This post was – obviously – supposed to be a Christmas post. But things got a little weird before Christmas – Covid and lockdowns and tiers did a number on my mental health. I did the projects for a couple of posts, but never got around to writing the blogs. Instead of wasting them, I’m going to post them in February. Because why not.
I got these cute jingly bells when I did my last order from The Works back in… um, I can’t remember.
I had a vague idea of making some jingly earrings for Christmas, but no real purpose for them. They were just cheap and cute. I do that a lot. This is why I have a LOT of stuff in my house.
I’m not a hoarder, I’m a crafter.
Anyway, jewellery. Mid-November I had my jewellery making supplies out for something else, so I made these up.
I started with a single white bell on a chain, with a lobster clasp.
But I quickly decided that wasn’t enough jingle. One bell that jingles is kinda cute. But Christmas – for me at least – is about gawdy. So I added more.
Nice. I picked it up and shook it a little, to hear the jingle. It wasn’t quite right. Christmas is also about over the top.
So I added even more bells. I also made myself a matching set of earrings.
The January 2021 Scrawlr Box was late, but I have no problem with that. There were delays due to Covid, and Brexit, and all the other chaos going on in the world right now. And Scrawlr were very good at giving updates and keeping the customers well informed. It wasn’t their fault.
And it was a good box. Well worth the wait.
Inside were three Tombow ABT markers, a Blackwing pencil in fancy Scrawlr labelling, a Zig Millennium pen, and a gorgeously smooth Clairefontaine sketchbook.
The featured artist this month was Chris Lambert, the founder of Scrawlr. And his specialty is doodling. Right in my wheel house.
The sticker for this month is missing – one of the reasons it was late was trouble with that. They’ll be putting it into February’s box, and I can’t wait. It’s usually similar to the featured art, or to the cover of the zine. And look how gorgeous that is.
This was certainly not one of those boxes that sits on my desk waiting to be used for months and months. This one got used right away!
First up, swatching. I made two mistakes. Can you spot them?
Mistake number one was testing the Zig pen under water-based markers, by using one of the Tombow pens. The ABT pens are alcohol-based.
Mistake number two is… well, you’ll see.
I got doodling before the ink on the first set of my layering swatch had dried. I was very eager. The Zig pen is very nice. So smooth. At first I thought it was the Clairefontaine paper, which is smooth and delicious on it’s own. But I tested the Zig on some other paper and it’s just as smooth. Very fun to use.
I got started with my main artwork piece. Big sweeping paisley shapes and lots of doodles.
And then I set to adding some colour. Which was a little upsetting.
It looks good at a distance (excuse the crappily cropped photo). But up close you can see a lot of bleeding.
Mistake number two on my swatch sheet was not doing a bleed test. The paper is very good, and bleedproof in the sense that there’s no ink showing on the back of the paper. Both sides of the paper are usable. But I should have tested whether or not the pens would bleed out of the lines I’d drawn.
I was a little unhappy with my piece, so I decided I’d go a step further. I did three things, each of them turning out very well.
First, I used a thicker lining pen to outline the paisley shapes on that first piece, to give it a slightly tidier look.
I did a second piece where I used bigger doodles, leaving slightly bigger spaces to colour so that I could colour a little away from the lines. This helps minimizing bleed.
And I used the markers to draw the paisley shapes, and then doodled on top of them.
I’m really happy with the last three pieces. And I don’t hate the bleeding one. I enjoyed this box quite a lot. I’ve used up most of the sketchbook already – they’re not full thickness books. Only 12 pages.
I love my subscription to Scrawlr. I know they’ve had some trouble with the past box or two, but they’re doing everything they can and I have no complaints. I’ll keep subscribing to this box for as long as they make them.
For this Novelty Pen series I was completely seduced by this 10 colour unicorn pen. I think pretty much everyone had a pen like this as a kid.
Kasey Golden did a video recently where she did some epic pieces with one. I’m super impressed with what she did, but please don’t expect my results to be anywhere near as good.
This type of pen can come with anything from 2 to 20 different colours. This one has 10, and when I swatched them out they looked fine. Like not-very-expensive biros. Which is what they are.
They work well enough for drawing, but I wasn’t sure how they’d fare with colouring. And I definitely didn’t have Kasey’s patience, so instead I got to doodling. Starting, naturally, with the traditional monster.
Followed up by a little line doodle…
…And then more monsters.
They aren’t the smoothest lines because the cheap pens kept clogging and needing scribbling to start again.
This is the last in my Novelty Pen series. In theory. I’m sure I’ll come across other pens in the future, but I’ll probably just post those sporadically, instead of saving them up for a series.
Are there any pens you’ve seen that you’d like me to try?
These are 2mm coloured mechanical pencil leads. I have a 2mm mechanical pencil, and it’s easy enough to press the end and slide out the lead, then press the end and slide in another one.
2mm is a thick lead. It’s thick! Here’s the 2mm against a standard 0.5mm lead, for reference.
The leads in the little pack that I got from AliExpress weren’t in rainbow order, so I had to take them out and re-order them, obviously. A couple of them were broken, but that isn’t really a big deal with mechanical pencils.
Swatching was simple. The colours were nice, but they aren’t as pigmented as I’d like.
I drew a little monster, and then decided its eyes needed to be black so when I coloured him I changed that up.
And then for my final piece I knew I needed a rainbow monster.
I used my standard graphite 2mm lead to sketch out, and a normal inking pen to outline. Colouring was okay. It got a little frustrating to take each lead out and put a new one in everytime I wanted to change colours. I guess you could get a whole bunch of mechanical pencils and put one colour in each, but that seems a little pointless. You might as well buy a pack of coloured pencils.
But they coloured okay, and I ended up with a really cute little monster that may well end up being one of my Follow Up monsters one day.
Next up in my Novelty Pen series is this Atyou Spica twinkly pen I got in a Scrawlr Box ages ago.
Swatching was simple, smooth and easy.
As long as you colour in the same direction it doesn’t look too bad and it doesn’t tear up the paper. You can draw over it with inking pens. If you use it as an outline pen it doesn’t smear under alcohol-based or water-based markers. And it’s not opaque enough to cover pencil lines.
I did my monsters. A cute little stack of them this time. I really enjoyed doing these guys.
And this pen works great for doodling too.
The glittery effect isn’t as vivid as you might expect, but there is a definite glitter there. If you can taken decent photos of it, which I can’t.
I love these shape challenges. They’re posted on the Studio Tea Break twitter channel twice a week. I enjoy seeing what people do with them, but I rarely post mine in a timely fashion. I tend to save them up for inspiration when I did ideas. As you can see.