Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

A Working Face Painter

What’s in my kit?

Common threads in face painting groups are questions about what products, tools and equipment we use.  I figured I’d list here what my kit consisted of.

1. Kit container:  I used a shopping trolley – a nice big one I found at Winners for $19.95.   I also have another I found at the Co-op for $8.88 so I bought it too, to use for my demonstration kit.

I used a small plastic shoe drawer for transporting the bits and it fit in the bottom of the trolley. Then it sat on the table to hold the things I wasn’t actively using like lids and back-up items.

2. Table cover and towels:  In this photo I was using dark green, I later changed to a black fabric (polyester) table cloth and black towels.  I covered the table (client supplied) with the tablecloth then laid down a towel on top.  I set-up my palettes on the towel… handy to blot things, soak up drips and protect from spills.  I had a couple of matching hand towels and a washcloth as well.  I covered my lap with one hand towel and the others were for blotting, wiping and emergencies.

3. Signage:  Depending on the size and type of event I had different displays, and changed and adapted most of them over time.

I always had my tabletop signs out (see above photo). The acrylic stand with the business card holder was my general disclaimer and the other one was my age disclaimer.

I had an A-frame floor sign that I used for all public and corporate events.  That sign had sliders so that I could post event specific information.  I also used it for design display for events where the larger displays wouldn’t be convenient.

Sandwichboard 2012

I had a table top display unit that I used for large festivals and corporate events. Both sides were used. This was a commercial trade show display that was pretty heavy and had a carrying case. I sold it and went with a lighter display.

I made a lightweight display board that I used for my “Fast Faces” display for high volume events. You can read about how I made this here.

I had a binder with laminated sheets for small events and parties where the larger display and signs would be too much.

For some outdoor events I was able to park my car right beside my shelter – it made a good wind break as well as a great billboard.

4. Face paint:  I used a custom made acrylic palette that was made for me by Gary Cole (owner of Ruby Red Face Paint.)


It contains mostly Kryolan, then Snazaroo, Grimas, TAG, Wolfe and Funky Foxes.

5. Sponges: I used mainly tack sponges (tack as in for cleaning leather tack such as saddles.)  They are soft, firm, durable and resist staining for the most part.  I have some that are nearly 20 years old and still going strong.  They are less than half the price of the “face painting” sponges and can be found online and in tack stores.

Tack Sponges

I also used a variety of other sponges. Fantasy Worldwide has green sponges that are the same size and shape as the tack sponges but are much softer… they are very nice.

Fantasy Worldwide green sponges

I transported the sponges in ice cream pails with lids.  I had an empty bucket for putting the used sponges in.

6. Brushes: I used just about anything but am partial to #4 round kolinsky sables.  I buy my brushes at art supply and craft stores – water-colour brushes in natural and synthetic hair.  I kept them in a small acrylic vase on the table.

7. Water: I added water to my cakes and used dry sponges and brushes so I carried a 4-ounce squeeze bottle of water for this (see the above photo.)  I carried water for filling my water tub in a gallon jug (recycled fruit juice jug).

I used a “Brush tub” for cleaning and rinsing my brushes, and for standing them to dry.

8. Other basic stuff:  Tissue, wet wipes, four colours of dry glitter (in small jars), a couple of colours of glitter gel in squeeze bottles, hand sanitizer, q-tips, 70% isopropyl alcohol for sanitizing my brushes, container for the alcohol, soap (bar of Ivory in the yellow soap dish for washing the brushes before rinsing and sanitizing), metal duck-bill hair clips, hand mirrors (two as one is a back-up because accidents happen), and a small dish for clean water to wet sponges/brushes when using the split cakes.


9. Miscellaneous:  I also carried scissors, rope, surveyor’s tape, duct tape, Tylenol, spare cakes of black, red and white, some lick n’stick tattoos, foldback clips for holding the table cloth to the table on a windy day and bug spray.

So that was about it.  Sometimes I took along all my Liquid Bling, or additional split cakes in different combinations, depending on the theme or season.

And all of it fit in the trolley as it is shown at the top!

**This was how I worked up until 2017, when I moved 4000 kms across Canada and started going to college full-time to work on a degree in Fine Art. I’ve now retired from the business of face painting, but am still involved in theatre and stage work.

10 thoughts on “A Working Face Painter

  1. This is so useful! I’ve just started getting more into doing face painting and am fascinated with how you’ve got things organized. But, I’m especially intrigued by the Liquid Bling. Who makes it? Where do I get it?

    And – you said that you wet the cakes, not your sponges – do you just use one sponge per color? (And in that way don’t rinse the sponge until you’re all done that session?)

    Thank you!!


    • Liquid Bling is made by Amerikan Body Art. You can google them.

      My set-up has changed a bit. But I still work the same. I use clean brushes and sponges for every person. The used sponges go into a bucket to be cleaned later at home, and the brushes are cleaned and sanitized before being used again while working. In Alberta we have specific Health Regulations for Face Painting that MUST be adhered to.

      • Wow. It seems like it would be cost prohibitive to have all of those sponges and brushes. But, it’s making me think. I saw a blog post on Silly Farm about a brush cleanser. I’m going to have to look at making changes. Thank you.

      • Good sponges last for years – I still use sponges I originally purchased in 2003, and they are still in excellent condition. I usually have approx 30 brushes in use when painting solo. Commercial brush cleaners aren’t really suitable as they can contain potential allergens, and also don’t really get the colour out of the brushes, in my experience.

  2. Thanks for the post, so much useful info!

  3. I love the A-frame sign you have, where did you get it from?

  4. Thanks for another wonderfully helpful post! I love how you take the time to include all the details and pictures…many thanks! :} xoxo

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