Grumbacher sketch books vs Canson drawing paper

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When I was making my Halloween card envelopes, I found two old Grumbacher sketch books. (Fun fact: Jackson Pollock used Grumbacher sketch books). The larger one (actually called a sketch pad) is from my university days so dates to the 1980s and the smaller one appears to be even older than that. They both are labeled Artcraft (trademarked in 1923 but now expired, another victim of corporate takeovers) but the fonts and graphics are quite different. While the older book features a very traditional landscape sketch and a bright orange cover, the one from the 80s calls the paper multi-media, has no illustration and is a much more muted shade. Both  books also are labeled “kid finish” which, according to the dictionary, means it has the surface of undressed kid leather. That certainly seems like an anachronistic description as I don’t know anyone who would have any knowledge of what undressed kid leather would feel like.

Enough about the covers, what about the paper? The older Grumbacher paper is slightly heavier than the 1980s version but both have more heft than the Canson sketch paper I discussed in an earlier blog. I wondered how they would compare to the next paper in my sample book, the Canson drawing paper. The drawing paper is more substantial than any of the sketch papers. I have to admit I didn’t really know the difference between sketching paper and drawing paper until I took time to compare. The main difference is the weight. The drawing paper is a bit heavier as it is meant for finished drawings, not just experimenting with. It holds up to more erasing than the Canson sketch paper but while the sketch paper would be fine for use as a journal, I think a pad of drawing paper would be too heavy. Canson has both white and cream drawing paper, a subtle difference, but I have a slight preference for the creamy version. The Grumbacher paper is somewhere in between. Not as white as the Pure White but slightly less creamy than the Classic Cream. I wish I could just hand out samples of these papers because plain paper is very difficult to photograph well. I hope you can see the slight variations in colour (the difference in weight you have to take my word on).

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If these papers were people, they would all be a bit pale and two dimensional. The Grumbachers are older but in good shape while the Cansons are artistic but tough. There is a good-natured rivalry between the two families but they have many of the same hobbies and friends.

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Halloween Cards

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I know card giving is not a Halloween tradition (hey kids, you don’t want candy that will rot your teeth, why don’t you take one of my homemade cards instead) but I recently joined the Edmonton Calligraphic Society and at the meeting they gave the attendees a big pile of paper. I love paper but I already have a substantial stash myself so I needed to use some of it before the next meeting or it will get unmanageable.

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There was quite a bit of graph paper to practice our letters with but there were also strips of orange card stock, heavy yellow paper, and some pages from an old British children’s book. I know the president of the society is a volunteer at the Edmonton ReUse Centre so I suspect some of the paper may have come from there. From what I can tell from the two book pages, the story revolves around the unlikely plot that a leopard is on the loose in their town, a situation I am sure many children could relate to. The children are named Susan and Terry and they live with their Auntie May, Major (a basset hound) and a terrier named Snip. Here is an excerpt:  

“I’ve just had some disturbing news from Constable Simkins,” she informed her niece and nephew. “It appears a leopard escaped from Red Walls early this morning and is still at large.”

This terrifying scenario made me think of Halloween, as did the strips of orange, so I got to work.

First, I made trimmed the book pages and singed the edges, both to make them spookier looking and because I love burning things. Next I practiced my dip pen writing skills and wrote Happy Halloween on the orange strips and roughened up the edges before gluing it to the front of the card on top of the book pages. The writing on the inside of the cards is also on orange strips of paper.

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I didn’t have any envelopes the correct size for the finished cards so I made some out of paper from an old used Grumbacher sketch book. I had forgotten just how good this paper is. I am going to have to go back to my Canson paper sample book and compare.

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It was fun to practice my calligraphy on a project instead of just working on my letterforms on graph paper. I am looking forward to seeing if we get interesting papers at every meeting of the Calligraphy Society.

If these cards were people, they would be more kooky than spooky. They would dress up to pass out treats to the kids but the treats would be homemade. Unfortunately most would just be thrown out, but the few children who dared eat them would get lovely homemade fudge.  

 

 

Pencils – Part 2

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While HB pencils can be considered middle of the road, there are many other pencils out there especially if you are using them more for art purposes than just writing.

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3H – Starting on the hard end of the pencil scale, this green Kimberly pencil was made by the General Pencil Company in the US. This family owned business has been in the Weissenborn family since 1889. These pencils are made in Jersey City, New Jersey, one of the few American pencil factories. I like the green and gold colour combination. Because of the hardness of the graphite, the line it makes is more grey than black but you can get a nice sharp line with it.

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2B – I have three 2B pencils. One is a Daler Rowney which, although is a British art supply company, is made in Austria.

The next is a Grumbacher Sketching pencil, made in Germany, with a unique oval shape. Because of this shape it has to be sharpened with a knife, not a pencil sharpener. It is similar to a carpenter’s pencil in that it can’t roll away but I think the shape is designed to allow for thick and thin lines, rather than preventing it from rolling. This is an old pencil that I got from my mom’s limited art supplies. She took a course in oil painting at one time but I don’t remember her keeping up with it. It seems these pencils are not still being made.  

Finally, I have a Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Toison D’Or 1900 2B pencil. I wrote a bit about Koh-I-Noor pencils last week as I have an HB one too.

These are all good pencils but the Daler Rowney gives the darkest line. The uniqueness of the Grumbacher makes it my favourite.

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4B – I have two Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth 4B pencils. One is a 1500 and the other is another in the Toison D’Or 1900 line. It seems that the Toison D’Or 1900 line is more common in North America. They are both made in the Czech Republic and are very similar, if not identical, quality. Koh-I-Noor HB and 2B pencils have 2mm leads while the 4Bs have 2.5mm leads. Both of these pencils give a very smooth and dark line.

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8B – The darkest and softest pencil I have is a blue Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100 pencil. It is considered premium quality in the Staedtler line. It has a thick lead and is very dark and smudgy. Definitely for sketching and not for writing.

If these odd ball pencils were people, they would all be artistes, that look down on the more familiar HBs despite their common origins and family ties.