Friday, 30 September 2016

Painting with Derwent Inktense Blocks & Pencils

These water soluble drawing blocks and pencils can be use in countless different ways to create colourful artwork. Just add water to Derwent Inktense Blocks or Pencils to produce deep and vibrant permanent, waterproof ink colours on paper or fabric. If you choose to draw on fabric, your designs on cotton or silk will be hand washable at 30°C.

Different Ways of Colouring with Inktense Blocks & Pencils


Inktense can be used "dry on dry". When used on textured paper, the soft creamy consistency tends to grab at the peaks while leaving lower areas without colour. To improve coverage, build up the colour in layers and blend with a tortillion, paper stump or blender pencil.Derwent Inktense Blocks

Transform the dappled effect of the dry drawing by painting over with a brush and water. This will dissolve the pencil marks and turn them into permanent ink. Subsequently the colours can be moved around with the brush to blend and completely cover the surface. When the ink is dry it will become waterproof so that further layers of colour can be added.

For permanent lines, use the Inktense Outliner pencil. It is made from non-soluble graphite and can be used with Inktense to provide permanent shading or outlines. In fact, this useful pencil can be utilised with any water-soluble media.

Used in the same way as a watercolour pan, ink colours can also be lifted directly from the Inktense Block or Pencil with a wetted paintbrush. Altenatively, the paper or fabric can be brushed or sprayed with water and Inktense applied directly onto the wet surface. Rubbing an Inktense Block with sandpaper creates fine dust which immediately dissolves into puddles of colour on the wet surface.

Painting with Powdered Derwent Inktense Blocks


The Derwent XL Sprinkler makes light work of grating a little powdered colour from an Inktense Block. Place the sprinkler over a palette dish or saucer to collect the powder and gently rub the Inktense Block over the grid.



Either add water to the powder and mix to make a solution or wet a brush to dissolve a little of the powder from the palette. Remember, the powder only becomes permanent ink once it is has been made completely soluble by the water.



The smooth cartridge paper below has buckled from the water. Choose a good quality watercolour paper for the best results.


Visit the George Weil website to browse the full range of colours from Derwent Inktense

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Natural Dyeing & Felt Making Courses in Scotland

Wild Rose Escapes run craft, wild cookery and relaxation holidays and courses in the heart of the Highlands of Scotland. Their courses include natural dyeing and felt making. We invited owner Rosie to tell us a little more about their craft holidays.

"I have been running craft courses in the Highlands of Scotland for over 7 years now and since the very beginning I have been buying materials from Fibrecrafts (George Weil & Sons Ltd). I started off running felting and natural dyeing courses and after buying my own small flock of Shetland sheep, we started running our Fleece to Felt weeks and Dye to Hand Spin courses. We teach the whole process - guests watch Alex hand-shear our Shetland sheep, they learn how to wash the fleece, make natural dyes, and learn how to felt a final piece. We also teach spinning and eco-printing using flowers and leaves."


"I always use Fibrecrafts and always recommend the site to participants on my courses and holidays. They do a great natural dye starter kit, which is a real help to beginners, with a little bit of everything in it. Living where we do, a lot of retailers will add an extra cost if they are sending goods to the Highlands - Fibrecrafts never do, which I so appreciate."


"Although we do order ancient dyes in, such as Indigo, Madder and Logwood, it is also fun to forage for dye plants and make our own dyes. Each season has something to offer. We are lucky living in the Highlands as we have so many dye plants on our door step. In the Spring we forage for Gorse and Broom flowers, and Bracken fronds, then Meadowsweet, Birch leaves and many more in the summer, moving onto berries, bark and fungi in the Autumn. Like dyers from earlier times I like to mix foraged plants alongside ancient imported dyes creating a rainbow of colours."


"Working outside is such a joy and because we live in a woodland I am lucky enough to be able to dye outside over fires, as we have a never ending supply of wood. However, although this is the way I love to dye it is not the only way and it is easy enough to set up a little dye workshop in a garage space or patio, all you really need is the enthusiasm to experiment."


"You can see from our photographs some of the stunning colours that can be created from nature." Visit Rosie's website to find out more about Wild Rose Escapes. If you would like to have a go at any of the crafts mentioned by Rosie, you can browse the George Weil website for Natural Dyeing, Felt Making and Spinning.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Speedball Speedy Carve Block for Printing & Texture

The Speedy Carve block is made from smooth and flexible rubber. It cuts easily with lino cutter blades and does not crumble, making it ideal for creating detailed prints. The latex free rubber also stops the block from slipping around while it is being cut.

The wavy lines on this Speedy Carve block were cut freehand using the Speedball No 37 Linozips Safety Cutter. The safety cutter blades are angled and cutting is achieved by pulling the blade towards the body, much like the action of peeling a potato.


More about the Speedy Carve block


The blocks are available in a choice of 3 sizes; 3" x 4", 4" x 6" and a large 6" x 12". They can be used as they are or easily cut to the required size with a craft knife.

Speedball recommend that the Speedy Carve is used with water soluble paints and block printing inks. We suggest using either Speedball Block Printing Inks or Daler Rowney Block Printing Inks. Alternatively, an acrylic based paint thickened with Daler Rowney System 3 Block Printing Medium will work equally well.

The rubber is so flexible that it can be used to print onto cylindrical objects such as plant pots, tin cans or cardboard tubes.

Uses for the cut Speedy Carve block


The print below was created using Jacquard Lumiere paints. These thick acrylic paints are water soluble and available in a large choice of shimmering colours for a variety of surfaces, including fabric. The paint has pooled slightly in the recesses of the cut block and thickening the paint would produce a finer print.


Block printing inks have are formulated specifically for printing and applied to the block using a brayer roller. The brayer is used to cover the block with a uniform coating of ink helping to ensure a clear transfer. If you prevent the paint or ink from drying on the block, it is easy to wash off with soap and warm water.

We used the same cut Speedy Carve block as a texture sheet or stamp for polymer clay. Polymer clay is a smooth modelling clay which can be low temperature heat hardened in a domestic oven.



The 6mm deep block can also be cut to make a mould for fine modelling materials such as Art Clay Silver clays. Use a little petroleum jelly in the mould and release the item while gently flexing the block.

Browse our selection of Block Printing inks & tools or visit the Model Making section to view the types of clay on available from George Weil

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Help in choosing the right Artist Brushes for Painting

A selection of artist brushes made by Winsor & Newton
There are a huge range of artist brushes available from the George Weil website and showroom. When choosing a brush you need to consider the type of paint you will be using, plus the amount of 'spring' required. The spring of the hairs/bristles is determined by how quickly and easily they can revert to their original shape.

Watercolour Paints

Watercolour paints are made from finely ground pigments and water soluble binders such as synthetic glycol or natural gum arabic. They are available in block form as pans, or as a paste in tubes.  The water soluble binders mean they will wash out of artist brushes quite easily with soap and water.

Acrylic Paints

Whilst acrylic paints are also water soluble, their acrylic binder dries very quickly and will cause the brush hairs to stick together. The speed of drying plus the opacity and brightness of the colours make acrylic paints popular as an alternative to watercolours and oil paints. It is important not to allow acrylics to dry on the brush hair or the ferrule as they are very difficult to clean off. It helps to remove excess paint on a paper towel before washing with soap and thoroughly rinsing in water.

Oil Paints

The particles of pigment in oil paints are suspended in a drying oil such as linseed. Although the paints are relatively slow to dry, they are not water soluble and do need a solvent such as white spirit or turpentine to both thin the paint and to clean brushes after use. Oil paint will spoil the brush hairs if not cleaned before the paint dries. The best method is to remove excess paint on a paper towel and use a solvent-based cleaner or Zest It solvent-free cleaner. After the brush has been cleaned it is a good idea to rinse it in soap and water to remove any solvent that has remained in the ferrule so that it does not dissolve any adhesive used to glue in the bristles.

Drying and Storing Artist Brushes

Run the brush over a sheet of paper towel to remove excess moisture and reshape the brush hairs or bristles while they are still damp. You may notice some staining from the pigment but this will not effect the performance of the brush. Brushes should be laid flat until they have dried thoroughly. With all artist brushes, lay the brush flat to dry and either store in a brush roll or in a jar, handles down and heads-up.

Brushes suitable for painting in Watercolours

Artist brushes for watercolours need to be able to take a good load of colour and natural hairs such as goat, squirrel and sable perform better than most synthetic hairs.
  • Goat Hair - this tapering hair is boiled to straighten it. The scale-like surface of the hair allows high absorbency of water based media and the hairs are often used in Oriental brush making for Chinese painting, silk painting, calligraphy and wash techniques. The hairs have no spring (Hake, Graduate & own brand Chinese brushes)
  • Sable - hair (or fur) from carnivorous mammals of Mustelidae family which include weasel and mink. The hair is narrow at the root, widens in the middle and then tapers off to a fine point at the end. It is the wide midlength of the hair that gives it its excellent spring (Daler Rowney Diana Kolinsky, Winsor & Newton Kolinsky, P34B Pure Sable,
  • Sable/Synthetic Blend - synthetic hairs (made from nylon filaments) have been designed to simulate natural hairs and have a good spring but poor absorbency. These blends bring together the absorbency of natural hair and the spring of synthetic hairs (Sapphire, some Sceptre Gold II)
  • Squirrel Hair - a fine absorbent hair with a pointed tip making the brush hairs come to a fine point when wetted. The hairs have little spring (Isabey Squirrel Mop & Sky Wash brushes, Terry Harrison Dagger & Sword)
  • Some Synthetic - synthetic hairs (made from nylon filaments) have been designed to simulate natural hairs and have a good spring but poor absorbency. (Prolene Sword Liners, Gold Taper, Dalon, Graduate & Mini Majestic)

Brushes suitable for painting in Acrylics

Artist brushes for acrylic paints need to be hard wearing with a 'good spring'.
  • Artisan Brushes (perform like hog hair for water-mixable oils or acrylics)
  • Azanta Black Brushes (hog hair bristles for oils, alkyds or acrylics)
  • Colour Shapers Hard Grey (silicone tips for acrylics & modelling mediums)
  • Colour Shapers Soft White (silicone tips for acrylics & modelling mediums)
  • Cryla Brushes (synthetic hair for acrylics)
  • Dalon Brushes (imitation sable for watercolours & acrylics)
  • Graduate Brushes (economic synthetic brushes ideal for beginners)
  • Monarch Brushes (synthetic mongoose hair for acrylics, water-mixable oils & oils)
  • Raphael Mixacryl Brushes (hog bristle blended with synthetic hair for acrylics)
  • Royal & Langnickel Brushes (tiny brushes for detail work)
  • Sceptre Gold II Brushes (available in a mix of hair types including synthetic & sable)
  • Series 101 Sable Brushes (long handled, fine brushes made from Kolinsky sable hair)
  • Terry Harrison Brushes (natural hair for watercolours, acrylics & oils)
  • Palette Knives (for full bodied acrylics & oils)

Brushes suitable for painting in Oils

Artist brushes for oil paints need to be hard wearing with a 'good spring'. Bristles are made from boiled hog, boar or pig hair. The hairs are very coarse and stiff, have a natural taper and split ends. These artist brushes are hard wearing and ideal for use with solvent based paints.
  • Artisan Brushes (water-mixable oils or acrylics)
  • Artists Hog Brushes (Chunking hog bristles for oils)
  • Azanta Black Brushes (hog hair bristles for oils, alkyds or acrylics)
  • Bristlewhite Oil Brushes (hog hair for oils)
  • Graduate Brushes (economic synthetic brushes ideal for beginners)
  • Monarch Brushes (synthetic mongoose hair for acrylics, water-mixable oils & oils)
  • Royal & Langnickel Brushes (tiny brushes for detail work)
  • Sceptre Gold II Brushes (available in a mix of hair types including synthetic & sable)
  • Series 101 Sable Brushes (long handled, fine brushes made from Kolinsky sable hair)
  • Palette Knives (for full bodied acrylics & oils)