Tag Archives: Pat Mathes

alcohol inks review

13 Apr

Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Pat Mathes

Comments in Italics by Deb

My final journey with the Design Team is working with alcohol inks.  I love the bold look of the finished process, and am learning to refine those colors into soothing looks.  It is all in the process.  I am by no means an expert in this – I am just the opposite, a novice but willing to learn.  I will warn you right now that you need to wear gloves with this media.  I didn’t at first and ended up with yellow and green fingers.  And this is a very permanent ink.  The craft scrubbie  is a must for any mixed media artist, and it did take off a bit, but not much.  So WEAR GLOVES!  Protect your clothing and your workspace.  I used my Ranger nonstick craft sheet, also available at Blue Twig Studio, to protect my table. (I do protect my table, but rarely wear gloves myself. I kind of like the ink on my hands – makes me feel like I actually did something creative!) 

Alcohol inks are an acid-free, highly-pigmented, and fast drying medium to be used on non-porous surfaces.  You work with drops from the bottle, not a paint brush (although I do teach using the paintbrush in my Exploring Alcohol Inks Class – which will probably be on the schedule sometime in the summer, so watch for it.). There is a wide variety of colors.  The two most popular brands are Adirondack and Pinata.  The major difference between the two is the color palette.  The Adirondack line of colors is very earthy and rich.  The Pinata inks are rich, but basically primary colors.  And bright.  The Adirondacks are a bit more fluid, also.  The Adirondack inks are softer, and the Pinata quickly overpowers with its color.  Vivid primary colors.  If you mix the two on a project, and they are mixable, the Pinata will be the dominant colors because of the intensity.  Both brands of ink are very fast drying.

As I work through these examples, you will note I talk about the ink moving.  This is one of the great ways this ink works.  If you pick up the paper and tilt it, the ink moves on top of the paper.  If you put blending solution on it, the inks move.  So when I say the ink is moving, it is doing just that.  It sits on top of whatever surface you are using.

Tools needed:  (1) Surface:  Alcohol inks do not work well on paper.  The drops just sink into the paper.  I did some experimenting with a piece of gesso painted wood and got a different effect – you don’t get the bloom on the drops as much and you don’t get the flow.  The inks work great on any other surface – plastic, metal, glass, and on Yupo, my favorite, which is a plastic paper that you can purchase at Blue Twig Studio either already cut or in a large sheet you can cut to the size you want.  The Yupo  has a surface that really works well with the alcohol inks.  (2) Blending Tool (available at Blue Twig Studio).  You drop drops of the different colors on it and pounce with it, and you will get different effects.  On the pieces in this article, I will tell you when I used the blending tool

AI 1

(3) Alcohol Blending Solution – an awesome product.  If you put some on the blending tool and daub it on a finished piece, it dilutes and lightens the effect of the alcohol ink. The solution will also clean the alcohol ink off of surfaces, hands and tools.  You can also use 91% rubbing alcohol.  I have a water pen and a spray bottle filled with the rubbing alcohol.  Please note that you need 91% rubbing alcohol, not the everyday kind you probably have in your cabinet.  There are a couple of examples below where I used the pen or the spray.

First, I am going to show you some comparison studies I did with the alcohol inks, using Yupo paper and glossy photo paper.

***I have put 3 different colors on the blending tool, dropping them around randomly.  You don’t totally cover the pad on the tool – you will get the feel of how many drops to use.  (See the tool below in picture 12 of the domino) On the Yupo paper, using the blending tool, it has a much softer appearance and a slight bloom.  On the glossy paper, it is more intense and the inks don’t move.  You can pounce the tool over and over.  On the Yupo paper, the ink sits on top of the under colors and blooms a little more, not darkening.  On the glossy paper the ink just sits on top of what you already did and darkens more, not moving any.

AI 2



*** I put blending solution on the blending tool and swiped it through the first sample below.  You will note that with the Yupo paper, it smeared and spread the inks.  The effect on the glossy photo paper was that it didn’t do much to what was already down, it just smeared it a bit.  These were both dry when I used the blending solution.

AI 3 (1)


**When you put a drop of another color on top of a color on the Yupo paper (below left), it blooms and you get that neat ring around it – on the glossy paper, it doesn’t show a lot of effect.  It doesn’t move the bottom color at all and in fact overpowers it.

AI 4 (1)



****The next sample is another one of layering the colors.  And then I took the water pen filled with alcohol and swiped through them to see what effect I would get.  You can see with the Yupo paper, it removes the ink.  On the glossy paper, it doesn’t hardly have any effect.        AI 5


On the Yupo paper, you can keep layering colors, and even drop the alcohol solution in it, and each drop will bloom on top of the others.  Here are some examples of this.  In picture 1 I layered 3 colors.  You can see how they bloom on top of each other, creating those rings of intensity.  In picture 2, I dropped a drop of alcohol blending solution.  See how it lessened the intensity of the color?  In picture 3 I dropped a drop of white on top and then spritzed with rubbing alcohol.  It creates “droplets” on top.AI 6



***Next, I wanted to try some marbling.  I put a thick layer of shaving foam on a paper plate and dropped some drops of alcohol ink on top.  I then took a pallet knife and cut through it, kind of swirling the inks.  After you place the paper into the foam and pick it up, you just take a palette knife or paper towel and wipe off the foam to reveal the colors and lay it aside to dry.  The picture on the left was done using card stock and the picture on the right is the same process using Yupo paper (the three lighter ones) and on the far right are the glossy paper.  You can see that the colors are more intense on the card stock and glossy paper than on the Yupo paper.  So it would depend on the appearance you wanted. These are now ready for embellishing.  At this point you could use these as backgrounds for a greeting card – collage on them, draw on them, do Zentangle on them – any kind of art.

AI 7

Once alcohol inks are dry, you can write or draw on them with many media – remember, they are not water based so you won’t smear them with a water based media on top.



****The next sample I really enjoyed doing.  But doing this with the alcohol inks, you have to work fast because they dry so quickly.  I dropped Pinata inks (see how vivid the colors are) onto the Yupo paper, totally covering it.  I used a bit of blending solution to move the colors around a bit (this also extended the drying time a bit), and then I wrapped the paper in plastic wrap.  I left it to dry overnight.  When I released the plastic wrap the next day the effect was beautiful.  In the third picture, I did another piece using Adirondack colors which gave a more subtle effect.  (this is a great way to create special effects)


***And then there are dreamscapes.  This is the idea of June Rollins (she has beautiful AI work and many tutorials available).  You lay down lines of the alcohol ink across the page, add blending solution and tilt the paper to make the ink flow.  Then you add another color and do the same thing.  You take coffee stirrers and move the ink flow.  You take an old credit card and move it.  Get the picture?  Her pieces are beautiful – these are my first two attempts.  These take a lot of practice to get them to really work right.  I just love the looks of flow that you can get with these inks.

AI 10



Next one turned into kind of a hot mess.  I put down a mix of colors and then laid a stencil on top.  I dropped the blue through the stencil.  That is the outer part.  You let it sit a while and you can kind of see the stencil.  I didn’t like the way it did the inner part, so I put another stencil on top and dropped clear blending solution on it.  That created the small circles you see.  So the overall effect is okay, and I took a silver Uniball pen and a microperm pen and did a tangle on it.


AI 11


**I dropped ink on the blending tool and pounced it on a blank domino (just an inexpensive plastic domino).  These are fun to collage on, punch hole through and make necklaces.

AI 12


***To show a couple other effects, I did a light background, then placed the circle stencil on top of it.  I put blending solution on the blending tool and pounced through the stencil.  This took the ink off in those places.  Then I used a stamp with Ranger Archival Ink and stamped on the bottom.  On the right hand side, this is one of the earlier pieces where I showed drops on top of each other.  I inked my stamp with Ranger Archival Ink (has to be this type of ink) and then took a damp paper towel and removed the ink.  I wasn’t careful enough and did smear it a bit, but you get the general effect – it removes the color just like the blending solution does.

AI 13


Last but not least, here I just used drops of color on the blending tool, pounced it all over the Yupo paper, then used some blending solution on top of it and pounced some more.  I also did some drops directly on the Yupo paper. Once it dried, I did some quick art on top of it with white gel pen and black Microperm.

AI 14


When I step out of my comfort zone and work on something new, I am sometimes quickly frustrated. It doesn’t look the way I think it should or the way that the picture/video I am working from looks. I expect perfection from myself and it should be easy peasy. But that doesn’t happen. It takes practice, and finessing techniques my way, and coming up with a way that works for me.  That way I can start to develop my own style.  This was a really fun way to step out of my comfort zone!!  I see more playing in my future!


Thanks Pat for a great tutorial. Alcohol Inks are fun and addictive to use. There are many more ways you can use them besides what Pat has shared here. She is right that you just need to start playing and developing your own style to use them. One of the wonders of AI is that you really have just a minimum of control and that takes some getting used to. 

Blue Twig Studio sells all the Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Inks and the Pinata Alcohol Inks, as well as the Yupo paper and various tools, including craft sheets (although everything may not be listed on the website). Watch the Class Schedule for the next Exploring Alcohol Inks class – which I try to do once or twice a year. It is a great way to play and experiment with various surfaces and tools. I love to see which techniques/surfaces/tools the students love and which ones they ignore. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio

5039 N Academy Blvd 

Colorado Springs, CO 80918





Distress Products

5 Mar

Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics by Deb


The items in my packet for February were Distress products  (by Ranger)- Ground Espresso Distress Marker; Vintage photo distress ink pad; Fossilized Amber distress spray stain; Ground Espresso distress paint and Carved Pumpkin distress stain.  I already had quite a few different Distress ink pads, and bought some distress paints recently.  So I combined it all together to do this post.  I will apologize in advance for the extensive use of the words “spritz” and “mist” but I did do a lot of spritzing and misting while preparing these pieces.  It is important to have a blending tool to use these inks in the following ways.  So sit back, look at the process and then have FUN!!!

Distress 1

Distress ink is formulated to give an aging effect on paper, fibers and photographs.  The inks are reactive with water and will travel on the paper.  The inks stay wet longer so you can blend with them.  The inks are not permanent, and you can go back and mist them and reactivate them or water spot them.  You can get a great look by letting it all dry, then spatter it with some pretty good sized drops of water and just let it sit.  The water splotches left by doing this make a pretty cool background effect.

The distress inks are a lot of fun to work with.  Here are some pictures of the work in first stages:

Distress 2

The top left picture was first misted with Fossilized Amber spray stain.   I then blotted some Carved Pumpkin stain on an acrylic block, misted it and laid the paper on it.  When that was dry, I put some Ground Espresso distress paint and Mermaid Lagoon distress paint on an acrylic block, and using a sponge, sponged the paint through a stencil.

Bottom left picture was first stamped with white acrylic paint.  The top stamp was full strength, and the bottom one was the ghost image of what was left on the stamp, making a nice contrast to the first stamp.  The acrylic paint acts as a resist and retains its color.  Then I used the blending tool and laid down a background of blended ink of worn lipstick and weathered wood.  I took Fossilized Amber distress stain and put it on an acrylic block, spritzed it with water and laid the piece down on it to take up some of the color.  I then let it dry.

The third piece was an accounting paper tag.  I crumpled it in my hand, and then while still crumpled, I took the walnut distress ink pad and ran it over the creases.  I spritzed it with water, let it run in the creases, and while still wet, placed it between two pieces of parchment paper and ironed it out.  I used Fossilized Amber spray stain and gave it a spritz.  Then took the blending tool and weathered wood ink pad and stenciled the dots.

The fourth piece has a background of blended ink using the blending tool.  I then blotted some Carved Pumpkin stain from the dabber bottle on an acrylic block, misted it and laid the paper on it in a couple of places.  I took a stencil and using the blending tool and the vintage photo ink pad, sponged the image.

Here are the pictures of my finished pieces.  I used black ink for the stamps used, except for the tag with the tulip.  There was other wording on the stamp I didn’t want to use, so I used the distress marker and colored the stamp.  The wording on the “Delight” piece was enhanced by the Distress marker.

Distress 3


You can stamp the ink pad on an acrylic block and mist it, then lay the paper down on it and sop up the ink.  You can use as many colors as you want as long as they don’t get mixed up and make a mud color.  You really need to be careful with the colors.  You could also do them individually and use a heat tool in between.  This method makes a really nice blended background.  You could then put a stencil on top of that and spritz it with water and careful lift it up, leaving the ghosted image of the stencil on the blended background.  You can also do the same thing with the distress stain in the dabber bottle – only you really don’t have to mist it – you can use it full strength.  You can also take the liquid stain and put it in a mini mister for better control.  These products are transparent in nature, so you can really do so much with them.  For instance, if you have a really bright scrapbook paper and want to tone it down a little, you can use the blending tool and ink pads and apply directly on the scrapbook paper.  It tones down the color, lets the new color shine through.

Pictures 4 and 5 are very interesting uses of the distress ink pads.  I had already done these background pages but since they use this product, I am sharing them.  First, take gesso and apply through a stencil and let it dry.  Then use the blending tool and the ink pads, and cover the background – these are done in two colors.  Once you have the background in, take another stencil and lay over the stop.  Spritz water through the stencil, let it sit a minute and then take a damp paper towel and blot up some of the ink background.  These make beautiful backgrounds.  Picture No. 5 is a finished piece using this process.

Distress 6

Another great way to use the distress ink pads – Blot your stamp on an Embossing ink pad, lightly blot it off and mist with water.  Then stamp it on distressed background and watch it wick, giving it a watercolor effect.  You can also do this with the stain.  I did a couple of pieces here – I didn’t use the embossing ink first – just stamped it on the ink pad and spritzed it lightly.  The image on the top is full strength and the one on the bottom is the ghost image.  I just used a white background, but the potential for some beautiful pieces is definitely in this process.  Another tip for this one, even after it is dry, you can use a water brush and move some of the ink around if you have a darker area or one that didn’t wick much.  I really like this process.

Distress 7

Last, but not least – a journal page.  First, using white acrylic paint, I did three images on the two pages and let them dry.  I then took the Carved Pumpkin spray and sprayed it through a stencil on the upper right corner.  Once that dried, I used the blending tool and the mowed lawn ink pad, and did a blended ink over most of the two pages.  You can see that in some instances, I used a heavier hand with the blending tool, making a darker shade of the ink.  I sprayed some more Carved Pumpkin on the left side.  Then I used the Mermaid Lagoon distress ink on the bird stamp and stamped the image.  I used the Walnut Stain ink paid and inked the large flower stamp – I did very very lightly spritz it with water before stamping to give it a slight watercolor effect.  The face was stamped with Ground Espresso paint on tissue paper and applied with Matte Medium.  I put a little gesso under the image to break up the green a little.  Also, you can see on the top left portion and the bottom right where I used the large water splotches to give a different effect.  I then took the vintage photo ink pad and the blending tool and distressed the edges of the pages.

I don’t show much use of the marker in these pages – I did mix it in with the Walnut Stain ink pad to make sure I was getting the large stamp covered, and used it on the Delight page when the stamp failed to give a proper image.  I like the fine tip on the Distress marker, but I find the brush end is a bit firm.  Again, these are water based markers, and I am more likely to use Tombow markers because I like the brush ends better.


All in all, I love the Distress products.  I had not used the stain or spray stain before.  They are quite easy to use.  There are so many ways to use these products and they are a lot of fun to work with.  It is not a messy product to use.  I will definitely use these more and more in the future.


Thanks Pat. That was an awesome demo of the various Distress products and the different ways they can be used. I really love how your journal pages turned out. I’ve had fun playing with the spray stains – but then I am a spray fanatic. Of course, we carry a good selection of Distress products of all kinds. They are designed to play well together. If you are looking for a particular Distress product and don’t see it on the website, just contact me as I very well may have it in stock, but not have it listed on the website. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918


Conte pencil review

29 Jan

Guest blog post by Design Team member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics by Deb


This month, Deb gave me the Conte a Paris pastel chalk pencils.  Happy, happy me!  I love working with pastel chalk pencils.


Any time you start working with colored pencils of any type, whether they be pastel chalk or wax-based, you should make a color chart of how the colors look on paper.  You can’t always go by the color of the pencil itself as it often is different when applied on paper.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the paper you are using will also have an effect on the way the color looks.  So it is always good to have a sample piece of the paper to see how the color works.  Here is a picture of my color chart with the Conte pencils, a set of General pastel pencils and a couple of others.
Picture 1


Pastel chalk pencils are wonderful tools of art to work with.  They blend easily, both with other colors and single color.  They can have very vibrant colors – I was surprised at the intensity of the color in the Conte pencils – or they can be muted and pastel.  The Conte colors I was given are very strong colors and I found that when I used them on black, I did not have to undercoat with white like with other brands or with wax-based colored pencils.  They feel like cream as you are layering them.  Once in a while I got a gritty feel to the point that felt like it was scratching, but used an emery board and lightly sanded it off.


As you are blending with the Conte pencils, you can mix two colors and using the lighter one, make the two blend together.  Or you can use two colors and then use white to blend them.  You can use white over a single color to blend it, and then use the color over it to highlight parts.  I learned to use the pastel pencils instead of graphite to shade zentangle drawings in some organic pieces.   This technique can make some beautiful pieces on tan and gray papers.  I teach this method in Experience the Blues, coming up in March.   (Pat teaches a number of classes at the shop)


The first project I undertook was a wonky house picture I have been wanting to create.  I had seen a couple of them done by other artists and they intrigued me.  I thought the chalks might work with it so started with a simple sketch of a street scene.  Once I had a light graphite sketch on paper, I started layering colors.  The first time around was just putting color on the page.  I then sprayed with Krylon workable fixative.  This is a re-workable spray that eliminates smudging and protects the work you have already done.  You always want to use the fixative in a very well-ventilated area.  During the winter, I walk into the garage to use it.  One that dried, I then started working on layers and blending, highlighting.  I will warn you working with chalk is challenging in one big way – it is easy to smear on your paper.  That being said, you will be blowing on your paper a lot.  I have large fingers so it isn’t easy for me to blend with my fingers – I use a blending tool like with pan pastels, or a cotton swab.  I have some cosmetic swabs that have a paddle end and a pointed end.  I also lay a paper under my hand as I work so that my hand doesn’t smear.  I do tend to hold the chalk pencils about half way back on the pencil so it doesn’t smear as badly.  The good thing is that you can use an eraser on chalk.  It will take most of it away, and the eraser can be used to highlight areas and bring the color of the paper through.  Once I had the colors the way I wanted, I sprayed again with the fixative and let it dry.  I then took a black Stabilo All pencil and added some outlines, and a water brush to make it messy looking.  I didn’t want straight lines.  I was using it as kind of a dimension tool.  It is difficult to use other pens on top of the chalks – you can do it in small areas, but it can clog the points.  Sometimes with using fixative, you can use pens but the fixative does also clog the nibs a bit. (unfortunately a lot of things clog up the tips of pens)
Picture 2


Next, Johanna Basford’’s coloring book, Secret Garden.  I picked a floral page and started coloring the page entirely with pastel chalk pencils.  What a relaxing, wonderful evening that was.  Again, you have to be very careful about smearing.  Definitely a paper under your hand.  I always work from the left side of the paper to the right (I am right-handed).  That helps eliminate some of the smearing. Once I had an initial layer of color, I applied fixative to preserve to that point.  I then started shading and highlighting with the pastels.  In this one I used the black pastel chalk to lightly outline some areas to give weighting and dimension.  For the final touch, I applied some gelly roll highlights to flower centers.


Secret Garden page


The last project I worked on black artagain paper.  I drew a butterfly with White Signa Uniball pen (another great product).  I then used the pastel chalk pencils to shade, color and highlight.  I even used some black pastel chalk to clean up a couple of areas and to see if it would stand out when I scanned the photo.  The pastels work well on Artagain paper.  The big thing I realized with the Conte pencils was that I didn’t have to do an undercolor of white to make the colors come through.  They are intense and vibrant enough to show up on the black.  Note: When I used General pastel pencils on black, they were much more muted and I put white under them and still they were muted.  The picture did not have the vibrancy of the Conte pencils.  So working on black, I will definitely use the Conte pencils in the future.  In the pictures below, the floral one is done using the General’s brand of pastel pencils, and the butterfly is with the Conte brand.


Generals chalk drawing



My final thoughts on the Conte a Paris pastel chalk pencils.  I really like them.  The only downfall I had with them was that gritty piece once in a while that I had to scrape clear.  But that was just a minor inconvenience. They go on easily and blend wonderfully.  The intensity of the colors made me very pleased.  I will be looking to purchase some additional colors of these.



Thanks Pat for a fabulous review of these pencils. I don’t think a lot of people have heard of them before. I haven’t played with them yet, but I certainly intend to now that I see such a glowing review.

I do have Conte pencils in the shop, as well as General’s chalk pencils and the Stabillo All pencils. All are great to use, each giving you different results. And with any chalk or pencil art, the workable fixative is a must.  I apologize that all these products are not on the website, however you can always call me and place an order. 🙂


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918



Mini Gelli Plates Review

7 Jan

Guest Blog Post by Design Team member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics by Deb

This month I received my packet late due to weather and home issues, so I am a little late in getting this done. When I did receive my packet, it was a pack of the mini gelli plates – the rectangle, hexagon and oval – and a mini brayer. I am still so much in the learning state of the gelli plates. (there are several sizes and shapes of Gelli Arts® plates available) I have finally gotten more comfortable with the larger plates, but now the minis? Well, they are new enough there really wasn’t a lot out there on the internet yet showing uses for them so I started working with mine to see how I could use them.

gelli oval minis

With the mini gelli plates, you actually mount them on a clear acrylic block or a cd cover or sturdy plastic of some kind. They are small and you actually use them in a stamping manner rather than laying flat. So the backing is important. (if you are careful you can just pick them up with your hands to stamp with them)

The first thing I learned is that you don’t use very much paint – just a couple of drops. You don’t want a thick layer because it will run with the stencils more on the smaller plates. The second thing I learned is that it was easier with the mini gelli plates to put the stencil on the actual paper and then use the gelli plate on top of it. I would then use the ghost print on another place or another page.

I just kept playing around with them – I was using heart stencils and red, pink and white paint since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I really liked the effect I was getting on the black paper. The paper in the middle below was one that I was using just with random stamping with the gelli plate and stencils. I didn’t actually do any projects with these – they would be so easy for you to personalize, maybe with a picture of a loved one, in an art journal page, or a scrapbook page. Just remember to always use all the paint on the gelli plate and the brayer on additional sheets of paper. I do that and then later use that paper as a collage piece for something else.

by Pat Mathes

by Pat Mathes


This is something that will take a lot more playing around with – I can see the middle piece used on a greeting card with maybe just the word LOVE on it. I actually took some cutouts from another gelli printing and glued some hearts on as a collage – maybe pictures of your loved one mounted as collages on them. I think one of the main things is that you can actually work on these in a much quicker time than the larger gelli plates and with not as much room needed. They are still kind of messy, but I didn’t find them as messy as the larger plates. I did read that someone used the rectangle plates and made a planner journal with them – hmmm.

Last, but not least, I took the rectangle plate and one of my art journals and used the rectangle plate to put some simplistic houses , one of the hexagon pieces that I had placed earlier ended up being the sun. This is a very simplistic page, something like a child might do, but the message is sincere. Happy New Year to one and all and MAY YOUR HOME BE FILLED WITH LOVE, HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY IN THE NEW YEAR.

by Pat Mathes

by Pat Mathes



Thanks for a great review of these Gelli Arts minis. I love using my Gelli plates, and I do have several sizes and shapes to play with – although my favorite is still the 8×10 size. There are so many options with the prints you can make – from collage to art journaling to cardmaking to scrapbooking to mixed media to your own personal fabric (yes you can print on fabric too). So much fun and so many options. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918




Silver pen review

20 Nov

Guest Blog Post by Design Team member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics from Deb


Greetings on this cold wintery day!


I love pens!  Anyone who knows me knows that I am always buying a new pen to try.  In the Zentangle® world (Pat is a CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher), we normally use Micron Pigma pens.  You notice I say “normally”.  I actually use whatever suits my fancy that day.  Of course, that is when I am creating Zentangle Inspired Art.  I still use Microns with Zentangle tiles.  But I digress….


Deb gave me six silver pens to review for you.  Oh wow did that make me happy!  So I played and played and thought I had a favorite, then I would pick up another and have a new favorite.  So I decided all were good for different purposes.  After I played with them, I did go on line to read any other details on the pens (you will see some of that in the descriptions of the pens).  I also wanted to see if there were reviews on the pens, and found everything was pretty comparable to my findings. (all of these pens come in different colors too)




The first pen is the Y&C gel Xtreme 0.7 from Yasutomo .  These pens feature high quality, water based, acid free and non-toxic pigment gel ink.  It is a 0.7 millimeter tipped pen, so a nice fine line. It would be great for detail work as it flows very fine.  It has a shimmery metallic effect.  I think it works well on both the white and black paper.  It would be great for journaling, as it is easy to read the writing.


Next up is the Uniball gel impact silver 1.0 mm.  It flows very smooth.  It has a bold 1.0 mm tip and a contemporary barrel design with a rubber grip.  There is a visible ink supply and it is permanent ink.  I really like the Uniball pen, but I confess a lot of times I do Zentangle drawings with a Uniball black fine pen. Uniball pens are so smooth on the paper.  My favorite white pen is a Uniball Signo.  This silver Uniball really stands out on the black paper, as well as the white, and maintains a shimmery metallic sheen.  Again, it would be great for journaling because of the ease of writing.

Then we have the Faber Castell Metallic Pitt artist pen.  It has a broad tip – not a nib or gell roller tip, more like a micron graphic 1 or Sharpie pen.  It is an India ink base.  It has a very smooth style.  I like Pitt pens.  I like the way they write.  The only drawback for me with this one is that it dries more of a flat grayish silver.  It doesn’t have a sheen.  When I use a silver or gold pen, I like the sheen.  It is one that actually looks better on the white paper rather than the black.  It would work in journals – just a flatter silver color.


The Derwent Graphik line painter is an opaque pigment ink with a 0.5 mm  Japanese nib.  It is a very fine line and would do great detail work.   Like the Pitt Artist Pen, the Graphik line painter shows more of a flat silver gray on paper and looks better on white paper.  Because of the fine linework, it would be good in journaling.  I did see some reviews for this line painter of issues with blobbing ink or bubbling ink.  It does have a see through cartridge, and I do see bubbles in the cartridge.  But I had no issues.


The Molotow One4All acrylic paint pen has a 2.0 round tip.  It flows very smoothly.  It is refillable and you can also replace tips.  I don’t think it would be too difficult. The tip screws onto the cartridge.  I actually had to go on line to read about this one – there wasn’t a whole lot of information on the pen and it was such tiny print, it was hard to read.  It got good reviews – I like the effect – it would make some great framing borders or whimsical lettering on a journal page.


Last, but not least, is the Sakura Pen-Touch 2.0 mm.  This is a permanent paint marker with opaque color.  It is archival ink and goes on really smooth.  It does cover an area very quickly and doesn’t streak.  Like the Molotow, it would be great in doing journal work and lettering projects.



I tried all of these pens on a white mixed media 90 lb. journal page and on an Artagain black 100 lb. page.  None of the pens bled through the paper.  They all show very nicely on the black paper – on the white they are not as dramatic.  I switched to a 60# drawing pad and the Molotow and PenTouch came real close to bleeding through.


All of them dry pretty quickly which was a surprise, especially with the Molotow and Sakura, and they are all waterproof.  About 20 minutes after I did the pages I took a water brush to the pages and none of the inks smeared at all.   With a lot of pigment and India ink type pens, you need to allow some setting time or they will smear a bit.  For instance, a Micron pigment pen almost needs to set for 24 hours or use a heat drying method to be able to use water over it.


I have started doing some journal work and can see potential in all six of the pens to use in journaling.  I could use any of them in Zentangle Inspired Art.  I actually took the Uniball and applied it over an alcohol ink piece I did and liked that too.  Great pens, and all are available at Blue Twig Studio.  Check them out.



Journal page



Thanks Pat for an awesome review. I love pens and markers too and am always on the lookout for new and wonderful pens. Of course, we have lots of pens in the shop. I apologize if the full selection isn’t available on the website, but you can always ask me about products and I can send you an invoice for them. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918



Gelatos Tutorial

23 Oct

Guest Blog Post from Design Team Member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics by Deb


I am so excited to be a part of the Design Team at Blue Twig Studio.  That means I get to play with “STUFF”.



My first bag of goodies had a set of gelatos (Manhattan set) – Gold Champagne, Silver Ice, Iced Rose, Metallic Icing, a dot dauber and stippler brush.  My only experience before this with gelatos (we have lots of gelatos available in many colors at Blue Twig Studio – Deb) was to use them on stencils with a stencil brush.    So I had to do some research, and some playing and experimenting.


One of the other items in the bag was an Artist Pad.   This is a pad perfect for Artist Soft Pastels and Oil Pastels.  The awesome thing about this pad is that there is a sheet of tissue separating the pages so the pastels don’t smear.  It is a nice weight of paper.  I decided to try it using gelatos with a stencil brush.  It performed well – no buckling, even with the baby wipes – and kept its stability.




I also used this Artist Pad with pastel pencils on a different piece and it is a great paper!  I am able to keep the drawing in the pad until I am ready for it and it won’t smear.


Back to the gelatos.  There are numerous ways you can use gelatos – (1) directly on paper with stencils, (2) a reverse stencil where you put the gelato on the paper and use a baby wipe with the stencil to remove the gelato (the bottom left one above), (3) smear some on your craft mat, and using a water brush, mix it to add as paint [you can also water it down to a consistency to put in a mini mister and use as a spray], (4) put it directly on paper or fabric or canvas, and blend either with water or baby wipes, (5) do a smear of gelatos and blend along the top of a journal page, mist it and let it drip down the page creating a great background for a journal page.  These are just a few – it is really a versatile tool.


The first thing I did was blend the gold, silver and rose on a piece of watercolor paper.  I then used the poinsettia stencil and did a reverse stencil , removing the gelato with a baby wipe, and then painted with a red gelato (#3 above)  to give some color back to the poinsettias.  Nice overall effect.  The second sheet was basically blending the rose, silver and gold gelatos on black artgain paper, and doing a total reverse stencil.  Made a beautiful background piece. (I like the black paper)



I decided to do a mixed media Christmas canvas with the items given.  Besides the gelatos, I had a length of green cord, a package of Tim Holtz wreath adornments, and a poinsettia stencil.  So I got out a canvas – 6” square and 1 ½” deep.  I started with the gold, silver and rose gelatos and blended across the canvas.  I spritzed with water and used a glove to finger blend.  (I don’t usually like using daubers, I would rather use my fingers. I have more control and I can give it some dimension).


Then I did a reverse stencil, using a baby wipe to remove the gelato along the left side.  I then used a red to add some color back in, but not much.  So I had my background set.  I then decided  to make two poinsettias out of scrapbook Christmas paper.  I don’t use a die cutter, so found a picture of the die set to make the poinsettias and made a medium and small poinsettia – 4 layers of petals.  I trimmed with gold metallic gelly roll. When I placed it on the canvas – it needed something, so I had some red feathers and made a background embellishment with them, and then attached the poinsettias using a brad which I dipped in pink glitter.  I drilled a hole through the canvas to put the brad through so they didn’t need glued and could have a bit of mobility and looseness.  I printed a Happy Holiday greeting on tissue paper, and  used matte medium to place on the canvas.  I then highlighted the lettering with a red metallic ink pen.   I ran a walnut distress ink pad around the edge of the collaged piece to give it some character.  Once it dried, I used the Metallic Icing gelato and rubbed it over the collage, blending it with a spritz of water.



I took one of the Tim Holtz wreaths and colored it using green and red alcohol inks to give it some character.  I attached the green cord, tied on the wreath and added some small silver jingle bells for more “bling”.

Here is the finished piece.  As you can see in the second picture, I also did the same technique on the sides as I did on the front of the panel.


Thanks for a great tutorial Pat. It is fun to see how other people use the same products. I love how you added some feathers to the flowers.

Most of these products are available at Blue Twig Studio. ~Deb

Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio

5039 N Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918


Introducing my new Design Team

29 Sep

I’m excited to introduce my new Design Team to you. It’s kind of fun to have a Design Team (for me and them). They get to play with a variety of products, using them in different ways, experimenting and playing. Then they get to share what they learn with you! So much Fun!

All 3 of these women come from different backgrounds and different artistic and creative pursuits. I know that the diversity of their talents will help you learn more about various products and how to use them. I will let them introduce themselves so you can get to know them better.


Pat Mathes

Pat Mathes

Hi, my name is Pat Mathes and I live in Broomfield, Colorado. After I retired, I was finally able to delve into the wonderful world of art and learn all those things I never had time for. I am a Certified Zentangle Teacher and belong to a wonderful group of CZTs that get together often and share new information and techniques. My passion is learning and playing with new techniques and products, and a great deal of my inspiration comes from nature. I love black and white art, but I also love color, so much of my work is Zentangle Inspired Art, combining the two. I also love the symmetry of zendalas and do my own layouts. My dream is to create more whimsical pieces. I was originally inspired and brought to Zentangle by the works of Norma Burnell, who does wonderful fairy and fantasy pieces.



Terri Ayers

Terri Ayers

I am Terri Ayers. Where did my art start? I am not sure of the exact moment, but it has been a special interest to me from middle school onward.  I am a potter at present and have a home studio and 3 shops/galleries carry my creations.  For fun and income, I teach pottery classes and offer canvas painting parties on location and at a local yogurt shop.  I also love watercolor and just recently discovered art and bible journaling.  Oh the wonders of mixed media!  Denver Botanic Gardens offers some wonderful art classes which have diverted some of my attention from the pottery wheel, but I just can’t resist learning new things. I’ve dabbled in card-making, quilting, calligraphy and beading and many other interests.  I feel very blessed to have the freedom to be creative on most days and look forward to future trips to see and capture the sights!

Venisa Gallegos

Venisa Gallegos

I am Venisa Gallegos and I love all things Zentangle, no, no, I mean all things Hand stitching, no, no, I mean all things Beading, no, no, I mean all things Micro-Macramé.  I think you get the picture.  I love playing will all different craft mediums, however the one constant is always my use of Color.  I love Color.  In fact, my motto is “You have to use ALL THE COLORS”.  This can be for gel pens, thread, fabric, beads, and anything else you can imagine.  I strive to use all the colors which is the best way for me to express myself creatively.


See how much fun these women are? I look forward to seeing what they will contribute over the next 6 months.


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio

5039 N Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918



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