Archive for the ‘Watercolor Supplies’ Category

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Sometimes A Rollerball Beats A Fountain Pen

01/21/2020

Yes, you read that right. Sometimes a fountain pen isn’t the best choice, especially when a pen might be idle for months at a time. Recently, I became acquainted with the Uni-ball Signo 307, a gel pen that suits such situations admirably.

The 307 was recommended for use with watercolors due to its permanence and saturated black color. Unlike some gel ink, the Signo does not produce globs that dry slowly. It is smooth, archival, and skip-free. According to Uni-ball, the 307 contains “Super Ink™ that protects against water, fade, and fraud.” In addition, rollerball pen tips do not fray or wear down on textured watercolor paper like felt tips do. The combination of permanence and durability makes the 307 a useful addition to my collection of watercolor tools. It is a bonus that it fills my need for a maintenance-free, always read to write pen.

It is comfortable in the hand, extremely light weight, and should tolerate normal use easily. It has been many years since I used a rollerball and it is good to see there has been improvement in the quality of the ink.

My 307 has a medium 0.7 nib that comes with black, red or blue ink. The kicker is that it requires absolutely no pressure to write a consistent line. My hand is very happy with it even if it is an inexpensive plastic pen. My fountain pens aren’t remotely jealous. The little stinkers have no fear of being replaced by a no-class upstart. Have they been raised right or what?

You don’t have to take my word for it. The Pen Addict posted a review in 2015 if you want to learn more from a trusted source.

On Amazon, I bought several to keep in locations where I write only on occasion but don’t always have a fountain pen handy. Note that there is an earlier model 207 that does not seem to have the same ink though it is a smooth writer. It does come in more colors if that is important for your needs.

Inkophile is an Amazon Affiliate. If you buy through these links, I get a tiny commission that will help finance new products to review.

Signo 0.7mm black ink

Signo 0.7mm assorted color set

Signo 0.5mm black ink

Signo 0.5mm assorted color set

Signo 307 Refills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bee Paper Can Be Quirky

12/16/2019

For those of you who play with watercolors, note that Bee Paper can have an issue that is frustrating. My former recommendation now comes with a caveat.

On the plus side, Bee is 100% cotton and 140 lb/300gsm just like any good quality watercolor paper. Cotton brings out the full range and depth of color that paint has to offer and the 140 lb. weight will reduce warping. That’s all to the good.

The best paper will cost more than student grade or pulp content paper, but to be sure, the investment is worth it. Cost-wise, Bee is at the low end for cotton paper. For swatches, brush practice or color exploration, it is perfectly fine. Just don’t be surprised if the paint does not perform as it should.

My issue with Bee paper is how it accepts the paint. Sizing prevents watercolor paper from absorbing too much fluid. Instead, the color remains on top of the surface where it pools, puddles and mingles with its neighbors in intriguing ways. Sizing is an essential component of good paper. When inadequately or improperly applied, paint blotches and flows in ugly, spidery lines like the worst feathering you ever saw from fountain pen ink and then some.

To demonstrate Bee Paper’s quirky behavior, the edge shows an irregular border that should have been smooth and even, just as the paint appears elsewhere.

The back of the paper reveals that paint soaked through. We may tolerate that with fountain pen ink, but it should not happen with watercolor paper especially when the paint is lightly applied. In the center of the same sheet, there is a 6mm by 3mm spot that did not take paint normally and bled through to the back of the paper. All of the problems would have been eliminated by a more consistent application of sizing.

Not every sheet has this issue but who wants to get well into a painting only to find the paper is flawed and the effort ruined. Note that Bee is fine for practice and experimentation, especially with new brushes and paints. My stock won’t go to waste. It will have its uses and eventually get replaced.

In the future, I will stick with Arches and Fabriano Artistico. They are readily available in the U.S. and never disappoint. A number of other companies offer 100% cotton paper and are worthy of consideration as well. Putting aside one brand is no great loss when there is such a variety of others from which to choose. 

Two Trees on Bee Paper

Brush practice with watercolors on Bee Paper scraps. Blue tree is 8.2 x 11cm. Autumn tree is 6.8 x 11.4cm.

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Sunday Reads: Iroshizuku, Lamy And A Drama Queen

07/21/2019

Unlike those silly drama queens seeking attention from social media, this baby’s got the right moves – not too much victim but just enough to earn appreciation for a well-executed whine…

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A Watercolor Palette Plus A Few Tips and Tricks

04/17/2019

Before fountain pens caught my fancy, watercolors were my favorite distraction. Over the years, a number of brands and kits have come my way. After experimenting with the lot, the Sennelier Aqua Mini set has become my favorite.

The Aqua Mini is very good value for money at about $20 for eight small cakes of artist grade paint. They are cheerful, transparent colors reminiscent of Impressionist paintings and can be mixed to make a satisfying variety of additional colors. Perhaps because they are made with honey, they are sticky and yet creamy at the same time. They moisten readily and put down significant color with no effort. They really are a pleasure to use.

Unfortunately, the box and brush are somewhat less exciting. The brush is tiny though suitable for small details. I prefer a #6 or #8 round travel brush for painting in the wild. When at my desk, anything goes.

The box has very little space to mix colors. This is a design flaw that can be remedied by placing a flat container nearby for mixing purposes. White porcelain is the best at revealing a paint’s true color. It shouldn’t stain and cleans easily so I would recommend it over other materials. However, plastic might be more practical for travel.

Tip: A dessert or sushi plate can make a useful palette. Pans of paint can be attached temporarily to the plate with tape or a removable adhesive or putty. Following a session, allow the paints to dry. Then cover with plastic wrap or store in a resealable bag to prevent dust from accumulating on the paint. When it comes to working at my desk, this is one of my favorite arrangements.

Or you can pry the paints from the original tray, move them into plastic watercolor pans and then to a variety of containers from a mint tin to a proper watercolor box. A different option would be to pry the entire plastic tray out of the original Sennelier box and put it into a mint tin of similar size. One with a flat, metal lid would provide a more useful mixing area. If it’s white, so much the better.

Below is a Simply Gum Mints (not the chewing gum) metal box that will hold six large pans or nine small ones like those from the Aqua Mini set. Mia discovered how well these tins work and I am so glad she passed that along. My family has gone through a large box of the mints leaving me six containers for a variety of color groupings.

If you just want to play around with paint, the supplied brush and box will do. But don’t be surprised if you get hooked and need a better brush and not long after that, a real watercolor box. Then more paint and brushes and, well, you get the picture. Such things happen even with the best of intentions. Collecting paint is very much like collecting ink. Brushes are comparable to pens. You have been warned.

As for paper, Stillman & Birn make lots of journals for the traveler. Tomoe River paper will take a light wash of color as will a number of other brands. Should painting charm you beyond the occasional doodle, go for 100% cotton watercolor paper. It can be pricey but totally worth it.

My enthusiasm for Sennelier watercolors is what I really wanted to share with you. The container and brush deficiencies are easily overcome so don’t let that be a deterrent. The paint is great and that is what really counts.

Amazon Shopping List:

  1. Sennelier Aqua Mini
  2. Travel Brushes from Escoda, da Vinci, Silver Brush
  3. #8 round brush from Escoda or Silver Brush
  4. Metal Palette with plastic pans from Meeden, Honbay or JCT ECO
  5. Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook smooth enough to accommodate fountain pen nibs or the Beta for a slightly textured surface.
  6. Winsor & Newton Watercolor Journal, Arches, Strathmore, Fabriano (All are 100% cotton with a slightly textured surface.)
  7. Sennelier Watercolor Tube Test Pack (Fewer colors than the Aqua Mini but a larger volume of each color. Will need a palette/container and plastic pans.)
  8. Small (half) pans and large (full) pans
  9. Simply Gum Mints
  10. Sushi plate or appetizer plates or small porcelain palette
  11. Uhu Reusable Adhesive

At Parka Blogs, Teoh reviewed the Sennelier Aqua Mini set with similar conclusions.

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The Best On My Desk Winners For 2017

01/12/2018

Whether penned on the back of an envelope, a scrap of napkin or in a classic journal, a list is my favorite organizational tool. The end of the year is the perfect time to make such a list, one that summarizes and compares my ever-changing pen, ink, and other tool preferences.

Rather than new faves, the focus for my 2017 list was which tools were used the most, those that rarely if ever left my desk. Products that arrived late in the year didn’t qualify even if they were noteworthy. The handsome journal from Central Crafts and two inks from Noodler’s will have to wait for the 2018 list.

(Links are to retailers and in some cases Amazon from which I receive a tiny commission should you make a purchase. Every little bit helps keep Inkophile alive!)

Tools for 2017

Pens

Pelikan M400 Fine – This pen has been in my collection for a number of years. The flow was increased by Chartpak to accommodate hand issues and proved to be a brilliant pen for my worst days.

Platinum Century Nice Pur Medium – Using different grip widths relaxes my hand while a smooth nib makes short work of any written task. The Plat provided provided both and was a good alternative to the Pel. Besides, what’s not to like about a clear barrel that shows off colorful ink?

Platinum #3776 Music Nib – Sometimes a wide nib gives me a little extra support when my hand is tired and at those times a music nib fits my needs very well. It also adds a little flair to the written word without catching on paper as an italic might and that makes writing more enjoyable.

Pilot Metropolitan Medium – When out and about, I carry a pen that can easily be replaced, but still writes well and looks sharp. The turquoise Met meets all those requirements.

TWSBI Diamond 580 Stub – This pen won the slot for a nib with line variation. It also added a pen to my rotation with a slightly wider grip circumference than the other pens. You already know what I think of a clear barrel and this design makes colorful ink sparkle.

Lamy Studio Fine – It is on the list but last due to its unpleasantly sharp cap and barrel edge. However, the nib and flow make using it worth the risk so long as I remember to grasp it gently. Unfortunately, this one has disappeared and missed the photo shoot. Phooey.

Ink

Waterman Florida Blue is mated to the Pel M400. The flow is perfect for the nib and though I may experiment with other inks, WFB always wins out.

Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan makes a luscious line with the #3776 and the shading can be quite dynamic.

Diamine Violet has been the choice of the TWSBI Diamond 580 stub and with good reason. Eye candy to be sure.

Platinum Mixable Aqua Blue suits the turquoise Met perfectly. My samples are now depleted, so it’s time for a full bottle. In the interim, Rohrer & Klingner Blu Mare will do.

Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu was my dark green ink which was well suited to a silver Met. It isn’t Montblanc Racing Green, but it does have excellent flow as well as other charming properties.

Platinum Classic Lavender Black is a newcomer that made a splash in the Platinum Century Nice Pur. Color and performance made this an excellent choice for my everyday ink.

Paper

Clairefontaine, Stillman & Birn, Staples Arc and anything made with Tomoe River paper. Enough said.

Watercolor Paint

Artist quality: Sennelier, Daniel Smith, American Journey, and Da Vinci are mainstays along with a couple of Winsor & Newton colors on occasion.

Student grade: Sennelier La Petit Aquarelle and Daler-Rowney Aquafine are about as good as student quality gets. They are not as saturated or lightfast as artist grade paints, but fine in a journal and are packaged conveniently for outdoor sketching. When I empty a palette of student paint, it gets refilled with artist quality paint.

Watercolor Paper

Arches 140# for paintings and Canson Watercolor 140# for color swatches. The best paper is 100% cotton. It will yield the truest colors and survive the longest. Arches is cotton and readily available. It is pricey but worth it.

Watercolor Brushes

SAA Gold Round #10 This was my favorite brush last year and easily got the most use.

Silver Brush Black Velvet Round #8

Escoda Versatil Rigger #2

Daniel Smith Platinum Angle 1/2″ (sable and taklon)

Isabey Petit Gris 6234 Quill Mop #0

Other writing and drawing tools

Pentel Pocket brush pen

Autopoint mechanical pencil

Pentel Sign Touch Pen

New Stuff

Noodler’s Legal Blue and Polar Purple

Romano Handmade Recycled Leather Wrap Large Journal (Paper is not friendly with all fountain pen inks. Handsome leather cover.)

What’s on your list? Use the comments to post your faves as well as most used tools for 2017. Or submit a link if you’ve already shared such a list elsewhere.

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Sunday Reads: Coffee, Ebonite, And Vinyls

07/02/2017

Pressing records again? New ebonite pens? Bedding made from coffee grounds? What’ll they think of next!

Waterman’s 54 with Pink Nib

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A Wishlist In Two Minutes

06/18/2017

Do you keep a wishlist? Mine took less than two minutes to compile. No pondering the question. Just a brief, whatever comes to mind list. And darned if it isn’t just right.

Try it the next time you have two minutes to spare. The results might surprise you.

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