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Vendor Spotlight – Letraset AquaMarkers

Reported by Maria Del Pinto


The Letraset AquaMarkers are markers with a water-based, acid-free pigment ink.  

The list price for one marker is $2.75 which is a lower price point than a Tombow Marker.   They are also sold in a set of twelve colors for around $29.95.  A google search found several great deals on these markers, so the price can vary according to the retailer.

This AquaMarker Set includes 12 markers with the added bonus of a “Blender” pen.  These water-based pigment inks are very vibrant.  The colors in this kit are:
  • Flame Red
  • Sepia
  • Gold Ochre
  • Straw Yellow
  • Bamboo
  • Celery
  • Fern Green
  • Aquamarine
  • Twilight Blue
  • Royal Purple
  • Rose Carmine
  • Lamp Black
The kit also includes a handy guide that gives hints on how to:
  • blend with water
  • achieve colour graduations
  • a handy color chart
  • how to use the blender marker
  • what types of paper work best with the markers
  • brief description of the nibs
The AquaMarkers have double nib tips like the other line of markers that Letraset carries.  However, these come with a fine tip nib on one end and 

medium brush like nib on the other end. 

These two nibs can be used to create a variety of effects with the inks.  The fine nib is used for drawing and small areas.

The medium brush like nib, is for filling in larger areas.

Because the inks blend easily, you can achieve similar effects to watercolor paints with color tone and washes as you would traditional water colors.  You can also soften the bright pigmented colors by adding water with a paint brush or  

Sable Paintbrush
using the ProMarker Blender pen.  There is more information on how to use the “Blender” pen on the Letraset website.    
AquaMarker Blender Pen
You can blend the pigment ink colors by using either the ProMarker Blender pen or a water brush pen filled with water.
Waterpen

This can be done without leaving a hard edge which can be a problem with some of the water color pens on the market today.  The colors can even be blended after they have dried.  

The manufacturer recommends using a hot-pressed watercolor paper.  More information on the types of papers to use are available on their website, along with some quick tutorials.  

I decided to test the markers on cold-pressed watercolor papers to see what type of results I would get.


Here are the results I got from testing five different types of cold press watercolor paper:

1.  The first paper I tried was “Canson” cold press 140lb fine grain paper (XL Series).

The inks worked well with that paper and spread without any problems.  Here is what the project looked like.

2.  The second paper I tried was Strathmore Watercolor cold press 140lb paper from the 300 Series.

I got a fairly decent watercolor effect with these, but I did have to wet the paper a lot.  

Here is what the project looked like with this paper.

3.  The third paper I tested these inks on was Biefang Watercolor 140lb paper by Speedball.
The color soaked into the paper.  The best way to work with this paper was to wet it well first, 

and then add the inks (working quickly before it had a chance to soak in again).

 I would not recommend using these inks on this paper.

4.  The fourth paper that I tested the inks on was Arches Watercolor cold press 140lb fine grain paper. 

The inks spread well using just the brush (wet with water).
It was an easy paper to work with and the inks were easy to control just by controlling the amount of water I used to create the watercolor wash effect.



5.  The fifth and final paper that I tested the inks on was Strathmore watercolor cold press 140lb paper (400) series.

  Once again, I encountered no issues.  The watercolor wash looked great and was easy to do on this paper.


I should point out that getting the stamped image to come out dark was a bit of a challenge. The Staz-on ink virtually sunk into the paper and faded out a bit.  I had to go over the stamped images with the Aquacolors to get in dark enough to photograph.

My first project which was a tag worked well for testing out the inks on cold press paper.  You cannot see it in this picture, but I added some Jacquard Pearl Ex powdered pigment to the water I used, to give the watercolor inks some shimmer.  They shimmer beautifully in person.
First Project – Tag
For the second project, I decided to demonstrate how to do a “Watercolor Wash” with these inks.
The project came out looking like this.

For my third project, I wanted to decorate a gift box.  Since the AquaMarkers are a pigment ink, they can be directly applied to rubber stamps.

Just remember to work fast.  I was given a hint by an avid stamper to blow on the inked stamp to keep the ink moist.  It may sound odd but for some reason the moisture from one’s breath keeps the ink moist. 

The ink will not stain the stamp, if you clean the stamp immediately after using it.  I used the stamp above and applied the ink directly to the stamp to stamp the image onto the box.  The AquaMarker pigment inks showed up great on this cardstock.  The box came out great. I glued some buttons and rhinestones to the box.  Then used some of my favorite ribbon to finish wrapping up the gift box.


The Letraset AquaMarkers are very versatile and fun to work with.  These markers are perfect for using on quick and easy craft projects.  They are easy to pack and do not take up much space, so taking the with you to do outdoor watercolor craft projects is convenient.  Additionally, the Letraset website states that the Aqua Markers ink is acid free, so they are considered to be safe to use in your scrapbooking.  I even think they would be fun to use to introduce watercolor wash techniques to older kids as a fun kids craft or art project.
Tips:

  • Work fast, these pigment inks do dry up quickly.
  • Use a paint brush if you want to control the amount of water you get on your project.
  • There are some great YouTube videos on how to watercolor using the AquaMarkers and other similar markers. You can compare results with other brands while watching these great videos.
  • You can take the small circle stickers they sell at the office supply stores and place them on the nib covers and color them in with the corresponding nibs to make spotting the right color easier.
Pros:
  • These colors are completely portable, which is a plus when you want to work outdoors or to take traveling for those last minute inspirations.
  • Easy to use.
  • Can be purchased as individual markers or in sets of 5 or twelve on the Letraset website.


Cons:
  • They are addictive and you will want to play with them a lot.
  • They are not easy to find.
  • You have to be mindful of the type of paper you use these on.

What types of markers do you like to work with in your stamping and scrapbooking?  Please share any tips you may have for our readers.

Vendor Spotlight: Letraset Aqua Markers

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

I was excited to test out a set of the Letraset Aqua Markers, because using markers makes me just as happy as it did when I was in grade school!    I looked up this line of twin-tip markers online and noticed that the sets came with a “blender” pen.  So I (incorrectly) assumed that they would function like my Copic markers – blending colors together but without the alcohol ink.  Turns out that these markers actually work just like a watercolor pencil, so you can blend them with a brush on watercolor paper.  A set of 12 Aqua Markers retails for just under $37.

I received “Set 1” colors and am very happy with the variety and packaging.  The plastic case opens flat so you can see every color while you’re working.  And there was a small insert with a few tips, including this important one – you really should be using watercolor paper with these markers.  I didn’t have any, so my first few tests are using cardstock (more pictures in a bit).

 The back of the Hints & Tips insert has a color chart for each set, and I found the colors on this chart to be much more true than the colors on the barrels of the markers themselves.  You can also see the illustration of the twin tips below: fine nib for detail and broader brushlike tip for big surfaces.

For my first test, I did three strokes of a variety of colors on three different types of cardstock.  Top is an Avery manila shipping tag, then 80 lb. Neenah cardstock, and at the bottom 100 lb. Bristol paper.

I set the markers aside and used the “blender pen” to try to create a wash between the different colors.  It didn’t work so well and I started to get some pilling on each of the tests.  I also noticed that some colors were easier to blend than others, most notably the orange (Gold Ochre) seemed to have more pigment.

 Then right below then Blender pen wash, I used a watercolor brush and water to try to create a wash between the different colors.  Got even worse results – perhaps the ink had dried too long (about 3 or 4 minutes).  You can click on the photo to zoom in.

Attempted a close up of the pilling on the paper after using the Aqua Markers and then the Blender Pen.

I did one more test on regular cardstock, to see which inks would work best when stamping with these markers.  The top is a stamped image with black Versafine pigment ink and it stayed very true even after blending the markers with a brush and water.  Keep in mind that pigment ink takes a while to dry – I left this overnight before going back to it with markers and water.  The black Memento dye ink (bottom) got a bit washed out after blending with water.  The end result is more grey than black.

At this point I dragged myself to the store to get some watercolor paper to test the makers in their best environment.  I also looked up a few more tips on the Letraset website (see more links at the end of the review) and learned that you can use these markers directly on stamps.

I used the broad nib of the markers directly on the rubber stamp and ended up with this image on the watercolor paper.

To give it more of a watercolor “effect” I used my wet paintbrush to blend the leaves a bit.  I was also able to go over the tree trunk and even out the color quite a bit.  I can already tell that the watercolor paper makes all the difference for blending.
For my final test I wanted to make a few snail embellishments for future projects.  I used the black Versafine pigment ink to stamp the image on watercolor paper.  Let it dry for a few hours then came back and outlined with the markers and blended with a wet brush right away.  By far my most successful use of the markers.

 Even though this set of markers was not what I expected, they turned out to be really fun and different than what I was used to.  It was nice to use a brush for the watercolor effect.  I would absolutely recommend using the online resources that Letraset has on their website, and there are a couple videos on You Tube of crafters giving their own tips and tricks with these markers.

Resources on the Letraset website:

Pros:
  • A different type of marker, can be used alone or blended with a brush for a watercolor effect
  • Well-packaged set includes storage, good variety of colors, and a blender pen
  • Twin-tip is very nice for this type of marker
  • Price is pretty reasonable when compared to fine watercolor sets or other crafting marker sets
Cons:
  • I never really figured out how to use the blender pen, and there was a learning curve for blending with a brush
  • Had to buy watercolor paper to use these markers
  • I could not find any other Letraset markers in my local art and craft stores
  • Would be really helpful to have a video how-to on the Letraset website
What do you think?  Have you tried the Letraset Aqua Markers?  Any tips to share?

Vendor Spotlight: Letraset Safmat

Reported by Anam Stubbington

When I was asked to try the SafMat inkjet printable film from Letraset, I was intrigued, as I am well used to printing on stickers and transparencies. I wanted to see how it fared in relation to those.

According to the Letraset website, SafMat is…

“Ideal for use on paper and card – just print, cut out and stick Safmat is a highly transparent, self-adhesive film for use with your printer. It enables you to create your own unique text and graphics for applying onto almost any smooth surface.
Ideal for scrapbook pages, homemade greetings cards, wedding invites, technical drawings, packaging mockups… Safmat is the perfect solution for applying printed designs onto materials that wouldn’t normally go through a desktop printer. eg heavyweight card, acetate, large 3D objects…
Commercial designers and students use Safmat for creating realistic product and packaging mockups. It’s also popular in many crafts and creative leisure pastimes. No other product gives the same result – it’s like creating a unique, fully personalised transfer.
Safmat is acid free for archival longevity. It’s an excellent versatile solution for Scrap Booking, Card Making and many other craft activities. Anywhere it’s useful to apply personalised printed phrases and images.”

My biggest complaint about other films is that they often looked washed out, don’t dry quick enough and with transparencies nearly impossible to adhere but by the end of my packet of the SafMat film, I was hooked by its versatility and the brightness of the printed colors.

I used Adobe Photoshop to create pages of images that I wanted to print, but any programme that allows you to place images or text will be perfect.

As you can see, with good placement you can get a lot out of a single sheet, which makes it a really useable product.

I went about trying to use it on a variety of different items from paper to glass. With glass products like mirrors and windows, you will see the edges as it’s not 100% transparent, but it did not distract for me. With the paper products, the edges were hardly noticeable.

I made this layout to hang in our new home. The SafMat worked really well on the doily; it is really hard to see the cut edges. Given that there is no way I could print on the doily directly (and even if I could, it would bleed), so the SafMat made it all possible as you can still see the texture of the doily under the poem.

Here are two cards I made using SafMat as I used the SafMat for printing off my own sentiments and just having them to hand when I need them is an added bonus without having to resort to stamps and ink.

For scrapbooking and cardmaking, the possibilites are endless, and the self-adhesive properties make it far more usable than transparencies. The lovely Satin finish makes the finished product non-reflective which is good for photographing.

When printing, it needed no special settings and dried quickly. Try not to touch it with wet hands as it will smudge a little. It cut easily and if you cut close the printed image, the result is as if it was a rub-on. It adhered nicely – bubbles were easily rubbed out, and if it went down in the wrong place, with care it was easy to remove and replace .

I punched out some images (it is super easy to punch) and used them as stickers on some candy for my kids – a extra sweet touch to personalize any event – perfect for parties, weddings or even just for school lunches! I used some of the punches images as letter seals for that extra touch.


I loved how easily it went on walls, and can see myself putting my own favourite quotes on the walls in our new home. If you wanted sayings larger than what would fit on an A4 sheet, you could easily split it up over several sheets and it would still cost less than buying a custom decal.


My all time favourite fun thing was to make my own window decals. I printed them in reverse (see top picture) so they could be stuck on the inside of a window – like inside a car – and seen from the outside yet protected from the elements. And becuase they are easy to remove you could have different ones every week or for the seasons. (hint: Star Trek Spock Hand Print)


I loved working with the Safmat and can see it being part of my toolbox when it comes to projects. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to personalize their projects, especially if there are no stamps in a language you want such as Italian, Greek or Japanese.

Pros:

  • Fast drying time
  • Crisp, bright printed colors
  • Inkjet printable
  • Acid-free

Cons:

  • Not waterproof (although that can be said of all inkjet printable products)
  • It was not as transparent as I would have liked, but made up for that with being non-reflective
  • $10 for a pack of 10 but to be honest to get so much to a page that that works out as good value

Have you used the Letraset SafMat product yet? What do you like about the product? What would you use it on? Leave a comment and let us know!


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