Foraging for Art Journal Supplies

Hi, Messy friends!  Elizabeth here to take you into the woods (or into the depths of your handbag) as we forage for art journal supplies.

Growing up, I had a vintage print of Harold Gaze’s Fairies at Play on my wall.  It sparked so many imaginative stories for me and my younger sister as we pretended to be those little winged beauties, dancing through the forest collecting lovely little things as we went.

Hopefully we can harness that same spirit of playfulness and exploration today.

Rather than packing a picnic lunch and heading out for a day in the woods (though that does sound lovely), our foraging will take a more casual, convenient approach.

foraging for art journal supplies


  • Your art journal + favorite supplies
  • Some means for affixing your foraged items (for example: glue, matte medium, needle and thread, tape, staples)
  • A bucket, a basket, or something similar for collecting your goods
  • As always, an mind wide open to possibility

Let’s forage!

Over the course of a few days, a week, or even longer, you’ll be collecting items as you encounter them.  Bring them home, drop them in your foraging basket (I left mine right on our kitchen island — being in plain sight, the basket was a great reminder to keep my eyes open to possible creative inspiration), and keep on doing so until you’ve decided time’s up.

Where you go and what you find will depend largely on where you are.  I’m quite the spoiled fairy person in that I have easy access to city, shoreline and forest.  And I’m pleased to take you along to all three.  This exercise is perfect both for time at home, and time spent on vacation/on holiday.

Give yourself time to really explore and notice what is freely available to you.  Be sure to obey any posted rules (I’d hate to get you into trouble!).  Depending on where you are, you may be spending money, or you may not.  For the sake of this exercise (and the health of my bank account), I challenged myself to spend precisely zero American dollars.

Carefully gather anything that calls to you.  Don’t feel pressure to know exactly (or even remotely) what you will do with each piece.  Be open to possibility.

foraging for art journal supplies

Some places you may choose to forage:

  • In your own backyard
  • Along a certain city block
  • At a local park or green space
  • In the woods (real talk: do not collect mushrooms or anything else potentially poisonous, however beautiful they may look, unless you really know what you’re doing)
  • Along the shore
  • In your own handbag (I strongly advise against foraging through someone else’s handbag or wallet…)
  • At your grocery store or farmers market
  • At your recycling center
  • At a thrift store (great for sourcing old books, magazines, and textiles)
  • At a non-art store (the hardware store is one of my favorite places to stock up on supplies)

foraging for art journal supplies

Using your foraged pieces in your art journal

During this season, I am really embracing the opportunity to explore the magic of what is already available to me.  Having so many seemingly new and different pieces from this exercise to work with was such fun.  And because I literally have a basket full, I can keep coming back to these supplies when I need inspiration.

foraging for art journal supplies

For this fairly minimalist (my jam) spread, I used a giant hydrangea leaf from my yard as a stamp, along with some of my daughter’s markers and a bit of water.  I used the Q-tips to clean up the excess water.  After tracing over a bit of the leaf imprint for interest, I cut away the rest of the page so you could see the Hans Christian Anderson quote on the following page.

foraging for art supplies

Here are a few plans I have for the supplies that remain:

  • Use pressed petunias and pansies, along with the dried lavender, in a floral spread
  • Take color inspiration from the wampum (that lovely purple coloring on the insides of the clam shells)
  • Stamp with the letter “E” magnet, or use it to trace
  • Make a collage with the perfectly aged (and old-book-smelling) pages from the French artist’s book and odd receipts from my wallet
  • Use the mason jar lid as the perfect circle stencil
  • Sketch my daughter’s pink Cadillac

You may use some of your items by pasting them directly into your art journal.  Other items may serve purely as inspiration.  Others will serve as tools.  Again, stay open to possibility.  In this Season of Fairy Tales, there’s bound to be a bit of magic, and a basket full of everyday items seems the perfect place for that magic to be uncovered.

I can’t wait to see what you magical, beautiful, clever friends come up with.  Please feel free to tag me on Instagram (@elizabethev) so I can see what you’ve foraged and created!

Action Steps


Spend a week foraging for art journaling items as you go about your usual routine


Create a page using one (or some, or all!) of those items


Elizabeth lives in Boston with her husband, two young children and not-so-young French bulldog.  She is passionate about encouraging others in their creative pursuits and building peaceful communities. She almost always laughs at her own jokes.


  1. Misty Granade

    OOH! Fun!!

    • Elizabeth D.

      Thanks, Misty!

  2. Sasha Zinevych

    You created such a simple and stunning page! And so many beautiful ideas! <3

    • Elizabeth D.

      Thank you, Sasha! xx

  3. Clare Davis Etheridge

    Great ideas! I am in love with your page and the cut out is fabulous! Those smooth clam shell pieces always take me right back to our time on Cape Cod, I have a jar full of them collected from Nauset beach!
    Thanks for sharing x

    • Elizabeth D.

      Thank you, Clare! We always find the best treasures at Nauset! xx

  4. Melody Willoughby

    i love having a basket in my studio for odds and ends. i will be a little more intentional this week collecting for my basket.Such a great idea!

    • Elizabeth D.

      Oh, wonderful! Thanks, Melody! xx

  5. Ashley Rodgers

    So fun, and so many creative ideas! I can’t wait to try this.

    • Elizabeth D.

      Thanks, Ashley! xx

  6. David Yule

    Thank you for this Elizabeth i found the tutorial inspiring and it made me feel less of a wierdo about picking up odd fragments as i walk around. I simply can’t walk past a feather without picking it up and wondering how i can use it.. I have made one piece with found bits called ‘flotsam’, one called ‘jetsam’ and i am filling my dish up with bits for a piece that will be called ‘my magpie eye’ I hadn’t thought about using odds and ends as stencils so that will be added to the arsenal. and i loved the cut out part of the page to show the words underneath.