Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tangle Pattern Penrose & Review of the Daycraft Signature Duo #zentangle #tanglepattern #DayCraft

 Review of the Daycraft Signature Duo
The moment I saw this promo video for the Signature Duo, I was in love.  I knew it was a journal that you would be interested in, because it is different!
I want to thank Daycraft for graciously sending me a copy so I could review it.

(Note: the new tangle pattern is toward the bottom of the post)

No. of pages: 160 pages
      80 pages lined - 6.5mm lined cream color paper
      80 pages dotGrid - 5mm dotted cream color paper
Cover material: Fine Italian PU
Edge printing: Inkjet printed edges
Duo-tone soft cover (comes in 5 two-color combinations. Mine is the Red/Burgundy)

Look & Feel
At first glance you might think this is a nice looking journal.  Leatherette-style cover, edging printed in contrasting color.  Nice.  But something is different and you look closer.  The front and back are different colors.  The edging color is different on one side than the other.  And there is something strange going on in the middle of the book!

The Signature Duo is two books in one.  Each side has a front and the two sides share a back, which has a different color on both sides.

There are two pages of matching colored papers on either side.

(Note: for some reason both my camera and scanner are picking up the burgundy as far more violet than it is)

On one side you have lined paper...

...and on the other side you have dotGrid paper.

It's all a little hard to explain and not easy to photograph.  If you watch the video I referenced at the beginning of this post, it becomes immediately understandable.

The dots and lines are both in a brownish-gray ink.  The dots seemed much lighter to me than the lines did.  Some people will be happy with this, but those with fading eyesight might like them darker.  The paper is very smooth, bordering on slick.

The concern with a book like this is whether it is going to be comfortable to use.  It is fairly light and surprisingly flexible.

I tried folding the cover behind, as you might while standing and writing in the book, and you can do it, though it takes a bit more effort to hold it tight.  If you have arthritis or weak hands, folding back might be a problem.

The pages lie flat, but one side has more support than the other.  I found it easy enough to adjust but the problem might be worse as you get to the back of the book.  If you are drawing and doing a double spread over both pages, you might have some problem.

All in all, I noticed the difference, but didn't find it a problem to write or draw in the book.  I was sitting at a desk with the book lying flat.

I had not problems with feathering.  The drying times were faster than I thought they would be, but there was slightly more show-through and bleed-through than I expected.  That said, neither show-through or bleed-through were terribly bad, and it was the wet fountain pen inks that went through.  It wasn't bad at all with the roller-balls and gel inks.

Even with the wettest inks I wouldn't hesitate to write on both sides.  Depending on what I was doing, I might not draw on both sides.

Alcohol Marker & Colored Pencil
I decided to do a bleedthrumanade on the dotGrid side, coloring one side of the page with Copic alcohol markers.  On the front side I then added layers of colored pencil.  On the back side I used Pigma Micron pens to add tangle patterns.

I feared that the paper would be too slick and the colored pencil would slide, but I had no problem building up layers or blending.  I didn't use the alcohol marker on the right bottom, so I could test the colored pencil alone.  I wouldn't recommend this as a colored pencil paper, but it is fine for light use or mixed use as I done here.

The alcohol marker didn't feather, and the colors are bright.  There was not buckling, dimpling or curving of the paper.

The bleed-through to the back was about 60 %.  

Fabric-tipped pens
I used three point sizes .005, .02, .08 for this piece.  The paper gives a crisp, sharp line without any feathering.  It was easy to build up values getting faint, wispy lines as well as bold lines.

Using the dotGrid to Tangle
I like using dotGrid paper to practice tangles, and to draw up my patterns, because the grids provide a guide that you don't notice later.  The lightness of the grid in this journal is perfect for my eyes. It helps me keep each step of the pattern a similar size.

Some of you may recognize this as the Penrose triangle, aka the impossible triangle or the tribar.  The arrows are meant to show you the direction in which I drew the inside lines for steps 4-6.

I don't believe anyone else has drawn up pattern steps in the Zentangle®  mode for this well-known , but if anyone does know of a similar pattern, please let me know so I can give credit.

So, is the Signature Duo a novelty journal, or a fantastic new design?  The answer is somewhere in between.  Daycraft suggests the split format encourages you to use both left and right sides of the brain, and I think for some it may be true.

It is a little more difficult to use than a standard journal, and some might not find the look or concept enough to overlook that.  Others won't be put off and will eagerly journal away.  There is something about actually flipping over and using the other side, that I personally find appealing.

I intend to use the lined side for notes about ideas that are forming for future art, and the dotGrid I'll use for drawing and creating tangles.

For the rest of you, you'll need to decide how excited the design makes versus the way you like to approach your journaling.

Other reviews
The Gadgeteer

Of Note
By default on the site, prices are listed in Hong Kong Dollars.  At the top of the screen, you can change to the prices to U.S. dollars by hitting the HKS arrow in the upper right and selecting USD$.

For other countries, you may need to google for a converter that will show the amount in your currency.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Now I know my ABCs-Amazing Mold Putty Design Post #AmazingMoldPutty #Holidays #AmazingCraftingProducts

Aluminum foil horse, Party Ring, and Candy Cake letters ....
For more details, head over to the Amazing Mold Putty blog!

Tuesday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Arts&Crafts #lifeimitatesdoodles

I'll be gadding about, so I may not post my link list every day this week.

20% Coupon to shop for Amazing Crafting Products: Use coupon code { celebrate } 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Gel Ink pens that give a watercolor-like wash

Isn't it strange how coincidence flows? A few weeks ago, someone asked me if I knew a contact from within Jetpens.  I said no, because though I've submitted work for consideration in their blog, and I buy from the company often, I didn't have a specific relationship with the company.

And then about 10 days ago, I received an email from Jetpens asking if I wanted to review product for them.  You betcha, I did!  

A few days later, I received a 6-pack of Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica Gel Ink Pens.  I'm working on a series of examples using the pens, and I hope to have a complete review for you next week, but I wanted to share this surprise I discovered along the way.

No gel pen I've ever used has been waterproof.  I didn't expect the Maica pens to be, but I decided to test them anyway to see how resistant they were.  As it turns out, not very.  And wonderfully so!

I was amazed at how well the pigment color stayed bright even with heavy washes.  I wasn't able to totally smooth out the hard lines where I first added color but I could blend them out further by lifting color.  If fact, I could lift a small amount of color on a wet brush and use it elsewhere on the page.

This painting was done in a Crok’ Book sized 6.75" x 4.25" (17 x 11 cm), and I had to work a bit to get the ink to move and cover the entire page.  The Crok’ Book has Clairefontaine paper which is high quality, and I had no pilling or tearing drawing over wet areas.  But the pens do have a hard metal-tip and working on another paper, I found that drawing into the wet ink resulted in tears.

I won't characterize these gel pens as water-soluble pens.  But having said this, I've worked with water-soluble colored pencils and crayons that were harder to spread and less intense in color.

If you test your paper, and/or let layers dry in between, the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica Gel Ink Pens work well for small areas of colored wash.  The pens I'm using are 0.3 mm which is small, and I think I'd use a larger point size if I planned to use washes very much.  The larger size would make it easier to get the initial color down.  I do like this 0.3 mm size though.  It provides a very small line for detail.

Keep your eye out on my blog next week for more information on these pens!

Monday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #tutorials #giveaways #lifeimitatesdoodles

My husband's on vacation and we're gadding about, so my link list may be scant or scarce this week!

Zendala Dare #74

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review of the Clairefontaine Top Bound Watercolor Pad #Exaclair, #Watercolor #MixedMedia

 Review of the Clairefontaine Top Bound Watercolor Pad
This Clairefontaine Top Bound Watercolor Pad is the last of several items that Exaclair sent to me for feedback.  I want to thank Exaclair for their generosity, and for giving me the chance to share their excellent line of products with my readers.

-designed for watercolor, gouache, or wash drawing.
-top wire bound pad       Note: also comes in side-bound
-20 sheets
-300 g
-acid free paper
-cold pressed surface
-Clear polypro front & back cover
-rigid backboard, lightweight
-Size: 8" x 8" (200 x 200 mm) Note: also comes in a 4" x 4" size.

Look & Feel
The pages of the Clairefontaine Watercolor Pad are smoother than most watercolor papers I've used.  If I saw and touched the paper without knowing what it was, I would probably have guessed it was a mixed-media surface rather than watercolor.  I haven't used cold-pressed paper much, so that may be my inexperience showing.  Having used this paper now, I can tell you it works very nicely for both watercolor and mixed-media.  More on that later.

While the paper is flexible, it is rigid enough that you need to work at it to get a permanent fold.  It's a very nice weight for journal covers.

The clear polypro covers are nice and light.  I don't know that I like the transparency. The work on your first page shows through.  If you plan to keep your pages in the pad, then you might want to plan your first page around the red coral and starfish on the cover.  The pages are not perfed, but they do tear out fairly easily.  The edges then need to be trimmed.

This sort of segues to the thing I like least about the pad (and that doesn't mean I don't like it--just that it is my least favorite feature).  The slots for the wire-binding are square cut, and the wire spiral is fairly large.  This gives a lot of 'slop' for the paper to move.  It could allow your paper to move slightly while you are using it, if you were holding the pad while drawing or painting in it. It increases the wear and tear on the paper.  Normally, I'd worry that might result in loose pages, but in this case, the paper is thick enough that it isn't much concern.

The wire binding is also thick enough that I had trouble getting my work to lie flat on my scanner.  I ended up cutting them all out so I could get a better scan.  That probably wouldn't be an issue for many, but if you share your work online often, it could be.

On the plus side of this issue, if you did use the pad for mixed-media collage where you added embellishments and ephemera, the larger coil and looser movement gives you plenty of room for expansion.  While my personal preference is for a snugger binding, I would use a pad like this for 'chunky' pages.

There is an additional backboard in the pad that is rigid enough for excellent support, but extremely lightweight like illustration board.  Overall, despite the heavy paper, the pad if very light to carry.

The paper in this pad handled everything I threw at it from heavy wet-in-wet washes to scrubbing to ironing!  I found the color intense and bright but not brilliant, allowing a range from subtle color to rainbow pigments.

I decided to try my hand at some prismatic painting exercises (see this Dory Kanter video for more about this method) feeling they'd make a good test for the paper.

Daniel Smith Professional Watercolor Paints

The prismatic painting exercise is meant to help you explore the wet-in-wet technique, keeping a loose touch.  I subverted it a bit because I was testing the paper.

Rather than waiting until one layer was dry before adding more paint or water, I kept adding in some spots.  In some areas, I kept the paint almost dry.  Despite the difference in saturation, the paper kept its shape.  There was a slight curving at the edges, but I didn't even feel the need to weight the paper down.

The color lifted well where I blotted the wet paint so I was almost able to return to the original paper color.  Despite scrubbing at one saturated spot, there was no pilling.

Drying time seemed about average.

For my second prismatic painting, I kept closer to the original spirit of the exercise, but used pigments (Lunar blue, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, French Ochre) that granulate.  Since this a relatively smooth watercolor paper, I wanted to see how well the pigments separated.  Very nicely, as it turned out.

Design Memory Craft Gelatos water-soluble sticks and Dye-based re-inkers

For my third watercolor, I used Gelatos, a crayon-like stick that you blend with water.  I really like Gelatos, but I had some difficulty with waxiness on this paper.  I had to apply a lot of water to dissolve the paint thoroughly.  Next time, I think I'll dissolve my gelato in water first, rather than applying the stick directly to the paper.

I also wanted to see how fluid ink would move down the page, so I took dye re-inkers (the bottles that you use to refill your stamping inkpads) and dropped ink at the top of the page, tilting the pad afterwards to get the ink to move.  Even with the wax build-up the ink move easily down the page, but it didn't move as easily from side to side.

This page is destined to end up as a map-themed work.  I have an idea of what I want but I'm not sure how I'll get there.

Colored Pencil
I was quite pleased with the way colored pencil went down on this paper.  It would take a bit of work to get dark solid color, but you could easily build up layers to get a fantastic blend.  Usually, I have trouble getting my pencil colors to scan, but they picked up well this time.

Soho Urban Professional Colored Pencils

Pen & Ink
J. Herbin fountain pen inks are intense in color anyway, but they are especially bright on this paper. It did take me a while to get solid coverage, which is not unexpected given the amount of tooth.  This pad wouldn't be my first choice for pen and ink, but I wouldn't hesitate to use it for such.

J. Herbin Roller ball pen & fountain pen inks

Mixed Media
As I've said, my first impression of this pad was that it would be great for mixed media, so of course I had to try it out.  I felt the weight of the paper would be great for heavy mediums and collage so I decided to focus on those elements.

Golden Fluid & High-Flow Acrylics, Coarse Molding Paste and collaged items

I lay down fluid acrylics with just enough water to make it spread and then slathered on a thick layer of coarse molding paste (mixed with fluid acrylic).  I combed through the paste and embedded some punchinella (sequin-waste) for texture.  The result was a piece that ranged from thickly pasted in some areas to nothing but acrylic in others.

There was a slight curving in the page that I straightened simply by curving it gently in the other direction for a few seconds.

Claudine Helmuth Acrylics, Montana Markers and Fusible Webbing

I've been wanting to play around with fusible webbing for a while now, so that was the focus for my second mixed-media piece.  Fusible webbing is generally used to fuse two pieces of fabric together for easy sewing, but no reason you can't fuse paper to paper.

Again, I put down a layer of fluid acrylic to start with.  I cut out the shape of an animal (I think it's an Okapi) and a palm tree and leaves, which I painted, and then ironed adhesive-side down onto the paper (I used parchment paper between the iron and the webbing).

I then ironed on some scraps of masa paper that I had. It's a thick, crinkly (well, it is after you crinkle it!) paper though it doesn't weigh too much, so in some areas I also glued on more of it.  I left some areas of the fusing uncovered.

Afterwards, I added more fluid and high flow acrylic to fused areas that didn't have masa paper, so it wouldn't get stuck to anything else later.  The completed piece is one with several different weights across the page.

The webbing fused beautifully.  When you run your finger across it, there is only the slightest edge to let you know where it is.  The paper kept its shape totally--no curving at all.

I started my exploration of the Clairefontaine Watercolor Pad feeling that it would be fantastic for Mixed Media and I ended up feeling that was completely true.  It would be equally useful for colored pencil.  I didn't try pastel, but suspect it would do well.  The surface would be a bit rough for fabric-tipped pens, but it is smooth enough that you could use them if you didn't mind wearing them down a bit faster.  It would also be great for fountain pen and metal-tipped pens.

Oddly, I would be less likely to use it for the watercolor it was designed for.  Not because I don't like it for watercolor--I just wouldn't be able to keep myself from using it with every other medium I had!

Other reviews
Spiritual Evolution of the Bean
Lung Sketching Scrolls

Sunday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #tutorials #giveaways #lifeimitatesdoodles

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Friday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #tutorials #giveaways

Makey Bakey Mice Craft giveaway (Facebook)
Free issue of Just Paint (technical resource from Golden paints)

Thursday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #tutorials #giveaways

Enter to win a copy of 'Painting Light with Colored Pencil (must belong to the Art Colony. Membership is free)

Ginger Horse #ZentangleInspiredArt #FountainPen #PenAndInk

You know how sometimes a work just fights you while you're trying to draw it?  I had an idea tickling my brain, a desire to combine styl...