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All the goodies from this month's box, including a sticker and...candy? What?

ArtSnacks: July 2016 Unboxing and Review

I received my first ArtSnacks box this month! If you subscribe to any whatever-of-the-month services, you already know how these things work. You give a company money, and every month they send you a box of samples related to your interests. This particular box service curates several full size art products around a central theme. It costs $20 a month, and is a great way to try new stuff without having to do your own damn research. (There is also a great bad pun on the included “menu:” Why was the painting sent to jail? Because it was framed. Heh. Haha. Ahahaha! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!1! I think it broke my brain.) Since I know my opinion matters to everyone, I put together this little review.

Why are those Prussians always so blue, anyway?

QoR Watercolor by GOLDEN (Prussian Blue)
$15.79 retail (Prices are stated on the card that comes with the box. I have not researched to see if they’re accurate.)

I fucking adore GOLDEN acrylic paints. I’m not much of a watercolor-er, but I was interested to see if this paint color was as saturated as the acrylics. I’ve tried other brands for background effects, but never really gotten the color payoff I wanted.

Again, I’m no expert, but this paint seemed pretty damn good to me. I used a LOT of water to get a drip effect, but the color stayed vibrant. I’d love to see what a real watercolor artist could do with this.

brush handlebrush tip

Elite Synthetic Kolinsky Sable Brush by Princeton Brush
$12.50 retail

The selling point of this brush is that it behaves like a traditional sable brush but is actually synthetic. I’ve always used synthetic brushes, so I’m unclear on the difference. (Did I mention I’m totally unqualified to review watercolor stuff?) This brush is fine as far as I can tell, but nothing special. I did find myself wishing it could carry more water, but it’s not a wash brush, so I can forgive that. It is nice to now have a dedicated watercolor brush like all the cool kids.

 

 

 

brush cleaneropen brush cleanerThe Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver by General Pencil
$2.59 retail

I use solid brush cleaners to maintain my makeup brushes, and I was gratified to discover there’s a similar product for art brushes. It cleaned off the watercolor brush just fine even after I left the paint to dry on it for a couple of days WHICH I SWEAR I DID ON PURPOSE TO THOROUGHLY TEST THIS PRODUCT AND NOT BECAUSE I FORGOT TO CLEAN IT EARLIER I NEVER PROCRASTINATE STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.

Damn if this cake of soap isn’t tiny, though. I don’t think it’d be convenient to use on a brush any larger than the one they sent me. Also, I haven’t tried it on anything other than watercolor paint, which isn’t exactly tough to remove. I’ll post an update when I get a chance to use it on an acrylic paint-caked brush.

UPDATE: I let acrylic paint dry completely on a fine-tipped paintbrush, and the cleanser took it right off! More updates when I try it on a big-ass brush (provided I remember).

penpen tipHybrid Technica Roller Ball Pen by Pentel Arts
$2.99 retail

According to the card, this pen “boasts a tungsten carbide…roller tip that keeps your line consistent.” It’s also advertised as lightfast and water-resistant. Sounds great, right?

Well, lightfast it may be, but water-resistant it ain’t, much. While the words will still be legible after swiping over the dry ink with water, there will be a lot of smearing. It’s kind of weird this was included to be used with all the watercolor stuff. Plus, the line isn’t as consistent as all that. It’s really easy to get a blank trail down the center of the line if you’re not really careful about how much pressure you apply. This pen is really pleasant to use as an everyday writing pen, but I’d say it’s only adequate for serious drawing.

Yupo paperYup Watercolor Paper by Legion Paper (bonus item)
no price provided

This miniature pad is really intriguing. Unlike traditional watercolor paper, this stuff is nonporous. As you’ll see below, I was able to get some really cool drip and swirl effects with it.

The downside: The instructions warn you to be careful not to smudge the paint as it’s drying and that it’s possible to wipe the paper clean afterwards. What it does not say is, “Don’t handle your work at all, because the slightest touch will smear the shit out of it even after the paint is dried.” It should. I recommend making copious use of a fixative when you’re done.

smartiesSmarties
WTF

Apparently this month’s ArtSnacks were curated by my great-aunt, who coincidentally also gave me Smarties the day I got the box. I’m always happy to receive candy, but I hope next time they send chocolate.

 

The Project

I challenged myself to use all the products (except the soap and the Smarties) in a single project. Please click the first picture below to see a slideshow with captions.

 

Whew!

I’m in the middle of launching a new personal blog (visit erraticrumination.com if you want to see my progress—or lack thereof). I’m also planning to give this blog a makeover, so my posting will be even slower for a bit. I’ve got lots of content coming for you greedy buggers, I swear! Please don’t gnaw my ankles.

Also, my auto newsletter plugin went nuts and started sending subscribers an avalanche of blog update notifications. I have captured the beast and locked it in a cage, but I don’t know if or when I’ll manage to tame it again. In the meantime, follow me on twitter (@skirkbucket). I tweet about every new post.

2015 Holiday Market

On December 5th I participated in my first-ever craft fair. My dad and I shared a table at the Brownsville Art Center Holiday Market, and I had a lot of fun.

my side of the table

This was my side of our table at the Holiday Market.

Dad's side of the table

This was Dad’s side of the table.

Between Dad’s killer illustrations and my upcycling, we had quite the varied set of wares. I’m especially proud of the shirt pocket pen holsters for sketchbooks (please let me know if you can think of a catchier name). I sewed those up from old shirts, and I think my design is way more versatile than a standard journal cover pattern. For one thing, the size can be adjusted easily by moving the buttons. There’s no need for a lining or any kind of stiffening for the holster to keep its shape, as it’s supported by the sketchbook cover itself and doesn’t gap when opened.

Anyway, I’ll go into the individual projects in a later post. What I really wanted to tell you is what I learned from my first craft fair:

1.) Bring food. Luckily, I had a swarm of relatives popping in to the art center all day who could bring me noms. If I hadn’t, I might have starved to death from having to watch my table all day.

2.) Wear armor. I managed to stave off a lot of anxiety (I gots me some pesky brain problems) by wearing elaborate makeup, which subconsciously put me in “performance” mode rather than “freaking out because there’s too many people who want to make small talk” mode. I imagine a silly hat or a costume would also help.

3.) Bring supplies. The deciding factor for people considering buying cuffs was my offer to adjust the fit right there. I had needle and thread so I could quickly move buttons around and such.

4.) Speaking of cuffs, improvise. I sold one bracelet to a guy by pointing out that it could also be used as a coffee sleeve.

5.) Compliments are currency. The consensus among shoppers was that I am extremely clever and my art is awesome in all ways… but not so awesome that they were willing to pay for it. I got a lot of praise and very few sales. If I had been counting on the money from the fair, I would have been devastated, but treating my first fair as a learning experience let me appreciate the compliments. The boost to my confidence is money in the ego bank for encouraging me to keep on crafting.

6.) Stress is underrated. When I agreed to participate, I had very little time to prepare. (I was asked to join at the last second when not enough artists signed up for the fair.) I didn’t have even close to enough product to fill a table, so I had to bust my ass to get ready. That meant the occasional day of sewing for nine hours straight, and that I had to beg my dad to help, but I think the kick in the pants was worth it. The pressure taught me that I CAN do it, and now I have mentally opened myself up to opportunities I would have deemed “too hard” before accomplishing so much in just a few weeks.

7.) My nephew is too fucking adorable for words. I already knew that, but I thought it was worth pointing out to you delusional people who mistakenly think YOU have the world’s cutest nephew. His parents brought him to the fair, which perked “Auntie Mae” right up when I was in the midday doldrums.

8.) Something will go wrong. It didn’t occur to me that so many people would ask if my stuff would still be for sale at the art center after the fair. I had to tell them I would try to get the art that didn’t sell posted on my Etsy shop as soon as possible. I was positive that I’d prepared for anything, but I didn’t have those listings ready to go when I needed to. Also, there wasn’t room for two chairs at our table, so Dad had to sit in a nook behind the Christmas tree like an elf who had been banished to a corner by an angry Santa for not making toys fast enough.

9.) Don’t assume you can come up with enough pithy advice to fill a ten-item list. You will be so very, very wrong.

New Alias (please don’t tell the cops)

TiMae Creations is now Skirkbucket Studio! Why? Short answer: reasons. Long answer: A minor kerfuffle with my domain hosting service gave me the opportunity to change my business name. I jumped on it because I only changed the name from “Skirkbucket” to “TiMae” when we thought my husband (Tim) would be an active partner. That fell through, but it would have been a major pain to change everything back.

So why “Skirkbucket,” anyway? I’m glad you asked, [entity that exists only in my head for providing questions to facilitate a Q&A format]! Skirkbucket is what my dad called me when I was a child, as in “Mae Marie Skirkbucket, you come clean this up RIGHT NOW.” I’ve always liked the sound of it. Plus it’s nonsensical, just like me.

Switch over to following me on Twitter as @Skirkbucket, and be sure to switch your bookmark for my Etsy shop over to the new name as well. (You DO have my shop bookmarked, right? Right?) Thanks for your patience as I gradually get everything on this blog replaced with the new name. It may take me a while to coax out the TiMaes lurking in the dusty corners.