Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Terre de Feu Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Terre de Feu

From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

J. Herbin Terre de Feu

Herbin's Terre de Feu is a warm caramel brown. Really nice flow on the smooth Clairefontaine paper, slightly less smooth on the more absorbent Canteo paper. More shading is evident on the ivory Canteo.

It's not a highly saturated color, (and I wish it was) and while it's nice, I already have a favorite brown in Noodler's Red-Brown, even though it reigns as my slowest drying ink...ever.

J. Herbin Terre de Feu

The ink is not as reddish as it appears in the above image.

Ink provided by Exaclair for the purpose of review.



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review: Clairefontaine Spiral Basic Notebook with and without Pockets

Clairefontaine Spirals

For those that like a plain notebook with ultra-friendly fountain pen paper, these are the "Basic" Clairefontaine spiral notebooks. They come in tan, black, red & green.

On the small book, I would really prefer a top margin. Paper lined from top to bottom somehow makes me uncomfortable.

Love the pockets in the larger book, and that the pages are microperforated.

New Black Lamy Safari added for flair.

Clairefontaine Spirals

"Basics" Ruled Wirebound-Tan 3 1/2 x 5"

Sturdy but elegant leather-grained cardboard black or tan covers with 90g high resistant, pH neutral, white vellum paper. 96 ruled sheets.

Buy for $4.50 at TheDailyPlanner.com

Clairefontaine Spirals

From Pencilthings.com:

Clairefontaine is simply the best paper in the world for writing.

Classic Clairfontaine Notebooks are a favorite of artists, students and writers. They are also popular as journals.

6" x 8-1/4", Wirebound (on large side), 60 sheets, Ruled, Unpunched, with 3 pocket dividers. Micro perforated, Assorted Cover Colors (Tan, Black, Red & Green)

• 90 g acid-free, pH neutral paper, archival quality
• True white, with special anti-glare component, and exceptionally smooth satin finish
• Opaque, no see-thru
• Strong, does not tear
• Secure, ink never bleeds - use both sides of a page
• Pages perfectly aligned
• Double wire spiral binding. Never snags.
• Bright, colorful covers stand out - Laminated
• Chlorine free manufacture
• Made only with pulp from certified sustainable forests
• 60 sheets

$8.00 at Pencilthings.com

PS - Find these outside the US under the name "Age Bag" rather than "Basic"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Bleue French Lavender Scented Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Scented Fountain Pen Ink

From the J. Herbin site:

Scented Fountain Pen Ink

"These exquisitely charming inks, lightly scented and presented in elegant semi-frosted bottles, are perfect for fountain pens since they are synthetically scented and do not contain pigments.

Fashioned with great care, scented inks are inspired by a tradition that began in Italy in the 19th century. J. Herbin and other manufacturers used to collect different scents from the perfume industry and add them to their inks."

Known as “Les Subtiles” (The Subtle), each ink matches fragrance and color: bleu/parfum lavande/10; vert/parfum pomme/34; amber/parfum orange/41; rouge/parfum rose/68; and violet/parfum violette/77

J. Herbin Encre Bleu

Lightly scented my foot. This ink stinks. It's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too strong for my sensitive nose - and I actually like lavender. This smells more like French lavender which is much stronger than the lavender oil I'm used to using for sore muscles & scrapes & burns.

J. Herbin Encre Bleu

The ink is a nice color and has good flow, but the smell was burning my nose and I feared the scent lingering in the pen so I immediately flushed it after this one use.

Buy it online at Silver Crow Creations or at Inkflow.com

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hungry and Homeless

0604 Hungry and Homeless

This is a sketch of a woman that I encountered in Santa Monica when I was there in 2004. She had a sign that said "hungry & homeless" but she seemed pretty clean and well groomed.... Maybe she was homeless, maybe she wasn't. She was not an annoying begger - she just sat with her sign - sometimes talking to people. I went to see a movie one day, (The Chronicles of Riddick - the first time I EVER fell asleep during at a movie theater...) And I walked out with a giant sized almost full soda. I saw her as I walked out, and if she was truly homeless, I couldn't just throw the soda away so I handed it to her. She thanked me and set it on the ground next to her. Maybe she drank it, maybe she threw it away...

A few days later, I was walking around the SM Farmer's market and I saw her again. I bought some of the most amazing white nectarines. I never tasted such a perfect fruit before. I bought an extra one and walked up to her and handed it to her. She thanked me and put it with her things. Maybe she ate it, maybe she didn't. I hope she's ok, wherever she is.

When I first visited SM in 2001, I was a bit put off by the enormous homeless problem. As a smoker, I couldn't walk a block without someone asking me to bum a smoke...spare change...etc.

One time I saw a woman and her Mom sitting in a doorway with about 10 suitcases stacked behind them. I sat down and asked the girl what led them to be living like this. She was nice - told me that they ran out of money...no job...evicted... so sad.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Vert Pre Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Vert Pre


From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

J. Herbin Vert Pre

Vert Pre - very difficult to see on the bright white Clairefontaine paper. (Or on the ivory Canteo for that matter) The color of lime green freeze pops. Poor flow in my .5 cursive italic. Squeak squeak squeak. It's really a very cool color, but if it doesn't flow, it's got to go... Not sure how an ink this color would best be used. Notations perhaps? Highlighting?

Maybe it would work better with a really wet nib - maybe a glass dip pen or calligraphy pen...

J. Herbin Vert Pre

All Herbin inks provided by Exaclair for the purpose of review.




Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Bouton D' Or Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Bouton D'Or

From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

J. Herbin Bouton D'Or

J. Herbin's Bouton D'Or is a yellow burst of sunshine. It's free flowing in my medium nibbed Sailor Sapporo - which tends to run a bit wet.

J. Herbin Bouton D'Or

I'm not exactly sure how anyone would use this ink, except maybe for highlighting. I tried a bit in the above photo, but noticed that this book's paper was a bit rough to write on with a fountain pen. It just wasn't the most pleasurable experience of pen to paper. If used on a shinier paper, I bet it would be great.

I'm going to guess that some people are going to question whether or not you can use this ink to mix with other colors, and I have to admit that I have not tried it. Herbin inks do note (on the side of the box) to NOT mix their inks. I suppose if you try, you will have to do so at your own risk.

PS - Can you guess the book that the above quote is taken from? Hint: It's been sitting on the New York Times Best Seller list for 115 weeks... and I loved it!!!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Three New Primary J. Herbin Inks

Three New Inks

Currently testing three new J. Herbin inks. Bleu Nuit, Rouge Opera, and Bouton D'Or.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe

From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe

I'll make this one quick and easy. Diabolo Menthe is too light and too dry. I had it loaded into a .5 cursive italic and the pen was squeaking across the Clairefontaine paper. (Yes - I had made sure I had the ink converter primed.) The color isn't as fluorescent as my pictures are making it out to be. (Too many tweaks in Picasa I suppose - gotta start laying off of that Sharpen function...)

This ink seems to be a lighter version of the Vert Reseda, though maybe without the yellow tinge. It's the color of tropical waters - pretty, but I won't have a use for this ink.

J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe

Herbin inks run $7.20 per 30ml bottle at The Ink Flow

Monday, April 20, 2009

Did I go too far with this mandala?

Did I go to far with this piece?

Once in a while, I wonder if I take a piece of art too far. I started this mandala with watercolor paints in a Cachet watercolor sketchbook, then doodled over it with some Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens, (which I love) and then added the black pen (also a Pitt pen - F nib) over top.

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens

Colorful Cachet Watercolor Books

Cachet Watercolor Sketch Books

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Moleskine and Clairefontaine - a song by Gulcher



While searching Amazon.com for Clairefontaine products, I found something rather unusual. A song entitled "Moleskine and Clairefontaine" by a band called Gulcher.

Listen to it and download it Here

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie

From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie

Ambre de Birmanie - the color of hot caramel on vanilla ice cream, or gold without the glitter. It's perfectly amber...

Tested in an EF Lamy Safari - it had great flow and nice saturation for a lighter color. Some shading. Looked good on both the bright white Clairefontaine paper, and the ivory Canteo.

J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie




Friday, April 17, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Vert Reseda Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Vert Reseda

From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

J. Herbin Vert Reseda

Vert Reseda is shown above, tested in a Clairefontaine Basics journal - 90g bright white paper. This ink was kind of gushy (good flow) in my wet writing M nibbed Sailor Sapporo. It's a slightly less than moderately saturated medium teal with a tinge of yellow. It's a bright color.

J. Herbin Vert Reseda

Shows up even darker on the ivory Canteo paper (which is more absorbent than the Clairefontaine.) Even on ivory paper, the tinge of yellow is still evident. I'm not really a teal person, and the yellowish tinge is slightly off-putting to me. This color reminds me of the old art deco buildings in Miami's South Beach - the way they are painted in bright shades of pink and teal.

All Herbin inks provided by Exaclair for the purpose of review.




Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: Piccadilly Wire-O Journal

Piccadilly Wire-O Notebook

First reactions to this large Piccadilly Wire-O Journal? With it's hardback covers, it's really heavy. This book would add a significant amount of weight to a backpack filled with schoolbooks. I appreciate the hard covers since I'm not always writing on a flat surface, but these really add to the weight of the book.

Looking at the Piccadilly website, I count over 140 different covers for their Wire-O Journals and I have just one thing to say about that.

Why?

I'm much more concerned with paper quality and product functionality than cover design. I always get a sense of a company desperately trying to please the consumer when they offer so many design choices. I think of designs that don't sell, and product having to be destroyed/recycled. In my eyes, it's bad marketing and overwhelming to the consumer.

Piccadilly Wire-O Notebook

When I first opened the book, I noticed that several of the pages were stuck together in the area of the ring holes. When I pulled them apart, they tore and had to be discarded. Flipping through the book, many of the pages need to be separated at the punch holes, and though no more pages tore, I think maybe Piccadilly might need to check the sharpness on their punch presses.

I do not understand why some of these books are listed on their website as "lined one side." Does that mean that some of them are lined on both sides? Why no consistency? For people that prefer to write on lined paper, they are going to be wasting half of the book.

Piccadilly Wire-O Notebook

As I am an avid fountain pen user, there was no doubt that I would be testing this paper with fountain pen inks, which are water based. With the dozen or so inks I tested, there was no visible bleed through, but there was a small amount of show through. Every ink tested feathered to some degree - some worse than others, but only a few were visible without magnification. (J. Herbin's Perle Noire was the worst of the batch.) The paper surface is ok to write on. It's better with larger smoother nibs than thinner ones, and I probably wouldn't suggest this paper for dry writing pens/inks.

This isn't really a product that suits my needs, nor my tastes.

Wire-O Specs:

200 pages
Lined
Hard Cover w/ Wire-O binding
White 100gsm Wood Free Paper

These are the prices when buying directly from Piccadilly

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Mandala Process Continues...

Watercolor Mandala (I don't remember doing this one)

So you've tried making a mandala? Good for you! Advice on creating them? You bet.

First off, don't judge yourself on their quality, because making them isn't about art. If you end up with some cool art, that's merely a bonus. Creating them is an outlet... a meditation. Some people knit, hike, play music - all for the purpose of letting go. This is the same with the mandala process, and the cool thing about them is that you can reflect on them once completed- and sometimes, you might just notice meaningful things amidst all of those lines and doodles.

I always start at the center, (I consider it to be "me" in the center) and then I work outward in concentric circular patterns. It's helpful if you try (at least in the beginning) to go only in direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) as it helps you to develop a rhythm to your pattern-making. It gets much easier once you develop a rhythm to your work.

Develop a small library of shapes and designs to use. Don't over think it. You can do it all with little circles, lines, X's, triangles, or try using letters from the alphabet - M's work well, or an "S" on it's side.

Remember that no line or mark you put on the page needs to be perfect. In fact, they shouldn't be perfect. Because if they are perfect, you are putting too much conscious effort into it. Again I stress, this isn't about creating art - it's a meditative process and you shouldn't overthink it. Do enough of them (I've probably done over 400 of them) and the various patterns and gestures start to come a little easier. Remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process - resist the urge to judge your creation. I give you full permission to make mistakes and crooked lines and so you should extend the same permission to yourself.

I recommend using some kind of tablet that allows you to easily spin it so you can continuously work in every direction. Select a writing implement that allows you to work effortlessly. If the pen/marker, etc. doesn't move smoothly on the paper in every direction, it may cause frustration and/or hand fatigue.

If like me, you end up sitting and concentrating on a piece for a long period of time, remember to consciously breathe, and stretch yourself out every once in a while. It's easy to get lost in one of these meditations and you don't want to stop and find yourself all cramped up.

But most of all - have fun & just let go!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A few words on J. Herbin Fountain Pen Inks


I think I've tested 24 of the 30 current Herbin inks. (Whew!)

In looking at this sample sheet - (See the original and download it Here) I wanted to toss out my 2 cents on how I see the samples versus how they looked to me when I tested them.

I've done my best to maintain some kind of baseline when I test inks, for the most part, I've been using two different kinds of paper. One absorbent, (Canteo) and one smooth and shiny. (Clairefontaine 90g) I am not always using the same fountain pen to test, and sometimes I'm using different nib widths, which will affect the saturation on the paper. I would not consider any of my pens to be dry writers, but my medium nibbed Sapporo is a wet writer.

Anytime I try an ink, there are many considerations on whether or not I will like it. I have to like the color. It has to be saturated "enough" for my tastes. It has to be free flowing, and as I like to sometimes use ivory paper, I like an ink that looks good on paper other than white.

That being said, these are my reactions to the Herbin sample card versus my actual findings. If it says, "Previously Reviewed" look to the left hand side of my blog to find the link to the review.

  • Gris Nuage - Not Tested (Do not have)
  • Perle Noire - A very black, black. Great flow. Review forthcoming. Love it.
  • Bleu Azur - Not Tested (Do not have)
  • Blue Pervenche - Image pretty accurate. A pretty saturated turquoise. A keeper. Previously reviewed.
  • Bleu Myosotis - Not Tested (Do not have)
  • Eclat De Saphir - Sample showing more saturated than it is. A nice medium blue. Previously reviewed.
  • Bleu Nuit - Sample showing more saturated than it is. The color of washed denim. Great flow, review forthcoming.
  • Rouge Caroubier - No where near as saturated as the sample. Thin and dry. Previously reviewed.
  • Rouge Bourgogne - Nice color, nice flow, but for some reason- I let this one go. Previously reviewed.
  • Vert Pre - Fairly saturated lime color - hard to see on paper I tested. Very dry. Review forthcoming.
  • Diabolo Menthe - very, very, very light. Very dry. Sample showing much darker than I tested. Review forthcoming.
  • Vert Olive - Sample showing darker than tested. Nice color, hard to see on tested paper. Free flowing. Previously reviewed.
  • Lierre Sauvage - Sample is pretty accurate. Bright shamrock green w/ hit of yellow. Free flowing. Review forthcoming.
  • Vert Reseda - Sample pretty accurate. Nice flow, Review forthcoming.
  • Vert Empire - Sample showing darker & greener than tested. Previously reviewed.
  • Ambre De Birmanie - Sample accurate. Free flowing. Review Forthcoming.
  • Lie De The - Sample showing darker, this is a yellowish brown. Previously reviewed.
  • Cacao Du Bresil - Not Tested (Do not have)
  • Cafe Des Iles - Not Tested (Do not have)
  • Terre De Feu - Sample showing much, much darker than tested. A light-medium earthy brown. Very nice flow. Review forthcoming.
  • Poussiere De Lune - Sample not accurate as tested. Poussier De Lune is more of a gray purple than tested. It's also pretty saturated. Previously reviewed.
  • Bouton D'Or - Sample accurate. Free flowing. Very hard to see on any paper tested. Review forthcoming.
  • Orange Indien - Sample inaccurate. It's more of a rusty orange. Previously reviewed.
  • Rouille D'Ancre - Sample fairly accurate. Very, very light, more of a band-aid color than the sample shows. Very Dry. Previously reviewed.
  • Rose Tendresse - Not Tested (Do not have)
  • Bouquest D'Antan - Sample showing darker than tested. This is a very light, very dry pink.
  • Rose Cyclamen - Sample is close - but the shade actually leans more towards a bit of blue. Very saturated, great flow. Love this color. A keeper. Previously reviewed.
  • Rouge Opera - Sample inaccurate. Ink is more mauve than pink as shown. Nice flow. Review forthcoming. Similar to Larmes de Cassis.
  • Violette Pensee - Sample just a wee bit lighter than actually tested. Nice flow. Review forthcoming.
  • Larme De Cassis - Actual ink much lighter than sample shows. Lots of shading. Free flowing. Previously reviewed.
Take my comments for what they are worth and always remember - Your Mileage May Vary. Your computer monitor may show the colors differently, your pens may write dryer/wetter than mine, and we might be testing on different quality paper. I do my best...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Comparison: Canson vs. Clairefontaine Watercolor Pads

Canson vs. Clairefontaine

Having had the recent opportunity to test Clairefontaines watercolor pads, I was curious how they stacked up against the Canson Montval pads I have been using forever.

Here are my initial thoughts:

Color, weight & surface texture is pretty much identical on both.
Clairefontaine paper is stiffer than the Canson.
Clairefontaine has a stiffer backboard, which is great for painting on the go.
Canson pages are micro-perforated and can be removed at true size. Clairefontaine pages would have to be cut to be removed.

Canson vs. Clairefontaine

$4.99 at The Fine Art Store

Artist grade watercolors on the Canson Montval appear to be showing darker/thicker, but on closer inspection, this seems to be because they stay more on the surface of the paper, rather than soaking in. I find they end up looking rather flat.

"Canson Montval Watercolor Blocks, Field Sketch Books & Pads:
Top Spiral-Bound Watercolor Pads 12 sheets Size 5-1/2 x 8-1/2
Montval's natural whiteness and double sizing is well suited for all wet techniques, including watercolors, wash, gouache and acrylics. Pads feature micro-perforated sheets, giving a true sheet size. Acid-free 140 lb. cold-pressed paper."

Canson vs. Clairefontaine

Artist grade watercolors on the Clairefontane paper seem to soak more into the surface, blend better and give a better sense of depth.

$7.55 at The Writer's Bloc

"Clairefontaine Watercolor Pads are designed for watercolor, gouache, or wash drawing. This side wire bound pad has 20 sheets of 300 g acid free paper with a cold pressed surface. The rigid backboard lets you make your creations anywhere. Size: 5 3/4" x 8 1/4". C96033."

I'm liking everything about the Clairefontaine book much better than the Canson. The size fits better in my hand, it has a stronger backboard, and paint just looks better on this paper. I can live without having the pages be easily removable, and at .37 a sheet versus .49, I think I'll be switching to the Clairefontaine...permanently.

Canson Completed

Canson piece completed.

Clairefontaine Completed

Clairefontaine piece completed.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In Tribute: I Went Back To The Roller Skating Rink So You Don't Have To

Quite possibly one of the worst photos of me...ever.

As a tribute to one of the funniest bloggers I know - Julia at I Do Things So You Don't Have To I present to you:

"I Went Back To The Roller Skating Rink So You Don't Have To"

Last week, one of my friends rented out the local skating rink for a private roller disco birthday party. (She just turned 42 - and yes, she made us do the hokey pokey.) It was strange to go back there because I literally grew up in that place. I was there 4-5 nights a week for two years, (7th-8th grade) which would have been in the very early 80's. Roller skating and "the rink" - that was my life. My skate bag was signed in permanent marker by all of the rink regulars, I had Pacer skates with white Zinger speed wheels. I'd read skate magazines on how to clean and tweak open wheel bearings and occasionally, I'd have a loose lug nut that would cause one of my wheels to go spiraling off...

It was so much my life that on my birthday (12/31) on the eve of the millennium 1999, (don't give me that crap about the millennium starting on 01/01/01 - let me have my dream...) it was the one thing I felt I had to go back to represent what was most fun about my so-called innocent youth.

At that time, they were still playing mostly disco, early funk, and only the rare occasional rock song like "Juke Box Hero" and "I love Rock & Roll." It was all Sugar Hill Gang and Patrick Hernandez... it took me YEARS to find all of my favorite music from back in the day - I only recently just found "On the Beat" by the BB & Q Band as an audio clip on You Tube.

Not to say that I'm any kind of ravishing beauty now, but I know back at that age (11-12) I was an A grade doofus. (See picture above. What ex-disco queen did I steal that shirt from? And get a load of my Space-Sac purse that's probably not even a real Space-Sac, but a K-Mart knock-off. I think I'm also wearing feather earrings and an authentic pair of Sergio Valente jeans - how cool...) I was just starting to get interested in boys and they would do nothing but make fun of me and go running in the other direction. It was slightly traumatic save for one boy (who will remain nameless) that provided me with my first kiss. He tasted like pickles and I don't think I ever saw him again - more jabs at an already low self esteem...

Anyway... some of it was the same, but some things were different. Same disco balls, but the old light-up board that would show whether or not it was an "All Skate" or a "Couples Only" - that was gone. The pinball machines were gone. The round carpeted mushroom shaped benches that you would sit on to put on your skates - still there. (Which also acted as a "time out" place when you got "benched" for bad behavior. I did...once...)

I had to go and check out the bathrooms. Back in the day, they were just stalls separated by brick walls - no doors. Now, they attached doors, but the walls are way too skinny and I had to have the door propped half way open to be able to get my fat butt anywhere near the toilet. Luckily no one came in or I would have traumatized them with my lily white ass.

Since I hadn't eaten much that day, I stopped at the snack bar and bought a watered down Coke and a slice of the nasty pizza that didn't seem to change from what I had eaten over 25 years ago. I wonder if the expiration date on it still had a "19" in it.

And how did I manage to do back on 8 wheels after all those years? I'll put it like this. At one time, I was a pretty good skater that could both dance on my skates and keep up with members of the speed team. Wearing a 30 year-old pair of rental skates on legs that see most of their activity nestled under a computer desk, I think I did ok. 3 laps around and I was ready for a Vicodin. Parts of my legs hurt that I didn't know existed. After a short break, I headed out again and while my mind remembered all of the moves, I could only get my body to do a few. I think I skated for about 45 minutes when a bolt from the inside of my skate was starting to take up permanent residence inside my big toe. (You didn't think the rentals came with insoles did you?) That was enough. I returned my skates to the rental counter, took a last look around, sucked in a big deep breath of sweat and polyurethane, and hit the dusty trail.

Perhaps I'll stop back in another 100 years...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Rouille D'Ancre Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Rouille D' Ancre

From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

J. Herbin Rouille D'Ancre

When I first got this ink, I tested it with a Brause Steno (I think) calligraphy nib that had lots of flex. I used Clairefontaine off-white drawing paper and the color of this ink against that paper was spectacular. It had a vintage appeal that I thought was absolutely amazing.

J. Herbin RouilleD' Ancre

I then loaded it into a Lamy Safari with a .5 Cursive Italic nib and tried it on 90g Clairefontaine paper in a Basics notebook. This paper is super smooth with any pen/ink combination but the Rouille D'Ancre ended up being a super thin/dry ink and on this particular paper, it wasn't a good combination. The ink wrote super dry and very light. This image is probably showing it a bit darker than it actually is. I realized that the color is exactly the same as certain brands of Band-Aid adhesive strips.

You can see the difference when I loaded it into the calligraphy pen which puts down a lot more ink on the paper. This ink does not have a lot of shading.

J. Herbin RouilleD' Ancre

The Canteo paper is more absorbent than the Clairefontaine, so this ink writes what appears to be a little darker on this ivory paper, but it was still writing thin. I feel like you have to exert so much more effort (pen against paper) with a thin ink versus one that's free-flowing and/or "wet."

So in my opinion, this ink will probably best suit a wide fountain pen nib, or dip/calligraphy pen.

All Herbin inks provided by Exaclair for the purpose of review.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Review: Clairefontaine Watercolor Pads and a Whole Bunch of new BB Mandalas

Clairefontaine Watercolor

Clairefontaine watercolor pads may not be as well known in America as some of the other books on the market from brands such as Fabriano, Canson, and Daler Rowney, but they should be.

I've been playing with these books for a while, and my only real concern is for the poly covers. The front covers are see-through, and I think they should be opaque so you can't see your first piece of art through the cover. There is a nice thick cardboard backboard so you can easily hold these while on location without them flapping all over the place. There is also a rear poly cover that I find unnecessary. Other that that, I love them. The pages are not microperforated, but I don't usually remove pages from my books - that could be a concern to some.

I've been using the Canson Montval 5x8 watercolor books (12 pages per pad) for ages and I am thrilled that the Clairefontaine (20 pages per pad) paper is not only comparable in price, but better in quality. Stay tuned for a separate blog post that puts the Canson & Clairefontaine head to head for a comparison. The Canson and the Clairefontaine are the same weight, texture, and color.

Watercolor and Pen Mandala

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you've probably seen one or two of my abstract mandalas. I love using vibrant colors and everything just seems to POP on this paper and that makes me VERY happy. I also love the square books. Square books lend themselves quite well to circular mandalas.

This first piece was painted with artist grade watercolors, and then I used Faber Castell Pitt Brush pens over top once dry.

Watercolor and Pen Mandala

Another watercolor, with permanent marker over top.

Mandala  - Pitt Brush Pens

This next piece was first drawn with the Faber Castell Brush pens, (which are permanent) and then paint was added later.

Mandala - red and purple

More watercolor with marker overlay.

Colorful Mandala

Drawn first with marker, then painted.

022509 106

Paint only.

From the Writer's Bloc: "Clairefontaine Watercolor Pads are designed for watercolor, gouache, or wash drawing. This side wire bound pad has 20 sheets of 300 g acid free paper with a cold pressed surface. The rigid backboard lets you make your creations anywhere."

Clairefontaine Watercolor Pad - Rectangular $7.55

Size: 5 3/4" x 8 1/4". C96033.

Clairefontaine Watercolor Pad - Square $11.50

Size: 8" x 8". C96127.
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