If you don’t have a Daiso near you, you could make something similar from air-dry clay or polymer clay. I think I might dig around in my art supplies and see if I have anything I could use to make a couple of my own.
MOO has finally launched a dotted version of their beautiful Swiss-bound notebooks ($19.99 / £14.00) filled with the same Munken Kristall writing paper and 16 pages of G . F Smith’s Colorplan paper in the middle that has been used in previous edition. However, the new edition features light grey 5mm dot grid which so many people have been waiting for.
The edition featured here is the new Jet Black with Duck Egg blue Colorplan paper in the middle. The Duck Egg blue is very light and almost grey.
The dots are aligned and kept from the edges very evenly. The whole book is incredibly well-made.
These new editions contain all the features of the previous editions like the unique lay-flat binding, cloth cover, a slipcase, a heat-sealed ribbon and a self-adhesive business card hold tucked into the bellyband.
It’s time for us to share the wealth. We are giving away this notebook to one lucky winner.
TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me what color combination you like best in the Moo notebook or what color combo you’d like to see them release next. Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.
If you have never entered a giveaway or commented on the site before, your comment must be manually approved by our highly-trained staff of monkeys before it will appear on the site. Our monkeys are underpaid and under-caffeinated so don’t stress if your comment does not appear right away. Give the monkeys some time.
FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 7 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.
Truly, I considered doing a post without a single mention of the viral infection that has left us all quarantined in our homes but I just couldn’t. So, I put most of the posts in their own section this week. That way, if you are sick to tears of all the gloom-and-doom, you can just skip that section altogether. However, I did my best to include more uplifting links throughout this week’s Link Love, even in the Coronavirus-related section. My hope is that we can all join together, separately — the mating call of introverts everywhere.
Pen-and-paper enthusiasts are probably the best suited for this sort of self-isolation. We have our notebooks, pens and inks and probably a stack of books, films and series we’ve been dying to start. I know I have unfinished knitting and sewing projects, an assortment of 30 Days of (fill in the blank) projects I’ve either started or wanted to do and a pile of cookbooks with recipes I’ve been wanting to try for ages.
As for entertaining the younger folks, online craft videos, cooking and other projects can keep them entertained. Drawing on paper grocery bags to create maps, costumes or stories might be a great way to spend an afternoon.
Don’t forget to include a little fitness into your quarantine. There are tons of videos on YouTube from yoga, pilates and other fitness gurus especially designed to do in the comfort of your own home. Going for a walk, pulling weeds in your garden or a bike ride can be your new gym regime for the foreseeable future.
I know we are all stressed about the future, our health (and the health of our families) and when the next pen show might occur. Until then, let’s host our own virtual pens shows, complete with workshops and classes, history lessons and the like.
We will continue to post reviews and ideas here to keep you all inspired.
In the US, there are three major colored pencil brands that vie for the “most popular” spot in the professional/high-quality colored pencil category. They are colloquially known as the Ps: Prismacolors, Pablos and Polychromos.
First up are Prismacolors which are currently called Prismacolor Premiers. These beloved pencils have been passed around to so many companies that it’s a miracle they are still around. Eagle, Eagle/Turquoise, Berol, Sanford, Premier made in Mexico and now Premier made in China are just some of the versions I’ve discovered. I’ve tried to find out more about the history of Prismacolors but I have nothing but speculation and conjecture. At least, they are still available at present.
For collectors (and users) of vintage pencils, it’s pretty easy to find older versions of Prismacolors and they usually work pretty well. The older Prismacolors are not too expensive and it’s possible to find a box at a garage sale or other secondhand market. There is still a chance to get a pencil with a shattered core but the investment is pretty minimal and, with some searching, full boxes, sets and loose lots are available.
The performance between the modern and older pencils is fairly consistent with some of the slightly older models outperform.
Despite repeatedly being shuttled around from home to home, Prismas still offer something other pencils just don’t have — a soft, creaminess that is a result of their wax-based cores plus a massive array of colors. Their price point, whether purchased in sets or open stock (that’s the official term for selling the pencils individually like you’ll see at art supply stores) is probably the lowest of the three Ps in the US.
But Prismacolors aren’t all sunshine and roses. Because of their super soft cores and continuing efforts to cost-cut, it’s likely to find uncentered or shattered cores. Prismas also aren’t the most lightfast of the Ps. Aesthetically, unlike the other two Ps, Prismas have unfinished ends which clearly show that they are the least expensive of the three brands.
Surprisingly, I haven’t had too many breakage issues with open stock pencils. I have not purchased Prismas in a set in ages but that seems to be where I hear folks have had the most issues with breakage and shattered cores. Though having just one or two pencils with a shattered core, when you consider the creaminess and the overall cost per box, doesn’t seem like that big a deal. I’ve yet to find another readily-available pencil to equal the texture of Prismas.
I don’t recommend over sharpening them. Since the cores are soft, they perform best with a shorter, rounder point. If you do need a finer point for details, you might want to consider adding some Prismacolor Veritihins to your pencil stash or a few from the other brands.
Faber-Castell Polychromos are the next P to consider. These pencils are probably the most popular in the UK and Europe but are also widely available in the US. Most good quality art supply stores usually carry them in sets and often in open stock. Polychromos are harder than Prismas and use an oil-based binder. Polychromos can be layered on top of each other much more easily than Prismas without “blooming” (a hazy, white film that can develop on wax-based colored pencils when layered repeatedly).
Because they are harder, Poloychromos hold their point better but I find them dry, for lack of a better word. It’s easier to find out the lightfastness for Polychromos as the lightfastness rating is marked on each pencil with a star rating. The Polychromos pencils have a much nicer paint finish than Prismas and have a dipped end.
The Caran d’Ache Pablos are the last of the three Ps. These pencils are probably the least common in the US. Their watercolor cousins, the Caran d’Ache Supracolors are much more readily available in the US than the Pablos.
Like the Polychromos, the Pablos feature dipped ends. The Pablos are the only hex-shaped of the three, where the Prismas and Polys are round. Pablos also include a lightfastness rating on the pencil using a star rating system. Three stars is their highest rating. Pencils with one star are fugitive (meaning exposure to sunlight will cause them to fade).
Pablos are, like the Polychromos, oil-based. They are harder than Prismas but have better point-retention. As a Caran d’Ache product, the Pablos are the most expensive of the three but not that much more than Polychromos.
Caran d’Ache also makes the Surpacolor II Soft water soluble colored pencil. Water soluble pencils can be moved with water like watercolor. The advantage is that you can add water and change the visual quality of the pencil lines. This can also be a disadvantage if you didn’t want your lines to move or be affected by other water-based media like brush pens, ink, etc.
Supracolor pencils are also hex-shaped with finished end caps. A lot of people use Supracolors like regular colored pencils. The colors are lovely, though they also seem a bit dry to me, and the advantage of having instant access to watercolors in a pencil is also really nice — in some circumstances. The nice feature of other colored pencils is that they don’t move when hit with water so they can make great tools for layering with other media.
Caran d’Ache makes two other grades of colored pencils: Luminance 6901 and Museum Aquarelle. Luminance is a permanent color wax/oil-based pencil and Museum Aquarelles are water-soluble permanent color pencils. These lines of pencils are slightly wider though the leads are the same width as Pablos and Supracolors (3.8mm). My biggest complaint with the Luminance pencils is that the bodies of the pencils are natural wood and only the cap ends indicate the colors. For daily use, it can make choosing colors a little more challenging. I like my colored pencils to be painted to match the core from top to bottom.
For pencils, these are very expensive (open stock can cost up to $5/pencil). Compared to what I spend on fountain pens and ink, though, it’s pretty reasonable.
The last brand I want to mention is the Derwent Inktense. These are pencil “weirdos” — they are water soluble but once they’ve been wet, they dry like a permanent ink. These pencils are great if you want to be able to wet your inks but then draw over them with other pencils, watercolor, brush pens or fountain pens. I would not recommend these are you first set of pencils or your only set. Derwent makes other pencil grades that are more similar to the Ps : the Artist, Coloursoft (said to be comparable to Prismacolors though I don’t agree), Lightfast, Pro Color, and Studio. Suffice to say that there are probably too many variations in the Derwent colored pencil line to dissect appropriately.
Yes, there are other brands of colored pencils on the market and there has been a push in the market by the new brand Arteza and others. I acknowledge that these brands have gotten some good press for being inexpensive however, there’s been an equal amount of reviews suggesting that, like all things in life, you get what you pay for. I’m not saying that there are not good deals to be had but skimping on pencils is never a good idea.
I decided to do a small comparison of the brands I’ve mentioned above (except the Inktense). Above is a comparison of four black pencils to show the darkness and how well they cover. The prismas appear the richest in color but when layered a few times, they all look pretty similar.
In the images above, I tested similar deep blue shades (prussian blue, violet, indigo, etc) on two different papers. If you look at the writing, the Polychromos and Pablos look finer lines with the Supracolor coming a close second. The Luminance and Prismas appear to be the softest.
In my efforts to layer color and show any possible blooming, all five pencil brands look similar with these dark colors.
I stand by my feeling that, for most people who may be doodling, coloring, journaling, etc, Prismacolors are probably the best value. The pencils are still good quality with lots of pigment. If you want slightly fancier pencils, with painted ends or prefer hex-shaped pencils, my next recommendation is Pablos. If money is not an issue, Luminance and Museum Aquarelles are pretty amazing quality but I prefer to just buy a few of my favorite hues in these pricey pencils. Finally, adding a small set of the Inktense pencils can expand the range of multi-media you can use.
Like Tina, I can’t stop buying colored pencils. She has gone on a hunt for vintage colored pencil sets which I love but I also hoard some rare/discontinued pencil varieties. The Design colored pencils were from Eberhard Faber who was known in the late 20th century for Design Markers. They were used for “marker renderings” before ProCreate was am option. Along with the alcohol-based markers, these black dyed wood pencils were a design favorite. Today, they are difficult to find. The cores are very comparable to Prismacolors but because the pencils are all black except the color caps, I never used mine as much as the Prismacolors. But don’t get me wrong, I’ll use them and hoard them to my dying day.
My other rare/discontinued colored pencil jewels are the Pantone Universe collection. These pencils are soft hex pencils with a glossy paint to match the core and a classic, Pantone-style white label with the PMS number emblazoned on the end. On the flip side of each pencil is a descriptive name as well. I only found a box of 12 of these. They are soft and highly pigmented and are probably my favorite pencil. If only I had a set of 60 or more… I’d be one happy pencil collector.
If you are unsure which pencil would be best suited to your needs, I recommend finding an art supply store where you can buy a couple colors in open stock. Tina’s red/yellow/blue experiments might be a great way to start without having to take out a second mortgage on your house just for pencils. Or purchase the smallest possible sets (12 or 24 pencil sets are a great place to start) and then build additional colors into your set when you decide which one you like best.
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I’ve been seeing Leonardo Momento Zeros everywhere lately, so when Ana handed me one for last week my first thought was Jackpot! She got one of the gorgeous Green Blue versions with Silver Trim (€147.11, or approximately $164) for review.
The Leonardo Momento Zero is a resin-bodied pen, with a steel nib and is available with gold or silver hardware. The body of this pen in particular is a mesmerizing marbled blend of blue and green iridescent bits. The nib is stainless steel, imprinted with the Leonardo logo and is available in EF, F, M, B and 1.5mm stub; mine is a Fine.
The Momento Zero has a screw cap that is postable, but posting is not super tight and makes the pen top heavy, so I prefer not to post.
Compared to some of my other pens, the Momento Zero fits right in at a length of 5 1/2″ (14 cm) capped and 5″ (13 cm) uncapped.
It also weighs in with its competitors at 26g.
The Momento Zero was lovely to write with. I loaded it up with my Papier Plume Ivy Green and away I went. The nib was smooth right out of the box, and wrote beautifully with no rough starts. While the pen is gorgeous and I can’t stop looking at it, I have to admit that it might be a little big for my hand. (Remember – I have small hands and the Pro Gear Slim is totally my speed!) I can’t decide whether I care for the section, which is somewhat graduated, or whether I would prefer one that was a consistent circumference.
Grudgingly, I have to admit that as much as I love this pen (and others) this one’s going to Ana! That said, you really should try one of these and decide for yourself!
Since I don’t do much “real” watercolor painting – my main use of brushes is with water-soluble colored pencils – convenient water brushes serve me better than traditional paint brushes. Some new water brushes hit the scene recently at JetPens, so I jumped right on them: the East Hill line of three sizes ($8.25 each).
While most water brushes typically come in small, medium and large sizes and the occasional flat, the East Hill series offers a couple of shapes I thought were unique – Hake and Menso – and the more traditional Kumadori.
Hake is unique among all water brushes I’ve seen or tried. It has a round brush with a flat top, which mimics the shape of traditional Asian watercolor and sumi brushes used for making large, wet washes. (I photographed it with and without paint, trying to get a good image of the shape.)
I thought the “ultra extra fine” Menso would also be a unique offering that I was eager to try.
Since the nylon bristles on water brushes perform about the same, the most important feature of a water brush is how well water flow can be controlled. I’ve tried many (possibly all?) water brushes currently on the market, and my favorite is Kuretake (also branded as Niji and Zig). Unlike most, Kuretake water brushes have a plug between the reservoir and the brush, which aids significantly in controlling flow. (For an easy way to fill these brushes, see my review of the Kuretake that was included in my ArtSnacks box a few years back.) Others without a plug simply gush water to the brush when the barrel is squeezed. A photo in my review of Tombow water brushes shows the difference between those with a plug and those without.
When I first started reading the product information about the East Hill water brushes, I perked up when I saw mention of a removeable “nozzle,” because I thought it might be similar to the Kuretake’s. To my relief, it is not only similar – it is identical! As the barrels show, East Hill brushes are made by Kuretake! My favorite Kuretake brushes apparently go by many different brand names.
Shown below are brush strokes made with (from top) Kumadori, Hake and Menso. The Hake has the widest line variety and can make an unusual thick-and-thin stroke that will be fun to explore further. The Menso, described as “ultra extra fine,” turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. It’s the same as the small Kuretake/Niji.
If you want the finest stroke available in a water brush, I think the fine Pentel Vistage is finer than the Menso. The image below shows the Menso on the left and the Pentel on the right. My scanned image below shows a brush stroke comparison of the Menso, the Pentel and the Kuretake.
Although I think Menso and Kumadori are redundant, Hake is worth exploring and is a welcome addition to the Kuretake (by whatever name) water brush line. Water flow is reliably easy to control in all three brushes that go by the East Hill name.