Posts Tagged ‘Stillman & Birn’

h1

G’bye 2013 – Hello 2014

01/01/2014

Pens, inks and paper make a terrific hobby, but you already know that. Writing about them is my way of sharing the fun of using these tools. You make it worth the effort and for that I thank you.

Some names and numbers…

Thank you for the generous donations that helped keep Inkophile going last fall. My hobby has become a financial challenge. Really. Who wouldn’t want the newest colors of ink and several pricey pens every year? Sometimes retailers or manufacturers offer their newest creations or items they want to move off the shelf for review and that’s very much appreciated. When that doesn’t happen, I would like to purchase new items. Sponsorships and other sources of funding would allow me to do that. So moving forward, there will be some changes at Inkophile. Hopefully, that won’t estrange too many readers, but if you fancy an unsupported pen blog, there are plenty in the sidebar from which to choose.

As my interests have evolved, so has the content of my blog. Watercolor painting plays third fiddle to writing and using fountain pens, but painting in my journal has made it an integrated hobby. If nothing else, the addition of lively color to my wordy journal entries is a creative embellishment that is both intriguing and satisfying. More to come.

This is my favorite doodle of the year. It started as two comma shaped lines at the top and the rest was pure luck.

Copyright © 2013 Margana Maurer. All Rights Reserved.

Gene Kelly in Rose Ink

May your new year be filled with joyful dancing and colorful friends. Hello 2014!

h1

Can Ink And Watercolors Cohabit In A Doodle Journal?

08/09/2013

Did my recent post about doodling with pens and watercolors pique your interest? They don’t always play nice with each other, but the right paper can tame some of that antipathy and even let them work well together.

A Doodle Kit

Pencils are easy and can doodle on any paper. Paint over pencil lines with watercolor, as I did in the little flower painting above, and the markings remain intact. For a pencil/watercolor duo, any watercolor journal should do.

Fountain pens work best on smooth paper, but watercolor paper is usually textured. Mixed media paper is smoother and can be a good compromise.

Filling pages with a combination of ink doodles and watercolor dabs can be very satisfying and casual doodling should make use of the tools at hand. But if your inks lack the wherewithal to stand up to water, it’s easy to keep your doodles from co-mingling by leaving a quarter to a half inch gap between the ink and paint. For those inks that do stand up to water, there is a lot of fun to be had with putting ink and watercolor together.

Noodler's Lexington Gray and Daniel Smith Watercolors

Most inks run away from even the smallest amount of water but Noodler’s Lexington Gray stands up well. The words in the sample were written with a Leonardo fude (Asian calligraphy) nib. Then Daniel Smith watercolor was washed over to test the ink’s permanence and visibility through various colors. All turned out to the good.

Leonardo Calligraphy Nib

However, the Chinese manufactured Barnes & Noble Sketchbook paper, while smooth and a good size for a small desk, is not well suited to water-based media. It’s a sketchbook that takes pencil best. That has its place, but I want to have no such limits when the muse strikes.

There are a number of paper products that meet the needs of fountain pens and inks, but fewer are suited to heavier water media like watercolor or chunky markers. Many of those papers are too rough for fountain pens, especially those with narrow nibs. The paper that meets all my requirements would be smooth enough for pen use and thick enough to contain the flow of watercolor paint or anything that happens in between.

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on Stillman & Birn Epsilon paper

My Pentel Pocket Brush Pen dances well with the Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series Sketchbook 150 gsm paper but the Zeta at 270 gsm can handle more water.

When watercolor is my focus, the S&B Beta 270 gsm has a rough surface that adds texture to a painting, but away from my desk, the Zeta would be my choice for versatility. It’s such a heavy paper that both sides can be used and both sides are smooth so that’s another advantage.

Aquabee paper is 150 gsm and not as heavy as the Zeta Series, but it should be good with most media. One side of the paper is lightly textured while the back is quite smooth so consider that when matching it to your tools of choice. Also, it is a more absorbent paper and will soak up your fountain pen ink making a wet writer seem dry. That isn’t bad – it’s just different.

Canson XL Mix Media is another absorbent paper but it feels thinner than the others even though it is 160 gsm. That brings down the price but at a cost. Again, the front of the paper is rougher than the back. I’ve used Canson spiral bound books for years to test watercolors, long before I heard of S&B or Aquabee. At 160 gsm, it isn’t heavy enough for paintings, but it’ll do for color swatches and doodles.

Noodler's Lexington Gray Ink on Strathmore Windpower paper

Strathmore Sketch is a 89 gsm, budget paper, but it doodles well when small amounts of color are used. More than five years of Inkophile ink tests have been done in these notebooks so there is that recommendation. Show-through happens so I only use one side for tests, but the paper takes swabbed ink well and that is what matters. It buckled somewhat with watercolor and a tiny bit of moisture affected the page beneath. No off-putting damage done, but a blotter sheet between the pages would have avoided that entirely.

Daniel Smith Watercolors on Strathmore Windpower

For the watercolor test, I used a Daniel Smith Kolinsky brush size 0 with Daniel Smith watercolors just as for the B&N notebook. Lexington Gray performed well again so it has found a permanent mate in the fude nib.

Daniel Smith Cerulean Blue

Online retailer Daniel Smith carries everything you need including the plastic pans I filled with tube paint. If you want to keep things simple, there are a number of brands of pre-filled pans and kits that will get you started. For use in a journal, student grade will do. The Cotman series from Winsor & Newton is the most well known and fine for the purpose. If you are more serious about painting, buy artist grade. You never know when a masterpiece will emerge.

There are empty kits designed to store paint, but an Altoids tin will suffice and holds seven pans in a single layer. Poster tack will hold them in place or double-sided tape can work in a pinch. If seven pans aren’t enough, you can attach more to the lid. Or you can line the lid with Yupo waterproof paper and turn it into a mixing area. At my desk, a 3″ to 4″ white china plates serve that purpose. My favorite one is shaped like a teapot and was originally intended to hold a used tea bag. Others were sold as dishes for dipping sauces. For $2 or less, these are handy containers for mixing additional colors, though most of the time, I just dip and doodle.

Now about ink. Waterproof, bulletproof, water-resistant, and so forth sound great, but some inks so called are not easy on fountain pen nibs and feeds. If you go that route, use your pens frequently and clean them regularly. The former will keep ink flowing well and the latter will remove any debris that might result in a clogged pen. If you use a pen until no ink will flow, clean it in short order or refill with the same ink. The longer you wait, the more likely the pen will have problems.

No ink brand bashing on Inkophile and I use whatever is on hand or submitted for review. With proper care, any ink can be worth using.

If you use fine or extra-fine nibs, Stillman & Birn and Aquabee are good matches. Strathmore Sketch fits a tight budget or works for anyone who goes through tons of paper. I’ve been known to rip out a few pages, doodle around the edges, and use it for stationery. Paper like that will never go to waste.

There are other suitable papers and your suggestions are welcome in the comments.

Regardless of how you use it, the right paper counts and without a doubt your doodles are worth it!

Daniel Smith Watercolors

Photos by Tessa Maurer.

Update: There are some diminutive palettes available on eBay this week.

h1

A Doodle Kit Because … Fun!

07/23/2013

Does your desk have too much gear on it? Mine, too. Overrun by the bane of modern existence, my desk is cringe-worthy. It’s a re-purposed breakfast table that has seen better days. The surface needs refinishing and gives out splinters liberally. No drawers so everything has to fit on the surface. Covered with stacks of paper and all manner of electronic devices, there is little room for creative endeavors even when I dump stuff on the floor. Anything intended for long-term residency must have a small footprint which is one reason fountain pens suit so well. Being an inveterate doodler as well as a dabbler in watercolor, I have melded the two interests into something small, fun, and easy to use, my desktop doodle kit.

My Doodle Kit

  • small Cotman palette with some favorite Daniel Smith watercolors squirted into empty DS pans – colors that make me smile without mixing or fiddling
  • travel brush(es) and/or daVinci Cosmotop-Spin Watercolor Brush no larger than #5 (smaller bristles afford more control but take up less paint and run out of color more quickly)
  • wirebound Stillman & Birn journal suited to both w/c and ink – folded back to conserve space
  • Pentel Pocket Brush Pen – original black cartridge or refilled with fountain pen ink
  • large blotter so the journal can be closed quickly (J. Herbin offers a good one.)
  • water jar with a lid (up to 8 oz) – start every day with clean preferably distilled water
  • folded paper towel for drips and to remove excess paint from brush
  • fountain pen(s) – whatever is inked

Watercolor palette for doodling

Extra tools:

  • water soluble colored pencils or Derwent Inktense Outliner Pencil
  • black felt tip marker – Sakura Pigma Micron 08 is waterproof
  • dip pen
  • quill brush or hake to lay in background color – sloppy, uneven color preferred
  • shaped brushes like angles, combs, ridges, and shaders like those from Robert Simmons for extra variety

Pen and ink dominate but watercolor jazzes up the pages with wider lines and splotches. The variety of colors and comparative low cost makes paint an effective addition to a doodler’s arsenal.

Watercolor Swatches

These squiggles were made with paint fresh from the tube. Some colors were more cooperative than others and none were diluted with water or worked into the brush. I just dipped in and put the color to paper.

Key points:

  • no paintings but lots of doodles. if something turns into a painting, that’s okay but not the goal.
  • goal is to relax – not tax
  • back, front, upside down – no limits
  • words are okay but long passages should go elsewhere
  • kit can be grabbed for off-site use – not a travel kit per se, but parts could be used for that purpose.
  • a pencil cup to house the pens and brushes keeps the desk tidy
  • not about color mixing but loading a brush and making squiggles so colors need to stand on their own
  • no erasing – who erases a doodle?
  • visitors/guests such as pencils and markers may only stay for a short time. this kit is for my favorite tools.
  • on occasion dip brush in ink but not from the bottle – no contamination allowed
  • 12 half pans (1.5 cm x 2 cm each) is like having a dozen pens inked

If you want to give this idea a try, the dozen Winsor & Newton Cotman half pan paints that originally came in my palette are for sale. You could tape them to a bit of cardboard or tuck them in a metal tin such as an Altoids box for an easy start to your doodle kit. I also have a slightly larger, new Cotman plastic palette with 14 half pans to sell as well as a couple of other kits so shoot me an email if you are interested.  Inkophile*at*gmail.com will do.

Cotman Watercolors

For inspiration try “Doodles Unleashed” by Traci Bautista. Also, Peter Draws and his journal.

h1

My Other Hobby And You Can Too

06/19/2013

Some days fountain pens and ink won’t do. On those occasions, a swish of color from a supple brush can’t be topped.

Playing with WatercolorsWhether ink or watercolor, it’s relaxing when I pay no attention to form or detail. Just mix two colors, sweep a brush across the paper, and see what happens. The resulting swatches teach me more about color than the best books on the subject ever will.

Adding Neutral Tint to Various Watercolors

Whether messing around with ink or watercolor, use decent quality tools. It does make a difference. The da Vinci Cosmotop is a brush with the right characteristics. The #6 round produces lines of good width for a 6″ x 8″ journal while the #8 round is suitable for a larger format. For good paper, I use Canson Mix Media and for better quality I use Stillman & Birn.

To avoid contaminated ink, squeeze a few drops from a pipette or expel a small amount from your pen into a shallow container and toss any leftovers when you are finished. Watercolor is easier to use, but I never touch anything except a clean brush to a block or pan of paint to keep colors true. A small amount on a brush can be transferred to a mixing surface to combine with a second color. Even something simple like a styrofoam plate or smooth, plastic cutting board will do and the white background shows off mixes very well. Then use the brush to swirl some color on paper.

Experiment with pressure, angle, and wetness just as you would with a fountain pen. There are only rules about maintaining your equipment so that it lasts indefinitely and is ready to use whenever it strikes your fancy to put brush to paper. However, if you want to join a community for suggestions and guidance, Wet Canvas is a good place to start.

Once you get the hang of it, try your favorite doodle shapes. Use the best of the lot to make greeting or thank you cards. Just cut out what you like best, and glue it to the front of a blank card. Voilà. A true original. Be sure to sign your name to your creation. The recipient might consider it a work of art.

Daniel Smith Manganese Blue and Green Gold Watercolors

More of my watercolor images on Flickr. If you have some doodles or swatches, put a link in the comments so the rest of us can ogle them.

h1

It’s Getting Old At Inkophile

05/04/2013

Can you believe it? Inkophile is five years old today. You thought it was older? Yeah, it seems like it has been around forever. The number of page views per month has more than doubled in the past year and I hope that indicates a sizable increase in the number of people who have grown to love fountain pens as much as it represents repeat visits from my steady followers. A larger community will expand the marketplace and in turn increase the available products. That would be a very good thing.

Looking back at new acquisitions this past year, the Platinum Century B nib and the Platinum #3776 music nib were very welcome additions to my collection and handily won slots on my top five pens list. Noodler’s Purple Martin was a surprise addition to my favorite inks while Stillman & Birn moved onto my favorite journals list. The Epsilon and Zeta Series are good with pens while the other journals are lovely with watercolors, not that you can’t mix them up any way you want. For lined paper that works well with fountain pens, the Miguelrius notebook is getting a lot of use. Two inexpensive finds at Staples were the Arc Collection and the filler paper from Brazil. Both made fast friends with a variety of inks.

None of this discounts some of my continuing favorites like Rhodia and Clairefontaine paper, Levenger True Writers, Namiki Falcon soft fine nibs, my Waterman Carene stub from Leigh Reyes, Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Diamine Mediterranean Blue, J. Herbin Lie de Thé, or Montblanc Racing Green plus so many others.

My other favorites are Inkophile visitors. Without you, this blog would have been put to rest a long time ago. You are the best!

Most viewed Inkophile image:

Related Inkophile links:

h1

A New Addition To Inkophile Plus Some Changes

04/06/2013
Ink Comparisons

Did you see the new addition to the sidebar called Ink Comparisons? It is a link to all Inkophile posts that have images of inks pictured side by side. You can also go to my Flickr stream for many of the same images but without the text. Soon Flickr will be updated to include all of the comparisons used on Inkophile and at that time will earn a separate button in the sidebar.

Tip Jar

Another recent addition is a Tip Jar. Inkophile will be five years old next month and “the collective” has informed me that it’s time to become self-supportive. There are other ways to achieve a little cash for expenses and expansion such as adverts or a sponsorship or even affiliate links, so donations may only be the beginning. Don’t you hate when real life restricts your fantasy life?

Pages

Along with the new additions, pages about my favorite things have received minor updates. Other than to add a couple of Platinum #3776 pens, Stillman & Birn journals, and a few inks, little has changed over the past year.

Sidebar Links

Many of you have been linked to in one or more categories in the sidebar. My lists are some of the most comprehensive on the web for fountain pen related information. A reciprocal link would be appreciated.

Links in posts

When a post has a link to a source for a product, often I will seek a smaller retailer to give a bit of support. Not all of you keep a blog or offer a list of links but for those who omit credit where it is due, bloggers and retailers alike, mentions on Inkophile will be less frequent. Citing a source when it is known is a courtesy, especially in the online world, and I appreciate your efforts to be fair about this.

Social media and friends

Lastly, writing for Inkophile is great fun but it does take much of my free time. The last several months, I’ve had to choose between writing and participating in social media. Guess which won? Monthly page views have doubled from a year ago so in that sense, concentrated efforts have paid well. However, I do miss hearing from friends. Please do not think you are being ignored if I miss important life events or even smaller but significant bits of news. Shoot me an email if I don’t respond on Twitter, Google Plus, or FB. I’m still here!

h1

From Paper To Ink For Your Sunday Links

03/31/2013

“Flaneur” is easily my new favorite word…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,163 other followers

%d bloggers like this: