I have a long history of being embarrassed 😅 by how the first week of every month turns out. You can do just a sketch, but I go the full 9 yards (10… 8? sports?) to make sure I know what I’m doing. I find it super helpful to do this in the same kind of notebook I use for my bujo so I can count grid spacing, see how the paper handles my ink, etc.
A running list of theme ideas and inspiration. This is a great way to help you jumpstart planning and designing the upcoming month - so you don’t have to start from scratch every time. Now granted, I have a note on my phone called “BUJO IDEAS”, which I do use and follow, but I still manage to start a week late every month. So it’s not a guarantee to keep you on time, but it is helpful.
Brush pens for lettering or coloring - my favorites are Tombow’s Dual Brush pen and Zebra’s Mildliner brush pens. Both are double ended too - so it’s two markers in one! 🥳
Regular ole medium tip coloring markers - Crayola's Supertips are popular and great to use. I also happen to use Staetdler because my sister regifted them to me. They work really well and they’re double ended 🙌 . Any kind of multipack of basic markers that would be good for a coloring book are good for bullet journaling.
Tombow fuedensuke - a great brush pen for thinner/smaller lettering. They have a more limited color selection, but I make excuses to add them to my color schemes, they’re that great.
Sakura Micron - multiple thicknesses. I think an 02 or 03 are nice for writing, and I use a variety of sizes for illustrations.
Gel pens - especially a white gel pen to write on dark backgrounds and to cover up mistakes *. What brand depends on what you’re writing on top of - different papers, paints, inks react differently with different gel pens, so you may need to test out a few.
Pencil and eraser - whatever you (probably already) have will work perfectly.
* Speaking of covering up mistakes, there are several ways to do this. If it’s a tiny mistake, cover it up with a white gel pen or white-out. If it’s a medium mistake, you can cut a section out of a page in the back of your notebook and glue it over the mistake, this way you still have the grid. You could also use paint to cover it. Or use an element from your monthly theme to cover it up - paint, washi tape, photos, patterned paper, etc. And if it’s a huge mistake (like every time I put 8 days in a week on my monthly calendar) you can just glue the pages together and start over, pretending it never happened.
A 6-inch ruler is nice because you’re often working with smaller lines and it’ll fit well in a pencil bag so you can carry it on the go. Also, cork back rulers are non-slip for drawing straight lines across your page.
You’ll fall in love and it’ll be difficult to stop buying them. But they make a great accent to your themes or you can even base your theme around an amazing pattern you find. Washi tape is amazing because it’s paper (not plastic, so it’s earth-friendly) and it has a medium adhesive (so you can readjust it on your page) and it’s cute.
They’re easy to find at your craft store and on Etsy - and check out 1canoe2's Washi tape (and other craft supplies) here!
(If you want to paint your themes.) Regular craft paint or acrylic is a great option: you’ll have a lot of color options, it’s permanent, and it’s affordable.
Gouache is also great. It has a beautiful brushy aesthetic, and it’s more matte than acrylic so pens dry faster on top of it. And it is thinner than acrylic so you’re not loading down your pages as much. However it’s not permanent. Positive of that is that you can come back and continue working. Negative is it will smear if it gets wet (shoutout to the leaky water bottle in my purse) and a really juicy pen or a marker will pick up paint. So it’s best to leave writing areas un-painted or painted in acrylic.
Letter stencils are perfect if you don’t want to free-hand your lettering or if you want to hurry things along.
Like washi tape, they can be an accent to your theme. You can also find more functional stickers, like the days of the week, mini calendars, or to-do lists that you can use instead of drawing all those by hand. You can use letter stickers for headers to save some time too. Check your local craft store or Etsy for endless options.
And finally, keep your eye out for new and interesting supplies that might spark some inspiration. This can be as simple as a new pen color or as big as learning a new media. We did a stamp making workshop at our company retreat which inspired me to make a few watermelon slice stamps for my July theme. My September collage theme was inspired by the handmade paper my sister brought back from Italy as a souvenir. If something catches your eye, you can probably find a way to use it in your bujo. And that’s the story of how every great supplies hoard begins.
Keep me up-to-date on your journals with #1c2bujos on instagram!
Til next time,