StartHere Sketchbooks

Ooo, thanks to a link on Duffy + Partners, I have a new sketchbook obsession. It is the StartHere series of interlockable sketchbooks. Each cover hooks onto the next book which solves the problem of what to do when you start a new book but still have valuable notes in the last book. Covers are made out of indestructable Yupo paper and are available with blank, lined or gridded paper. Each cover appears to be blissfully blank waiting for stickers or drawing sof my own choosing.

I can’t wait to order a couple for the New Year. I am a big proponent of starting a fresh sketchbook at the beginning of the year and I have been so disappointed in the paper stock in Moleskine notebooks (too thin!) and sketchbooks (seems to have a strange sizing on it that accepts inks and paint in unusual ways) so I’ve been yearning for a new alternative.


Uni Watercolor Pencil Set

I have an unhealthy obsession with watercolor sets and watercolor pencils despite the fact that I have had absolutely no training in the proper technique of watercolor painting. Mostly, I just like to dip my brush into the colors and pool it onto the paper in little squares of translucent sunshiny puddles. I keep buying sets thinking that somehow, the next set with imbue me with the knowledge and inspiration to make beautiful little paintings.

So, my most recent purchase is not surprisingly another set of watercolor pencils. This set is from Uni-Ball and is listed as set #2 with 12 golf-pencil-sized pencils, a sharpener, a miniature water brush, a sharpener and a clear cap which I suspect is to be used as an extender when the pencils get too short. The set comes in a lovely clear plastic case which snaps shut. The box measure 4.5″ tall x5.25″ wide x5/8″ deep and would easily fit into a travel kit.


[Colors are from left to right: Pompeiian Red, Burnt Ochre, Gold Ochre, Dark Sepia, Moss Green, Night Green, Light Cobalt Blue, Dark Phthaloblue, Rose Carmine, Dark Orange, Canary Yellow and Light Lemon]

I am no expert but I’ve played around with lots of different sets of watercolors from Windsor & Newton and Van Gogh to Reeves and Crayola. This set certainly had more complex colors that a lot of the cheaper sets I’ve purchased. Some of the colors did pool in a salty/grainy sort-of way when an excessive amount of water is added but when used with a damp brush the colors were fairly smooth in color. As pencils, the lead is soft and easy to apply to paper. I absolutely love the moss green, night green, Pompeiian red and rose carmine colors. The dark sepia is a fairly good substitute for a hard black color and would probably make a good color for mixing. At $15 for a 12-color set with brush, its a pretty good deal and worth the investment.

[This test was conducted on a simple 3×5 card.]


Multipoint T’Gaal Sharpener


My cubemate revealed quite a collection of office supplies when she moved in last year but it was only today that she unveiled the holy grail of office supply gadgets: a pencil sharpener with an adjustable tip control. Purchased in Japan, the T’Gaal Multisharpener has five settings depending on how fine a point you’d like your pencil to have, stubbier for softer leads and colored pencils up to the sharpest for hard drafting pencils.

A more in-depth review is available on the now-defunct, but still beloved, Pencil Revolution.

The Wet Paint Store stocks the T’Gaal. Yeah!


Field Tested Field Notes


Bob came home the other day with a couple sets of Field Notes. I eyed him enviously and he sheepishly replied “Can I at least keep one of the books?” “Why, of course,” I replied while I scampered off with the rest of them and the covet-worthy pencil.

I test drove the blank book with an assortment of writing implements from pencil to Hi-Tec-C to standard Pilot Precise roller ball and had great results. The paper is thicker and more durable than the similarly sized Moleskine and honestly, that makes all the difference. No bleed through when using a Pilot Precise which is my litmus test for notebooks. The paper is a clean bright white too.

Bottomline? Field Notes rock. I think I’m going to need to order them by the gross.