Tag Archives: quality

Lightfast Testing

Every now and again I go through my various art supplies and test them to see if they are lightfast. Here in the US, it is now unusual to find ink or stationery supplies that are highly acidic, but lightfast? Well that is a whole other ballgame. I conduct tests of the majority of my fountain pen inks, colored pencils, watercolors, and other art tools. Why? Just because it’s archival doesn’t mean it’s lightfast. Whaaaat? It’s true archival has nothing to do with lightfastness or lack of it. Archival is a museum term that used to mean that the item in question is reversible to museum archivists and that it does less to no damage to the substrate. Typically, this has nothing to do with the item in question being lightfast. Though, archival is bandied about with marketing as if it means lightfast as well as acid free.lightfast

I’ve ranted and raved about acid free and to a point, archival, now being little more than a ridiculous marketing term, when the more important item to focus on is lightfastness.

What does lightfast mean? That when exposed to sunlight the color and shade of the item in question, be it paper, ink, or other pigmented item, doesn’t shift or change. That is to say, exposure to sunlight, or light, does not change the color of whatever has been used to make the artwork.

Does lightfastness mater? Only if you decide to make art for sale, or for yourself, that you plan to hang on the wall. If you don’t plan on making art for anyone but you and you intend for it to stay within the confines of your art journal, then no, lightfast matters little.

How does one test for lightfast? I have a sketchbook in which I divide a page into 2 columns with a number of rows that span both columns. The number of rows depends on what I’m testing. Generally, I make each row about 1 inch high. I use graphite pencil, as graphite is lightfast.lightfast

I label the top of the page with the date. I then fill in each row, across columns with various scribbles, hatches and line weights of the item I’m testing. With watercolors and markers I use a variety of amounts of pigment in water. After I’ve filled in a page, I cut off the right half of the page and hang it in a south facing window. I’ll notice shifts in color as quickly as in a week. The Kuretake Clean color brush markers? Oh so pretty, colors shifted in a week. Copic sketch markers? Same. Sharpies? Gone in 2, massive alterations in shade in a week.

Basically, I look at the sheet in a week, then again in 2 weeks. Sometimes it will take longer to notice changes if it has been cloudy or raining. Testing can also be done with a bulb that emits a full spectrum of light. Using sunlight is cheaper.

Why do I test? Not all of my art is made for sale, a great deal of what I create will never see the wall or sunlight other than when the pages of my journal are opened. But when I do create art that is for sale, it is important (to me) that if someone has paid me for my art that it is still there for them a year from now. I’ve sold work in the past only to find out that the pen I thought was lightfast, was indeed not.lightfast

Oh before anyone asks, pencils made of graphite or carbon are lightfast. There is rarely any need to test them.

Attention! Kickstarter Cerat Pencils Not a New Product

A few days ago I found this Kickstarter for Cerat pencils of Britain. I’ve seen the gem or jewel topped pencils around for ages, usually being sold on cheap import shops. So to see them on Kickstarter being sold as something new and of quality, well, I found that kind of funny.

Anyway, I’m not sure if the pencils are really a quality item or not, but that they are being hawked on Kickstarter as a new item is untrue.

Anyway, this is one of those Kickstarter beware campaigns. Oh you can find the same pencils on ebay and amazon for about the same cost. If you are going to buy them get them from Amazon or the ‘bay instead. Don’t encourage Kickstarter fakers.

From Cerat’s own kickstarter page it states:

Here are the approximate breakdowns:

– Around 10% will be taken as fees by Kickstarter and transaction fees.
– Production takes 45% due to the labor involved as these pencils are partially hand made.
– 15% will be reserved for materials cost including acrylic blocks for the crystals on each pencil.
– A maximum of around 25% will be going into Postage and Packaging of the pencils.
– Any remaining funds after the rewards have been completed and backers are satisfied will be invested into & by Cerat Creations for new projects in the future.

Let’s break this down: The fees are about right. The production costs may be correct. The crystals made of acrylic look to be molded on every other iteration of the pencil. Earlier in the Kickstarter they mention these being “carved” from acrylic blocks, I highly doubt that. Postage may be correct. However, the cost to back this project is about what these cost on eBay or Amazon.

Also a quote from their page:

The pencils are all in stock, we have plenty thanks to a batch production we undertook, there really are no risks present and we’re prepared to ship immediately. Of course all costs have been considered and reward prices set accordingly.

The only risk that we may encounter is the over-funding of this project, which isn’t a bad thing at all! In this case, we’ll send out as many as we can fulfill the rewards by December where our production will have begun by.

The pencils are in stock. I’m not sure what you’d be backing here? Shipping? Them opening up the packages and repacking them by color? Again, not sure.

Be sure to read some of the Amazon reviews of a VERy similar product that basically state that these are cheap. The rhinestones fall off before they even arrive.

Review: Princeton Art SNAP! Brush

When I paint with watercolors I buy Princeton Art Company red handled synthetic rounds. Why? They hold a point well, survive my abuse the longest, and hold a great deal of paint. Lately I’ve been working with acrylic, and my usual view of working with acrylic is that I should buy the cheapest brush available because I’ll eventually abuse it by leaving paint in it for too long. i’m an acrylic brush destroyer. BUT! lately I’ve been working on things with small details that need a fine point… I’ve reached for my watercolor brushes… I’ve not destroyed any of them YET!


When I picked up my “Congrats, You survived your first semester of grad school” gift a couple of weeks ago I also snagged a new brush. Princeton Art company has a new line of brushes called “SNAP!” The rack had 2 sides- one with long handles and the other with short. On each side was a range of sizes at a set price point. 2 and 4 rounds and flats were $2.99 and 6 and 8 rounds and flats were $5.99 and so on. I snagged a #6 round with a short handle and white taklon bristles.


The brush is good looking, the handle is painted green and blue and then coated in varnish, leaving some of the natural wood visible. It’s pretty. (in the image below the SNAP! brush is shown with a #6 Princeton Art red handle water color brush as well as a Robert Simmons' Sapphire. Do not buy the Simmon's sapphire brush, it was over priced and has been a horrible brush frm the get go. I could go on and on about how horrible it is, but I'll just leave it at, don't buy.)


I’ve been using the brush for about 2 weeks.Thus far I’m very  happy. The bristles are snappy and spread the paint well. The point has survived my use for 2 weeks. This is a miracle. I tend to kill points quickly. The white taklon has stained with red and blue pigment but that’s expected with the colors I use.


Anyway, I’m very happy with this brush at this price. They are available in multi packs as well, also at a set price and very fair price- I saw a mixed group of brushes for about $11. (I wasn’t able to find a decent Amazon link for this product, they all had $7.50 shipping… for $5 items LOL.)

The images below are some faces on can lids. I used this brush for all of the image. Check out the fine detail you can see in the faces. Again nice point on a #6 round.

IMAG1388(These images are available at my Etsy shop. Faces on can lids!)


As a side note, with the introduction of these snazzy brushes and the new Catalyst tools I think that Princeton Art company is going after the mixed media market in a big way. These new lines of products are perfectly situated as affordable and USEFUL tools for mixed media artists. They aren’t doing it in a cheesy annoying way either. rather than flooding blogs and youtube with annoying ads (or getting bloggers to shill for them (looking at  you Brother)) they have introduced their great products and are letting artists use them and spread the word for them. I like this method, it doesn’t pander to us, or put goo artists and bloggers (looking at you Brother) into positions where to get to use or keep a product they have to copy and paste crappy copy that doesn’t fit the tone of the blog into their blog. You see, when a product is good, like the Catalyst wedge, it doesn’t need advertising copy forced down the throat of the blogger (again, looking at you Brother). A good blog post will write itself, that includes good and bad aspects of the product. /rant.

Continue reading