Relaxing Patterns and Mandala Designs

relaxing patterns and mandala designs by lilt kidsI was sent this book from Lilt Kids to review. All I had seen was the cover and I eagerly awaited the delivery coming over from America.

Lilt kids are an independent publisher, something that I thought was good to see, no major cooperation. All their colouring books are quite cheap (£2 to £4)

Here’s a quote from their website

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY..

and supporting a small, independent business like Lilt Kids Coloring Books. All our coloring books are made right here in the USA by talented artists and printed on the highest quality paper with beautiful, bright covers. Should you ever have any kind of problem with an order or just a question for us, we have great customer service: just email

Sounds very exciting doesn’t it…

the internal cover of relaxing patterns and mandala designsThen the book arrived

Truthfully I was disappointed. Firstly The cover of this book appealed to me the most out of the small selection I was shown to choose from, after looking at their site with the book in my hand I see three other books at least with the same cover, just different titles. The one thing I had to go on to choose a book and it wasn’t unique, nor was it anywhere in the book. The Amazon page also said that there were 40 pages in the book, there were only 22 design pages, 24 if you count the small images in the title page and the back page. Yes it’s over 40 pages if you count the blank back side of every design but I think that’s stretching things a little.

showing the quality of the line work within the bookThe Artwork

Something else that didn’t meet my expectation. It is just my opinion but I don’t expect thick lines in an adult colouring book, the thinnest lines are at least 1mm thick. Now this could be seen as a benefit for those using art therapy who have motor function problems so I’m not going to rule things out just because the line thickness isn’t to my liking.

Looking at the images again on most of them the lines aren’t smooth, and there are areas, on the mandalas especially, where you can tell images have been joined together to create the design.

So, I’m disappointed again.

The Paper

It’s about 100gsm and very lightly textured. Nothing like any of the other colouring books I own . It’s somewhere in between the paper from Zen Colouring and Relax with Art so maybe it wouldn’t be that bad to colour on.

The book is printed single sided though so at least any media goes.

stabilo colour testOnto Colouring

I tried three different media in this book. Firstly Stabilo Pen 68, my all rounder pens because there aren’t many books out there there these can’t be used in. I chose to do the first page and went with a pallet of yellows, oranges and reds. They worked rather well.

The first image took me less than an hour to colour. I didn’t really get the satisfaction from the colouring that I would on pages I spend hours or even days on, but it was nice to do something a bit quicker.

promarkers colour testOnto the second and I went with my promarkers and a purple/blue combination, while it was possible to colour with them on the paper (sheet of card under the page required) it did seem to really suck the ink in. This is where I was perhaps thankful the lines in the artwork were quite thick as the colour really did spread (even with the thick lines though the first bit of colour I added did go over.) The other thing I noticed was that the colours became rather muted, the usual vibrancy of the colours was dulled and that was a little disheartening as the final image didn’t end up as I had planned it.

example of using inktense in the bookI spent about an hour and a half on that one.

Finally I got my inktense pencils out and went with reds and greens as you can see I didn’t finish this one, the coloured pencil didn’t really go well on the page and while the water wash looked good to begin with, once it dried though it looked awful and I had a rather wrinkly page.

I didn’t want to finish it, and this is the only time I have ever left an image unfinished.

A Second Opinion

I decided to get a second opinion on the book, I showed it to my 8 year old son. He did think it looked “pretty cool.” So now the book is his, though he hasn’t actually done any colouring yet.

In Conclusion

Pretty disappointing if you are a more advanced colourist, though I will give credit that these might be a good, inexpensive, introduction to colouring for anyone that wants to embark on art therapy but is either daunted by the detail of some books or needs the thicker lines to compensate for motor function problems. They are probably better for children wanting different types of designs.

A children’s book billed for adults.

If the book does interest you though I would say you would be better off using water based pens over any other media as they do give the best colour results.

Did I just get very unlucky with my choice of book, has anyone else tried books from this publisher?

160GSM Ivory Linen – Paper Story

When I first started cutting I used 160gsm paper, I thought that it would be easier. The last time I tried to cut Rosie on 160 I gave up because it had become hard work to get through the thickness of the paper. I had also thought 160 was not the best option for small details. Thinner linen papers I have tried have felt horrible to cut and barely had any texture to them, this one does have a gorgeous texture.

Printing

Ivory Linen 160Printing it will hold even pure black without showing through, light colours are easily visible though so save the ink and print light. Being a thicker paper it had no difficulties going through the printer so no worries there if you have a printer that doesn’t like heavier weight paper.

Drawing

No sheen so just like drawing on normal drawing paper for pencil choice. Don’t go too hard though or you could end up adding more texture to the page.

Cutting

For a heavy weight paper it doesn’t “feel” as thick as some of the others I have tried. Cutting the detail was more difficult than lighter weight paper, but it was workable, the larger sections in the tail though were lovely to cut and I barely noticed at that point that it was a thicker paper.

The texture doesn’t get in the way at all, so no worries with snagging on the curves but take your time with large curves to make sure you get it right with the extra pressure involved.

Somewhere I did slice through a line while cutting, it took me a while of poking to figure out where it was so the paper is very forgiving on slight mishaps making it good for newer cutters.

Blades

Blades, when working on detail blade use is going to be high but on larger areas it’s surprisingly good on blade usage quite unlike what you would expect for this weight of paper.

Price

£1.95 for 10 sheets so works out as around 19p/sheet.

Conclusion

Once you turn it over any small areas you may have had issues with become very worth it. If you are doing wedding invite cuts use this paper. Anything that suits texture will look fantastic on this. Paper story themselves recommend it for typographical cuts and I can see why. If you are working on lots of details this probably isn’t the best choice but for the finish it can be worth persevering with the challenge just to have the amazing texture.

You can buy this paper on Paper Story’s website here.

110GSM White – Paper Story

Another from Paper Story. I normally cut on 100gsm so this is the closest to what I am used to. The paper is flat with a pearlescent sheen to it and is also available in ivory.

White 110

Printing

When printing very light grey is best, no trouble seeing even the lightest colours, of course you can go a little darker if you are printing flat but for floating go as light as you can see.

Drawing

As like other pearlescent papers, don’t go to soft with your pencil choice or it will smudge though this will take up to a 4B before going smudgy. 2H max if you prefer harder pencils.

Cutting

Very easy going on the details and larger areas. It handles curves beautifully and glides over the mat as you move the paper around. Very few fluffy bits, even if you go for too long with a blade but you will see a difference.

Blades

Blade use is good, totally what you would expect from this weight of paper. 15-20 minutes.

Price

10 sheets for £1

Conclusion

A lovely light weight paper. Due to the weight probably not one for new cutters as if you do go a little further into a corner on a cut it will be visible. Highly recommended to those that prefer lighter papers. It has a good structure if you are more used to heavier weights though so don’t let that put you off.

You can buy this paper here

 

120GSM Bersan – Paper Story

This paper feels lovely, Available in White or Cream. Paper Story teamed up with PayperBox to offer this paper and it’s worth noting that the Bersan is a range of charitable products which Payper Box donate 5% of their sales to cancer charities.
I think this paper would be perfect for wedding cuts, there is an opalescent shine to it rather than being “in your face” shiny.

Printing

Bersan 120Printing in pure black will result in some of the ink showing through even when flat, medium greys are fine if you are flat mounting but go light if you plan to float.

Drawing

HB or at the softest 2B, anything softer is likely to smudge harder and you will have the drawing showing through.

Cutting

When cutting it does feel heavier than it is, I would say it feels more like 140gsm to the blade though to the touch it is clearly 120gsm. It does mean that it isn’t as good at handling small detail as you would expect but it does still perform well if you plan which section to cut first properly.

The layers in this paper can separate if you are not careful, check you have cut all the way through, though it is easy to see where you have cut. Because of this the paper can be prone to the occasional fluffy bit, they are easy to remove though with a fresh blade.

As an advantage though once the details are cut and the paper removed everything still holds well.

Blades

Reasonable blade usage, especially considering it feels thicker to the blade. 20-25 minutes on regular cutting but 15 on the details because I was changing just before the drag to avoid the paper fluffing. I may have been able to have got slightly longer though.

Price

10 Sheets are £1.50 making it 15p per sheet. Reasonably priced for the finish and remember some of that cost also goes to charity so even more worth it.

Conclusion

On the flip, it’s worth it. A clean finish on a beautiful looking paper.

I wouldn’t recommend this paper to a new cutter, because of how the paper can behave if you don’t change the blade at the right time. Though for those with more experience at knowing when you feel the drag you can easily handle the paper. If you’re after a paper that behaves like a heavy weight but less work and easier on the blade usage then this is what you should be using.

Buy the paper here.

How to: Typography for Templates Part Two

Last time we wrote a beautiful word just by transforming our own handwriting but it needed a little more work to make it into a cut-able piece of typography.

I’ve redrawn the text to make it slightly larger than how I was working last time but kept the same style so we can start to make a few adaptations to bring it all together.

wpid-wp-1427123034293.jpegJoin up the writing by simply extending the ends of the letters to meet up with the one after. The e and the two l’s all have easy lines to extend on them and they are the only ones needed to be adapted for the moment.

Next because the H is floating on it’s own we need a way to join it to the rest of the word, a decorative swirl is simple and effective. Using the same techniques as we used to create the letters (thicker on the down strokes) the swirl is created by drawing an expanded figure of 8 type of line.

wpid-wp-1427123350970.jpegWhen creating the swirl make sure it connects the H and e, I have also made the first loop bridge between the second l and the o to add more stability. A teardrop is added to terminate the bottom of the line.

Next, in the name of stability I have extended the flicks on the top of the l’s this provides another bridge so the H isn’t just held on by the swirl at the bottom. Since we can’t do that to just one the second l is joined to the first. (There is no photo of this stage, it was an after thought.)

What we had was perfectly workable for a paper cut, but to even out the designwpid-wp-1427123450494.jpeg there needed to be something around the top of the o, I have drawn in a simple flower, though you could use a star, a heart or any other basic shape.

Next all that is left is to ink the design so you have a final you can use to create a template. I always keep my original drawing as is once it is finished.

We will look at different ways of turning an original drawings into templates another time as this one was fairly quick I used tracing paper to transfer the design “flipped” onto the cutting paper.wpid-wp-1427123861612.jpeg

Since this is the end of the section on how to make your own typography for papercutting templates, here is the final cut, remember we only started with our normal handwriting and transformed it into beautiful typography.

These methods can be applied to everything, next time you are writing a birthday card why not try using these techniques there, or even in your art journal.

It would be great to see what your typography ends up looking like, if you want a different base why not ask your partner/parent/sibling/child/fourth cousin, twice removed to write the starting word and build up from there.

Have fun creating.

Safe Disposal of Blades

I really can’t stress enough that when you are done with your blades they must be disposed of safely, in most places blades are destroyed by incineration as this is the safest way to ensure they don’t damage anyone or anything in the environment.

Safe Disposal

Mostly the type of blades used are surgical so logically you should dispose of them just like any other surgical type of equipment. Here in the UK we have Sharps Boxes which are available from doctors or pharmacies at a very low cost. (The smallest box would last you years.) Once full the box is designed to be impossible to open once sealed.
When ready for disposal the box should be labelled as craft blades – non medical waste so it is known that your box does not contain any sort of contamination. Then usually it can be returned to your doctor or pharmacy and they will ensure it is disposed of correctly.

However in some areas they state they cannot take the box (and will not allow you to have one) unless it is for medical waste only so please be clear when you request one.

Some councils will allow you to seal your blades in a container that can not be broken label it as craft blades and be collected with your normal domestic waste, if you are a business this will go with your business waste and not household.

Please always check with your local council or environmental agency how you should be disposing of your blades. If neither the pharmacy, your doctor or the council will take your used blades contact a waste contractor, they will charge you a fee but it is imperative that blades are disposed of correctly.

Be Safe at Home

Whatever method you need to use when it comes to disposal you also need to make sure all these used blades don’t end up all over your house. They may not be any good for paper cutting but they are still very sharp.

As a sharps box cannot be closed properly without permanently sealing it, it is possible for it to be knocked over and blades can spill. Make sure you keep it in a safe place where it is unlikely to be at risk of being knocked, either from children, pets or clumsy spouses.

Money tins that require a tin opener to access are also a favourite as the blades cannot “escape.” Jars can be used but aren’t ideal as glass can be broken if dropped or especially when placed in with domestic waste if you have that option.

It is best to assess the personal risk in your home, if you are the only one in the house there is far less chance of any problems arising from how you store your used blades, for those of you with children remember that some places that may seem inaccessible actually are when you have a toddler with enough determination.  For really inquisitive children perhaps a lockable unit (key not a child lock) or tool box is the best option.

However you store your used blades it may be best to test the method before filling it with blades.

Be safe and enjoy your craft.

130GSM Pearlescent – Paper Story

This paper is from paper story. Mid-weight for paper cutting so ideal for beginners  This paper is double sided (other than the latte, which is single sided) and comes in all sorts of gorgeous colours, The golds and silvers are divine and for some reason I adore the tropical orange (not a colour that would usually take my fancy.
I selected the Bearly Pink for the test.

Pearlescent 130Printing

Since I am used to printing on white or single sided paper my template lines are quite light to prevent them showing through. While I can still see the template printing slightly darker would have been an advantage (necessary on some of the darker colours.) Pure black doesn’t show through to the opposite side if it is flat, but if you plan to float don’t print too dark.

Drawing

If you draw your templates don’t go for a soft pencil HB to 2H is ideal for drawing on this type of paper, white pencil for the darker shades.

Cutting

When I first started cutting I did wonder if I was going to like this paper, only because I am used to a lower gsm. Once I had got a little more into it I began to just enjoy the greater control and structure of a higher weight.

Fluffy bits, barely any with this paper, you can see where you have cut easily so you know where the danger zones are. If by any chance a fluffy bit does appear they come away easily with a fresh blade and are even removable with a slightly used one.

Blades

This surprised me blade usage was quite low, I got closer to half an hour out of a single blade working on the detail, 40 minutes on larger areas (which is why you can see more cut in this photo.)

Price

A pack of 10 sheets in a single colour is just £1.50 so at just 15p/sheet it’s a good price for an excellent paper. Or if you like to buy in bulk there is an option for 100 sheets at 12p/sheet where you can request the colours you would like.

Conclusion

Over all, a brilliant all round paper it looks lovely once it is flipped over and because it is double sided there are no white bits. However that is also the only disadvantage as the darker colours are harder to work with if you print a template rather than draw.

Here is the link to the white, the colours are all listed separately.

The Tangle Toolkit

If you have been keeping up with me on instagram you will have noticed I have been doing a tangle a day.

I wanted to share with you my personal toolkit, Zentangle ® do a lovely official kit but I already had everything I needed.

Pens

wpid-wp-1426183474208.jpegUni pin

I’ve had these a while as I also use these when drawing templates for paper cuts. When tangling I use the 0.3 for outlining the frame and the 0.1 to draw the tangles.

One thing I did notice though was that while these were great for the slower drawing when lining a drawing they weren’t as good for tangles where I draw a little faster.

wpid-wp-1426183788169.jpeg

Pilot

A new addition while I was picking up some new sketchbooks I bought a black pilot drawing pen (0.2) and two sepia pens (0.2 and 0.5) I have found the pilot pens better for tangling as they seem to flow better for the way I draw.

The sepia pens were for a secondary colour when drawing step outs and to also try some full sepia tangles.

wpid-wp-1426183622492.jpeg Pitt Artist

The brush pen is great for filling large areas, the black pigment isn’t as dense as in the drawing pens and there is less bleed through on lighter weight papers so I prefer it for quick fills to my promarkers.

I had originally bought it for typography but really didn’t get on with it for that.

 

Paper

wpid-wp-1426184113638.jpeg I prefer to have a book, the official tiles are gorgeous and one day I might use them but I would like to be producing a higher level of work first. I first started with a free writer book as I always have a few of them about but the paper in those isn’t up to holding the ink. Both my step out book and my tangle book are 160gsm Daler Rowney graduate sketchbooks. My step outs go in an A5 soft cover stapled book and the tangles are in an A6 hard cover book.

wpid-wp-1426183984495.jpegThere is no bleed through on the paper so while I don’t use both sides of the paper in my tangle book I am able to use both sides in the step out book.

I like the hard bound book as it is easy to throw in my bag and take anywhere.

Pencil

While the idea behind zentangle is that you draw with a pen you still add your strings with a pencil. I am a mechanical pencil lover and use a rotring Tikky 0.5 with a HB lead. I do have a set of sketching pencils for shading though I haven’t tried any of that yet.

Other Things

My pencil case has a few other things in it too, I have a white gel pen that can be used for drawing on parts that have been filled with black. I also have all my other drawing equipment that might make it into tangles one day like the promarkers and my coloured pencils. But all you really need is something to draw on and something to draw with. I have seen beautiful tangle art in all sorts of mediums.

Papercut Template Designers

When I started papercutting I found a lot of the lists didn’t differentiate between personal and commercial use and I often saw people asking specifically for commercial use or just personal use. I found that a lot of shops did order their store categories by personal and commercial use when the sold separate licences, a few had them mixed in, some only dealt with one licence type.
So I started clicking links and compiling a list, it is by no means definitive but it should serve as a good guide.

If you are a designer and want to be added or you notice a broken link/closed shop then feel free to contact me to help keep this list updated.

Rules Lampworkers Live By

Lampworkers Rules

  • No matter how much glass you have it’s never enough
  • Beady hugs are best
  • If you lick it, it’s yours
  • Thou shalt not show receipts to your spouse
  • Pray to the kiln fairies
  • The longer you spend on it the more likely it is to break
  • Warning flying glass

These are the rules in my Typographical paper cut design. The design also has flames, a heart and a dragon.

wpid-wp-1422370251535.jpegI’m currently working on a version for the Flame Off Charity auction. I went out the other day and bought a beautiful light blue glitter card backing for it and have just started on the cut itself on white hammered paper.

This is the start of it, hopefully it will all be finished and mounted in the next few days. Then I will add the finished cut to the portfolio.