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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.
  • 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.
  • The gesso in my kit was dried out and unusable.


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.


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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Faber-Castell Stamper’s Big Brush Pitt Artist Pens

Reported by Heather Fuentes

You know how you want to love something for one reason but then you end up loving it for an entirely different one? That’s what happened to me with the Faber-Castell Stamper’s Big Brush Pitt Artist Pens from Design Memory Craft.

I’m by no means a stamper, but I’ve been doing lots of art journaling lately, so these seemed like a good tool to add to the journal arsenal. They come in lots of different colors, but the ones I’ll be working with are Pink Madder, Chrome Yellow, Cobalt Blue and May Green.

I love that the ink colors are written on the pen barrels because even though I’m only working with four pens, as I add to my collection in the future, I will always know which shade of which color I used.

The nibs are firm and fully saturated so there is no need to pump or press the tips. This will prevent fraying and tearing as can happen with some markers. It is sort of like a paintbrush in its shape and the way that you can disperse the ink in either a thin or wide stroke.

Here are a couple of the big brush pens next to a regular Pitt Artist Pen so that you can see the size comparison.

The pens contain india ink, which won’t bleed or run. It is lightfast, which means it won’t fade over time. The ink is also odorless, waterproof and archival quality.

Now, the packaging says that it is perfect for applying multiple colors to stamps and for use on all types of paper and canvas. Remember when I said I wasn’t really a stamper? Here’s what I found when testing it out on one of my regular mix media journals.

It was SUPER easy to apply the colors to the stamps but I just couldn’t get a crisp image. I tried several times to no avail – the ink is very fluid and it just kept pooling up and making the image come out kind of splotchy. Maybe there is some secret stamper tip that I need to know but if you don’t mind the sort of messy look (which I truly don’t), then maybe it won’t matter to you.

It was easy to get the ink where I wanted it with these pens, which I’d never be able to do with ink pads because I’m just not that precise.

Now on to what I ended up loving the pens for! First, I tried stamping with Staz On and then filling the stamped image in with the pens. That was pretty fun and easy to do. I created a simple card on watercolor paper and an art journaling page.

As I said before, the ink is very fluid so you can easily blend with your fingertips or a dauber. I even took a wet brush to the eye section of that owl stamp to get a more muted look with the yellow pen.

The pens are great for just freehand drawing as well. The nib lets you control the size of the lines you draw and is awesome for filling in large spaces. Here, I first covered the large area of her hair with the yellow pen and then used the yellow pen to brush some of the pink ink straight from the nib. I then blended some of the pink into her hair to give it a little more depth.

Overall, I liked the pens more for coloring than for stamp use. The fluidity and depth of color was certainly the best part of these pens!


  • Great coverage for large images or hand drawing.
  • Super fluid ink with no compression necessary.
  • Works on lots of different surfaces and doesn’t bleed through to the other side of art journal pages.


  • Faber-Castell suggests storing the pens horizontally, so no pen cups for these big brush pens!
  • I couldn’t get them to produce a crisp image when applied directly to the stamps.
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 a product like this? Have you used them for stamping or just drawing? We want to know what you think!

One comment per person, per article, please. Winner will be selected on Saturday, June 4, 2011.


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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Faber-Castell Color Gelatos

Reported by Susan Reidy
They stamp. They color. They blend. They paint. They spray.
After playing with Faber-Castell’s Color Gelatos and Clear Stamp kits, I had trouble finding something they couldn’t do. Seriously, I was able to put aside most of my other coloring tools and use just these juicy sticks of color for my papercrafting projects.
Of course, some of the techniques (painting, spraying) require some manipulation, all of which I could do with just a few supplies I already had on hand.

Faber-Castell describes the Gelatos as “acid-free pigment sticks that glide on creamy smooth for vibrant color and coverage.” I just call them yummy. You can blend them with water for a water color effect, apply them directily to stamps or use them to color chipboard and other embellishments.

They are packaged in a lip balm-like container that you twist from the bottom to reveal more Gelato. It’s a fitting package, since their consistency reminds me a lot of lipstick.

Each set comes with four color Gelato sticks in coordinating colors (red/yellow, blue/green, neutrals and metallics), a clear stamp and a matching paint brush. Two-pack sets, with no brush or stamp, are available in black and white and gold and silver.

I love that the paintbrush color coordinates, and love even more that it’s triangular so it doesn’t slip slide its way off my craft table.

The Gelatos are part of Faber-Castell’s new Design Memory Craft line that is being marketed to scrapbookers, cardmakers and other papercrafters. The line also includes Stampers Big Brush Pens, Art GRIP Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils, PITT Artist Pens, kits and Mixed Media Samplers.
I think this is awesome way for scrapbookers/papercrafters to try out some artsy techniques without investing too much money or buying too many products. You can pick up a pack or two (for most likely under $15) and try out the products before committing to more.
I used to walk down the art aisles in Hobby Lobby and stare at all the colorful tubes and tubs of paint. But the prices were too high and I was too intimidated to buy something that I wasn’t sure I knew how to use. This line of Faber-Castell products erases those fears, and makes art so much more approachable for me.
Plus, the Design Memory Craft products are part of the Mix & Match color system. Each package is marked with a color dot so no matter what medium you choose, you can be sure they will match. For example, you can pick up a pack of blue/green Gelatos and know they will coordinate with the PITT pens or watercolor pencils in the same color family.
The Gelatos themselves can work on a ton of different surfaces including paper (heavier is better for wet techniques), chipboard, canvas, textured embellishments and dark paper.
And did I mention all kinds of techniques are possible such as applying color directly to stamps and then misting with water; blending on a surface with water for a nice color wash; blending colors with your finger or blending stump; shaving color off the gelato and mixing it with a medium to create a custom paint; or mixing it with water to create a mist. If you need any more ideas, check out the Design Memory Craft blog for some awesome projects.
For my first project, I wanted to blend the Gelatos with water; I chose a heavy manila tag as my substrate. Heavier paper like this tag or watercolor paper is best if you’re going to use a lot of water, since the water can warp thinner paper.
I colored with the Gelatos like you would with a crayon, then used the included brush to blend the colors together. In my first attempt, I was haphazard with my coloring. On paper, I found it was hard to completely blend away my coloring lines. For my second attempt, I was much neater with my coloring.

They blended smoothly with the water and each other, making this awesome background.

Next, I wanted to add a sun to my tag. Again, I colored with the gelatos, this time just in the corner of my tag. I wanted the color to be stronger, so I decided to blend with a Fantastix instead of water.

Even without water, the gelato blended so smoothly. I was even able to pull some color down to make rays of light coming from my sun.

Faber-Castell really emphasized the Gelatos ability to color textured embellishments. I pulled out some flocked letters and gave it a try. Here they are all white and boring.

And here they are all pretty and red. The Gelato glided smoothly, even on the flocked surface. It was tricky to get to the sides of the letters because they are slightly raised. I solved that by using my handy Fantastix to get down the sides and all the nooks and crannies. Worked perfectly. Plus, my letters still had their fuzzy texture even after coloring.

Here’s my finished tag. Peeking out from under my letters is one of the clear stamps included in the kit. While I think the quality of the stamps is good, I do think the designs are too small to color with the gelatos, if you want more than one color. I found the stamps worked best if I colored them with one color of gelato or just used an ink pad.

Next up, using the directions from the Design Memory Craft blog, I set out to make my own paint using the gelatos.

First I shaved a bit off the top.

I sprayed some water on the shavings and mixed them up.

Next, I added some Lumiere so my final paint would have some shimmer and shine.

Here it is ready to go. I used it to paint some old Cosmo Cricket Blackboard (black chipboard) that I’ve had for awhile.

I love how this turned out. I think I have finally found a way to use up this blackboard.

I needed some more embellishments for the page I had in mind. This time, I tried the Gelatos on some textured grungeboard. The creamy nature of the Gelatos let it slide right onto the grungeboard. I used my Fantastix again to work it into all the crevices. Here is is before I blended.

And here it is after. I took a yellow Gelato and gently rubbed it over the surface so that it would highlight the texture. Super yummy.

I made several more numbers in different color combinations. I added some Glossy Accents to the numbers so they would match my shiny rocket ship. Here they are on my layout.

And here’s the finished layout with my numbers and my rocket ship.

With all that experimenting behind me, I was ready to get in touch with my inner frustrated artist. I decided to try making a layout using just the Gelatos and my photos.

I started with a blank Canvas Corp. canvas sheet.

I laid down some blue Gelato, starting in one corner and working my way down.

I blended the Gelato with water and a paintbrush to get this watercolor-like background. I didn’t have trouble blending away my lines on the canvas like I did on paper.

Next, I took a polka dot background stamp from Stampin’ Up and inked it with the darker blue Gelato.

I spritzed my stamp with some water.

And used it to add some texture to one side of my canvas. I didn’t need to re-Gelato my stamp every time, and I also didn’t have to spritz every time. My canvas was still a little damp from my first color wash, so not much additional water was needed.

I wanted some bolder circles, so following the same steps for making the paint above, I mixed some Gelato shavings with gesso this time. I laid down a mask and painted over it with my Gelato-tinted gesso. You can also mix the Gelatos with gel medium or even regular white acrylic paint.

For my last step, I mixed Gelato shavings with just water and added it to a Mini Mister. I used a Crafter’s Workshop template as a mask and added some circles.

It’s a subtle look, but I like the touch of contrast that it brings.

I pulled out the clear stamp again from the Gelato kit, added some red Gelato and used it around my title and on the edge of my photo. Again, I found it easier to use just one color of Gelato on this more detailed stamp. The tip of the Gelato is large enough that it is hard to detail color a stamp.

Here’s my final “artsy” Gelato-only layout. I used negative pieces of chipboard to paint some of my title and letter stamps for the rest. I’m pretty pleased with my first artsy attempt, and loved trying out so many different techniques with the Gelatos.

Last, I wanted to try some more direct stamping with the Gelatos. I tried two different methods — coloring the stamps and then misting and spraying down a piece of water color paper, and then stamping.

I used this bold stamp, which made it easier to use two different colors of Gelato.

In the photos below, the watercolor paper is on the right. The Gelatos blended and ran more with my spray-the-paper technique, but I like the look of both.

I used the image on the left to create this card.

Whew! I had tons of fun giving these Gelatos a work out. As much as I used them, I still have plenty of color left in my tubes. A little certainly goes a long way.

The Gelatos not only work on many surfaces, they also are very flexible in terms of techniques. They are a worthwhile addition to any coloring stash.

  • Works on multiple surfaces — paper, canvas, chipboard, grungeboard, embossed surfaces.
  • Can be used for many techniques — painting, misting, water coloring, stamping.
  • Kits make it easy and inexpensive to try out artsy techniques.
  • Color matched to other media in the Design Memory Craft line.


  • Stamp included in kit is too small to use with Gelatos if you want to use more than one color.
  • Heavier paper is better if you plan on using techniques with lots of water.
  • Gelatos have a big tip, so they’re better suited to bold stamp images for direct coloring techniques.

The cool folks over at Faber-Castell are giving a set of cool Mixed Media colors 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 the Color Gelatos? What is/would be your favorite way to use them?

One comment per person, per article, please. Winner will be selected on Saturday, June 4, 2011.


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