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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.

Loew Cornell Style Stix

Reported by Lisa Fulmer

When I was at the CHA Super Show, I picked up a couple of these Style Stix wedge brushes by Loew Cornell. It’s a stiff, tapered sponge brush available in various widths, good for “stripes, petals & swashes.” Style Stix also come in cone or dome shapes – in addition to painting, they are said to work nicely for shaping clay.

I started playing with stripes and found that the sponge does not pick up as much paint as I thought it would, perhaps because it is so much more dense that a cosmetic sponge or craft sponge brush. It does make a nice straight line, once you get the right amount of paint loaded on. It leaves a little ridge along the edge, which may or may not be desirable. I liked using the tip to make little stitch marks.

I used the ridges to my advantage and painted simple crisscross strokes to get an interesting abstract geometric pattern.

The tapered shape does make creating petal and leaf shapes really easy in just 2 curved strokes. I liked going back over it with the tip to create random ridges in my leaves and petals.

I worked with acrylic paints, both alone and with a little acrylic medium blended in. Style Stix releases the paint quite differently than brushes or sponges…takes a little getting used to, but once I did, I started having fun with the textures.

Then I wanted to play with the “swash” aspect, so I poured a puddle of shimmering ink on my paper and used the tip of the Style Stix to feather it all out. Now I liked that the Style Stix is not absorbent; I was able to move the ink around yet still keep it looking streaky. This will make an awesome background for an ATC!

After a lot of painting and rinsing and stubbing and squishing, my Style Stix really took a beating. But I was happy with how nicely the edges stayed sharp, they didn’t turn nappy at all.

I think my favorite way to use the Style Stix though, is as a blending tool for pastels and chalk powders. So much easier to work with than a paper stump – the tapered edge give lots of fine line control, and the texture and density of the sponge is perfect for gently moving the colors together.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive and sturdy
  • Variety of widths
  • Interesting way to add curves, lines and texture
  • Perfect density for blending dry mediums

Cons:

  • Tapered wedge shape is pretty limited to making flower parts
  • Takes some time to get used to how it loads and releases paint

Have you used the Style Stix by Loew Cornell? Were you able to use their unique properties to your advantage? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Disclosure

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Dove All-Purpose Brushes

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

Stippling was one of the first techniques I learned as a newbie stamper back in the 1990’s. I was mesmerized when I watched the owner of the local stamp store create a beautiful sunset with a brush and a few shades of dye ink.

Natural (boar’s) hair stipple brushes are available from several companies under various names and in various sizes. As an avid stippler I own several brands (Toybox, Stampin Up and Dove) of brushes in assorted sizes. The brushes are all very similar in appearance and the bristles are similar as well. For this review, I am highlighting Dove All-Purpose Brushes because they are currently available in 4 sizes.

There are 4 standard sizes of Dove All-Purpose Brushes:

  • #2- 1/2 inch diameter
  • #4- 3/4 inch diameter
  • #6- 1 inch diameter
  • #8- 1 1/4 inch diameter

This card featuring a daisy image from Victorine Originals, features a light dusting of dye ink to add a touch of color.

The brushes feature a smooth natural wood handle, boar’s hair bristles and an orange plastic ferrule. The wooden handle has a drilled hole to increase the owner’s storage options. Proper care will prolong the life of natural hair stipple brushes. I store mine bristle side up in a holder on my art desk. I have stipple brushes that are 10+ years old that work as well now as they did when I bought them. I own at least one of each size but #6 size is my favorite, followed by #4. They allow me a fair amount of coverage but also the ability to apply color to a certain area. If I stipple Twinkling H2O’s, I use the smallest #2 brush because it fits the smaller pots better.

For a metallic look try stippling Twinkling H2O’s on matte cardstock.

Many stipplers (including me) prefer to designate 1 brush for each color family. Natural hair bristles will stain but as long as they tapped off between colors, the staining should not muddy the new color. Many seasoned stipplers recommend working from light colors to dark colors to minimize any chance of transferring color from the artwork back to the ink pad.

For the smoothest stippled look try stippling dye ink onto glossy cardstock. The longer you stipple, the more intense and solid the shading, less stippling results in a more textured, mottled look.

There are several ways to clean natural hair stipple brushes. The first is to simply tap (or pounce) the brush on clean paper or a dry paper towel. Another way is to lightly tap it on a baby wipe and then remove the dampness with a dry paper towel. Others swear by swirling the brush in the palm of your hand along with a drop of dishwasher detergent and some water, rinsing the bristles under water until all the soap is gone. I prefer the “tap- off” method, but once in a while I do wet the tip of the bristles with water- being careful not to wet the full length of the bristles. Professional artists recommend allowing brushes to dry on a flat surface so the dampness doesn’t travel to the collar area and loosen the bristles prematurely. Lastly, never use the brush until it is completely dry.

This card featuring images by gg Design (except crackle by Cornish Heritage Farms) , and employs stippling on glossy, matte and overstamping with tone-on-tone.

Pros:

  • A single brush can create various looks ranging from a light dusting to intense shading
  • Brushes are very easy to care for and are very portable
  • Economically priced and if properly cared for will last many years

Cons:

  • If the brush is stored improperly the bristles may get bent or damaged
  • The bristles stain (they work just as well though)
  • Techniques can be time-consuming and require considerable effort to create a very smooth, solid background
This gift card envelope features leaf images by Red Castle. The envelope was first stippled with Fall colored dye ink, then stamped with Memories Ink and then were painted with a waterbrush to give them a watercolor effect.

Dove All-Purpose Brushes are durable and dependable natural hair stipple brushes and they can be used to create a variety of looks. These brushes are easy to take care of and are portable and lightweight. Dove All-Purpose Brushes are available directly from Dove and range in price from $1.95- $3.75. They are also available from Creative Images Rubber Stamps ranging from $2.50- $4.50.

Do you have a preferred brand of stipple brush? Share your thoughts with our readers!

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