Around the beginning of the year, Exaclair, Inc. let me look at their 2015 catalog and choose what items would be given away in the giveaways I'd host throughout the year.
There is definitely a factor of greed here--I can choose items that I dearly want to try out, lol. But I also try to choose items that I think 'you', that wonderful person who reads my blog and lets me share my passions with you, I try to choose items that I believe will excite you as well.
When I saw that Clairefontaine had added a series of coloring books to their offerings, I knew I'd found something that would satisfy both expectations. Not that I expect everyone who reads my blog to drool over a coloring book. But I know that enough of you love mandalas and love beautiful renderings of mandalas and will itch to add bursts of colors to these pages.
The giveaway details are at the end of this post (U.S. only. Sorry!)
...and on to the review!
The paper is wonderful for crayon. It has enough tooth that you get a soft granular look, and colors blend nicely when you layer them. This coloring book and a cheap box of crayons would truly be enough for many.
Colored Pencil I've often thought that colored pencil is what professionals use in lieu of the crayons most of us used as children. Crayons are limited--especially the pale, waxy non-toxic things that are produced today. When you move on to a good quality color pencil, the possibilities blossom, and so do the mandalas in this Clairefontaine coloring book.
There is enough tooth to the paper that the pigment just rolls off the pencils. You're still able to get soft, lovely tints of color, but it doesn't take much work to get deeper jewel-like tones, as well. I was able to get up to seven layers of pigment without much waxy build-up. I feel I could have achieved more layers with ease, but didn't feel they were necessary.
I used Derwent Coloursoft pencils, which I feel are a lower mid-range quality.
The pencil color does show on the black of the paper as a ghostly sort of tint (look at the green leaves inside the purple ring), which could be used to create haloes, or spectral effects. For those who want stark black and strictly clean edges, it means staying carefully in the lines when coloring around the black.
Gel Ink Pen and Colored Pencil Most of the problems associated with Gel Ink pens are particular to the pens themselves--slow-flowing ink, and a lack of value range, so it's hard to get a feeling of depth or shading with them. To some extent, the paper doesn't matter. The color is flashy and works much the same on any paper. But given the amount of black coverage in this book, I thought gel pens would be beautiful. And they were.
I couldn't get the sparkles to scan or photograph, but in real life, the gel colors are quite brilliant against the black. The Sakura Moonlight brand are flourescent and would show up on the black itself. Mine are almost out of ink though, so I decided not to try it for fear of running out of ink in the middle of it.
Assorted Marker Pens-Dry There are many kinds of markers out there. Some can be blended with water, some have permanent ink, or india ink. As with alcohol markers, these markers can have trouble with streaking or bleeding through to the back. Those that have soft fabric tips will sometimes pill, if the paper is too rough. Usually the problems aren't as severe, and other than a little streaking, I had none of them.
I used Faber-Castell India Ink markers, American Craft and Distress markers (which are water-soluble, but I used them dry) and a brand of non-water-soluble markers that I've had for so long that the wording has worn off, and I forget what they are. Marvies, perhaps. They all had soft fabric tips, but I had no problem with pilling.
Water-soluble markers don't usually need quite as much water as pan or tube watercolors, but the colors are less intense. There was a little dimpling, which I was able to flatten out by weighting the paper once the paint was dry. No rippling, buckling, or pilling occurred. No color bled through to the back. I believe the paper could take more water if one wanted to try paint, but you would probably get more dimpling or rippling.
Acrylic Paint An unusual choice for a color book, but I decided to try acrylic paint. I used a number 8 round brush and started painting. I used a moderate amount of water. I had no problems of any kind. You can choose how much water you want with acrylics, so if I had increased the water, I would could have had some rippling or dimpling.
Fountain Pen Ink Clairefontaine paper is noted for being fountain-pen friendly and I had to know--did that include this coloring book? I used a variety of fountain pens with flex tip, extra-fine, medium and broad. The inks themselves were J. Herbin ink.
Problems associated with fountain pen ink include bleed-through to the back, feathering, pilling, and streaking.
I would characterize this as fountain pen friendly paper. There was no feathering or pilling. I did get streaking when covering larger areas, which I expected and used to create texture. Most of the time, people write with these inks, so the streaking doesn't occur unless you cover large areas.
A little color did bleed through to the back. This occurred when I layered wet ink to areas that were already wet. Adding a second layer to a dry area did not result in bleed-through. (Note: I'm only showing part of this page because I don't want to make it possible for thieves to copy the page, clean it up and repost it as their own).
Personally, I love this color book. The mandalas are beautifully drawn, the paper quality is high and you can use almost any coloring medium available.
The one drawback is that you can't lay the book flat. I only found that to be a problem though, when trying to color right up to the bound edge.
What's the prize: Four winners will receive a Clairefontaine Mandala coloring book for adults like the one reviewed here.
Who can win: I'm sorry, this giveaway is open to the U.S. only.
Starts: Monday-June 01, 2015 06:10 AM PDT
Ends: Monday-June 08 2015 11:59 PM PDT
How to Enter: Comment on this post, including an email address so I can reach you if you win.
I'll contact the winner by email as soon as possible on Tuesday, June 09, 2015 and will announce the winner once I hear back from them.
These are a new item and at the time I'm writing this, I can't find any place in the U.S. where the coloring books are available. I'll keep an eye and let you all know once I find an outlet. Meanwhile, be sure to check your local stores. If you want to ask your merchant to order the book, the details can be found in the 2015 Exaclair, Inc. Catalog.
Edited to include: My friend, Jean Chaney, has since, found the coloring books online at Notegeist and I also found them at Writer's Bloc. I'd love to get the one on birds!