Tuesday, 8 November 2011

New card on test.

Going back a couple of weeks I was asked to test some cardstock which Joanna Sheen was considering stocking. Now a lot of folk know I like to test things to see if it "does what it says on the tin" so I jumped at the chance to have a play. Oops, adding in it's called Elegance Satin and it's available in 300gsm and 160gsm.

One massive ink & paint testing day later I'm making a start of a review. I'm writing this over a few days and a good week or so before posting to the blog so if you notice any time jumps it's because I'll add in as I go rather than edit to make it look like I sat and typed all in one go.

If you're not particularly finniky about your colouring and are happy with your current card which you buy because it's cheap you might just as well skip the next couple of paragraphs where I'm having my normal rant about card ;o)

From the outset I have to make my feelings clear about paper & card quality. For me the quality of the paper is paramount, if I'm going to spend my time making a card I want it to be as good as I can possibly make it. When hubby first started painting many moons ago I really couldnt see the point in him buying artist quality mediums or quality watercolour paper because in all honesty he wasn't very good at painting. Roll on a fair few years when I've finally taught myself to like rubber stamping and I have a need to "paint"... I finally see the point.
Best quality mediums and papers actually make it easier to blend and give a better result. If I don't get a good result I know it's not the paper or pen that's at fault, it's me needing to improve! Yes the mediums & paper are slightly more expensive but I see no point in saving a few pennies on a sheet of card if it's noticeably cheaper or I don't get as good a result. You will get a better result with best paper & cheaper mediums than you will expensive mediums and cheaper/unsuitable paper.

Back to the review, it's a long one so I hope you're sitting comfortably.

I'm going to take this in a few sections focusing mainly on alchohol markers but I'll also test them with: 2. watercolour techniques (pencils, crayons, inkpads & markers) 3 polycrhomo & pastel pencils, 4 timholtz type techniques, 5 a few other oddsies.

1) alchie markers, I tried copics, promarkers, flexmarkers and spectrum noir pens on an image stamped with memento.

I switched to neenah from staples text and graphics a while back because I wasn't happy with how e0000 & e000 were turning a weird orangey colour but while the neenah is ok for keeping a true colour I found it prone to bleed across the lines. Using Joannas 300gsm card and the copics, wow just doesn't do the card any favours. I prefer a very blended look rather than a quick light dark quick blend method so I really scrubbed in a lot of layers in very small areas and allowed no drying time in between. Where I would have expected to get a huge bloom because I'd saturated the card there was none, nada, zip, not even a sniff of bleed. I had to have another go just to make sure it wasnt a fluke but my memento was hiding out of sight in amongst the chaos... so I tried a walnut stain distress ink and coloured in with a 000 pen literally straight away... a few people are going to be reading this and thinking smudgy mucky mess... nope, no smudge at all, the walnut ink stayed in perfect position. I was Impressed with a capital I about that one! Taking more care colouring the images I found I didnt need to blend quite as much as I normally do and looking back on the images a couple of days later I can't see where I changed pens. Not often that's happened before as I can nearly always see an echo of the blending area. I have to be honest I did then try the 160gsm and I had the tiniest of bleed along a hairband on an image, it could have been me going over the lines but until I've done a few more images I'm not going to swear to it being one or the other.

I'm not as comfortable with promarkers & flexmarkers as I am copics but I quite surprised myself and found they blended easier than normal. As with the copics not the slightest sign of bleed and I used a pink lavender flexxie straight over walnut distress ink, again no smudging. I do have my suspicion that the lighter flexmarkers were bleaching out the darker colours more than I'm used to on neenah but it could have been my imagination so this weekend the playday girls are going to be inadvertent testers lol Ok, consensus is in from several of the playday ladies and it's a huge thumbs up with questions on where can they buy and how much. Like me Tracy managed a little bleed but just like me she thinks it might have been her fault rather than the cards. No one reported colours being bleached out so it must just have been me having a rather long day.

Finally I tried the few spectrum noir pens I have with it. If you've read my review of spectrums you'll know I'm not a fan, I don't like how they blend and I don't like the nib marks they can leave behind. Sorry Joanna, the card hasnt made me like the speccies but they did react better to the card than they did on neenah. Nuff said about spectrums otherwise I'll be having more hate mail for not liking them.

2) watercolour techniques.
Umm, odd one this one as I wasnt expecting the results I got. If you're used to watercolouring over the back of linen/hammered cardstock or whatever you happen to dap your hands on first you'll be fine. If you're used to best quality hot pressed watercolour paper you wont be impressed. Using pencils, inks & markers with a damp brush I found I needed more wet than I'm used to which makes it harder to control the shading. I also found the pigment didnt really want to move around which made graduated blends very difficult. Oddly though I found a much better result with my SU watercolour crayons and they felt nice when applying to the card as they glided rather than stuttered over the surface iykwim. I would still prefer to use my langton watercolour paper.

3) polychromos & prismas. If I'm using my polys as a colouring pencil I prefer a paper with a bit of key to it so I can use the lighter pencil to pull the dark colour through. No chance with this card, it's far too smooth and I can't lay down enough layers. Colouring all over then softening & evening it all out with stumps and sansador worked really well. I'm not a big poly user tho and sent some paper off to one of the ladies I class as an expert prisma colourer iner and as soon as she gets back to me I'll add in her response.

4) Timholtzy type techniques. For those who haven't got on with cutndry and blending over the edges of card.. best try this and think again!! We've been told good alchie pen card isnt good with dye inks but this card is fab! It's silky smooth and the cutndry (I was using the tool) just glided over the surface and even deliberate edge lines blended away really easily. I covered a whole a5 sheet with no problems taking the tool into the centre and the ink reacted beautifully when I sprinkled it with water. From there I tried the wrinkly free technique.. wiping a few pads across the craft mat, misting with water and dunking a piece of card in to pick up the colour. First one not so great as I was penny pinching and used the back of an image I'd tried to watercolour... the versafine was pulled through the card and over the top of the distress inks. New card, same test... great result, I'd have to say the best I've had as there was no muddying of the colours except the edges but that was down to me leaving it to airdry because I was too impatient to get to the next test lol. Next I tried stamping with distress ink and pulling the colour out with a damp paint brush.. the ink didnt move in the slightest.. tried again.. new stamped image and a soaking wet brush.. still the same and not a smidge of colour movement. I'm stumped at this.. the ink reacted so well to raindrops that I was fully expecting it the colour to drag out and leave a soft line, weird!

5) oddsies, bet everyone is wondering about this lol. Will keep it short and sweet as it's just a collection of little tryme's.

Folding, the 300gsm is so heavily pressed it feels more like 250gsm so I wouldn't use it for a postage box but for a hand delivered box it's ideal. It scored and folded beautifully without any cracking, creasing, puckering or scuffing along the fold line. Very neat, precise and professional fold. I found it also embossed in a folder well and again with no tiny rips in the embossed areas, makes a nice surface to then ink over. While the bigshot was out I tried the 300gsm with my very intricate snowflake edge memory box die that's as finnicky as I am about card. It cut beautifully, popped straight out of the die and I had next to no bother seperating the diecut from the waste.

Brayering, now I'm not a Barbara but I get by as a rule. Even if I say it myself I had a good result with a brayer, a kaleidacolour inkpad and the 300gsm card. Very even tones, with no stripes (I'm prone to stripes if I haven't brayered for a while and I haven't had the brayer out for months). The card isn't glossy so I didn't get that polished look but it was nice to have a soft sheen rather than a gloss. I'll certainly be using this card with brayers again.

Paint Fusion/Onestroke. For those who've tried paint fusion you'll know what I mean by sticky dry brush... for those who don't it's when you're halfway along with a brush stroke and the brush feels as though there's no paint left or that it's sticking to the paper. This is one of the worst feelings as you need the brush to move smoothly as you twist & wiggle and as soon as it gets sticky you don't get quite as good a result, well I dont. Normally if I'm doing a long variagated leaf I get to the end of the stroke and the brush is sticky and I can't get a nice lift & slide to finish the leaf. I've often been tempted (and have occasionally) added an artists flow medium to the paint to try and avoid sticky brush. On a stroke of genius I tried with Joannas card and the brush just slid so smoothly not only did I get to the end of the stroke but I turned the card and managed the otherside AND I got the lift that I rarely manage. Woohoo, I might just be brave and onestroke all of my christmas cards this year.. In reality I won't tho as I have the attention span of a gnat and will be hankering after rubber and copics and distress inks before they're all done.

Now if you've skim read because it's such a long review in short,

A maazing
for alchie pens, not great for watercolour painting, fantastic with distressing inks & techniques, great for brayers, good for folding but not postage boxes, works well in diecut machines & embossing folders, good for sansador & pencils, must have for paintfusion/onestroke cards. My personal opinion is that this is a fantastic card which more than deserves a home in any playroom.