My Water Brushes

look of my workspace right now

In the past weeks I have been working a lot with water brushes, and now just love them. My first water brush was a Sakura Koi with a no. 2 nib, bought in May last year. My thought was that it would be a good thing to take for outside journalling. At first I only very occasionally used it (I don’t get to do much outside journalling these days), mostly with water soluble dry media like water soluble pencils. When I bought the Koi it had three pieces: the brush tip, the barrel, and a stop on it. Apparently people like to take the brush off the barrel for transportation. (Not me, I just keep it assembled all the time.)

In den letzten Wochen habe ich ziemlich viel mit Wasserpinseln gearbeitet und bin total begeistert von ihnen. Wasserpinsel haben eine Spitze aus Synthetikfasern und ein Wasserreservoir im Griff, das einfach befüllt und dann angeschraubt wird. Ein wenig Druck auf den Griff lässt das Wasser fließen.
Meinen ersten Wasserpinsel habe ich im Mai letzten Jahres gekauft. Es handelt sich um einen Koi von Sakura. Ich dachte, es wäre eine gute Anschaffung für gelegentliche Zeichnungen außer Haus. Ich habe ihn zunächst nicht sehr häufig benutzt. (Zur Zeit komme ich nicht so wirklich viel dazu, außer Haus zu zeichnen.) Vor allem habe ich ihn benutzt, um Zeichnungen zu überabreiten, die ich vorab mit wasserlöslichen Buntstiften gemacht habe. In der Tat funktioniert das genauso gut wie mit einem normalen Pinsel und einem Töpfchen Wasser. Mit dem Vorteil, dass man kein Töpfchen Wasser rumstehen hat, das man umschmeißen kann. (Irgendwie schaffe ich es jedes Mal, den Topf umzuwerfen, egal wie vorsichtig ich bin.)

a pencil drawing with some work-over with the Koi water brush

With the water soluble pencils I first used it with, I found it ever so slightly easier to use than a traditional brush with water, the main difference being that you don’t have to dip it into water. Inevitably I tend to knock over my water supply at one point, so this was a big plus point there. So I started to use it in my not so suitable studio at home.

the dripping on off the spoon is cretacolor chalk worked over with a water brush (and some golden acrylic paint for refection of which you cannot see much here)

The next big step toward using my water brush was, when I started to use it with the box of cretacolor pencils and pastels that I received as a gift for my last birthday. I started using them more frequently when I started the work on my current soul song. I immediately fell in love with the colours and so much more liked my water pens which were great for stressing the gradation achieved in using coal. – All the creatcolor pencils are water soluble.

Also habe ich auch begonnen, den Wasserpinsel zu Hause zu benutzen, denn mein Arbeitsraum ist nicht fürs Umwerfen von Wasserbehältern geeignet. Ein erster “Durchbruch” in Richtung Vielbenutzung des Pinsels hat sich ergeben, als ich begonnen habe, an Soulsong zu arbeiten. Dafür habe ich die Cretacolor Reißkohle sowie verschiedene Kreide-Sticks ausgepackt, die ich letztes Jahr zu m Geburtstag bekommen habe. Alle Cretacolor Farben (die ich habe) sind Wasserlöslich. Oben seht ihr den Löffel, der so entstanden ist.
Dann habe ich begonnen, an dem Buch zu arbeiten, dass ich bald auf Jackie Book Arts Forum wegtauschen werde. Dafür habe ich zunächst Bleistiftskizzen mit den Cretacolor Stiften überarbeitet und dann mit dem Wasserpinsel. Besonders für die Flächen hat das sehr gut funktioniert.

sketch with pencil, gretacolor charcoal pen and cretacolor sticks worked over with water brush

And then I started to work on the book for the current swap over at Jackie’s book arts forum. I started out using regular pencil and the cretacolor graphite. I used the water pen to make the graphite and charcoal lines more durable and less prone to smearing. And then I moved over to use them with my Chinese watercolour set. And now I am utterly in love with the water pen. I love it for to colour in larger areas with washes as well as for making more pronounced lines.

Und dann habe ich begonnen, meinen Chinesischen Wasserfarbkasten mit dem Pinsel zu benutzen, und das funktioniert super! Der Pinsel hält sehr schön die Farbe, ich finde es wieder besonders einfach, mit washes zu arbeiten, also mit recht viel Wasser und wenig Farbe, aber auch betonte Linien sind kein Problem. Und der Pinsel lässt sich sehr einfach säubern. – Wunderbar!

pencil sketch coloured in with Chinese water color using a water brush

So I ordered another set of brushes which reached me yesterday. The new ones are Pentel aqua brushes in three different sizes. The water barrel is significantly larger than the one attached to the Koi. I guess that could be an advantage or disadvantage. For now I prefer the more compact design of the Koi.
The awkward thing about the Koi is that the screw that connects the barrel with the nip is oriented differently than the standard screw. But that is not a major issue. I still tend to do it wrong at first after filling the reservoir with water. However, it seems to me that it is less likely to come loose while painting (with my right hand) than with the other  brushes. But that might be my imagination.
The water flows a little more easily from the Pentel brushes, which is nice for larger areas and annoying for smaller ones. The tips of the brushes are a little to much larger, so more water is required of course. (So the larger barrel may make more sense than apparent at this first sight).

So for now the Koi is not decommissioned, although I actually ordered the new brushes because the Koi seemed at the end of its life: In some of the detail shots you can see that the bristles do not meet in a close tip anymore. But while it is wet it still works, and time will tell how long the Koi will hold up.

Bei der intensiven Benutzung, die der Koi erfahren hat, hat er allerdings gelitten, und die Spitze war nicht mehr so schön. Also habe ich ein neues Set bestellt. Diesmal Aquash von Pentel. Das erste, was bei den neuen Pinseln auffällt ist, dass sie ein deutlich größeres Reservoir haben. Das könnte ein Vorteil sein, aber mir gefällt im Moment das komparktere Design vom Koi besser.
Was beim Koi ein wenig merkwürdig ist, ist dass der Griff mit einem Linksgewinde an der Pinselspitze befestigt wird. Nach jedem Befüllen schraube ich erstmal in die falsche Richtung. Nun scheint mir aber, dass das dafür sorgt, dass er beim Benutzen weniger leicht loskommt. Bei den Pentel-Pinseln ist mir schonmal Wasser über die Finger gelaufen, wenn sich die Schraube gelöst hatte. Aber vielleicht hat das auch nichts mit der Richtung des Gewindes zu tun.
Allgemein fließt etwas mehr Wasser aus den Pentel-Pinseln als aus dem Koi. (In sofern ist das größere Reservoir vielleicht nötig.) Das ist angenehm wenn man über größere Flächen arbeitet, und anstrengend wenn es um Details geht.

Fürs erste werde ich den Koi weiterbenutzen – neben den Pentel Pinseln. Mir scheint, sie haben beide ihren Platz. Ich hoffe, der Koi hält noch eine Weile durch. Auf einigen der Detailbilder kann man schon sehen, wie einige Haare abstehen.

detail of Chinese water colors worked with pentel aqua brush

I have only used the brushes for painting so far. But other book binders use them for a variety of tasks, like for making a water line at which to tear paper. Or for moistening an exact area for example to loosen a bit of paper on boards, to remove things pasted onto something and the like.

The Pentel and the Sakura are very much alike. Apparently there are other brands with more significant differences out there. Compared to other brushes, water brushes are not very expensive. I guess I’ll have some fun and try some more.

Bislang habe ich die Pinsel nur fürs Malen benutzt. Buchbinden benutzen sie aber auch für eine Reihe anderer Aufgaben. Zum Beispiel um eine Rißlinie am Papier vorzubereiten oder um kleine Stücke Material (das mit Kleister aufgeklebt wurde) abzulösen.

Die Pentel und Sakura Pinsel sind trotz ihrer Unterschiede letztendlich recht ähnlich. Anscheinend gibt es noch andere Hersteller mit deutlicheren Unterschieden. Im Vergleich mit anderen Pinseln sind Wasserpinsel nicht besonders teuer. (Im Preis vergleichbar mit anderen Pinseln mit Synthetikspitze.) Ich denke, ich werde in der nächsten Zeit noch Spaß mit dem Ausprobieren anderer Sorten haben.

They are gone!

Project Message in a Bottle. 5 BottlesOn Saturday morning I was checking my mailbox to find out that my five bottles which I proposed to exhibit at the MCBA  (Minneapolis Center for Book Arts) in their upcoming “Fluxjob” exhibition were indeed accepted. Yay! Happy dance. And then the headache started: The bottles have to be in Minneapolis in less than two weeks. No way they can go through standard mail. This tight schedule is of course not a surprise. I had been planning to send the bottles to friends in the US after Christmas, so that they could either bring or send them to the MCBA via USPS – should they get accepted, or put them into a local river if not. But then a lot of things came up both for us and for said friends. So I didn’t want to bother them with my request.

So I had to activate plan B: sending them with a courier service. I had been planning to find out how courier services work for a long time anyway (for offering an expedited service to paying customers).  And since courier services deliver items from England to the US in three days and less, I now had ample of time to find out how it works. So that would be a rather relaxed thing. So I though.

It turned out it took me three consecutive days to settle on a courier service, to find out which forms to fill out and to have them ready for pickup; and I am still insecure whether I filled them all out correctly, to be honest.
I felt like the cliché artist, unable to fill out online forms, and totally freaking about them. Anthough my package should have been rather easy: insurance value 25$, send as a gift, not as a sold product.
On Sunday evening, my analytical thinking husband took pity, and went through the online forms with me – with great patience and just as helpless as I was. He assured me it wasn’t me, it was the website, so no wonder I couldn’t get this done. He just told me not to think about it any longer, and call customer service on Monday morning.
That night, I dreamed about sending parcels. (Really! They contained eggs and it was a real mess in the end.) Calling customer service was the right thing to do. Everything became clear and easy. A couple of hours ago the driver came, picked up the bottles and took them with him. Now I keep my fingers crossed that they will reach Minneapolis unharmed and as quickly as I expect them to.

So, the fluxjob exhibition. It will be on from Febuary 7th until July 6th, so you have five months to get a peep at the bottles, as well as other art inspired by fluxus. And if you have not been to Minneapolis yet, let me tell you it is a great city to visit. – I wish I could go and see them there. I’d love to visit Minneapolis once more and look at the company they have at the MCBA. I am not sure whether I will be able to make it, but I sure think about going a lot.

To conclude this post, here are some more shots at my current work in progress.

Above you see the latest “ruled world” or rather part of a part of it: a page of an altered book with the original title “Practical Geometry for Art Students” that is going to accompany another of these stick surface sculptures with silhouettes of people walking over it. The page is not finished yet.

Below you see some of my work and progress on one of the pages for “soulsong”.

And I decided not to show you more images of “chasing infinity through the vanishing point. meditiations with straightedge and ruler”, because that is going to be the book I will be swapping in Febuary. I’ll show and tell you more when the recipient hast it. A nice evening and rest of the week!

Happy New Year!

Hilke Kurzke work in progress
one ruled world becoming book art again; page not finished yet

I hope you are having as good a start into the new year as I am having. Making up for being away before Christmas, I was granted several consecutive working days while M. took time off work. After a first one or two frustrating and uninspired days, I got my head finally out above the clouds, and new ideas popped up faster than I could jot them down. Which in turn makes me want to spend less time at the computer, and more time in my studio. So this will be a rather short blog post, just to let you know I am still here and alive, and to send out some greetings.

I started to work again on the “soul song” book which I though was almost dead just before Christmas. Hooray! Also for the ruled world(s) I had some new ideas, and started to try them out today. If this works out, this will be my first altered book project. I am very excited to try this! The book that is being destroyed enriched by new content has the title “Practical Geometry for Art Students”. I am very happy to have found this copy. Title and content fit very well for what I have in mind, and the original text will stay mostly legible. And in the near future you will also read more about a book I am making for the current swap on the book arts forum. Thinking about that one was actually what got me going on the other projects. But there will be time to talk about that book later, when I have some more to show off, picture-wise.

So, what else is new? The project message in a bottle stays dear to me! I dispatched three bottles during my vacation in Germany, and another one got found. To read more about this, head over to my dedicated bog at flaschentiger.wordpress.com.

I am also very proud that someone else wrote about the project and has become a real fan. I applied for some other bottles to be included in the MCBA Fluxjob exhibition. – It would be fun to have them included! I am awaiting their decision the end of this week.

I also received new and more thread. Previously of the French Lin Cable I only had the thickest thread No. 332 (comparable to NeL 18/4 in thickness) in 13 colours. Now I also offer the No. 432 thread (comparable to NeL 18/3), and have a total of 19 colours available.

I am wishing you all a good new year 2014, with enough time, health and peace to be creative, to enrich the world and make something new.