Posts Tagged ‘Stillman & Birn’

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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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Sunday Reads: Lotsa Pen Stuff Plus Extra Credit Questions

04/07/2019

This post started out as exclusively pen and ink links but the “Extra Credit Questions” piece begged to be included. I couldn’t resist.

From the archives

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Sunday Reads: Pens, Memes, And Sherlock Holmes

11/18/2018

There is no connecting the dots between these links, except that they were some of the most interesting ones from this past week.

Noodler’s Standard Flex Pen With Apache Sunset Ink

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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: Best Pocket Pens, Mysterious Gold Object, And A Backstory

06/25/2017

Lexington Gray has enjoyed a long term home in one of my Pentel Pocket Brush Pens. Very highly recommended for the calligrapher, artist, doodler in you…

Playtime in a Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

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Sunday Reads: Ink, Pens And Typewriters

06/18/2017

Wish I still had my blue Smith Corona

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook and Friends

 

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Mattias Adolfsson And His Fountain Pens

05/25/2017

Mattias Adolfsson is a Swedish illustrator who uses fountain pens for detailed drawings. I became enchanted with his work via Fountain Pen Network ten years ago when he posted a drawing done with a Namiki Falcon and Diamine Monaco Red. The duo is lovely for drawing and elegant for shading as well as simplicity.

Sometimes I let the nib release a little extra ink and move it around with a swab, toothpick or small brush. Otherwise, the expressive line from the nib is gorgeous on its own. Any ink will do, though J. Herbin Lie de The is an especially good alternative. My Stillman & Birn Sketchbook loves the attention and with Mattias for inspiration, it’s a win-win activity.

 

Tools mentioned are available at Amazon: Pilot Namiki Falcon SF, Stillman & Birn Sketchbook, Diamine Monaco Red, and J. Herbin Lie de The.

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