Welcome to the New Stone Age

A sample of Mitz TerraSkin, a paper I had heard about and been eager to try, found its way to me at the CPSA Colored Pencil International Show and Convention in Kentucky last week.

4″ x 5 1/2″ sample of TerraSkin paper (background blotter paper and ink blots available separately).

There were oodles of colored pencil artists at the convention who also received these samples and can try it for themselves, so I have restricted my testing to graphite, ink and silverpoint – all among the media suggested on the front of the sample piece.

Interestingly, my success with the first round of pen & ink (below) seemed to depend on the pen used. All of the pens have Rotring Brilliant black fountain pen cartridge ink in them, but ink from the Platinum Carbon fountain pen with the finest tip bled like crazy, while that from the Rotring Art Pens behaved much better. Unfortunately, the stipple dots were not dry and still printed quite nicely on my finger about 20 minutes after I laid them down. Not a good substrate for me to work on in pen & ink – I’d have the ink all over my hand and the paper (plus a few nearby surfaces, guaranteed) in very short order.

TerraSkin paper with ink & graphite swatches

When I tried the same set of pens with my current favorite, Noodler’s Ink (below), it was an epic fail. Rather than just the ink from Platinum Carbon fountain pen bleeding and feathering on the paper, all of the pens showed the same problem – not a crisp line to be found! The other issue with the Noodler’s is that this particular ink is from their “Bulletproof” line, meaning that once it is applied to a surface containing cellulose (my drawing paper, ink blotter and/or cotton shirt), it is permanent and waterproof (but not meant to stop actual bullets). Since the TerraSkin’s components are crushed mineral powder and nontoxic resins, Noodler’s Ink has no cellulose to make it waterproof. Even after the ink is long dry, it still bleeds and runs when wetted.

This does not necessarily mean that TerraSkin is not appropriate for pen & ink – there may be other brands and/or types of ink much better suited to use on this paper. For me, I’ll pass.

The graphite swatches (above) faired much better – graphite goes onto this paper very smoothly. The feel of it reminded me of Yupo paper, but with a bit more tooth. The white specs that show through graphite drawing on most papers are very minimal on TerraSkin, and show up only when I used the pencil lightly and/or on the side of the point. If I held the pencil up straight and used the tip of the point, coverage was virtually complete, especially with light pressure. There is no visible grain or pattern to the specs as happens with some papers, and even my softest, darkest 9B Grafwood pencil smudged surprisingly little when pushed with my finger.

Noodler’s Ink on TerraSkin – FAIL!

The big happy surprise came when I picked up my silverpoint pencil – silverpoint is listed in the “ideal” list of media, but one never really knows until one tries it out just how ideal it truly is. Although it is difficult to see at the bottom of the two photos above, the silverpoint writes quite nicely on this paper. I am not aware of any other paper that is ready-made for silverpoint drawing – all require a surface coating of white gouache, silverpoint drawing ground or other suitable preparation. It is a treat to have paper ready to draw on without any prior fussing and drying time.

Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff carries TerraSkin products – sketchbooks as well as sheets and rolls of paper, and the Etsy shop MitzRocks offers a slightly different selection of TerraSkin sketchbooks, journals and papers as well.

August 8, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Art Paper, Art Supplies, Drawing, Drawing Paper, Fine Art, Pen & Ink, Pencils, Silverpoint & Metalpoint. Leave a comment.

Write It in White!

I’ve been getting into pen & ink lately, a surprise even to myself – a heretofore devout and exclusive pencil enthusiast. A friend passed on some beautiful Rotring Art Pens – a fountain pen created for drawing! It just took the right tool to get me hooked. I’ll save those for another post, but using the pens in a Fabriano Artist’s Journal, filled with several colors of Fabriano’s Ingres pastel paper, gave me the itch for a nice white to stand out with my black and brown fountain-pen inks against those colorful journal pages (in Googling for a Fabriano Artist’s Journal link for you, I’m only coming up with journals filled with cream/white sheets, so this multicolor version of the journal may sadly no longer be available).

The Fabriano Artist's Journal, Noodler's Ink and the Sakura Gelly Roll white gel pen

The Fabriano Artist’s Journal, Noodler’s Ink and the Sakura Gelly Roll white gel pen.

JetPens.com was kind enough to read my mind and send along an opaque white Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen for review, so I ordered a couple of friends for it, also from JetPens. Test-driving new writing materials is always fun, and this was no exception.

The Gelly Roll is .4mm medium point; its two new friends are both Mitsubishi Uni-ball Signo gel pens – the Angelic UM-120AC .7mm and the Broad UM-153 (the point size is not specified on this one, but as you can guess from the name it’s a great broad point). All are described by Jet Pens as being great for artists and crafters.

From the initial test run, I am happy. Not thrilled, but the gel pens definitely performed to their gel-pen utmost, as far as I can tell. Gel pens usually have that “track” down the center of every mark they make – the structure of the pen is such that the little ball in the tip distributes a bit more ink to the sides of each stroke than in the stroke’s center, so in a white pen one sometimes sees a darker streak down the center of each mark. This is a minor quibble, inherent in gel pens from what I can tell, and not a drawback for sketchbook work – just something to consider if one is producing fine art.

White gel pens with their test swatches on black paper.

For comparison’s sake (upper right in the photo above), I used stipple, a quick sketchy stroke for opaque coverage, and line to see how the three pens stack up. The Uni-ball Signo Broad (bottom pen pictured) has both the widest, whitest line and most reliable ink flow of the three. It starts more quickly than the other two and covers most opaquely. The Uni-ball Signo Angel (middle pen pictured), with it’s .7mm point, trailed the Gelly Roll (top pen) in opaqueness, but has the advantage in reliable start and coverage in the sketchy line department. The Gelly Roll started out very well, but did give me some attitude after writing for a little while with it – you can see in the sketchbook shot above how in most of the white swirls it’s pretty opaque. Toward the end of that run (lower left swirl and more noticeably in the text at page right), the pen just started to quit on me. I was able to get it back to full, opaque flow with some fiddling, but don’t yet know if this is a nasty habit or just a fluke from a new pen.

All in all, I will definitely be exploring more uses for these, both art and craft. All kind of applications come to mind, from the ability to address dark, colorful envelopes to adding highlights to pen & ink drawings on a spectrum of paper colors. At the very least, they are quite portable and will get a workout with my lovely new fountain pens and colorful sketchbook.

Disclaimer: I have no connections to Jet Pens outside of being a satisfied customer. They’re a long-time fave of mine, and not just because they can read minds. They make some excellent, otherwise-hard-to-find art toys available at reasonable prices with excellent service.

June 10, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Art Supplies, Fine Art, Pen & Ink, Portability. 4 comments.