Thursday, July 30, 2009

Art Supply Addiction

My addiction to interesting materials and supplies started by going with dad to the hardware store. Oooo...I still love a good hardware store! From wire and sheet metal it was an easy trip to art supplies, a magical land where I grew into a full-on addiction by the time I went to college and majored in art. Over the years, I have learned to narrow my focus a bit, ONLY encompassing all things related to working with textiles, watercolour and acrylic painting, drawing, anything needed for sculpting, woodcarving tools, and anything needed to create miniatures.
Caran d'Ache Neocolour II
Water soluable pastels

Both my parents were artists, so when they died, I inherited their tools and supplies, including my father's lapidary shop, wood and stone carving tools, and his fully equipped stained glass workshop. I've gotten rid of most of the stained glass items, simply because I have a history with glass that makes me uncomfortable around the nasty stuff. The lapidary tools and materials are still around, though I'm not sure for how much longer, as I'm making a real effort to shed Stuff these days. The wood and stone carving tools will stay with me, as will the watercolour and sumi brushes, inks, paints, stones, and paper from my mother's estate.

Textile Heavan, Sri Lanka

Textiles are the place my heart sings, though, and I have great difficulty passing up a beautiful piece of fabric or trim, or a cool new tool. My textile work includes needlework of every kind (seriously), beadwork, spinning/weaving, leather, fur, antique lace and trims, a veritable extravaganza of materials and tools for embellishments, and a fabric stash to make one weep with pleasure. I'm certain I must be leaving something out, but all this gives you some idea of the depth and breadth of my addiction.

For better or worse, the town in which I live is an Artist's Colony and tourist "Destination," and as such manages to support an absolutely amazing art supply. Akamai Art Supply just looks like a giant metal building as you come into town, and it took me a full six months to get around to stopping in. Now I get special treatment. That's another way of saying I'm a regular customer. Very regular. Used to be, if I had money left over, I'd buy books or textile-related items. Not any more. Now I trot immediately up to Akamai and plunk my money down. So do a number of friends who live a full two hours away in Seattle, as nothing on the Mainland compares to our marvelous supply.

It was through Akamai I became enamoured of Copic markers and pens, and now have a collection that cost in the region of six or seven hundred dollars. And Akamai is where I discovered Caran d'Ache wax pastels...their water soluable type. At approximately two bucks a crayon, I have about fifty dollars worth of THOSE. And now I have a new obsession; Daniel Smith Watercolour Sticks. Pure pigment in stick form, these Seattle-made lovelies can be sharpened and used directly on paper, wet or dry, applied to the brush, or used as traditional tube watercolours on a palette. But the lusciousness of the colour and flow! Akamai gave me a sample of one colour, and I was hooked. I'm dying to try other colours, but at thirteen dollars a stick, my thirst will not be slaked anytime soon. Still, I find myself weighing food vs art supplies, electriciy vs art supplies....hmmmm.... There's a wonderful series of videos created on the subject of these lovely sticks, so watch this one and just keep going. Oh, and feel free to send me any scraps or scrapings or broken sticks you have laying about...

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