I had tried a few different kinds of soft carve media blocks as an alternative to linoleum. I did not like any of them! The prior brands were easy to carve but were not good for fine lines -or even clear lines- as the edges would cut raggedly or crumble. I carved the blocks as soon as I bought them, in case the soft media blocks can dry out and harden with time like linoleum. Then I tried a Staedtler Master Carve block and it was totally different, holding fine, clear lines like linoleum while being as easy to carve as a pencil eraser. I am so hooked on this product!
This is the carving I did with the block. I used Dockyard Microtools 1 – 2 mm V and U gouges to do the carving. I wanted the pattern of the cat to be hair-like and to also have cuts in the block delineate the fur. I also like carving with gouges a lot, seeing the line appear in one cut as it curls away from the block. Sharpie marker is helpful to get the design on the Staedtler block so it can be carved; once the ink was dry it did not smudge or wipe off.
I was thrilled with how smooth and easy the gouges cut through the block. This media would be great to carve with an Xacto knife or any other block print cutting tools. I carved the background around the cat because I wanted to print the noise and have that as a comparison to the positive image.
I used my preference of an oil-based intaglio ink to print. Oil-based ink takes longer to dry but does not smudge and has a richer, deeper color. Both the positive design and the background noise printed wonderfully with the Staedtler Master Carve block. I used an Asian paper with some mulberry tree fibers and shiny silver flecks in each sheet for printing. The final print on this paper is very lovely. It makes me feel like a cozy cat is curled up on a snowy day so I titled this piece “Winter”.
If you are bored and want some really bright hues or maybe, like me, kind of miss certain aspects of the 1980s then these pencils are waiting for you. The package says “Alarmingly! Bright! Pencils!” and the set delivers. Also, it has a blue pencil which is missing from a lot of the new neon products that are cropping up. I used them on pencil drawings I made at museum’s Picasso show and they are really fun. I do wish there was a purple in the mix but it’s still a good buy at under $5. They handle great on paper and also blend well with Prismacolor pencils.
Bic Mark It Permanent Markers are not archival and are artist grade materials even though they are advertised as being acid free and neutral pH. They are not archival or for conservation of permanent art work. Ever since I mailed my Sharpie markers back to the manufacturer for a refund, I have been looking for a product in the same price range that will not decay. Bic Consumer Affairs department responded to my inquiry about the pens being lightfast and/or not degrading over time:
We do not recommend that they be used for archival purposes, as our products have not been designed or tested with this purpose in mind.
We suggest you visit a local arts supply store in your area. They might carry a pen that will suit your specific needs.
The ingredients of BIC inks are proprietary.
Bic wants a slice of the arts and crafts market, they have built a website to promote the markers as art supplies and hired crafting bloggers. The bottom line is that this is just a marketing campaign for office supplies. Like Sharpies, they have a great range of colours and will work on a wide number of materials; and like Sharpies they will be fading and changing colours in a short period of time.
I have been into drawing a lot lately and decided to use fountain pens for the first time in a long time. I pulled out two old Sheaffer plastic cheap fountain pens. They are fun but have disappeared from office supply stores, so I bought a nice hefty cigar shape fountain pen from Amazon. It seems that there are a slew of fountain pens available in Hong Kong and one can be purchased, shipping included, for $5 and up. They usually come with a refillable ink cartridge inside but no ink. I recommend buying a pen other shoppers have rated well.
Waterproof inks are not recommended; they can clog the pen too easily. I am enjoying using a bottle of Windsor Newton sepia calligraphy ink. The pen did not work right away; I needed to hold the nib under a faucet of running water and then let it dry out and it was fine. It had dust or something from the factory, maybe a little corn starch so the manufacturer can tell if it was used should anyone return the merchandise.
Part of the enjoyment of returning to fountain pen drawing is how portable a fountain pen is. You can get a range of line widths more like a dip pen but it is a lot easier to carry around. This has been fun for making artist trading cards. I can just put a pen and pencil with some ATC blanks in my purse or bag and carry them around with me. If I want to add depth, I ink wash in the background later at home.
I came up with the best way to use cling stamps; you need to hack them. These are a fairly new crafting product called rubber “cling” stamps. They are available in big box arts and crafts stores. You have to buy a thick acrylic block separately to place the stamps onto in order to use them. The idea is to pull the stamps off a sheet of clear plastic they are sold with, arrange them onto the thick acrylic block holder and stamp with them. The upside is that you can see through the clear block where to place the rubber stamps onto the acrylic block holder (the printed back side of each stamp with the image is sticky); you can see the surface you are stamping onto (unlike regular stamps mounted onto wooden blocks) and the cling stamps can be taken off and re-positioned at will. The downside is that putting the stamps back onto the plastic sheet they are sold with is very annoying, and the adhesive back sides are at risk of collecting dust, debris and -where I live- dog fur.
Also, the thick acrylic block is the most expensive part of getting a set of cling stamps together. I went to hackerspace Pumping Station: One with a solution in mind. I raided the 1/4″ thick clear scrap acrylic, discards from other members, and used the laser cutter to make my own backs for the stamps. I bought three sets of stamps for a total of $8 (before tax) because they were clearance items. This gave me a total of 19 image stamps plus a whole set of alphabetical stamps that resemble typewriter keys. I sat with a ruler and measured them and used the laser cutter to cut the backs. I decided on rounded corners for the images and rounded backs for the alphabetical set. Total cost for this project: $8 and sales tax. They stuck fine onto the 1/4″ thick acrylic and stamp well. It is much easier than trying to stamp with them without any backing material and much more cost effective than buying the additional backing block pieces for sale.
UPDATE 1/15/2013 Fatherted on Swap-bot advised that there are other modifications to dodge buying the backing block:
hey, if you want to stamp with cling stamps, you can also use a cd or dvd case or a flat dish or a plastic box. or the lid of your inkpad, it all depends what you like 🙂
I called the company and learned that Sharpie markers are not archival or good at all for the creation of long term art work. I loved Sharpie markers when I was in high school and all of the drawings I did with these pens are ruined. They have radically faded and discolored. I was mostly trying to draw comic books and do line art. I had gotten tired of India ink with dip pens and liner brushes, and the fine point Sharpie pens were really easy to use. All of my black Sharpie drawings turned shades of greens, purples and browns. Areas I filled in with India ink or another kind of marker are still jet black. These drawings were not exposed to sunlight, either; they have been kept in my portfolio since I made them and were on artist grade drawing paper.
Yeah, don’t hate. I was trying to do my own Advanced Dungeons & Dragons inspired comic book when I was a teenager. The original is so faded and pale brown, I slammed it in Photoshop to make it more visible above. The line art had been jet black. It is now a pale washy greenish-brown and not even faded a consistent color from area to area.
Sharpie has a lot of advertisements and their website imagery [such as the colorful drawing at top of this post] promotes the pens as art supplies. They took out a lot of advertisements in my art college magazines and publications. I was hoping the contemporary Sharpie was a better product than the ones of the past. I was being lured in again by the Sharpie felt-tipped goodness and the wide range of colors and metallic hues available. They are easy to use and the felt pen tips are great; I found the permanent-when-dry quality of the ink stable enough to not bleed or wash away for under drawing on canvas for acrylic painting. Unfortunately, even the new Sharpies do not have long term permanence.
Here is a comparison of more of my teenage comic book art from 1992. This image: most of the art was done in black Sharpie marker and way too much hatching, lol. Large flat areas I filled in with a brush and India ink from a bottle. This is an unmodified camera phone photograph. The paper was artist grade sketch, probably Utrecht brand since that was where I bought my stuff then.
This comparison shows another comic from 1992 (on the right) where 1) my friends and I got bored and switched from AD&D to White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade, and 2) I used India ink from the bottle, brushes and dip pen for the line art. The paper is brighter because it was Paris paper. These two comic pages are the same age. All of the art had been jet black but the Sharpie ink has decayed badly.
I spoke with Beth at Newell Rubbermaid Office Products [800-346-3278] the parent company of Sharpie markers in Oak Brook, Illinois. She advised me that Sharpies are alcohol based and are not archival in any way. The same is true for the oil-based Sharpie paint pens; those will rapidly decay and discolor also.
This is sad for my HBBF and everyone else who are sports fans because contemporary professional athletes autograph player cards and memorabilia exclusively with Sharpie felt tip pens. All of those lovingly collected player autographs are going to have a short shelf life. I saw discoloration and changes in my Sharpie drawings in as little as ten years. Worse, fans and autograph hunters often pay -sometimes large sums- to get their items signed by players and usually wait in long lines. Therefore, Sharpie ink is only good for ephemera. You cannot count on it to look like it does years in the future so use it for throw away sketches, kicks, street art and anything you do not want to have long term.
UPDATE 11/13/2012: I mailed my Sharpie markers and paint pens back and got a refund check for the retail price, sales tax and the cost of shipping with a very polite apology letter. If you want to return yours, mail them to: Newell Rubbermaid Office Products Attn: Consumer Affairs 2707 Butterfield Rd., Oak Brook, IL 60523-1278 USA and include a letter explaining the reason for the return.
UPDATE 3/01/2013: Bic has a similar product that is advertised as acid free / neutral pH but is no better and will also fade and discolor over time.
Or at least glitter production is up. I bought this “Pop Art” color collection at Michael’s for $2 because their marketing department has figured out I’m a glitter crackwhore. BTW the cameras in big box retail chain stores are not used for theft prevention as much as they are there to record our body language and facial expressions for marketing purposes. In my case, I went “OOO!” and grabbed for the package so fast I probably ensured expansion of the product line. Then I had to search the dollar bin area for the components to make a good glitter crack pipe because I’m too classy to smoke my glitter through the tube of a ballpoint pen.
Meanwhile, holy shit gay people need to watch their back. ABC reports that a wedding photograph of recently married couple Brian Edwards and Tom Privetere was jacked, ‘Shopped and used in an anti-gay attack ad by a hate group. The morons that stole their image obviously don’t know basic copyright law, or don’t care. I think it’s time to add itching powder to the glitter bombs.