Tools of the Trade

I wanted to give you all a little sneak peek into the different tools I like to use for my cards over at Daughter Zion Designs.  I don't just use these tools for my cards and other things that I sell over on my Etsy, but they are my go to tools for my own work that I like to do.  Lately, most of that work has been little pages in my art journal/sketchbook.

First up is the classic black India Ink, and a nib pen.  Almost all of my lettering projects are rooted in these two tools, and I've definitely gone through my share of bottles of ink, nibs, and pen holders.  Now I'm allowing myself to become a little more spoiled with my pens (nib holders) and spending a couple extra dollars on one for some extra comfort.  This cork handled one is a Koh-I-Noor Pen Holder I picked up at my favourite art supply store Curry's.  The black handled pen holder is the Speedball Classic Pen Holder, which also come is gold, and the larger pen is just a carved chunk of bamboo from China.  This little bottle of india ink I picked up years ago, and didn't use it for a long time.  I wish that I had used it earlier, because I can't find it anywhere, and it dried with a luscious glossy black finish.  Currently inside that bottle is just a standard cheap india ink, which I regret buying.  It's too thin, and bleeds and feathers too easily on the paper, which makes for a lack of crisp lines in my lettering.  

Koh-I-Noor Pen Holder, a favourite of mine!

Below is the assortment of nibs that I've collected over the years.  I believe that all of them are Speedball, the Flexible Pen Point Nibs and Broad-Edged Nibs.  Even though I should be using the broad-edged nibs more often, especially when I'm doing larger, thicker letters, I always forget about them because I have the tucked away in a black film canister, hidden in a drawer.   Instead I spend forever using the smallest little fleixble point nib to shade in my letters.  This is such poor practice on my part!  I think that when I re-do my studio (getting a new desk soon!) I'm going to have to have my nibs out on a shelf right in front of me, in a clear container, so I can remember to use them.  What's the point in spending my hard earned money on new nibs that I forget about and don't use?  Besides that though, I'm excited to have recently learned about left handed nibs (labelled LC in the broad-edged nibs section)!  I didn't even know that such a thing existed, and it got me very excited.  I just got them in the mail, so I haven't had a chance to play with them yet.  I hope they make lettering easier.  Sometimes being left handed has it's disadvantages.  Right now for me, it's causing trouble in my calligraphy.

An assortment of flexible tip and broad-edged nibs.
Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star India Inks have been a go-to for rich black inks for me for a while.  The inks come in two varieties, Hi-Carb (nice and crisp) and Matte (obviously, matte).  Both are waterproof once dry, and are a good quality product to use with nib pens, or even paint brushes.  Since I've started going through india ink rather quickly, I've changed to a different brand that I can find in larger bottles, but I keep both of these around for personal projects and my sketchbook.  The richness of the blacks in both of these bottles makes me swoon.  Ok, I'm definitely nerding out on black ink right now.

When you have lots of black inks in your repertoire, I feel that you definitely need to balance things out with a lovely rich white.  I've found that Liquitex Acrylic Ink in Titanium White goes on pretty opaque, and covers other (dried) acrylic inks really well.  I haven't experimented with it much for lettering, because I have a special seriously opaque white pen that I save for that, but I know that in my sketchbook it covers the pages extremely well.  It's also nice to have it on hand to mix with other colours to tint them down a bit.

Next up is the Pen Cleaner also by Liquitex Acrylic Ink.  Before purchasing this product, I never really thought hard about cleaning my nibs super well, other than a good rinse under the sink.  Rinsing my nibs with just water wasn't necessarily bad, but I've ended up with buildup of ink on most of my nibs because of it.  When I purchased this pen cleaner, I poured some out into a little cup and let all my nibs have a nice little soak in it for a while.  Man oh man, this stuff works wonders!  Even the years old, ink caked nibs came out like brand new!  It was definitely a well loved product that will get a lot of use.

Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star InksTitanium White Liquitex Acrylic Ink and Pen Cleaner by Liquitex.
For colours, I go straight to FW Acrylic Inks by Daler Rowney.  Like all of my ink choices above, these come with eye droppers attached to each lid, which makes dispersing inks onto the palette, or straight onto the page, so easy.  For my sketchbook, I like to drop the colours right onto the page and push them around the paper with my fingers.  FW inks are so rich and true in colour, and stay vibrant even when dry.  My collection keeps growing of these little bottles (below is probably only half of the colours I have!), and it probably won't stop.  I have a list in my phone of the colours I have at home so if I'm at the store, I don't make double purchases.  One thing I like about these inks is that they come in the standard semi-matte finish, there's also Pearlescent sets and Shimmering sets.  I haven't used any of the Shimmering colours, but the Pearlescent colours are so lovely, and maintain a really good pearly effect once dry.

The ever growing collection of FW Acrylic Artists Ink.
Each bottle of FW Acrylic Artists Ink comes with a handy eye dropper in the lid.

Here's a little peek into my art journal of some pages where I played with the acrylic inks.  All of these pages were painted with my fingers, which I've found is so addicting!  Sure, it gets a little messy, but isn't that what creativity is all about?  I think that if you have an art space that is perfectly clean, it just means that you aren't using it! 

(In some of these pages you can see some writing in white.  That has been done with my special white pen, which I will feature on a Tools of the Trade in the future!  Sorry, you'll have to wait, and check back in!)

You don't have a soul.  You are a soul.  You have a body. - C.S. Lewis
Some lyrics to 'Memories' by Weezer.
Inky colours over mixed media collage, including sheet music, paint chips, scrapbook paper, and gauzy leaves.
Mountains done in Sharpie Marker and the magic white pen.  Sticker from a great read, HM Magazine