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Tag Archives | Art Journal

First Look: Niji Splash Ink by Karen Thomas

If you are not already familiar with this product, then you are going to love the Niji Splash Ink line of paints developed by artist Karen Elaine Thomas for Yasutomo.

Karen Elaine Thomas

Karen Thomas of Splash Inks

Karen has developed a system for mixing vibrant colors that are versatile and permanent. I love painting products that can be used in a variety of ways and this product is so versatile that it actually is a great basic investment for my many crafting needs. Continue Reading →

SMASH Portfolio and Accessories by K & Company

Reported by Julie Tiu

Picture courtesy of www.eksuccessbrands.com/kandcompany/smash/

SMASH. “Your Life. Your stuff. Your book.” The SMASH line of products by EK Success is HUGELY popular in the crafting world. How else would you describe an item that has people putting their names on a waiting list for journals at their local scrapbooking store? It happened to me.

Craft Critique wrote about SMASH in January – and fans were eager for it to hit the stores.  K & Company promised more supplies this summer, and they delivered.

  • SMASHpad: 30 sheets of inspiration for writing down random thoughts
  • SMASHpockets: for stashing clipped pieces and other doo-dads
  • Captions, Tabs and Flags: for embellishing your journal
Pages from Travel SMASHpad, my favorite product in the line

The line contains 34 products in total, including mini journals, calendars and the original journal (7.75″ x 10.25″).

Here’s my brand new Retro Blue SMASH Folio
Folios come with a SMASHstick – the glue works great!

What is the allure of this journaling system when so many people like DIY-journals? It saves some time. The ready-made pads, captions and tags can guide your journal entries. SMASH Folios are handy: they come with a SMASHstick (a fine-tipped, acid-free pen and glue stick), they’re portable, and the pages are pre-printed with kitschy graphics.

Hello, there!


“Live it UP. Glue it down & SMASH it in.” It can’t get any easier than this. For the veteran scrapbooker who enjoys precise layouts and design, this might be a way to unleash the not-so-organized, wild-child within. For the non-scrapbook or journaling person, consider this another medium to play with. Maybe you’ll be able to start that “one page” you’ve been wanting to, but haven’t figure out how. SMASH is liberating!

From something utilitarian like home decorating…

…  to some documenting from a long time ago (1999, for real. I’ve been hanging on to stuff).
Clippings, business cards, maps from a trip to Montreal.

Cool tabs! (Yes, I’m crafting in my car.)
Chocolate candy bar wrappers can be art too.

It’s a work in progress really, and oh so nice to use. I can’t wait to pick up a Date SMASHstamp, more tabs and captions. This product is simply SMASHing!

Pros:

  • Folios are very portable and well-made.
  • The glue stick and pen combination – fantastic. Glue worked well on regular weight paper, light cardstock and all the SMASHpad pages.
  • Themed collections have great graphics.

Cons:

  • Stores may run out of stock due to popularity.
  • DIY-ers could be turned off by SMASH’s “all-in-one” type of system.
  • I only had trouble with the tabs (heavier cardstock) adhering to the page. Used some double stick tape when my glue stick wasn’t working as well.

SMASH Folios cost approximately $12.99 (MSRP) and accessories start at $1.99.

How do you SMASH? If you’re new to the product, what would you use it for? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Faber-Castell Creative Journaling Kit

Reported by Erika Martin

I’ve long been a fan of watercolor pencils. I still have the set that my parents gave to me for Christmas when I was 12 years old. Some of them are worn down to a stub and others still have a bit of life in them but I refuse to use them anymore because they remind me of the Christmas when my parents could only afford to give me that set of colored pencils and a box of stationery. They were and are my favorite set. That was the set that made me fall in love with watercolor pencils. They also happen to be from Faber-Castell. I made sure that, when the opportunity to review one of Faber-Castell’s kits came up, my name was on that list to be considered.

I was thrilled to be sent the Creative Journaling kit to play with. Yes, yes, I know I’m supposed to “review” it, but I look at reviewing as playing, it’s so much fun!

Did you know that Faber-Castell is celebrating 250 years? WHOA! Faber-Castell, founded in 1761, is the world’s oldest pencil manufacturer and started out as a small pencil workshop in Germany. Maybe that’s part of my love for their products – my German heritage (my grandparents immigrated to the US in the 1950s). It’s owned by the 8th generation of its founding family. There’s your little history lesson for the day. *wink* (I love stuff like that.)
Being the earthy-crunchy, tree-hugger hippie Vermonter that I am, I really appreciate the environmental responsibility that Faber-Castell is passionate about. According to Faber-Castell, 

“80% of our pencils are produced from pine wood grown and harvested from a sustainable 25,000 acre Forest Stewardship farm, where millions of tree seedlings are planted each year. This conservation of natural resources also guarantees the consistent wood quality we are know for….We use environmentally-friendly water-based varnish and each pencil is constructed with a patented SV-bonding of the pencil pigment to the barrel to ensure longer lasting pencils.”

I’m always seeking out companies with art products that are also environmentally conscious, so this was a big deal to me.

On to my review of Faber-Castell’s Creative Journaling Kit.
This kit contains:
  • 4 Art GRIP Aquarelle Pencils
  • 3 PITT artist pens (black extra superfine nib, sepia superfine nib, gray brush nib)
  • 1 graphite pencil
  • a sharpener and eraser
  • 15 sheets of decorative papers
  • 9 illustration boards
  • gesso
  • craft glue
  • 12-page blank journal
  • 3 book rings




For those that are unfamiliar with “creative journaling,” I like how Faber-Casetll desribes it on their website and also on the first page of the illustration boards:  

“Keeping a journal is a private dialogue with oneself in pursuit of self-discovery and an archiving of one’s daily life. When you combine the written word with doodling, painting, or pasting in memorabilia you are creating an “Art Journal.” Creative Journaling (sometimes called Art Journaling) unites our love of writing with a visual poetry of images and offers a dynamic new venue for self-expression.”

 
The first thing I did when I opened my kit was to put a hole in the top left corner of the illustration boards with my Crop-a-dile and run a ribbon through it to keep them together. I much preferred having all my illustration boards together rather than having them all separate and floating around on my desk.

The illustration cards are full of great ideas, sample photos from other art journals, tips, techniques and inspiration. I used many of them while creating my art journal. I’ve been creating journals, mini books and altered books for many years and consider myself an advanced artist when it comes to those, but these illustration boards showed me new techniques that I hadn’t tried yet and got me to think outside the box. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie to this art form or if you’ve been doing them for a while, there is definitely something in these illustration boards for everyone to learn.

When you open the illustration board, it not only gives you a run-down of what is included in the kit, but also a list of optional tools and materials that you can use in your art journal. This is a great starting point for crafters creating their first art journal. My ‘aha moment’ came when I turned to the page in the instruction cards that gave a run down on working with Art GRIP Aquarelle Pencils. One of the techniques talks about color mixing. To be honest, as I was looking at the colored pencils in the kit, I wondered what in the world I would be able to do with just three colors. Well, let me tell you that I found quite a few things to do with just three colors. The color mixing experiment opened up a whole new world for me. By including the three primary colors in the kit, you have all you need to “create an incredible array of colors,” as the instruction board says.
I scribbled color in the shapes of triangles within a circle, as shown on the instruction card, and then used my wet paintbrush to blend the colors together in the blank spaces. Total eye opener for me!


So, I got to work on starting the front cover of my art journal using the blending technique that I had just learned with the Aquarelle Pencils. I used the black PITT artist pen to draw a scene onto one of the white blank journal boards.

I added some color with the Aquarelle Pencils.

Next, I used the paintbrush from the kit to blend my colors together.


When I needed brown paint for the soil in my scene, I took out a piece of watercolor paper to use as a palette. Knowing that green and red make brown, I scribbled yellow, blue and red onto the watercolor paper.
I used my paintbrush and a little bit of water to blend the colors together to get the brown that I needed.
I pulled the color off of the make-shift palette that I made to paint it directly onto my journal page.

I filled in the rest of my board and blended colors as I went and was so excited at the final result. I can totally see myself carrying a small journal around and just three colored pencils from here on out. Such a small amount of things to tote around, but the results are amazing and addictive. I’m looking forward to trying this color blending technique out on a big sheet of watercolor paper soon.


My next page was a combination of collaging, doodling and color blending. I started out by blending colors on a piece of watercolor paper and then painting it on my journal board as a background. I chose some collage papers from the kit to work with.
One of the instruction cards suggested building on a theme to tie your journal together. I used inspiration from my journal cover to decide to use a spring theme.
I cut some grass from a piece of collage paper and then used the craft glue included in the kit to adhere it to my journal page.
I did some doodling on the page with the black PITT artist pen to add some detail.

I cut some butterflies from the collage paper, along with a sun and added more doodling for outlines and journaling to complete my page.

On to my next page, I tried the “Unique Batik” technique from one of the instruction cards. This involved first scribbling and blending some Aquarelle colors together on my journal board.
I blended the colors together with a paint brush and water and then covered the board with plastic wrap.

The result was a very subtle batik pattern. A more dramatic effect could be gotten by using more water and/or not completely blending the colors before the plastic wrap was put on, as well as scrunching up the plastic wrap more. Definitely a technique I’ll be experimenting with more as I like the potential effects that this technique has.

I wanted to try out the brush nibbed PITT artist pen (Cold Grey color) so I tested it out on a rubber stamp by applying the ink directly onto the stamp.

I huffed the stamp a bit and then stamped it directly onto my dry batiked journal page.
I created some colors on a watercolor paper palette and pulled the color off with my paintbrush to paint in my stamped image.
I added collaged elements, doodling and journaling to finish it off.
I also tried the cross hatch technique done with the Aquarelles that was shown on one of the instruction cards.

Once the cross hatch design was dry, I turned to the Mini Sketches section of the instruction cards and tried my hand out at it with the brown PITT artist pen. I really like that the PITT pens are waterproof. It makes for great sketching before watercoloring.

Here are my two purple pages facing each other in my journal.
Next up was doing a gesso technique. The instruction cards include some quick information about gesso, which is a “white paint primer used to treat blank canvas or art board and to add texture to watercolor paint.” You can also use it as a white paint and to cover up something you’re not keen on having show.

The kit comes with a small 18 ml bottle of gesso, but unfortunately, the gesso is my kit was unusable. It was all dried up into one big clump. I always keep gesso on hand in my studio so I just pulled one of the bottles I had off my shelf and used that instead.

I started off by gluing down a piece of collage paper to a blank journal page using the craft glue included in the kit (which works great, by the way) and then lightly swiped over the entire page, collage paper included, with gesso.

This gave the page a subtle background that I was still able to journal over afterwards without competing with the pattern.

I next created a page that was completely collaged with different patterned papers and wanted to try stamping on it using the Aquarelle pencils as a make-shift ink pad. I scribbled onto a piece of watercolor paper and blended the colors using a wet paintbrush.

I then pressed the stamp directly into the blended Aquarelles.
I stamped the image onto my collaged page and I didn’t really get the look I was going for as the ink didn’t fully absorb into the paper.
I tried this same technique again and stamped on a piece of smooth, white cardstock and it turned out great. Depdending on the look you’re trying to get, it’s best to experiment first with your papers to see if your ink will absorb or not.
I used the brown PITT artist pen to doodle and journal in my collaged page and also used gesso around the edges.

I created shadow effects for the flowers using the grey brush tipped PITT artist pen.

I still have a few pages to fill up in my art journal, but for now, I put the book rings into the journal to assemble it and added some knoted ribbons on the rings to dress them up.

The Creative Journaling Kit retails for $29.95 and comes with a total of 35 pieces, all housed in a handy and sturdy case.
In reviewing the Creative Journaling Kit I learned some new techniques and had my mind opened up to the possibilities that exist in just three watercolor pencils in the primary colors. I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of the process of art journaling and highly recommend this kit to anyone looking to get into art journaling.
Pros:
  • Well rounded kit with everything you need to get started with art journaling.
  • Instruction cards in the kit include a good variety of techniques and information on how to use the items in the kit.
  • These may not seem like a big deal to some, but I love that the kit also included a pencil sharpener and artists eraser. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my kids are always stealing my sharpeners and erasers (they call it “borrowing” but I never get them back).
  • The kit even included craft glue in a convenient size for taking on the go. Great for artists that want to travel with a kit but not take large bottles of glue with them.
Cons:
  • The gesso in my kit was dried out and unusable.

 

GIVEAWAY
The cool folks over at Faber-Castell are giving away Stampers Big Brushes to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment on either of the Faber-Castell reviews today answering the question in the Comments section of either article to be entered to win!
Have you tried any Mixed Media projects? What do YOU think of this journaling kit?
 
One comment per person, per article, please. Winner will be selected on Saturday, June 4, 2011.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!