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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Faber-Castell/ Polychromos
  • Item number: FC110012
  • RRP at time of writing: £20.75 for set of 12

Reason For Buying

The one’s in the picture were a gift from my friend but I have since bought the larger 36 pencil set. I wanted to use these for looser drawings like doodles and perhaps some colouring images

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Comfortable diameter in the hand
  • Smooth feel of colour, feels a bit like a wax crayon as colour goes down

Cons

  • High wax content means they can be tricky to blend
  • Results vary considerably from surface to surface

Build Quality

Faber-castell have always been excellent quality and these pencils are no exception. The tins are well designed and hold closed well, yet are still easy to open.

Value for Money

Good, these pencils aren’t cheap but they are pigment rich and fine art quality so worth the investment

Would I buy it Again?

After getting used to the 12 set, I went for the 36 set to increase the choice of colours. I am considering adding a few individual pencils for certain colours but I’m not looking to invest in the 72 set.

Summing up

Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils; open tin of 12

Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils

These pencils are an acquired taste, they are smooth like crayons, but the high wax content have made them tricky to get used to. If you are interested in them but not sure weather they will be for you, I’d highly recommend buying few individual pencils and try them on the surfaces you most use to see if they work well for you.

Have a look around the web, there are a lot of talented artists that achieve fantastic results with these pencils so I feel it is my lack of skill rather than any fault of the product that I found them a bit of a struggle to use. My dexterity let me down with these as I think the trick to them is layering and burnishing, which I couldn’t manage.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Marble Art; Full kit.

Marbling 4 Fun; Marbling kit

Marbling 4 Fun; Marbling kit

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Marbling 4 Fun/ Marble Art Kit
  • RRP at time of writing: £35

Reason For Buying

I’ve always wanted to try marbling on paper but in the past it looked so complicated and kits were expensive. I saw this kit demonstrated on Create and Craft, but on the makers own site they also had marbling combs, so I bought from them as the pattern I most wanted to create would need a comb.

Contents

  • Marbling paints: White, Yellow, Blue, Red and Black. 50gms of each
  • Alum crystals. 30grms
  • Floater Powder 40 gms
  • 8 Pipettes
  • Instruction sheet
  • A6 box for storage and to marble in.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Fun
  • Simple to do
  • Colours are mixable so you can mix any colours you like from the core kit
  • Neither the paints nor the floater mix smell, I am sensitive to highly fragranced products but neither gave me any issues.
  • Storage box the kit comes in becomes the tray you marble in
  • Bright colours from first prints
  • Later prints become lighter as there is less paint on the floater, you get beautiful faded pastel shades with later prints.

Cons

  • Needs a bit of prep for the area you want to marble in as papers take a good while to dry off
  • Best done in a room with a hard floor in case of spills
  • In a domestic situation, you would probably want to keep cats/dogs/ younger kids out of the room where you do this or where papers are drying, or they might walk on or or lick the gooey papers.

Build Quality

Excellent, does what it says on the tin. I like the fact that the tray that you marble in is also a storage box for the kit, which when you are short of space is helpful. The lids of the paints are easy to remove but also very secure.

Value for Money

Excellent. Its an affordable price for trying a new hobby.

Extras you will need

Its always advisable to keep craft and food items separate, so bear in mind you will also need the following items to get started, on top of the main kit.

  • Dedicated bowl (that will accept near boiling water), to mix the floater powder in.
  • Whisk also for mixing the floater powder.
  • Bottle of deionized water, the best prints are created with soft water, even bottled waters are hard so use deionized water for the best results (see Links)
  • A screw top bottle to store your mixed floater water. Once made up, it will last up to 3 months if stored in the fridge.
  • Air tight pots for your mixed paint, such as the little pots that used to contain 35mm film for cameras. (available from the company if you haven’t got any horded away)
  • Protect your working area with plastic, such as cut open bin liners ;)
  • Some extra pipettes if you want to mix loads of colours.

You will also use LOADS of kitchen paper to clean the tray between prints and a bucket to put the wet waste paper into is essential.

Optional Extras

  • Combs to create patterns in the paint, you can use paper clips etc but the company does sell a small comb.
  • Get the Violet paint! Its not in the main kit but it is beautiful, so if you budget will let you get it.
  • If you don’t want the paint to stain your fingers you can wear protective gloves
Marbling 4 Fun; Marbling kit plus Violet paint and a comb to help create patterns

Marbling 4 Fun; Marbling kit plus Violet paint and a comb to help create patterns

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, because I love the effects.

Summing up

If you have always wanted to marble but been put off by a lot of expensive kit, this is a great place to start. The finished results are superb from bright vivid colours for your first print out to pastels if you take later prints from the same paints on the tray.

Best to do this in a kitchen or on an area with a hard floor in case of spills and keep a plastic bucket next to you for the kitchen paper you use to clean off the tray with. I did this in the studio and cut open bin bags to cover the table for a wide area, had some disposable gloves so I didn’t colour my hands too. I put the marbling box on a tray and put layers of butchers paper for the prints to dry on.

After a marbling session

After a marbling session

Stick your mixed paint pots down! I thought I didn’t need to and when I stood the pipette in it, gravity tipped it over! I used a curl of masking tape and it held the camera pots to the side of the box nicely.

I stuck my pots to the tray with masking tape.

I stuck my pots to the tray with masking tape.

My papers took overnight to dry in an unheated outside studio. The papers will be covered in a layer of floater mix which feel a bit like light hair gel, so it does get messy but its lots of fun. The results were much better than I expected and by storing the floater mix in the fridge it can last up to 3 months after you first mix it. So you get a lot of prints from each batch of floater.

Messy but marvellous, does what it says on the tin! Its a lot of fun and the marbling effects are addictive and beautiful.

Links

If you would like to try this kit for yourself, check out the links below. Marble Arts do ship internationally too.

Marbling 4 Fun website

Full Marbling Kit

Deionized water

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Stabilo Point 88 pens.

Stabilo Point 88 Pens

Stabilo Point 88 Pens

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Stabilo
  • Item number: 8825-1
  • RRP at time of writing: RRP £30.60 but £16 on Amazon

Reason For Buying

Having decided to give doodling a go, I wanted a set of quality fine nibbed colored pens, these looked a good set of colours to allow

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Excellent fine nib 0.4 mm (see graphic on case)
  • Smooth to draw or write with
  • Good selection of colours, suitable for a range of subjects
  • Case is lightweight but plastic so will last a while if you like your pens lined up by colour
  • These pens are water-soluble so if you want to bleed out the colour for projects you can
  • Pens are also available singly from Art supply stores if you wish to replace colours over time

Cons

  • The only colour ID is on the pen cap and base, not the barrel of the pen. So you’ll want to clip caps to base while in use or risk getting colours in a muddle
  • With my dexterity issues I found the narrow barrels and caps a little awkward to get hold of. Not a problem if you hands work tho ;)
  • Given the high rrp, the case quality is a bit of a let down. It works well but looks like it would rip quite easily, not that sturdy

Build Quality

The pen itself is excellent, the material of the nib gives a smooth writing or drawing surface on different papers/card. The caps fit well, the only quality issue is the case they come in. Not a deal breaker if you are intending to store them in other containers.

Value for Money

TBH I’m not sure I would have paid full rrp, but I got mine from Amazon for around £13 delivered and for that I am very satisfied. They are excellent and if you like to use fine liners in your art, these are excellent quality.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes

Summing up

I’ve used these pens on cheap paper as well as good quality cartridge paper, they perform well and give excellent results. The colour range is good and the glide of the nib on the paper is a joy.

Personally, I would have liked a coloured barrel to help ID the colours and due to difficulties with fine motor skills, I struggle with the small caps and fine barrels. The barrels are approximately the same diameter as Bic biros for reference.

Be aware of the water-soluble nature of these pens when choosing a project to use them on. So if you are using them with mixed media and use anything waterbased over the top, bear in mind the colours will reactivate and move. If you want a water colour look from the pens, scribble some colour onto an acrylic block or non porous surface and use a waterbrush to pick up the colour. This does make for a versatile pen that will have many uses. Single pens and smaller sets are available if you want to try them out before investing in a bigger set.

The other use for these pens, they are great for pattern drafting (dressmaking) due to their fine line. Careful of where you store your patterns though due to the water-soluble ink!

These pens have become a favorite for me for doodle art. Do try them out, the colours and ink flow are a joy.

Links

Here are some places where you can find Stablio pens. They are also available in larger sets with a thicker nib known as Stabilo 68. If you want something more compact to take out and about there were also some pocket-size pens in Staples.

Whats your favorite pen for doodling? Would love to see projects you have created with these pens, do leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Faber-Castell; 4 Pitt artist Pens

Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen

Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen
  • Item number: 167100
  • RRP at time of writing: £9.49

Contents

The four pen set contains: S, F, M, B which I later found out equates too;

Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen

Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen. XS not in the set, purchased separately.

Reason For Buying

Originally I bought these some years ago for ink sketching, but I haven’t got round to using them much for that yet. Instead I’ve used them for doodling.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Comfortable in the hand
  • Lightweight
  • Very black ink
  • Good on cartridge paper
  • Excellent range of nib sizes
  • Pens are available individually to replace them as needed.

Cons

  • Some issues with a few sizes, see Build Quality

Build Quality

The caps fit well, the pen is comfortable in the hand but I have found the nibs are a bit scratchy in the XS and S size. The M tip has had a tendency to not cover on the first stroke, so I wasn’t pleased with that for doodling. That may not be an issue for sketching where I may want a softer line. Depends on what you are wanting to use these for.

Value for Money

Good, F/C products are well made and well worth the investment. I’m not going to write off these pens, as the niggles I have may reduce with use. The nibs may well wear in and work better. I am comparing them to very old pens of a similar kind.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes

Summing up

I’ve enjoyed using these pens but they haven’t performed as well as some of the others that I’ve had in the past. I also have their Artline drawing system pens which I found worked slightly better, that said as I mentioned earlier I am comparing them to very old pens and perhaps the old ones were like this when new.  A fantastic quality of ink, so well worth trying. No problems with the brush tip and the fact the ink is a true black black and doesn’t reactivate with water makes them very useful for sketching and doodling especially if you want to add paint or other ink over the top.

The more hit n miss effect on the thicker nibs might work better for sketching it was just I wanted a reliable thick line for the doodling style I was working on at the time of writing this review. I’ll add a note at the end of the review when I’ve tried them for sketching to report on how well they work for that.

Links

Here’s where you can find these pens online.

  • Set of 4 Faber-Castel pens on Amazon UK also available as a set of 6 which include the XS and a chisel tip
  • Artline Drawing System pens on Amazon UK This set contains 0.1, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7 which are my perfect sizes for sketching and doodling.
  • Edding 1800 Profipen another favorite and worth comparing with these pens. Smaller choice of nibs at 0.1,0.3, 0.5 but these would be most used for sketching and doodling.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Threads;Teach Yourself to sew Season 1

Threads; Teach Yourself to Sew, Season 1

Threads; Teach Yourself to Sew, Season 1

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Threads/ Taunton Press
  • Item number: 978-1-60085-370-8
  • RRP at time of writing: $24.99  (from Taunton press) Around £13 on Amazon UK but price varies
  • Run Time: 150 minutes

Reason For Buying

I have sewing books but being dyslexic I am a very visual learner, I found Threads online magazine and website thanks to a sewing forum and when I saw this series it looked brilliant. The postage to buy them individually from their own site was very high but I found them on Amazon UK. More about that later in the article.

I wanted to learn basic sewing skills and to help learn techniques that will help me make my own clothes. I tell you all this as often reviews are based on how well a product lives up to the expectations of the person buying it.

Contents

The DVD covers the following topics

  • Equipment
  • Notions
  • Patterns
  • Stitches
  • Fabric
  • Seams
  • Darts
  • Edges
  • Hems
  • Bias Binding
  • Zippers
  • Buttons
  • Buttonholes
  • Snaps and Hooks
  • Sleeves
  • Pressing

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Clear easy to understand presentation, no background music to distract you
  • Does what it says on the tin.! No frills, no overkill but superb instruction that you will refer to time and again
  • There are some projects along the way, weren’t exactly to my taste but they did demonstrate techniques and processes which was still helpful.
  • A great help to anyone wanting to try dressmaking and bewildered by all the products they see on the shelves of sewing departments.
  • Find out what items you need to get started, and what things you might want to put on a wish list for later in your sewing career.
  • A very inspiring, empowering DVD, after watching this, I felt I could give dressmaking a go.

Cons

I don’t have any

Build Quality

Good, sound is clear, lighting is fine, some camera work moves a bit quick but not so often as to be an issue. No background music makes it easy to hear what the presenter is saying. There is a full menu system so although the DVD works find to play all the way through, you can also go directly to a chapter when you want to review a particular technique.

Value for Money

Excellent. Covers a lot and is a good investment.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes and highly recommend this title and the series to anyone learning to sew without access to other classes or sewing buddies.

Summing up

This series is superb, I have loved every minute of this DVD and have since acquired  Season 2 and 3 as well, but I will review those separately.

Being a visual learner it was so much easier to have techniques demonstrated as they were explained. I have books on sewing and will get more use of them now after seeing the concepts demonstrated. If you can’t get to a sewing/dressmaking class in person, this is the next best thing, with the advantage you can watch it as many times as you like. It is also ideal if your internet connection isn’t up to online classes! A superb series and I highly recommend it to everyone wanting to make their own clothes.

Compatibility in the UK

At first I was put off from buying this DVD from Amazon UK, as they are currently listed on there as Region 1, which I cannot play in the UK. On further investigation, the publishers Taunton list the DVD as Region 0 and playable in all regions.

I took a chance and ordered it from Amazon UK and it  has worked perfectly on our TV/DVD set up. Our set up will play NTSC as well as PAL format DVDs so do bear that one in mind and check your machines before you order if you are based in the UK.

Links

Here’s where you can find the DVD Learn to Sew Season 1.

Have you tried this Teach Yourself to Sew series? What did you think of it? Has it inspired you to sew more and try more adventurous projects? Do leave me a comment and let me know how you get on.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Seth Apter’s Easy Mixed Media Surface Techniques, DVD.

Seth Apter DVD: Easy Mixed Media; Surface Techniques

Seth Apter DVD: Easy Mixed Media; Surface Techniques

Product Details

  • Title: Easy Mixed Media; Surface Techniques by Seth Apter
  • Manufacturer/Brand; North Light DVD
  • Item number: ISBN 13: 978-1-4403-2421-5 of ISBN 10: 1-4403-2421-2
  • RRP at time of writing: $24.99

Reason For Buying

Having read Seth’s blog; ‘The Altered Page’ for several years now, I already liked his style of art. A trip to America to take a class with him is beyond my budget so when I heard he had DVD’s out, I jumped at the chance when I saw one of them on Amazon. Please note if you are in Europe that this DVD is in NTSC format not the European standard PAL.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • The DVD is like taking a one to one class with Seth and ideal if you can’t get to America
  • 71 minutes run time
  • Excellent menu system if you wish to go back to a particular technique easily
  • Very watchable all the way through but you can watch individual sections if you want to review a specific technique
  • Ideal if you are new to mixed media, the techniques show are very achievable with only a few materials and products
  • Add dimension with the simplest of tools that you are likely to have around the home

Cons

Personally I haven’t got any, I saw some reviews on Amazon saying it was a bit basic but the clue is in the title ‘Easy Mixed Media’.  This is a great DVD for picking up new ideas and ideal for newbies too.

Build Quality

Excellent, easy to navigate to individual sections if you wish too and very watchable beginning to end.

Value for Money

Excellent, like taking a one to one workshop with Seth.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I love Seth’s artistic style and his tutorial style is encouraging, empowering and reassuring, which is great for those who would like to create more but are bewildered by the wealth of mixed media materials out there.

Summing up

Love this DVD, I learnt a lot of new techniques, and had lots of ideas for adapting them to  my own style rather than the sort of tutorial where you can only create the project as shown. This to me is the mark of a good tutor. Nice job Seth, and since streaming video seems to be beyond my current internet connection this DVD was ideal for me.

If you are in Europe, bear in mind this DVD is in NTSC format not PAL, that European countries use. The DVD is a region 0 disc though, so you need to check what your own DVD player will handle.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Fiskars Patchwork Quilting Ruler 15 x 60 cm.

Fiskars Patchwork ruler 15 x 60 cm

Fiskars Patchwork ruler 15 x 60 cm

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Fiskars
  • Item number:
  • RRP at time of writing: Under £17 delivered

Quote from Amazon

  • MARKED IN CMS ONLY .Transparent Ruler ideal for cutting
  • shapes square triangle rectangle and strips etc. for quilting and patchwork
  • highlighted 1cm seam allowance
  • angles clearly marked 30 45 and 60 degrees
  • includes non slip pads ,

Reason For Buying

Recently I have started sewing, well dressmaking with a sewing machine (haven’t the dexterity for hand sewing!!!!). I had a look at commercial patterns and not only were they confusing but also the same problem about being in-between sizes happened with patterns. If I was going to have to learn how to and re draw every pattern I chose, I decided it would be easier to just draft my own from scratch.

After joining a sewing forum and getting tips on what books were best to learn the topic I was also advised to get a LONG ruler, a 15 x 60 cm one. I already have a large square Fiskars ruler and having been happy with it, decided to try their longer version too.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Lines are printed in black making them clear and easy to read
  • Several options for numbering; one side includes a 1cm seam allowance the other doesn’t. Make sure you are reading the side of the ruler you mean too or your sizing may be off
  • Numbers are clear but surrounded by a coloured dot
  • There is a cut away area on the ruler which means you can hang it up to store if you wish too.
  • There are non slip feet stickers included in the pack, its nice you have the option to choose weather or not you want them on the ruler.
  • Seam allowance area is highlighted so you can quickly see which area of the ruler you are on
  • If you wish to cut at an angle these are marked on the ruler at 30, 45 and 60 degrees
  • cms have solid line and half centimeters are marked on the rulers with a broken line.
Fiskars ruler 15 x 60 cm

Fiskars ruler 15 x 60 cm

Cons

  • Be a bit careful if you are using the ruler to help you alter patterns or drafting with the ruler, the cut out to allow hanging can snag on pins or your paper as you move the ruler around. Its FINE you just need to be aware of the fact and lift the ruler rather than slide it if you are near papers edge or near pins.

Build Quality

Superb, a very sturdy plastic. Numbers and lines printed clearly and easy to read.

Fiskars ruler 15 x 60 cm

Fiskars ruler 15 x 60 cm

Value for Money

Excellent, not cheap, cheap but well worth the asking price for the build quality.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, highly recommend it to all

Summing up

These Fiskar rulers are excellent, I love my 30 x 30 cm square one and it works well in combination with this 15 x 60 cm one. So far I’m using them for pattern drafting, but after watching a few quilting shows I could be tempted into trying quilting at a later date.

There are a lot of different rulers on the market for this purpose, some are metric some imperial so you will have plenty of options to choose from. Like buying a car, we all have different reasons for buying one and our needs will vary. Try to see a few different brands in person if possible or at least on close up photos. I used You Tube to see if anyone was posting reviews or tutorials using these kinds of rulers to get a closer look at them. Bear in mind also that different countries may also have different branding colours/options so not all will be available in every country.

Links

Here are a couple of useful links for more information about these rulers, first from the makers at Fiskars and also where to buy them on Amazon UK

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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