Monday, September 13, 2010

Introducing Alexander

Well, it's been a few months, so here's a look at what I've been busy with:

Alexander will be two months old at the end of this week. :)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bookbinding = Joy

A couple of weeks ago I attended a 2-hour bookbinding class. It was rushed, slightly stressful, and showed a very quick-n-dirty approach. No written instructions, no precise cutting or time to take care, just 18 people frantically trying to keep up with a harried instructor who had a plane to catch. At the end of it, though, I had an intriguing little book, and had learnt (more or less) how to do a multiple-needle coptic bookbinding stitch.

I went home with another bookbinding kit in my bag, and googled around for some instructions I could work along to (the multiple-needle coptic / chain stitch *is* complicated at first). This time I carefully cut everything with unerring accuracy, worked at my own pace, and found the whole process throughly enjoyable.

I made some mistakes, and will be re-stitching the book with different thread, but for my second attempt at making a book from scratch, I was very pleased. I had decided to make a fabric-covered book, as I have some taupe suede which makes very pretty fountain pen cases, so I figured a matching book would be nice. I also stitched on some little floral motifs using contrasting thread for some added interest.

The cover:

The back:

The spine:

Detail of the spine, showing the braid formed by the coptic stitch:

In the class, we used a heavy black 5-ply Barbour waxed thread and darning needles. It is incredibly strong thread, but very thick and a bit unwieldy. I won't be using it again for any projects, as I have found nicer 3-ply and 4-ply threads in a bigger colour range that are better suited to the finer finish I like for my books. I have also invested in proper bookbinding needles.

Some other books I have recently made appear below.

My first book made in the class. The coptic stitch allows books to lie open flat:

Trying different thread and cover designs:

A book for my plein air pen and ink work:

A new book with A/S Colourfix coloured pastel paper sheets separated by glassine paper for plein air pastel sketches:

Some helpful links:
Instructions vary, but I prefer to start with the front cover first. This way, your final tie-off knots end up inside the back folio or section, rather than in the front.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rotring Technical Pens

Last week I picked up a nice set of 8 Rotring Isograph technical drawing pens on eBay. The last time I saw a set in an art store it was near $300, but happily I paid only a third of that.

Because I used to be a Cartographer, technical pens aren't new to me. I have dozens... my own from when I was in college, and also most of my mother's (she used to be a Geographical Draughtsperson). I also have a stash of Rotring tungsten carbide points in many sizes, right down to 0.13mm. I don't like to take my Rotring Rapidograph or Isograph pens to any of my art classes in case they get lost or damaged, but I have a sweet set of old Rotring Variant pens from the 60s or early 70s which are ideal to take along.

I'm looking forward to putting my new Isographs to use on some ATCs this weekend. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sailor Spring Inks

Two of the four new Sailor LE inks arrived in my mailbox today - Waka-Uguisu and Sakura Mori. You can see below how Waka-Uguisu compares to a couple of other yellow-green inks in my collection (click to enlarge):As you can see, Sakura Mori showed some interesting orange-pink colour separation when I brushed the samples out onto 160gsm CP watercolour paper. The ink does not show this much of a duo finish in a pen, but it is slightly noticeable. Dropping the ink onto a paper towel will instantly show this effect as the dyes absorb at different rates.

I have inked up my Sailor 'Snow White' LE with this ink, and I must say that they make a very pretty pair. :)

(I believe Uguisu translates to "olive green", and is often associated with the colour of the Japanese bush warbler or nightingale.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Artist Trading Cards

I tried my hand at a "Artist Trading Card" last night. I was given a pack a little while ago, and decided to see what they were all about. These two sites will give you a pretty good idea:

I have always had miniaturist tendencies, so I find working on a 2.5" x 3.5" canvas quite enjoyable. I was going to do a simple watercolour, but then I got all nervy and reverted to a more familiar and rigid style. Unfortunately, I also got carried away with my experimental ATC and spent all night working on it. :P
Above, you can see the card after my initial ink drawing on Saunders Waterford 300GSM CP paper, and then the finished product tinted with artist's watercolours. The linework was done mostly freehand with a 0.2mm Rapidograph and sepia drawing ink, with a ruler for the borders. I trained as a Cartographer before AutoCAD took over, and used to be very good with a technical pen, but as you can see from the first image, I am well out of practice! My smooth hand is gone and every shake is recorded on the paper.

My goal now is to make a complete set of cards with a different illuminated letter of the alphabet. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pens for March

I have some nice pens in the rotation this month. There are the regulars, and then some which I feel I haven't used in ages.

Regular selections:

Lamy Lady, 0.4 Cursive Italic
Nakaya Piccolo, Elastic SEF
Nakaya Piccolo, EF
Pelikan M640, XXXF
Changing selections:

Aurora Optima Mini, XF Stub
Esterbrook J, 2550 EF
Montegrappa Micra, XXXF
Pilot Capless D├ęcimo, F
Sailor Smoke Green, EF

Paper Review - Il Papiro of Italy

Just a quick note to announce a new paper review which I have posted at the Fountain Pen Network!

You can read it here: Il Papiro of Italy - Luxury Writing Paper and Envelopes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shiny and New Again!

This afternoon I spent some time tidying up pens which had been inked for far too long. After much soaking and gentle cleaning, the first batch of pens are drying nicely:

Now it's time to clean the second batch... then the fun of re-inking can begin! :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Incoming Ink!

Well, after a dry spell ink-wise, I have two nice Sailor Spring Limited Edition inks on their way to me:

  • Waka-Uguisu (Mid Yellow-Green)
  • Sakura Mori (Cherry Blossom Pink)
Pink ink is something really unusual for me to buy, the only other pink ink I have is Levenger's Pinkly. Sakura Mori is far more subtle and sweet. I still have no idea about what pen I would put it in...

The Waku-Uguisu is much more my style - rich yellow-green! I am mad about any warm greens. Inkophile pointed out to me that it might be similar to another Sailor LE ink we both have, Hougado Souseki Uranari Green. It will be interesting to see how they compare!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Some New Paper - Il Papiro

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Melbourne last month - what a wonderful city! My husband and I are hoping to go again later in the year.

I only got to check out one pen shop while I was in Melbourne, and that was Taft's in Westfield, Doncaster. I was very unimpressed... since I have not been to any other Taft's stores, I can only assume that the Doncaster store is carrying just the "popular" brands.

All the usual suspects were there - Montblanc, Visconti, Dupont, Caran d'Ache, Montegrappa, and Lamy. I asked at the counter whether they had any Japanese brands like Pilot or Sailor, but the woman had not even heard of those companies making fountain pens! (I was a kind of surprised, because I didn't think Japanese makers were still *that* niche, but apparently they are.) She also had no idea about the caliber of pens being produced in Japan, this was evident by her showing me a very cheap student range of pens from Korea, saying this was all they had from "Asian companies". Needless to say, I found it very easy not to buy anything. :)

I fared better when I visited the beautiful Il Papiro in Degraves Street, which I stumbled on by accident while I was looking for an art store. Il Papiro only has a handful of stores, two in Australia, two in the US, and the rest in Italy. There were a lot of gorgeous leather journals to look at, many Murano glass dip pens, beautiful writing sets and lots of pretty bookplates and labels to personalise correspondence with.

I could have easily spent a lot of money, but I was most restrained, and only left with a set of writing sheets and envelopes, and a couple of sheets of labels, all embossed with my initial:

As yet, I haven't decided what pen and ink combination to use on my first letter... I'm thinking a nice ink would be Pilot's Iroshizuku Edo-Murasaki, though. :)

A more thorough write-up about this paper will follow.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Ack, 2010!

Late as it is, here is my first blog post for 2010. A year of change, oh yes!

I'm off to Melbourne in a couple of days, where my husband and I will spend a week wandering about the city and playing tourist. My husband asked me to make a list of places I wanted to visit, but so far all it contains are pen shops and art shops.

Now, if you have emailed me, or written to me, I will reply soon! I have only recently returned from Perth, where I spent nearly two months with my family. Christmas brought me a heap of new books, mostly about watercolour painting, some gadgets, but alas, no new pens. (For some strange reason, my husband thinks that a collection of nearly two hundred pens is "enough".)

Anyway, more later... :)