Saturday, September 26, 2009

Diamine Ink Review Index

Diamine Reds, Oranges, Pinks and Yellows

04/04/10 Since receiving the 60 inks linked below to sample & review, Diamine has released an additional 12 colors:

Diamine Bespoke Sherwood Forest
Diamine Bespoke Amazing Amethyst
Diamine Midnight
Diamine Havasu
Diamine WES Kensington Blue
Diamine Classic Red
Diamine Hope Pink
Diamine Marine
Diamine Delamere Green
Diamine Majestic Purple
Diamine Lavender
Diamine Rustic Brown
Diamine inks provided by Diamine for the purpose of review.


Friday, September 25, 2009

I went a little mad at Blick Madness......

Blick Madness

$126. I spent one hundred and twenty six dollars at Blick yesterday. Arrrgh! I never usually spent more than $20-$50 at one time but this time I went a little crazy. Yesterday was Blick Madness - an in store promotion where they had special discounts and free prizes. I won a Canson Universal Sketch pad when I took a spin on the prize wheel. Wheee!

I walked in with two coupons. One for 30% of one non-sale item, and another for 20% off my entire purchase. The 30% coupon went towards a much needed Prat presentation case for transporting my work. Regularly $56, I got it for $41. (Though I just noticed that Blick's online price was $14 cheaper than the in store price. Grrrr but at least I didn't have to pay shipping.)

I initially went there with the sole intention of replacing a few of my worn out Pitt Brush pens and picking up a few new watercolor pencils. You can see from the image above how much restraint I was able to muster up. I just started tossing things in the basket without thinking... until she rang it all up. I did replace 7 ailing Pitt Brush pens, and then found two new colors. Anytime I go to Blick I pick up a few extra of the Fine black Pitt pens because they don't last long and I use them all the time.

A month or so ago when I decided to buy some Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils, (at the suggestion of several artists that claimed them to be the best) I bought a selection of colors I thought I would use but I hadn't tested them in the store using any water. This time I went with a sketch pad, my own set of pencils, and a filled waterbrush and tested about 50 different of the AD pencils against the ones I already had. Luckily I got away with only buying 7 more.

I wanted to try the Bombay White ink after seeing fellow blogger Daisy Yellow create white mandalas on black paper. I want to try it with my Herbn glass dip pen. I'll let you all know how that works out for me.

I like using the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners and rather than just buy one or two, I decided to buy a small set since I previously enjoyed using most of those colors.

I bought yet another Niji Waterbrush because even though I know I have 5 or 6 of them here in the house, for some reason, I can never find them. I absolutely love them but I do notice that after a while, the brushes do get a little raggedy.

I've recently gone back to trying the Micron pens - the grip isn't as nice as on the Pitt pens, but they seem to flow rather nicely and I will see how they continue to hold up over time.

The Stabilo rollerballs were on clearance and an impulse buy. They are just ok. I'll probably leave them in the community pen jar for my husband to use. Blick had a ton of Stabilo products on their clearance shelf.

At less than $1 each, I found a few more cool colors of the Uniball EX2 stick pens. I only like a rollerball pen that has a cap - I can't stand the flexing of a click pen so I really like these cheapie pens. To me, these are the closest thing to a fountain pen - flow is great and I don't have to worry about losing them if I take them out of the house.

I also picked up a small pencil sharpener with a wide opening for the watercolor pencils, as well as one more clamshell storage box to hold all my completed artwork.

Even though I greatly exceeded my Blick budget, it was all (mostly) things I needed, or will definitely use. Now, I'm off to play!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This isn't live, it's Memorex. Spoonflower Prints Art on Fabric....

Fabric printed from my original art

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post asking for ideas on what to do with my art. I received many suggestions and it wasn't until I found the website Spoonflower that I got really excited about the possibilities. Spoonflower prints your designs onto fabric. When I found the site I was doing backflips as people have been suggesting to me for years that I should do fabric design - and it wasn't until now that I found a way to make that happen.

Fabric printed from my original art

As I perused the Spoonflower website, I saw that most people were using graphics to design their fabrics. I didn't see much in the way of hand drawn art so when I selected these three images, I literally had zero expectations on how they would come out. As my mandalas are somewhat imperfect in their symmetry, I decided to try cropping the designs to see how they would come out. This first piece was taken from a photo of the original art. (Original art is shown to the right above.) It's printed on organic cotton ($27 a yard) and looks better in person than in this picture. My only complaint is that I chose a piece where I had inadvertantly colored over some of the black lines with colored pencil and that shows. (But maybe I'd be the only one to notice...)

Fabric printed from my original art

This next piece was taken from a scan of the original and I did a mirror pattern on quilting fabric. ($18 a yard) The original is shown on the left. I was BLOWN AWAY at how clearly this piece was reproduced. The 8x8" test swatches in this image and above cost $5 each.

Fabric printed from my original art

Lastly, I decided to do a repeating pattern of one of my most favorite images. This is a fat quarter (26x18") in the organic cotton which cost $14. At the last minute when I was editing the image, I made the background purple. I freaking love it. In fact, when I opened my package, I had tears in my eyes because I really just didn't expect these to turn out as good as they did. I even called Spoonflower to tell them so. Though these are simple fabric tests, seeing them has opened a whole world of possibly for me - even though I don't sew. :o)

Monday, September 21, 2009

How's Your Grip?

Pelikan M200 Fountain Pen on Moleskine - My first real Bird!

A fountain pen, a ballpoint pen and a rollerball pen all walk into a bar....

Ballpoint pens use oil based inks and require pressure on the ball to make the ink flow. Rollerball pens often use thinner water based inks and though pressure on the ball is still required to make the pen write, rollerball pens (also known as "gel" pens) require less effort to write with than a ballpoint.

Fountain pens use water based inks that move through a feed system to the nib and require the least amount of pressure for them to write - there's no ball that needs to spin. Lightly push a fountain pen across a page and it just flows... For me, writing with a fountain pen is effortless - but then why oh why am I still exerting a death grip on my pens?

I know there have been days where I've thought, "This nib is scratchy" or, "This paper feels weird" or "The ink flows poorly" and I've only just recently figured out that a good half the time, it's not the nib, the paper, or the ink.

It's my grip.

I'm holding my pen too tightly and I'm exerting more pressure on the nib than is actually necessary for it to write smoothly and I'm wrecking the whole fountain pen experience.

Prior to my using a fountain pen on a regular basis, this was my pen of choice. A Paper Mate Stick Pen. I've used them for at least a dozen years and they are still all over my house. (Because Staples only sold them in boxes of like a million...) I loved the way these medium point pens wrote in my journal - loved the way the ink looked on the page - the way each letter was indented into the page behind it. Wait - did I say into the page behind it? Yup. That's how hard I was pressing with a ballpoint.

As I have been consistently using fountain pens for just about two years, I'm not sure why I'm still choking the heck out of my poor Lamy Safari's. The only think I can think of is that it might be connected to my drawing. When I draw my mandalas, I'm usually pretty careful about where I wish to place a line on the paper. Me thinks that results in my holding my pen/marker quite tightly.

And I think that might be a metaphor for my entire life. I need to lighten up and relinquish a little control.

Anyway... just be aware of how you are gripping your pens. A lighter touch might make your life a little easier.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reliving My Childhood at the Fair

Ferris Wheels

Last Sunday, I went to my second festival of 2009. What's odd about this is that prior to this year, it had been at least 10 years since I'd been to a fair because it's just not my scene. I don't have children, I don't ride the rides, and as far as the food goes, there isn't much for a vegetarian to eat at these kind of events.

Wheel against the mountain

This festival was HUGE and it was in the middle of a small town in Northeastern PA. My husband & I had set out for a car ride to nowhere in particular and when we got near this part of the state, I had remembered seeing something in the paper about this event and so I thought we'd give it a try.

I always knew this as The Zodiac

This festival was very old-fashioned in many ways and I think that's what I loved about it the most. Lots of homemade food, local crafters, boys from the high school football team walking around wearing their jerseys - it was like something out of a movie.

They had many different amusement rides that I remembered from my childhood - like the one above. Not that I ever went on it, because as a child, 99% of rides made me ill. I specifically remember getting off the Tilt-O-Whirl and singing into the first garbage can I saw. (Dad bringing me 7-Up to calm my stomach... lying on a bench trying to feel better...) Same thing with that pirate boat ride. Upchuck the boogie woogie. I can't stand things that spin or drop where it makes my stomach lurch. (Don't even ask me about the Back to The Future ride at Universal Hollywood a few years back- I ended up with vertigo.)

No way...

A Ferris wheel where the cars flip over? Oh my goodness no..... (Did you know that the world's tallest Ferris wheel is in Singapore and is 541ft tall? It's called the Singapore Flyer.)

One time down at the Jersey shore, my parents let me ride a mini-roller coaster. (I was about 8 or 9) I was the only one riding that ride and after about 20 seconds, I screamed my head off for the ride operator to stop the ride because I was so afraid. I can still see my parents standing there laughing at me. Oh the joy...

My All-time favorite ride

And then I saw this..... The Scrambler. It was my ALL TIME favorite ride. I actually started to tear up when I saw that the name hadn't changed, nor had the logo. For a brief moment, it really transported me back in time. When I was little, I would BEG my Dad to take me to the amusement park but it was a rare occasion that he actually did. I don't think he appreciated taking me there only to have me end up crying and throwing up because I couldn't stomach the rides. When he would take me, this was the one ride I could go on all night long. Last weekend I watched this ride doing it's crazy mixer like movements and I REALLY wanted to go on it...but I resisted. Like my Mom used to say, "I'm too old for that stuff." Instead, I just stood there and enjoyed my little time warp moment- like how they would always stick my bony butt in the inner side of the car so when the ride moved around I'd get crushed.


My husband and I walked around the event several times, snacking on some salt & vinegar french fries, a plate of elephant ears, and a cold glass of orangeade. We listened to some music and watched the rides spin around on an absolutely beautiful Indian Summer day. It was so good, I am really looking forward to going back again next year. - and maybe, just maybe, I'll ride the Scrambler again.

PS - I took all these pictures with my cell phone and they all came out really bad... very dark and not reflective of the beautiful day at all. A few tweaks in Picasa including adding the "film grain" filter and they came out looking as if they were taken with a 110 Instamatic from the 70's. Bingo!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Don't you hate when a favorite product is changed or discontinued? Grrrrrr...

It seems as though all of my hair care products that I have been using for well over a decade are either being discontinued or "changed" in some way.

Earlier this year it was my Aura Humectant Pomade. I switched to Aura's pomade after finding that it did the same job as the Aveda at about 1/4th the price. As it appears to have been discontinued, I have been forced to buy several years supply from Ebay. (Though I have noticed it on clearance at several beauty supply stores online.)

And now it's my beloved Aussie Sprunch Spray. I recently bought a new bottle from Target, noticing that the packaging had changed and that the bottle was smaller. Then I went to use it and found (ugh) to my dismay, that the signature grape small had been replaced by something that resembles cheap bubble bath, and that it's not really working to hold my curls intact. What the heck? That Aussie smell was GLORIOUS - it always drew comments of, "What's that great smell?" And now it's gone... I called the customer service number this morning and was told that the formula and fragrance was changed as a result of consumer studies. Pfffffft. No one asked me. I just hope that I'm not the only one that notices and that others will complain because I want my Aussie back! #FAIL!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Make Time to be Creative This Weekend


I can't image a day without being creative. Whether I'm writing, drawing, or making music, I try always express myself in some way each and every day. I don't do this to please anyone else- I do it just for me.

Still Gathering Thoughts

The secret is to just do something because it feels good to be doing it. Release any judgments you have about whether or not what you do is any "good" because it doesn't matter. There is only to do. :o)


This weekend, set a side an hour or two and pull out the paints, the knitting needles or that old acoustic guitar and just let go and have fun!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Does the right paper make you more productive?

Red Safari on Black Moleskine on Red Habana on get the idea

I have obviously tested quite a few different kinds of paper. Paper for writing, for drawing & painting. While I can be creative with whatever you put in front of me, I find myself to be a great deal more productive when the paper and the media work together in a way that I find harmonious.

I'm still trying to find the "ultimate" paper for journal writing because without a functional form factor to suit my needs, good paper is useless. Take the Pentalic Sketch Journal as an example. Great paper, but I need a hard cover and a book that open/lies flat. I liked the design and plain ivory paper in the Medio Ciak but eventually found that the paper didn't work as well with fountain pen ink as I would have liked it to. Right now, I'm working in a Rhodia Webnotebook and it seems to be meeting most of my needs, (I would prefer a plain papered version...) but I will have more to say when I reach the end of the book.

One thing that drives me crazy is having to finish a journal that I don't like using. The volume of my writing tends to slow, and if it's really bad, I will stop using it and start a different one - though I will go back now and again until I eventually finish it.

So how does this work for you? Do you write/draw etc. more and of better quality/quantity when you use a paper that you really like? And what do you do with the products that you don't like? Can you work through until it's completed?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Review: Diamine Passion Red Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Passion Red

Diamine New Century Passion Red fountain pen ink tested in a Paperblanks lined journal with off-white pages. F Lamy Safari fountain pen.

Passion Red does not appear to be as saturated as other Diamine inks I've tested. Seems to be related to Maroon in it's saturation level. Perhaps it would appear more saturated in a wider nib.

Strikes me as a lighter version of Ruby. It's a pinkish red, and the flow is good.

I'm still hooked on Poppy Red as my favorite red ink. Passion Red just isn't for me. Not saturated enough and I don't really care for a pinkish red.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Review: Diamine Steel Blue Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Steel Blue

Diamine Old English Steel Blue fountain pen ink tested in a Paperblanks lined journal with off-white pages. EF Lamy Studio fountain pen.

To me, I see this color as teal. A greenish blue. Not sure I've seen or tried an ink this color. Very saturated, shading is difficult to see. Great flow.

Not sure what to make of this color - it's almost like another one of those colors that reminds me of a super vibrant children's marker. One that I can't seem to take seriously.

After having used it for a while, I am passing on it- but I know that I've heard from quite a few people that this is one of their favorite Diamine inks. It's just not for me.

Mandala - Like Attracts Like

Mandala drawn with Steel Blue & Violet.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wed. September 9th, Free NYC Concert with Glen Velez & Lori Cotler

If you are in or around New York City on September 9th, I HIGHLY recommend checking out this FREE concert with Glen Velez & Lori Cotler. Last fall, I had the great opportunity to take a workshop with Glen who is considered to be one of the best frame drum players in the WORLD.

Please join The WAE (Wellness, Arts and Enrichment) Center as we host our second Global Beat Concert of the year.

EVENT: Master Percussionist Glen Velez Teams Up With Rhythmic Vocalist Lori Cotler for Global Beat Concert.

Where: Montclair Public Library
When: Wed, Sept 9, 2009
Time: 7 pm
Cost: FREE !

For information email Elaine Schenkel at or call her at (973) 865 - 7371. Info on performers below...

Drawing on the great drumming traditions of the Middle East, South India and the Mediterranean world, four-time Grammy award winner Glen Velez utilizes a vast culmination of complex hand and finger techniques to create a symphony of sound and texture from a single held frame drum.

Accompanying him on vocals is Lori Cotler who can execute with her human voice, maneuvers which do not seem possible in their rhythmic speed and clarity. Blending musical traditions from six continents, this duo mesmerizes audiences of all ages with their hypnotic overtones and dynamic rhythms. For more information on the performers, visit Glen Velez's website at

And one last video of the two of them together.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Review: Diamine Umber Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Umber

Diamine New Century Umber fountain pen ink tested in a Paperblanks lined journal with off-white pages. .5 cursive italic Lamy Safari fountain pen.

My first impression of this ink is that it's the color of the ink used in US currency.

I've always struggled to find a dark green ink that I like and had I not already fallen for Dimaine's Emerald, I'd probably have this one at the top of my list.

If possible, it seems to be an even more serious green ink than the Emerald.

Great flow in this nib, saturated, shading is noticeable.

I still prefer the Emerald- but this is a great ink.

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Taking an Inky Hiatus....

Three New Inks


I've noticed something lately- something quite disturbing. I've found that I'm not using my 14 fountain pens like I used to. I've been using roller balls & Pitt artist pens to write with. You know, like what the heck? Fountain pens are effortless to write with so why aren't I using them?

Inky burn out.

When I test inks, I fill them (at least partially) with the ink in question, and then I don't flush them until I'm ready to test a new batch. What's been happening is that I'm testing colors I wouldn't normally use and that's making me not want to grab a pen that's filled with an ink I don't want to use.

And so I've flushed them all and I am going to fill them - all of them, with "my" inks. You may ask yourself, which inks might those be? Here you go - here's my list of current "Keepers."

Herbin: Rose Cyclamen, Violette Pensee, Bleu Prevenche, *Cafe des Iles, Perle Noire, *Eclat de Saphir, *Bleu Nuit, Orange Indien.

Noodler's: Bulletproof Black, Red-Black

Sailor: Blue, Blue-Black, Nano Black

Diamine: Cerise, Pumpkin, Blue-Black, Amaranth, Poppy Red, Emerald, Mediterranean Blue, *Aqua Blue, Damson, Onyx Black, Grey, Chocolate Brown, *Sunshine Yellow, Imperial Purple, Majestic Blue, and Kelly Green.

I've going to pick about 10 from the above to fill, (I need a converter for my Al-Star, I'm not touching my 1911 since Mr. Nagahara tweaked it because I might sell it and my vintage Scheaffer already has Violette Pensee in it.) I'm thinking Perle Noire, Sailor Blue Black, Poppy Red, Amaranth, Damson, Orange Indien, Chocolate Brown, Rose Cyclamen, Mediterranean Blue and maybe Emerald. Whew - that was tough!

(Inks with an "*" may not make the permanent cut)

Don't get me wrong - there are still ink reviews forthcoming. Diamine Steel Blue, Umber & Passion Red will be posted soon. Inks that I've tested, but still have to write up the reviews include: Diamine Mediterranean Blue, Onyx Black, Prussian Blue, Royal Blue, Sepia, Quartz Black, Jade Green, Chocolate Brown, Pink, Flamingo Pink, Scarlet & Orange. Herbin Rose Tendresse, Bleu Azur, Bleu Myosotis, Cafe des Iles, Caco de Bresil and Gris Nuage.

Inks left to be tested are Diamine Saddle Brown, Dark Brown, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Amber, Blaze Orange, Yellow, Crimson, Brilliant Red, Deep Magenta, Imperial Purple, Presidential Blue, China Blue, Florida Blue, Washable Blue, Turquoise, Indigo, Teal, Imperial Blue, Woodland Green, Light Green & Dark Green. (Basically a lot of browns and blues.)

That being said, it's all together possible that by the time I run through "my" ink in this current filling, I'll probably be ready to test a few more. I am however, pondering whether or not to continue on to another line once I complete Herbin & Diamine as ink testing is hard work. :o)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Big Huge Biffybeans News!

It's true! So come on over and hang out on Rhodia Drive.

So what does this mean for the Bean blog? The Bean blog lives on!

In the interest of full disclosure, I'd like to state that I am now working for Exaclair - the company that distributes Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Exacompta, Quo Vadis & J. Herbin.

As for my reviews- whether they be Exaclair product or not, I will continue to present them in a way that is objective towards their functionality and durability, and subjective in whether or not they prove to be useful for my own personal needs and as always - YMMV. (Your mileage may vary - meaning that in testing the same product, you may achieve different results.)

Vroom Vroom!
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