The information here was last given a general check and update in March 2020
MOST USEFUL GENERAL
120 Leman St, Whitechapel, London E1 8EU. Tel: 020 7264 1288
4D is an indispensable resource, or ‘one-stop’ source for practically every important model-making material and a lot more besides. But just as importantly, especially for those who need to experiment first .. they specialize in making small amounts available, making the service they provide doubly unique! They recently updated their range of mouldmaking and casting materials, and now the choices they offer rival Tiranti’s, as somewhere to actually visit. For example, 4D is the only place to get Mouldlife(Polytek) products such as Platsil silicones or Easy Flow resins from the shelf in London. 4D continues to be important as a source of Kapa-line foamboard, Finnboard, plastics such as styrene, styrofoam etc .. again, their range of styrofoams in sheets from as little as 1mm upwards is quite unique! For a while now they’ve also stocked Palight foamed Pvc in small (300x600mm, some smaller) sheet sizes. Their online catalogue is one of the easiest to navigate and use, and they have a busy but efficient delivery service.
An online source for the inexpensive materials usually found in college art shops supplied by the firm Seawhite. Prices on website are inclusive VAT. Delivery is free for orders over £40, with a set delivery price of £4.95 under that. £10 minimum order.
Artpothecary Unit 20, Brighton Open Market, Marshalls Row, BN1 4JU
They no longer have a website, though they still appear to be in Brighten Open Market. I haven’t been there for a while, but here’s what I wrote a few years ago .. ‘Well worth visiting if you’re in the area, if only to meet them while checking out what they’ve got there. Apparently they’re open to bartering, buying back materials, offering others second-hand and generally helping out re small amounts wherever they can. ‘The best service I have received in any art store’ I have been told by a friend! www.hindleys.com A Sheffield-based ‘Design & Technology’ supplier with good prices for styrofoam and many other materials. Website prices exclude VAT. Also very useful for finding ‘bits and pieces’ in different materials i.e. I recently referenced their products a lot in my piece List of sources for ready-made forms to be found in the main ‘Methods’ section under ‘Shaping’
https://www.specialistcrafts.co.uk/ Supplier to schools and institutions, extensive range of art and craft materials. Some very good prices though emphasis is on packs rather than singles. Website prices do not include VAT
Model ships and boats .. but good for model materials and tools, especially woods.
SCULPTURE, MOULDMAKING AND CASTING
Alec Tiranti Ltd, 27 Warren St, London W1T 5NB. Tel: 020 7380 0808
The longest established (since the 1870s) and most valuable ‘one-stop’ outlet for sculptors’ materials including a wide range of modelling, mouldmaking and casting products, a small book selection and fairly informed advice at the small Warren St shop. Good online order service and reliable delivery. They’ve recently started to stock Jesmonite, offering it (along with MBFG) at the best prices around!
https://specialplasters.co.uk/ Source for a number of materials I use including Pottery Plaster, Prestia Expression or Crystacal R plasters and especially Lukasil 429 silicone rubber .. which I keep using, and always recommend as a reliable general-purpose silicone. They are an established Birmingham firm; nationwide delivery; notable for the widest range of plasters but also stock general mouldmaking and casting materials. Straightforward, uncomplicated website but little extra info except for the ‘Material Safety & Technical Data’ sheets provided. Prices on website are before VAT and c. £10-15 needs to be added for delivery. I’ve been a customer for years and they’ve always been quick and efficient!
I’ve yet to buy anything from them, and their site is rather put-off-ingly ‘last century’, but the information they provide is excellent .. as is the service they provide selling good quality plasters in smaller amounts than 25kg!
Specialist suppliers of SFX mouldmaking/casting materials (e.g. good source for Platsil Gel silicones etc). Distributor of Polytek products in the UK.
Some of the cheapest rates for mouldmaking and casting materials, especially if buying in bulk. Prices on website are before VAT. I’ve used Tomps a lot and delivery has always been near enough ‘instant’! I’m saddened to see however that they’ve finally removed their own excellent Fast Cast Polyurethane Resin from their website in favour of the Axson range which, despite the variety and slightly reduced cost, I’ve never got on with in the same way!
MB Fibreglass https://www.mbfg.co.uk/ Having used them for a few years now, I can vouch for their reliability and their website offers a very thorough range of inexpensive mouldmaking and casting products. Their ‘Casting & moulding kits’ may be particularly useful for the beginner, with some of the best savings around! Prices feature inc. VAT. Best prices for Jesmonite, along with Tiranti.
Sylmasta http://www.sylmasta.com Although Sylmasta is officially a manufacturer of adhesives based in West Sussex and one wouldn’t think to look for other things, its online catalogue seems to favour modellers. For example, it’s the best place to look for a range of fine-grade epoxy modelling putties including its own Sylmasta A+B, together with Milliput, Magic Sculp, Green Stuff etc. Prices are clearly displayed inc. VAT with discounts for bulk (10+).
Fibreglass manufacture and supply specialist, stocking all types of polyester resin (at very favourable prices) plus polyurethane and epoxy resins, and some other sculpture/craft materials. Prices given before VAT. A lot of helpful guidance can be found on website under ‘Fibreglass methods’ or ‘Fibreglass forum’ tabs at top
East Coast Fibreglass http://www.ecfibreglasssupplies.co.uk Similar to the above
Specializing in polymer clays, good prices especially in larger amounts. Efficient and caring service, free delivery over £50, 3-5 working days. Usually amongst the best prices for Sculpey types.
www.easycomposites.co.uk Good prices for basic resins, silicone, fillers, reinforcement matting and other agents such as acetone .. but some of the prices for more specialist or advanced materials are quite steep.
Atlantis Art Materials
Unit1/Unit7, Bayford St Industrial Estate, London E8 3SE Tel: 020 7377 8855
They used to be more central, and were certainly the biggest art materials shop in London, with very good prices on the whole .. but I haven’t had cause to go there for a while. They concentrate on painting/graphics (with a very good range of artists’ paints, additives and pigments) but also used to stock some sculpting materials such as Sculpey and plaster-bandage.
66-67 Colebrooke Row, Islington, London N1 8AB. Tel: 020 7354 2999
There are other outlets across London but the one above is the still the biggest .. their ‘flagship’. Apart from the usual range of inexpensive art materials they have a good ‘beginner’ selection of modelling materials including Sculpey and Sculptamold.
GreatArt 41-49 Kingsland Road, London EC 8AG
They used to be a purely online supplier, but recently opened a ‘largish’ store in London. Mainly art&graphics materials, but some useful sculptural .. and some surprises! Their website is worth looking at .. but it’s not a place I would buy sculptural or mouldmaking/casting materials from unless I was desperate, and didn’t mind what I was paying for them.
L.Cornelissen & Sons
105 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3LA. Tel: 020 7636 1045
A famous name .. but impossible to memorize how many ‘L’s or ‘S’s there are in it!Properly termed an ‘artists colourmen’ and one of the most traditional artists’ suppliers in London. In addition to painting/drawing materials, including pigments .. which run to some of the finest and most expensive! .. they have a range of additives and fillers for painters (such as chalk or marble dust) which are useful in casting work.
London Graphic Centre
16-18 Shelton St, London WC2H 9JL. Tel: 020 7759 4500
Convenient because it’s central. Standard range of art and graphics materials, some modelling materials, some types of Kapa-line foam and styrofoam sheet. 4D have also begun to sell some of their products there.
213-15 Tottenham Court Rd, London W1T 7PS. Tel: 020 7467 6200
www.paperchase.com Paperchase in ‘Fitzrovia’ may still have some commitment to stocking a good range of different paper and card types for creative purposes, and some reasonable art materials .. amongst the mass of (admittedly, sometimes good) kitsch and festive frippery! I haven’t been there for a while except for a quick ‘in-out’ to buy charity Christmas cards, but I hope they still have ‘a valuable selection of embossed, marbled or unusual papers’ as I’ve written in the past.
PLASTICS AND FOAMS
Bay Plastics is one of the best delivery sources for ‘Palight’ foamed Pvc and usually the best online prices (they don’t state it directly on the website but their cheaper white Pvc in the ‘Palight’ section is actually ‘Palfoam’, which is a little softer and therefore even better for model-making). Fast, efficient service. Online prices are shown before VAT and standard delivery is £10-15.
Most useful for a wide range of pre-formed shapes in plastic i.e. domes, spheres etc. as well as a range of strips, rods and sheet plastics. As with Hindleys, I looked at EMA as a source for some of the forms featured in List of sources for ready-made forms in ‘Materials/- shaping’
www.panelsystems.co.uk A Sheffield firm specializing in building insulation materials, but with a ‘craft’ awareness, and offering some of the best prices for sheets of styrofoam if one is prepared to invest in a box of sheets (c.£50) plus delivery. Go to ‘Online shop’ then ‘Craftfoam’.
SPECIALIST PAINT AND DECORATING
Leyland SDM (Specialist Decorators’ Merchants)
See website for store locations, dotted around London. Good especially for Polyvine products, specialist woodstains & colourants and fine-grade ‘sanding sponge’ pads.
Specialist decorator’s paints and finishes, including ‘Dead Flat’ matt varnish and Crackle Glaze. Polyvine colourants (60ml bottles) are also strong general-purpose acrylics tending more towards transparent.
Chrome & Black
Unit 8, The Arches, Gales Gardens, Bethnal Green, E2 0EJ 020 7033 4029
www.chromeandblack.com The best and by far the cheapest place to get Montana or Belton spraypaints or other graffiti paints and markers. Currently Montana Gold 400ml cans are £4.35 inc VAT and MTN 94 (low pressure, more suitable for small work) are £4.30
A.S.Handover 1 Farleigh Place, London N16 7SX http://www.handover.co.uk Specialist gilding supplies, brushes, restoration etc. Very good price for oiled manilla stencil card, but they’ve only got c.16cm strips left.
Scientific Wire Company
Specializing in wire of all kinds.. a vast choice!
Pentonville Rubber Co
104-106 Pentonville Rd, N1 9JB. Tel: 020 7837 7553/4582
www.pentonvillerubber.co.uk They’re not in the business of providing a ‘welcoming’ service and sometimes one can wait a long time for assistance, but it’s worth it if you want a special foam (such as reticulated foam), materials for costumes or puppets (such as Plastazote) or are just desperate for sheet rubber! They also have a variety of rubber tubes and cording.
An online materials resource originally from Middlesex University stocking a wide range of special materials including many new and innovative ‘smart’ ones such as Polymorph plastic.
30 Gillingham Street, London SW1V 1HU
www.bookbinding.co.uk It used to be called Falkiners, and was famous for it’s range of decorative papers. It still has the best selection to be found and worth visiting, especially now that Paperchase isn’t playing anymore.
Wrights of Lymm
Many interesting or unusual materials and tools for restoration work including a good range of special brushes and specialist varnishes. The cheapest source for oiled manila stencil card (though check with them whether it’s the ‘original’ honey-coloured/linseed oil type because this has almost disappeared). Prices on website do not include VAT, delivery charge 1kg or over c.£8 per kg.
Unit 9, Deptford Trading Estate, Blackhorse Rd, SE8 5HY Tel: 020 7703 9786
Theatrical scenics suppliers, especially good for paints and finishes e.g. Rosco scenic paints, Polyvine specialist decorator’s products, a variety of texturing materials etc.
Brodie and Middleton
30-31 Store Street, London WC1E 7QE 020 7836 7521
www.brodies.net Standard range of artist’s paints etc. but also specializing in theatrical supplies.
Formerly ‘Virtual village’. Mail order for various materials and accessories, amongst other things useful plastic pipettes from China (do site search ‘pipettes’). 500 3ml pipettes cost £10.99 (also have 1ml), postage free, payment by PayPal