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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Jackson’s ceramic 10 well slanting palette.

Cermaic mixing Pallet

ceramic mixing Palette

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Unknown. Bought from Jackson’s Art Supplies
  • Item number: 40705
  • RRP at time of writing: £5.50

Reason For Buying

Having invested in nice sable brushes for my watercolours, I wanted a decent quality pallet to go with them. I keep knocking the plastic one I have over and they also felt like they were dragging on the hair of the sable brushes.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Good size, not too small or too big; 3.5″ x 7″
  • Five larger size wells for colour mixing larger washes
  • Five smaller wells for mixing smaller amounts of colour
  • Ceramic palette doesn’t move around as you add or take colour from it, the weight holds it still on the table
  • Easy to clean
  • Kind to the brushes

Cons

Nothing more than niggles and things to be aware of.

  • Make sure you put it on a mat if you are using it on a nice table, being ceramic the base is un-glazed in places. This makes it non slip but it could scratch your table without a mat ;)
  • The weight (557 grams) is an advantage in the studio, but makes it too heavy to take on field trips
  • Careful you don’t drop it when you are washing it down, it won’t bounce like plastic ;) hehe

Build Quality

Superb, with a beautiful finish. The unglazed base means the palette doesn’t move around on your table. The weight (557 grams) keeps it in place too.

Value for Money

Excellent

Would I buy it Again?

Totally, I’d like an extra one to see if it would work out for acrylics too.

Summing up

I highly recommend this pallet for watercolour use. Its been a joy to use and super easy to clean. No more chasing little plastic pallets around the table, its weight makes it stable so even I can’t knock it over! :) There is another palette Jackson’s have, which has a cover, I’m going to try that too.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Hobby Craft; Craft PVA

Hobby Craft: Craft PVA

Hobby Craft: Craft PVA

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Hobby Craft; Craft PVA
  • Item number;
  • RRP at time of writing: £2.99 for 500 ml (other sizes available)

Reason For Buying

I was looking for a general purpose PVA for paper crafting and one that was good quality and available in larger quantities for ‘hobby’ bookbinding too.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Good quality PVA
  • Dries quickly, especially in warm conditions
  • Available in larger quantities
  • Works well on paper, card, mattboard and grey board
  • Can be watered down to extend drying time and to use it as a glaze.

Cons

  • Haven’t got any, it does everything I’ve asked from it very well.

Build Quality

Excellent. I’ve used this to make slip covers for small books with grey board and its held the board extremely well. It also worked fine to assemble gift bags too.

Value for Money

Excellent, small bottles available to try it to see if you like  it, and larger ones for better value for bigger projects.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally

Summing up

An excellent all round glue for paper crafting. My top tip, if you are buying the larger size bottles; get some small fine nibbed empty bottles too and decant some of the glue into those. This lets you use the glue for more detailed work and stops whats in the bottle from drying up to fast by having it open for too long.

Store this at room temperature, don not let it freeze.

Links

Here is a link to the online store which will help you find a store near you or to shop online.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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In today’s post I will be reviewing; James Brett Marble Chunky Yarn.

James Brett; Marble Chunky Yarn

James Brett; Marble Chunky Yarn

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; James C Brett. Marble Chunky
  • Item number; Colour Number MC6
  • RRP at time of writing: £4.50 – 6.00
  • Weight – 200g Ball.
  • Length – 312m/341 yards to 200g.
  • Needle Size – 6mm. Tension – 14 stitches & 20 rows to a 10cm sq.

Reason For Buying

I cannot wear wool as it makes me itch, even if it is very soft or combined with other yarns. The only thing is until more recently there has been little colour options with acrylics. When I saw this yarn, I just had to buy it as it was such a lovely colour way.

Pros/Cons

Pros;

  • All Acrylic, easy maintenance of finished garment
  • Superb range of colours
  • Feels luxurious
  • Knits up beautifully
  • A joy to knit with
  • Cozy finished pieces, ideal for hats n gloves etc to snuggle into in the colder weather.
  • 200g per ball plenty for smaller projects

Cons;

An option of a smaller ball in the same colour ways would be good. If you only need a few grams to finish a project, 200g is a big ball.

Just a niggle, not a deal breaker.

Build Quality

Excellent, a joy to knit with. Two DK weight strands are twisted together in the yarn and the colour ways are beautifully done.

Value for Money

Excellent! It may not be the cheapest, but I was very pleased with how many small projects I could make with just one ball.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally, there are so many delicious colours that I will definitely be getting more of this yarn. :)

Summing up

I love everything about this yarn and recommend it to everyone. From just one ball I was able to make a short cowl, a long cowl, a hat and a pair of fingerless mittens!!!! With so many colours there is bound to be one you fall in love with too. Having dexterity issues I also found the larger needle size this yarn requires, easier on the hands too.

There is a DK variant of the yarn but not all the colours match the Chunky

Links

Here is a link to the manufacturers and a couple of retailers that also stock the yarn.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Knit Pro Basix Fixed length circular needles.

Knit Pro: Basix; Fixed Length Cirular knitting needles

Knit Pro: Basix; Fixed Length Cirular knitting needles

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Knit Pro: Basix
  • Item number: Birch WD Fixed Circular (80cm-6.00 mm) 35332
  • RRP at time of writing: Around £5, price varies with needle size/cable length.

Reason For Buying

I need 6mm circular needle for my new chunky yarn, but because of my dexterity issues metal needles make my hands lock up and I found bamboo and plastic have too much drag on the yarn. Ideally I was after a light wood but I’ve got on so well with birch the search began for birch circular needles. In the past I’ve not considered Knit Pro as their wooden needles had very busy patterns on them. After a search brought up this new Basix range which are plain coloured, I went to their website and looked for sellers.

Pros/Cons

  • The Birch wood is warm to the touch, making them very comfortable in the hand, kind to sore hands with dexterity issues
  • Because these are a fixed length cable the needle is longer than the interchangeable ones in the larger diameters.
  • The transaction from wooden needle to cable is made of metal but it quickly warms to your hand and is not freezing like all metal needles. Very smooth and comfortable.
  • The needles are easy to store, and are ideal if you want to take your knitting out and about. They take up little space and you can’t loose a needle on route, or prod your fellow passengers if you are on trains etc.
  • The birch wood makes them beautifully light, which is also a great help if you struggle with your dexterity.
  • Light coloured wood, makes them easy on the eye and not distracting
  • Super smooth in use, no snagging or dragging on the yarn
  • The cable is an excellent quality too.

Cons

I have no cons to this product, just a request to the company to extend the range to the smaller diameter needles, so I can use them with DK weight yarns too. It would also be good if they brought in a 40cm length for socks/ mittens etc.

Build Quality

Fantastic. The birch needles have a beautifully smooth finish, super slick connection between the needle and the cable which is very comfortable in the hand. Nothing to snag on the yarn, or scratch at your hands. The birch is a wonderful material to knit with and kind and gentle on sore hands. I can see why there is so many good things said about this brand. The materials they use and their finishing is fantastic.

Value for Money

Excellent. These are very well made and from quality products.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes. I’ll be collecting more sizes in these needles.

Summing up

Although the connection between the needle and cable is metal, it is far enough along that only your little finger comes in contact with it and it does warm up in use. Its NOTHING like working with a metal needle. I adore birch wood needles they are so much kinder to my hands. Yarn moves smoothly across it and even with limited dexterity I can knit for longer with it.

I adore my Brittany needles but they don’t make circulars. I was also worried that in the larger diameters, that I would struggle with the extra weight of the needles. These Knit Pro Basix are the bees knees! The main I haven’t tried Knit Pros in the past was the vivid colours on the Symfonies or very dark patterned wood on the Rose wood ones. I like the idea of interchangeable needles, for the versatility and easy storage but the fixed overall length of the cables, result in very short needles in the larger diameters and I my dexterity couldn’t cope with the very short ones.

These Basix resolve all the issues I had with other needles in their range and I highly recommend them. I did contact Knit Pro EU before writing this, and they said they had no plans to produce interchangeable needles in the Basix range at this time. At the time of writing the following sizes available in the fixed length circulars in the Basix range:

Metric Sizes:

  • mm: 5.5, 6.0, 6.50, 7.00, 8.00, 9.00, 10.00, 12.00, 15.00, 20.00, 25.00
  • on the following cable lengths
  • cm: 60, 80, 100, 120, 150

Links

For lists of more Knit Pro suppliers, please visit the Knit Pro EU site where they list a worldwide list of retailers of their products

For reference, the Basix range are also available in straight needles, and double-pointed needles too.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

PS. Knit Pro if you read this; Pretty please extend the range of Knit Pro Basix fixed length circulars, this is a superb product and I would collect even more of them.

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In today’s post I will be reviewing; The Complete Drawing Course for Beginners DVD.

Ronald swanwick's Complete Drawing Course for Beginners; DVD

Ronald Swanwick's Complete Drawing Course for Beginners; DVD

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Teaching Art
  • Item number RSNDN
  • RRP at time of writing: £40.84 SAA members price £20.40

Reason For Buying

For years I’ve drawn - badly! I have bought many books whose titles sugesteded they would teach you all you needed to know about drawing..then didn’t. That said they were for complete beginners, then expected prior knowledge, which as a beginner I didn’t have. I wanted to sort out perspective and the fact this course if for beginners and DVD was ideal as I am a very visual learner and sounded perfect.

Pros/Cons

Pros

The title is true, you need no prior knowledge of the subject. It really does take you from the very beginning and expects no prior knowledge of the subject.

Ronald’s descriptions are very clear. He explains things as he draws, which really helps you learn and understand the concepts.

Perspective instruction that makes sense! Theres a first!

Planning and Proportion is a superb section and helps you plan where on the page to start drawing so your main image doesn’t either fall off the page, or get squashed into a corner

Instruction on measuring helps things stay the correct size

Wide range of artistic subjects covered. People, buildings, scenes, landscape, flowers and still life are all covered.

Cons

In fairness, my copy was filmed in 2005 and the only issue I have is really a niggle. My version was filmed in 4:3 aspect ratio, which comes out odd, when viewed on widescreen tv. You may need to alter your tv screen setting to prevent the picture being stretched and squashed on todays larger TVs.

The item number I have included is for the latest version listed on the SAA website, it has been re-launched so it may be that they have solved this issue on the newer versions.

Build Quality

Excellent! Lighting, sound, and camera work are all spot on and really enhance the great content. You can easily see what is being drawn over the artists shoulder, and the picture in picture in places helps you see what is on the page and the original item at the same time. You can navigate by chapter so if you are reviewing a particular technique you can skip right to the section you want.

Value for Money

Excellent. The run time is 268 minutes and the content is superb. One to one tuition, in your own home as many times as you like for £40.84 is well worth it. If you become a member of the SAA you can save even more and have this delivered without P&P charges for just £20.40.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, its fantastic. If you would love to learn to draw and have never got on so well, or would like to improve particular areas of your drawing, this is for you. A great drawing partner for newbies as well as more experienced artists looking to brush up their skills.

Summing up

I’m VERY sceptical of products claiming to be ‘The Complete’ or ‘The Bible of.’ as many of them often aren’t and you end up feeling let down and disappointed.

This course lives up to its name very well. It is perfect for someone who has never drawn before and for someone like me who has drawn but struggled to achieve anything they liked as a result. This truly is the BEST drawing DVD I’ve ever bought and I highly recommend it to everyone.

If your New Years Resolution was to learn to draw, this would be a perfect companion for you.

Links

Ronald Swanwick

Excerpt from DVD, from The Painting and Drawing Channel

SAA. The Society for All Artists is a great online community and mail order art supply store. They have a wide range of art materials and the best selection of books and DVDs to help you achieve your artistic goals. members get discounted prices, and free P&P as well as many more benefits. I’ve been a member for years and highly recommend them if you are regularly buying art supplies or looking for tuition.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Chatsworth Box Easel

Box Easel

Box Easel

Product Details

  • Chatsworth Box Easel; brand/maker unknown

Reason For Buying

I was looking for an adjustable table top easel for drawing and watercolouring, when I found this Chatsworth one. The Winsor and Newton Eden table easel I had been using made my board too high up when I sat to the table with it. This looked like a good alternative.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Really Stable
  • Secure closures on the box
  • Quality robust handle
  • Super surface to work on, weather you are using a board or a sketch book
  • Fully adjustable working angle
  • Protective feet on base of short end as well as for when the easel is standing open on your table.
  • Can be used on a table or if you can find/make one a stand.
  • Folds down to a compact size for storage/travel
  • There is storage within the box for your materials and dividers which you can alter the position of too.
  • A robust sturdy easel for many different artistic styles. I’ve had mine for YEARS

Size: 33 x 43 x 10 cm

Weighs: 2 kg

Cons

  • The box I have is made of beech, this makes it long-lasting and substantial but it also makes it heavy, even before you add materials to the inside of the box. BUT due to my dexterity problems I am Eric Feeble in that respect, for able-bodied users, check the empty box weight, listed above.
  • Place your internal box dividers carefully. It is very useful that you can store materials inside the box, but if you are going to stand the easel on its end for storage, make sure your precious materials don’t rattle around too much.

Build Quality

Fantastic. Super smooth finishing on all surfaces, inside and out. Corners of the box are curved which make it comfortable in use. The fixings, closures and handle are all robust and well made too.

Value for Money

Excellent. I paid around £40 for mine but there are a lot of online places that offer similar items at very competitive prices and if you shop at sale time you can find some amazing deals. For the quality of the product and how robust it is, its well worth full rrp.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes. I would recommend it to everyone.

Summing up

I have used a few different styles of easel over the years but this is the one I love. It has superb adjustability, some other table easels are like the old-fashioned deck chairs in that there are set heights available and that’s it. If you want to use this for different media, the fact you can choose your own angles is very helpful.

You can get a lot of materials within the box and it folds down for storage making it good for travelling too. I’ve had this one for almost ten years now, I bought it and its stand in Cross’s art shop, which sadly is no more. At the time I bought it, there was also a folding stand, which means you can choose your location. Haven’t seen a stand on the market in the research I did for this articles links, but it would be fairly simple to construct one if you or your other half is handy with DIY. Let me know if you want to see the stand I’m using and I’ll take a photo of it.

Inside the Box Easel

Inside the Box Easel

Links

As I mentioned I’ve had this easel for over ten years and the original store I bought it from is no longer trading. I have done a search online for SIMILAR products. There are a choice of materials which you can find this style of easel made from. I have seen bamboo and also beech.

Jacksons Art Supplies have two sizes of box easel made from beech.

  • Large Box Easel: EJ007 for £30 or a Small Box Easel; EJ006 for £25

The Society for all Artists; SAA, have a bamboo box easel

  • BBE £34.99 for non members but members of the society can get this for £30.99

Finding an easel that suits you is a bit like finding a car, or getting your car seat in the right place. It takes a while and needs experiment to find what works for you. Personally I found this easel the most adjustable and the most stable. I don’t have the dexterity to get the three-legged easels adjustment bolts done up tightly enough to keep them secure. This works for me for pencil sketching and as I have full control over the angle can change the angle I use it at, when I want to use watercolour. This is a good all-round easel and doesn’t take a whole lot of room to store. Having ‘onboard’ storage within the case, cuts down on the number of extra items you need to carry on field trips too.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

**UPDATE 19 Feb 2012**

Just found Chatsworth Earl Box easel on Amazon for £16.99

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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Joanna Sheen’s; House Mouse Stamps

Joanna Sheen: House Mouse; Get Well Soon

Joanna Sheen: House Mouse; Get Well Soon

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Joanna Sheen
  • Item number: JSHM051
  • RRP at time of writing: £9.99

Reason For Buying

I’ve adored House Mouse stamp range for ages. Then when this Get Well Soon set came out I couldn’t resist it. My best friend was due an operation and poor DH had a lot of dental work and these stamps looked ideal to cheer them up.

Pros/Cons

  • Super high quality
  • Very detailed stamps
  • Lots of stamps on each sheet
  • A range of sizes of images, little uns for the inside of the card/ back of envelope as well as large main image ones
  • Adorable designs drawn by Ellen
  • Unmounted stamps are nice and easy to store
Storing; Joanna Shhen House Mouse; Get Well Soon Stamps

Storing; Joanna Shhen House Mouse; Get Well Soon Stamps

Cons

  • Haven’t got any

Build Quality

Excellent. These are deeply etched and very detailed images. They stamp out perfectly.

Value for Money

Excellent. There are several images per stamp sheet. Had these been wood mounted you would have paid more for a single large image than you do for the whole sheet. Many of the images mix and mingle across the House Mouse range, giving you many options for all kind of creative projects.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally. There are LOADS of House Mouse stamps on my wish list, especially those with birds and budgies in the sets too.

Summing up

Joanna’s stamps are superb quality and I’ll definitely be buying more House Mouse stamps in the future. They are always getting into such mischief and you have just as much fun making projects with them as the people get when they open their cards.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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