The DVDs Are Here!

monsoon2Last March, I filmed two DVDs to go with my books. One of the DVDs shows how to make Monsoon Papers, and the other shows several different projects that show how to store and carry your unbound journal pages.

Cloth, Paper, Scissors, the mixed-media magazine covered a Monsoon Paper project in their online magazine. It ran last week while I was in Houston teaching business writing, and I was surprised to see the link in my mailbox as I headed off to class. It took all my strength not to tell the participants to check out the DVD!

Here’s a preview:

You can purchase the Monsoon Paper  DVD here.

T3492You can see a preview of the projects in the second DVD, Art Journals Unbound on the Cloth, Paper, Scissors website. And you can purchase the Art Journals Unbound DVD here.

I am not super willing to be photographed, much less video’d, but I knew that it would be good to support the book. And to bring projects to people who can’t come to classes. It took a lot of discussing the project with my inner hero to get me to decide to do these projects. But one of my most vibrant inner heroes, The Risk Taker, finally broke down my barriers. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone from time to time.

-Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who encourages others to take ambitious steps for creativity’s sake. She could hardly do less.

 

Art Supplies Worth Having

Super-specialized art supplies are fun and can ease the tedious part of creative work. What makes special supplies most useful is combining them with the basics you love and use every day.

Here are my four new favorites for everyday journaling use.

Open notebook showing yellow first page (others are white) and pocket insert that does NOT come with the notebook.

Open notebook showing yellow first page (others are white) and pocket insert that does NOT come with the notebook.

Notebook: Mnemosyne 183. Unlined, 70 sheets (140 pages). Now that I’ve abandoned six journals for one–the Commonplace Journal, I needed something practical. So it has to:

  • fit in a purse (or carry-on)
  • fold over on itself
  • have paper that’s thick enough for sketching and writing
  • have paper that doesn’t have severe show-through
  • have pages that can be removed (and leave as a note for someone)

I’ve loved the Strathmore Mixed-Media journal, but the wire binding is just too bulky, and the paper seemed a waste for client notes, which go into the Commonplace Journal most.

Showing double-truck spread of Maruman Mnemosyne notebook. Right page has been deliberately blurred.

Showing double-truck spread of Maruman Mnemosyne notebook. Right page has been deliberately blurred.

Maruman is a Japanese company that makes notebooks for writers. Mnemosyne is the Greek goddess of memory. The notebooks are made with meticulous care. For example, the small-diameter wire binding is “short”–doesn’t go to the very top or bottom of the page. So you can easily hold the gutter side of the page when you tear out the perf’d page cleanly.

I got the notebook at JetPens, which has a huge variety of sizes, lined- graphed- and blank notebooks. Here’s what they say:

The way a paper interacts with a specific ink is as unique as a snowflake. Fountain pen users will prefer paper that produces the perfect inkblot levels, paper that absorbs too much ink would not be good. On the other hand, a ballpoint pen user might seek a paper that allows their pen to guide more smoothly across the page. Japanese paper manufacturers pay attention to these preferences by tweaking numerical values ever so slightly during the manufacturing process to create the perfect page for their customers.

Very little show-through on this book.

Very little show-through on this book.

It’s true–the pages are thin, and have an almost smooth, fabric feel to them. It has a black plastic front cover, and a chipboard back cover, which makes writing easy, even when folded over to save space.

Pack of 5 x 8 inch Post-It Pockets. A must-have for every journal-keeper.

Pack of 5 x 8 inch Post-It Pockets. A must-have for every journal-keeper.

Post-It Pockets. There are items I like to carry in my Commonplace Journal–the gift certificate to an art store, the business card I just got, a postcard (with stamp) to send to someone on the spur of the moment, the names and phone numbers of doctors and emergency contacts.

These plastic pockets work like Post-It Notes--they attach to the inside front cover of your notebook and peel off when you need to move it. A flap is held shut with velcro, so you have easy access to the contents.  These fit in a 5 x 8-inch notebook perfectly, and they do come in different sizes.

Pentel Hybrid Technica ballpoint, extra fine (size 04). I’m not a gel pen fan. I like Pentelpen1ballpoints. And this gel pen is perfect is you like extra fine pens. It’s crisp, black script is perfect for detail. It does what most gel pens don’t–it dries as soon as it’s on the page.

It’s a great sketching pen, too. Smooth, even, no blurring when you cross-hatch. Archival, acid free. Writes when you touch it to paper, so no “scribble start” with this pen.  If you draw and write in your journal, take sketchnotes, or doodle, (and like a superfine pen), this is perfect.

Drawing in a 9 x 12-inch wire-bound notebook is a nice way to create and keep your pieces the same size and together. It’s also hard, because you work consecutively, but not emotionally sequentially.

notebook1You also have to put the book aside to dry if you are doing something messy and wet. Patience is not always my strong suit.

Canson has solved your problem–they make a wireboound book with repositionable pages. (The link takes you to Dick Blick art supply.)

You carefully peel out a page, top to bottom, and let it dry or decide where you want to put it. Then you put it back in, carefully “clicking” the pages back into place.

Notebook2It works along the same lines as Circa, which uses removable disks to hold notebooks together.

This makes the book doubly useful. You can arrange the pages by date, media, technique, color, emotional content. You can rearrange them to your heart’s content, as long as you are careful.

Note: I paid for each of these products. I am not being compensated in any way by any company for the content of this blog.

Warning: Rollabind also makes those disks, but I can’t recommend them after reading the horror stories about non-delivery and non-communication. Even the BBB rates them with an F and has an alert out about them. The Ripoff report has a steady stream of complaints that go back several years and are added too almost weekly.

Quinn McDonald loves basic art and writing tools.

 

 

 

Tip: Use Highlighter tape

Highlighter tape comes three to a pack.

Highlighter tape comes three to a pack.

Sure, you can use it in your art journal, or your plain journal, but highlighter tape is saving the training side of my business this week.

Earlier this week, I was teaching a business writing class. There were students of different levels, and more material in the book than I could cover sensibly. On Day2 of the class, I had to choose what had to be covered, what could be covered if I had enough time, and what I could skip.

The instructor’s manual is heavily written in, and one more insert or note was going to get lost. How to make the material sound smooth and well prepared? Highlighter tape to the rescue.

Goes on easy, comes off clean. No, that's not the workbook, it's a copy of Raw Art Journaling.

Goes on easy, comes off clean. No, that’s not the workbook, it’s a copy of Raw Art Journaling.

I purchased the tape from The Container Store in Scottsdale, Arizona. It comes in a small square case containing three transparent colors–green, yellow, orange, so I can color coordinate– green for items I must cover, yellow for items I can mention if I have time, but can also skip if a discussion or exercise runs long, and red for portions that can be skipped entirely if time doesn’t allow for a closer look.

The tape sticks to a page, but can be lifted off cleanly, without a residue. It’s as wide as a line of type, so I can pinpoint material. Each tiny roll has a cutter in the box, so I can tear off as much as I need.

Three fluorescent colors make it easy to navigate the page.

Three fluorescent colors make it easy to navigate the page.

It’s brightly fluorescent so I can find it easily. It doesn’t damage coated or uncoated pages and won’t peel off color or ink. It’s a great tool. All I have to do is make sure I peel off all the evidence before I return the instructor’s manual.

The tape has no manufacturer’s name on it, other than highlighter tape, and the item number 128.

I recommend it highly for other uses as well–cookbooks, sewing/knitting/crocheting patterns, weaving instructions, sheet music (to mark your part), library reference books, as well as design elements on cards and gift wrap.

If you want to use it in art journaling, I’d suggest putting it down, rubbing it with a bone folder, then covering it with matte medium, so it doesn’t curl up over time.

The tape was an impulse purchase, but every time I use it, I save time. When you don’t know how many questions are going to be asked, it’s also great for speeches that have a time limit.

–Quinn McDonald is an instructor who always wants to add just one more idea. Sometimes that impulse needs to be stopped.

Pilot’s New MR Animal Collection

Pilot has come out with a new line of pens.  The only Pilot pens I knew so far were the disposable Varsity Pens and the parallel calligraphy pens–both of which I like to use.

The new pens come in five interesting colors, each with an animal print band. The pens, called Metropolitan, or MR, depending on the location (international or U.S.)  come as fountain pens, roller balls and ballpoint pens.

pen2The one I’m reviewing is the fountain pen–matte gold with a lizard-print band. The shape is elegant and the color stylish. My favorite part is that the cap is removable without unscrewing it–it snaps on and off, which means that I can use it with one hand, always a plus.

The pen comes in fine and medium nibs. Mine has a medium, which writes like a fine.

pen1I was amazed at the smooth feel of the steel nib. It doesn’t have the stiff feel of a Lamy  Safari, or the slightly scratchy feel of the Pelikan student pens, both of which I also like and use.

This one came with a cartridge and a converter. I filled it with Pelikan blue ink and grabbed my favorite journal. The writing is smooth, effortless and easy. I”m an admitted fountain pen geek, and this one is a real find.

The fountain pen (as well as the roller ball and ballpoint) comes in five different colors and styles: Crocodile (black), leopard (dark purple),  python (silver),  white tiger (white), and lizard (matte gold).

The fountain pen does not bleed through regular paper. And there is no show-through either, even on the fairly thin paper. Those are two more big pluses for me.

The biggest plus is the price–about $15. For that price, it’s easy to put it on the holiday list for a lot of people. I had to dig around for the price, and it surprised me.

Now if only it came in a pressurized cartridge that didn’t leak on an airplane it would be amazing.

Note: I received the pen for free because I am an Amazon Vine reviewer.

—Quinn McDonald loves fountain pens. She favors demonstrator fountain pens and won’t write with a pen she doesn’t like.

Tutorial: Marbling With Splash Inks

Splash Inks are versatile fun in a bottle. I’m on the Yasutomo Design Team, and Splash Inks is one of the products I got to use. As soon as I found out you could marble paper with the inks, I had to try it. Here’s how it works:

Niji1_parts

In addition to the Splash Inks, you’ll need a flat deep, non-reactive pan about 10 inches long and at least 2 inches deep (25 x 5 centimeters).  Shown  (above) is an enameled meat tray you can buy as a palette in most art supply stores.

Niji1A_StarchThe medium to float the inks is Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch. It comes in a blue half-gallon bottle.  A spray bottle with a fine, misting spray and a roll of paper towels come in handy, too.

Add an eye dropper, a big-tooth comb, a shower squeegee and a group of small containers to mix your favorite color inks and you are ready

Choose a sturdy paper to marble:  I like Strathmore and Canson Mixed Media papers. You can also use Arches Velin, or 90-pound watercolor paper by Bee.  Start by protecting your worktable with newspaper and wearing gloves if you want to keep your hands ink-free. Niji3_smalldotsShake the bottle of starch to blend the ingredients. Pour the starch into the dish so you have at least an inch of fluid in the dish. Stir gently with the comb or a gloved finger to remove the bubbles.

Using an ink dropper, add several drops of ink to the surface of the starch. The first time you do this, the drops will be small and sink. Expect one or two test sheets till the starch is tempered.

Niji_InkmixYou can use colors right out of the bottle, or you can mix inks into small containers. A color blending chart is included along with the four bottles of Splash Ink.

Niji4_stonemarbSave your test sheets  for collage work. When  the ink drops  get larger and float well enough so you can put drops within drops, you are ready for marbling.  The  pattern above, (called ‘stone’, is fine, or you can use the comb and gently drag the teeth through the liquid.

Niji5_comb

Drag the wide teeth of the comb left to right.

Niji5_comb2

Drag the narrower teeth up and down. The more you comb the finer the pattern. Colors will blend with a lot of stirring.

marbledpaperWhen your surface has the appearance you like, you are ready to place the paper on the surface.

Niji7_paper

Place one end  of the paper onto the surface then “roll” the paper and drop the other end to keep air from getting trapped under the paper and leaving a white spot. You can see  (above), that the bottom, left-hand corner of the paper is picking up from the surface. That’s a sign to pick up the paper, the marbling is done. It takes about 10-15 seconds for the color to transfer.

Niji6_papermarbCarefully pick up the paper and put it on the newspaper. To get the starch to run off, tilt the paper slightly by putting it on a piece of crumpled newspaper. After about one minute, spray the paper with a mister to rinse off extra starch.  If you like a very crisp look with distinct lines, wipe the excess starch off the paper with the shower squeegee. It will take off some color with it.

Niji8_sinkTo make pastel shades of paper, drop the sheet on the surface, let it absorb color, then use a palette knife (or the comb) to push the paper under water. The back will become marbled in a pastel swirl of color.

Niji9_papers

Make many sheets at once to have choices. To clean the surface of the starch, float a paper towel on it to absorb the ink, then add more ink. Above, you can see several sheets–upper left is a sheet made with the four colors in the bottles; upper center, a pastel effect by sinking the paper; bottom left is a piece scraped with the shower squeegee.

The papers may curl while they are wet. To get them flat, put them between two sheets of parchment paper and iron them on a medium setting till they are flat.

You can also marble directly onto your looseleaf journal pages, then write on the front or back (or both). Here are three examples of that:

pagemarble This is part of a Robert Jeffers poem. It completes on the back, along with some comments I made about the poem.

WavesmarbleI found this a handy way to use those quotes I save for journaling. And “llustrating” them with abstract marbling poses an interesting challenging.

fishmarbleThis is one of my “fish out of water” pages. It’s an interesting theme I explore–what makes us feel uncomfortable, what gives us community? So the background is blended in blue (water) and green (land) and the fish is adapting.

On the Niji Design Blog, I used the marbled pages to make two different kinds of postcards. You can read about that project here.

dtbutton1Quinn McDonald is a member of the Yasutomo Design Team. She experiments and designs projects for Niji/Yasutomo. She receives free product from the company to complete the projects.

Expressing Yourself with Tape

BlogTapeScotch® Brand Tape has a new kind of tape rolling off the reel. (I could not help myself, I had to say that). It’s meant, I think, to be a competitor to washi tape–the Japanese-made tape that uses thin but tough washi paper and sticky tape.

A package of three rolls of tape was sent to me to try out, and I was thrilled. I’m a fan of Scotch Tape, and this was the same smooth-finish tape  as the frosted tape, but in rich color. I was smiling. Until I opened it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The tape comes in several colors, in packs of three. You can use them in tape dispensers. The impression I got from the commercial is that it is tough, durable, opaque and strong.

My journal is a Strathmore Mixed Media Journal, with a black cover.

BlogJrnlThis seems like a nice canvas for bright tape, so I got started. First I put on a green piece of tape, top to bottom, then added a turquoise. So far so good.

blog.coverBut when i tried to remove a piece of the patterned tape, it tore off the roll unevenly. I carefully found a piece where it was whole, and tried again. Another piece sheared off to the edge. In the end, I cut triangles off the pieces because I hate wasting the nice pattern.

blogifcThe inside cover was much harder. The tape is not opaque. You can see the black through the tape. If you overlap the tape, you can see that part. The tape is re-positionable which means that it does not stick permanently. If you are decorating, this is not mixed media, it’s mixed messages.

While some of the patterned pieces stayed whole, it was only through very careful manipulation. Most of the pieces tore off at angles.

I was disappointed. Perhaps the tape I had was defective. But as long as the patterned tape doesn’t work as well as the solid colors, as long as the colors aren’t opaque and don’t stay permanently in place, I’m not going to use it.

Disclosure: I received the tape for free from Amazon Vine program. I write reviews for the products.

–Quinn McDonald likes the idea of decorating a plain journal. She just wished she could get a tape that works well and easily.

Color Distraction

Spectrum Noir makes an alcohol marker that will give Copic a run for the money. Copics cost about three times the cost of Spectrum Noir. (At Dick Blick, a six-pack of Spectrum Noir is $8.95;  a six-pack of Copic costs $33.61.) For my uses, the quality is similar enough. Spectrum Noir is a little wetter and the blend is a little more subtle, but that’s the only difference in application.

19913-5169-2ww-mPricing varies greatly. The website for Jo-Anns sells a six-pack of Spectrum Noir for $14.99 and a six-pack of Copics for $49.99).

What I don’t like is that you can’t buy them individually, you buy them in sets or not at all. There are 12 sets of six color-coordinated ones, and larger sets of “brights” or “pastels” in packs of 24. If you buy all the six-packs you have the same markers as in the 72-pen set.

I’m fond of their instructional videos which teach you to put down the darkest color first, then blend with the lighter color, creating a smooth transition.

While packing materials  for the Madeline Island  class, I came across an interesting exercise that works for collage or just an interesting abstract.

Using Golden’s Glaze (in iridescent gold), open the squeeze bottle hold it over a sturdy sheet of paper (this was Stonehenge paper from the spiral block). Make a complicated squiggle, making sure to cross over the pattern several times. Allow to dry. Glaze takes longer to dry than acrylic paint. Expect days, not hours.

SquiggleOnce the glaze was dry, I used the Spectrum Noir markers to color in some of the spaces. Because there was just one package (Turquoise), I used Sparkling H2Os in other spaces, and two sparkle markers (in black and white) for the last two blocks.

You can see the blending on the bottom, right space. The top, left space shows two colors unblended. The oval to the upper right of the black sparkly piece shows blending–my first try.

squiggle2This technique looks very different in different lights. It’s the same piece, but in the bottom one, you can see the sparkliing inks and the iridescence of the gold glaze.

You can also try the technique using black gesso in a squeeze bottle. Mustard bottles work well, and the Dollar Store sells sets of two (red and yellow plastic) for, yes, a dollar.

-Quinn McDonald is thinking of cutting up the piece to use in a collage.