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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!

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

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 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.

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway: Martha Stewart Punch Around the Page & Fringe Scissors

Reported by Heather Fuentes

Anyone who knows me is aware of my love for all things Martha. When Martha Stewart Craft products debuted, I couldn’t have been happier. I mean, seriously…have you SEEN that wall of glitter at your craft store? Sometimes the price points are a big high, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed all of her tools and embellishment products.


While I own a few of the MS punches (and love them), I had yet to try the Punch Around the Page sets which retail for about $24.99 a set. Here, I was given a holiday set to work with. The Martha Stewart Crafts Aspen Punch Around the Page set features a really nice snowflake pattern. I used this set to make a quick and easy holiday card. I plan to put the negative snowflakes that popped from the punch as loose confetti inside my card, but they’d be great adhered to a project as well.


The sets are pretty self-explanatory, but just in case you need the assistance, each set comes with a handy guide. You do need to follow the sizing guides to ensure that your projects come out neatly and cleanly in regards to the corner punch and middle punch spacing, but again, the sizes are included on the guide.


The punches are a great weight, the wings flip in and out easily, they punch really smoothly, and they have quick and easy guides for lining up your paper.

As an aside, the punches I use the most are stored next to my work space in my craft area. I don’t remember where I saw the idea, but I use kitchen racks from Ikea and the MS punches fit perfectly! This set fit into my storage system with ease!


Next, I tried the Martha Stewart Crafts Fringe Scissors which retail for $12.99.


These scissors are great for super easy fringe, confetti and flowers. They work best on tissue paper, good on light weight papers, and even fairly well on heavier cardstock. No more buying expensive confetti for parties and you can bet the next few cards I send out will be filled with this stuff. The handles are ergonomic and pretty comfortable, and the blades are non-stick.


My daughter and I made this super easy and quick card for a friend who is in the hospital. The fringed flowers were fun, quick and easy with the scissors. Tissue paper would be great just fringe-cut in big long strips as decoration for a party.

To make these flowers, I used a vintage sewing pattern and yellow copy paper in strips of 12″ x 2″ or so. I cut the fringe straight into the strip about halfway, then simply folded the long strip on top of itself adhering the middles with glue dots and putting other embellishments on top. Quick, easy, cute.


Overall, I enjoyed using both products and am excited to add more punch sets to my crafty tool arsenal. The scissors certainly make the fringe job easier!

Pros:

  • Both products were extremely easy to use.
  • Both products were comfortable to hold and handle.
  • Punch set punches easily through most papers.
  • Scissors make an otherwise tedious job easy.

Cons:

  • Price point on the punch set is a little high, but you can use a coupon at a big-box craft store.
  • Fringe scissors have a specialized use, not a multi-tasker.

GIVEAWAY
The kind folks at EK Success Brands will be giving one lucky winner their very own Martha Stewart Around The Page Punches and Fringe Scissors. To enter, just leave a comment on one of the Vendor Spotlight: Martha Stewart Punch Around The Page or Fringe Scissors. Answer any one of these questions in the Comments Section right below this article on our website.


What are your favorite Martha Stewart tools? What do you hope Martha makes next?

One comment per person, per article, please. You have until Sunday, November 21st 6pm CST to enter.

Disclosure
Disclosure

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

Book Review: Witch Craft

Reported by Heather Fuentes

Confession: I have never been much of a holiday crafter. I KNOW! It’s awful, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong… I enjoy fun holiday crafts, but I usually find myself too busy the last few months of the year to really get into making much more than dinner. Is it just me? (I bet it’s not just me…) However, if you are going to pick up a fun Halloween craft book, you have to check out “Witch Craft: Wicked Accessories, Creepy-Cute Toys, Magical Treats, and More!” (Quirk Books, $14.95, September 2010)

It’s a fabulous little book that was put together by Margaret McGuire and Alicia Kachmar, and is filled to the brim with what the intro touts as “simple homemade tricks and treats.” I’m a totally visual person, so the cover alone (above) got me really excited to see what was in store.

The book contains over 25 projects that range in difficulty from “my kid is totally going to steal this book from me and make that” to “gosh, I sure wish I knew how to crochet!” It starts with a basic supply list, most of which an average crafter will have on hand. There are a few pattern downloads and video tutorials online here on the Quirk Books website. A short list of sewing terms, crochet and knitting abbreviations, and metric conversions kick off the few pages before projects begin.

On a special note, this won’t help you craft better, but it should most certainly be said that the book has THE most adorable illustrations ever. I sort of want to smooch the tiny Frankenstein at the end of the table of contents. I’m just saying.

Throughout the book, some of those sweet little illustrations are accompanied by tips and tricks that will make each project easier. From spooky spider jewelry, to creepy cute food, I really loved the way the book covered more than just one type of craft. There is even a great project that teaches you how to repurpose old glass jars into magical snow globes.

There are super simple projects like Halloween cupcake toppers and freaky finger food to more complex crochet and knitting projects that are perfect for this time of year. It took me a little while to narrow down which projects to try because all the projects are so tempting, but I finally settled on three of the easier ones. Like I said, I’m busy making dinner!

First up, I knew I wanted to make the Plushie Poison Apples. This project is by Jacki Gallagher of Plush Off, and I am a major fan of her super cute work. I was really amped to try this little guy out! The only other plush anything I’ve ever made was an ugly doll and trust me when I say, it was pretty ugly. Heh. I had some deep purple felt on hand and decided to just use that for my poison apple. Purple is a poisony color, right?

Okay, so maybe he’s more of a poison plum. I stuffed him through the top because I totally seamed up the bottom first on accident (whoops!). This resulted in a little bit of a wonky top but all in all, I think he’s pretty cute. I tend to roll with crafty mistakes because I figure it all goes towards the handmade charm, right? Right. I plan to make another without quite as much “charm” for my kiddo to give to her teacher for Halloween. I am in love with his evil little eyebrows.

Next, I decided to try the little Sleepy Ghost Brooches by Lindsay Gibson of Em & Sprout. It seemed simple enough and I had all of the supplies handy for this project.

It’s not the perfect little ghost, but it’s still pretty darn cute. I traced the pattern straight from the book and then onto my felt. The embroidery was super easy but I think he needs a little nose or mouth, don’t you?

Last, I thought I’d try something I could give to my daughter. The Magical Catnapping Mask by Naomi Matsuda was just the thing! The pattern and directions call for a mask that is satin on both sides with fleece in the middle for softness, but I chose to do a fleece backed satin mask by altering the pattern slightly. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never sewn fleece OR satin. While it was a little tricky to work with, I definitely plan to try to make a few more of these.

I certainly have some perfecting to do but it was really simple and will make a super cute gift once I add a little bow and maybe some pink ears. Cute! I finished mine off with a top-stitch but that’s mostly because my seams were otherwise kind of wonky. You can see my bottom seam still is! Oh well. Next time…

There are lots of great photographs and patterns throughout the book that help you get spellbindingly crafty. It seems like a some of the instruction could have been a little more in-depth, but I think they just work on the assumption that you are already slightly skilled in the craft area. There’s a handy “Dark Arts & Crafts Shopping Guide” at the back of the book that linked me to some cute shops I hadn’t seen before. Each contributor also has a small bio at the back of the book, which was a really interesting insight into some very crafty people!

All in all, I found Witch Craft to be a great jumping off place for my new-found love of holiday crafting. I can’t wait to try out the rest of the projects in the book and as soon as I find a nifty pair of Mary Janes, you can bet I will be turning them into adorable kitty cats!

What do you think? See anything you want to create before Halloween? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Disclosure

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