Thursday, 17 August 2017

Natural Dyeing Display at the Weald & Downland Living Museum

A visit to the Weald & Downland Living Museum takes us on a journey through 950 years of English rural history.

There are 50 historical buildings which were carefully rebuilt within the 40 acre site, demonstrations and exhibits, plus an extensive artefact collection housed in the award-winning Downland Gridshell Building. Throughout the year, the Museum also hosts event days inspired by the collections, plus a programme of adult education courses in traditional rural trades and crafts.

Natural Dyed Fabrics, Yarns and Thread 

Amongst the many exhibits is this glass topped cabinet displaying items dyed using natural dyes. The dyes and mordants used were bought from George Weil in October 2016 and it's great to see the the wonderful range of colours achieved.



Some the natural dyes used for the display include Madder, Weld, Walnut Husks, Tansy, Marigold and Safflower. Our images below show the dried dye-stuff prior to dyeing.

Colours from Natural Dyes

The final colours of natural dyes will depend on the method and the type of mordant or fixative used. Some natural dyes, such as Walnut Husks and Lichens, do not require a mordant. These are classed as Substantive dyes. Adjective dyes, however, do need a mordant to combine with the dye and fix it to the material.

The roots of Madder (Rubia tinctoria) produce a colour range from bright red (Turkey Red) through to purple. Both the crimson Alizarin and rich pink Rose Madder pigment are made from Madder and are used in water colour paints. A purple can be achieved by using a copper or iron mordant.

Weld (or Dyer's Rocket) was introduced into the UK in ancient times possibly due to the bright yellow colour it can yield when used as a dye. It was used in combination with Woad (which produces a blue) to create Lincoln Green which is famously associated with the fictional Robin Hood.

Walnut Husks come from the outer green husk that contains the shell. The husks produce varying shades of brown and do not require a mordant. Walnut Husks can also be used to make an excellent deep brown ink by boiling and reducing the solution for 6-8 hours.

The Tansy plant has a strong aromatic scent which repels flies, ants and even moths. It is also said to help with bruising, rheumatism and other medical conditions. For the natural dyer, it produces a useful yellow.

Marigold - the clue is in the name - is not only a very pleasant garden plant but also a very effective source of golden yellow. The dye colour can be altered to a greeny olive by using an iron or copper mordant.

The Safflower is generally used for the production of vegetable oil but was traditionally used for colouring and flavouring. When used as a natural dye, the dried flowers produce shades of yellow through to red. This page on Jenny Dean's Wild Colour explains how to extract both yellow and red from Safflower petals.

Other historically important dye-stuff includes indigo, henna, logwood and oak bark. Browse the range of natural dyes and mordants from George Weil for further information.




Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Support for the Yvonne Arnaud Art Exhibition 2017

George Weil are pleased to have been able to support the 2017 Yvonne Arnaud Art Exhibition as a patron. The event featured 25 artists including works in oils, acrylics, pastels - and cement! Plus photographs on aluminum, sculptures and ceramics.

The painting "Patti" featured here (right) is by artist David Dragon, and another of his paintings "The Water Carrier" is shown on the bottom left of the wall pictured below. David was previously an album sleeve designer and has worked for Decca and EMI for artists such as UB40, XTC and Oasis.

Other exhibiting artists included watercolourist Jackie Deveraux, photographer Sue Roche, and sculptor Christine Suzman.



Broadcaster and champion of community arts, Jeff Thomson, attended the Private Viewing.

"Guildford Arts again offers an eclectic range of styles, materials, and concepts from 25 contributors and I joined an informed crowd circulating among works that represent national, regional and local names. This year’s exhibition continues to astonish and could exceed some earlier shows."

"I can only echo Nicholas Tromans' (curator of The Watts Gallery) observation - 'local does not mean lesser.'  How true."

You can review some of the artists' work from the Yvonne Arnaud Art Exhibition on the Guildford Arts website.


More about Guildford Arts


"Guildford Arts is a charity dedicated to improving public participation in the rich offerings of art – in all its varieties – that are available in Guildford and beyond.

Through our small grants scheme we seek to support arts initiatives that will enhance that offering …… and our innovative web site development – ArtsEGG.uk – is contributing directly to the growth of public awareness of arts events."

If you would like to support Guildford Arts, you can become a member for just £10.00 a year. Visit their website to find out more.


Monday, 7 August 2017

Following in Grandpa's Footsteps

Did you know that Doctor Ian Bowers, Managing Director of George Weil & Sons Ltd, has run the business since it merged with Fibrecrafts, over 20 years ago?

Fibrecrafts was set up in 1982 by Anna Bowers, to offer textile crafts supplies for hand spinners, weavers, dyers, felt makers and knitters. Anna set the standard for the service we are proud of today. The products are still sourced from the best world-wide manufacturers, offering choice, quality and value. Ian took up the reins after Anna sadly died in 1994.

Today in August 2017 her legacy lives on. We now welcome their granddaughter Sophie to the team!


Sophie attended Farnham Sixth Form College, studying health and social care. Her ambition is to become a midwife, and hopes her experience here at George Weil will ready her for a busy future. Sophie is an intelligent, productive worker, who from her first few days here has already shown great potential.

Do we have a new MD in our midst? Watch out Ian!


Friday, 21 July 2017

Conte a Paris Crayons

Conte a Paris Crayons are square 'carre' sticks which are made using a combination of pigments, clay and binder. They are harder than pastels and charcoal, and can be applied with the corner for fine lines and the flat edge to make larger strokes.


square pastel sticks
Conte a Paris Crayons
These crayons with their 6x6mm cross-section offer a range of 84 bright and balanced colours, that make up various sets of assortments. Conte offers sets specifically selected for portraits, landscapes, sketching and still life, and crayons can also be purchased individually.

6mm pastels
Conte a Paris 6mm Pastel Crayons
Manufactured with natural pigments (iron oxide, carbon black, titanium oxide), clay (kaolin), and a binder (cellulose either). They are extruded and dried, then baked. The degree of baking varies the grade (hardness: H/softness: B) of the black and white crayons. Two special tints were recently developed to enhance the Conte sketching range, Rose and Brown. Crayons are produced from a highly rigorous choice of pigments.

Ever since Nicolas-Jacques Conte perfected the quality and manufacturing of the coloured leads in 1795 (used by artists in the 14th century), many artists and grand masters used his pastels due to the selection of pigments, lightfastness, and purity of the colours. Conte crayons are famed for how easily they blend, their softness and how they offer control for detail.


Pastels on coloured paper
Bright Luminous colours of Conte a Paris Crayons on Coloured Paper
 The pastels look best when used on coloured paper with plenty of tooth (such as Canson Ingres Sheets or Canson Mi-Teintes Pastels Paper), as the colour of the pastels will be more luminous, and the tooth will grab hold of the pigment. To create a non-absorbent, grease free surface on materials such as wood, canvas or paper, we recommend you apply a primer (such as Schmincke Pastel primer). When dried the surface will be opaque and rough enough to provide a good hold for pastel colours.

Whilst drawing you can use the corner of the crayon for fine lines, allowing you to sketch and structure the piece. The flat edge can be used for thicker lines, and by applying greater pressure you can create a denser colour. As the Conte crayons are soft they blend easily, which helps to create dimension in your artwork. Conte crayons allow you to produce thick, dynamic lines that can be used to suggest movement. These techniques can transform an initially mundane subject into something intriguing and extraordinary. 

To preserve your work, apply a pastel fixative before framing behind glass.

If you are interested in buying Conte a Paris Crayons, click here to see the products available on our website.


A close up of Conte a Paris Crayons
A closer look at Conte a Paris Crayons
images and text by Kyra Quinn

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Welcome to Kyra from George Weil

Kyra has joined us for work experience this week where she's learning the in's and out's of how a business is run. Today Kyra has learnt about the steps for how orders are processed and packaged, as well as how businesses keep track of sales and profit. She's even had a sneak preview of our new and improved website, and had a summary of how it all gets coded.

"I'm currently studying Fine Arts at Sixth Form, and I hope to pursue a creative career where I can incorporate my creative talents."


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Nail Art with Pearl Ex Pigment Powders

Jacquard Pearl Ex pigment powders are made from fine particles of glistening mica. The varying sizes of the coloured particles produce pearlescent and metallic effects. These ultra fine powders can be combined with any viscous material such as glue, resin, paint, varnish, or brushed onto tacky surfaces such as wax candles or modelling clay.

This exciting art material can be used in so many other creative ways. The finer powders can be added to screen inks for screen printing, while Gum Arabic makes an excellent carrier for making watercolour paints. The Jacquard Textile Colourless Extender can be used for making Pearl Ex paint for fabric.

Cara's Toes!


The Pearl Ex powders have been used to great effect by our colleague Cara to decorate her toe nails for a mermaid costume she will be wearing soon. Scroll down to read how Cara achieved this look.



"I did this by painting turquoise nail varnish onto my nails, but you can obviously use any colour nail varnish. When it was dry, I rubbed a small amount of the Pearl Ex on top of the colour and then covered with a clear top coat. I used the Interference Violet and a bit of the Interference Green Pearl Ex for this."

"I then used silver and black nail art pens to draw the scales on top and then another clear top coat again!"

Pearl Ex Pigment on Polymer Clay


The same Pearl Ex Interference colours were used on this piece of moulded polymer clay. You can see from the image that the colours are very effective on dark coloured materials. After the clay in baked in a domestic oven at 130°C, the colours remain stable and unchanged. In fact, 17 of the 49 colours (the Interference Green and Violet included) have been tested in a glass kiln and shown to withstand temperatures between 590°C - 925°C!



Happy Feet!



Visit the George Weil website to see the range of 49 colours available in Jacquard Pearl Ex Powders

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Mending and Hanging Terracotta Pots with Milliput Epoxy Putty

Milliput Terracotta Epoxy Putty

What is Milliput?

Milliput epoxy putty is used to repair damaged metals, glass, concrete, plastics, brick, cement and wood, and in places where welding is impractical. This malleable putty is also very popular with model makers for its work-ability and smooth finish.

When mixed in equal quantities, the two-part epoxy putty cures to a rock hard, durable finish which can be sanded, filed, drilled, turned and painted. It is self hardening (and will set under water!) and non-shrinking. Although it is not recommended as a thin layer adhesive, it will bond most materials.

In this post, we demonstrate the Terracotta Milliput epoxy putty which is ideal for repairing cracks and breaks in garden pots, picture frames, sculptures and brickwork.

Repairing a Pot with Terracotta Milliput Epoxy Putty

A pack of Milliput contains two sticks of putty. You will need to cut off a slice of the same size from each of the sticks. The soft putty is then kneaded until both colours of stick are fully combined.

Thoroughly blend the two parts of Milliput Epoxy Putty


The chipped edge of the garden pot below was repaired by pressing some of the blended putty into the crack before smoothing it over with wetted fingers.  The repair is almost invisible!

Terracotta pot repaired with Milliput

Making Hanging Terracotta Pots from Milliput

The bonding properties of cured Milliput is so strong that it can be used to make simple "brackets" for your terracotta plant pots. The Milliput was first rolled into a ball and then pressed into a disc shape.

Adding a hanger to a garden pot with Milliput Terracotta Epoxy Putty


The disc of Milliput was then pressed onto the rim of the pot and the join smoothed into the terracotta using a wet finger. An old biro pen was then used to make a hole.

Milliput dried rock hard within 3-4 hours


The epoxy resin set hard within 3-4 hours and the pots were ready to hang!

Hanging pots adapted using Terracotta coloured Milliput epoxy putty


Milliput epoxy resin is available in Standard, Terracotta, Black and Silver Grey grades, and in a finer grade of White for repairing smooth finishes such as ceramics, porcelain and marble. Find out more about Milliput and to buy from George Weil.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Acrylic Painting: help from a Scanner, Photoshop & Imagetrace Paper

I decided to paint my son and his fiancé a painting to mark their engagement. The design needed to be personal to them, and to appeal to their "alternative tastes". I chose to paint three playing cards, the Queen of Spades, Ace of Hearts and King of Diamonds on a large canvas. As I'm not the most confident artist or the most experienced painter, I utilised the help of a scanner, Photoshop and Imagetrace paper.

Tools and Paint
Preparing the Canvas

First of all I sketched the outline of the cards before painting the rest of the canvas in Hookers Green with a 1in flat wash brush. The playing cards were painted in a mix of Titanium White and a small amount of Cadmium Yellow and Mars Black.

The Queen, a Scanner and Imagetrace Paper

The scanned image of the complex playing card was clear enough to produce a reasonable print after enlarging it in Photoshop. The outline of the design was transferred onto the canvas with Imagetrace Paper.

Imagetrace is a wax-free tracing paper with a pure graphite coating on one side. By placing it graphite side down onto the canvas, I could lay my print on top and trace the outlines with a biro. The pressure from the biro caused an imprint of graphite to remain on the canvas.


When I finished transferring the design, I painted the outlines (which took hours!) using a liner brush. Liner, or rigger, brushes have longer length hairs designed to absorb some of the shake when painting fine lines. I used a small round brush with Crimson, Ultramarine, Cadmium Yellow and Black acrylic paint to complete the remainder of the painting.

This was the stage at which I had intended for the final painting. However, the playing cards did not make the impact I had envisioned so I decided to work up the design by adding poker chips.

Developing the Design for the Painting

I didn't want to add a further element to the painting without first getting an idea of how it would finally look. For this reason I created a mock-up by taking a photograph of some playing cards with some plastic poker chips to help me decide on the layout.

I then designed a poker chip, comprising a logo of the engaged couples' initials and an iconic image in Photoshop. The great thing about Photoshop (or Illustrator) is that you can build up an image in layers and add drop shadows and bevelled edges - very helpful for replicating the behaviour of light when painting from fiction.

Adding new elements to the Painting

The poker chips were designed to scale for the painting, so after printing them at full size, I cut them out and drew around the edge with a pencil onto the canvas. I then painted over the Hookers Green with Titanium White (the only way to cover dark acrylic colours).


The next stage was to transfer the design of the poker chip using the extremely helpful Imagetrace. This was a little more tricky because I had to line them up correctly. I then painted in the detail with the acrylic paint before finally adding the shading and highlights.

The Finished Acrylic Painting

I'm delighted to say that my son and his fiancé like the painting very much!


by Allison Holland

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A Comparison Between Coloured Pencils

Why so many Coloured Pencils?

We are often asked why we carry such a large range of coloured pencils. But what is the difference anyway? Here is a quick review of 8 of our most popular pencils, which we hope will help you to choose the coloured pencils most suited to your needs. Each of the pencils featured are available individually in a choice colours or in a set of assorted colours.

We made our samples below on smooth hot pressed watercolour paper.

A comparison of coloured pencils

Derwent Tinted Charcoal

The pencil core looks and feels exactly like charcoal which does not split or splinter. It is made from tinted compressed charcoal for a choice of earthy tones ideal for landscapes. The pencil strokes give the same familiar whisper on paper as all dry chalky media and the charcoal marks are easily smudged or blended. The charcoal core is naturally water-soluble.

Derwent Tinted Charcoal Pencil

The cedar wood casings are painted at the end of the pencil to give an indication of the pencil lead colour.

Stabilo Carbothello Pastel Pencils

Stabilo state that this chalk-pastel coloured pencil has a wonderfully dry and dusty stroke, just like charcoal. The pencils are very similar in performance to Derwent Tinted Charcoal pencils. The large choice of highly pigmented colours are bright and clean. The chalky core is naturally water-soluble.

Stabilo Carbothello Pastel Pencil

The wood casings are painted along the shaft to give an indication of the pencil lead colour.

Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901

The creamy lead feels satisfyingly smooth and leaves a mark with very little pressure. Caran d'Ache claim that these superb pencils are "the most light fast permanent colour pencil ever designed". They certainly are the best of the permanent colour pencils in our test. The highly pigmented, opaque colours lend themselves well to overlaying, mixed media and gradation.

Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Pencil

The cedar wood casings are painted at the end of the pencil in the same colour as the pencil lead.

Caran d'Ache Pablo

The pencil lead transfers colour smoothly and with little effort. There is no grittiness or resistance on the paper and colours blend well. The sharpened lead leaves a fine detailed mark. The lead resists water and is used to include permanent detail with water-soluble pencils or watercolour paints.

Caran d'Ache Pablo Pencil

The hexagonal cedar wood casings are painted the same colour as the lead and stop the pencil from rolling away.

Derwent Coloursoft

A soft blendable lead which is slightly more sticky than the other pencils tested. The pencil was tried on a variety of papers and performed best on the papers with more "tooth". Performance was adequate to good on the smoother surfaces.

Derwent Coloursoft Pencils

The cedar wood casings are painted a reddish brown and the end of the pencil is painted the same colour as the pencil lead.

Caran d'Ache Supracolor II

The Supracolor pencils feel similar to the Pablo pencils. Supracolor are water-soluble and can be used with permanent pencils to add a wash. These coloured pencils are used alongside watercolour paints or in mixed media work. The pigment dissolves quickly when water is applied.

Caran d'Ache Supracolor II Pencil

The hexagonal cedar wood casings are painted the same colour as the lead and stop the pencil from rolling away.

Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Water-soluble Woodless

A solid stick of water-soluble crayon covered in a thin film of lacquer, the Cretacolor Aqua Monolith is a delight to hold and handle. The sharpened lead provides a fine detailed line and the "lead" glides smoothly to quickly colour areas from light to dark, depending on the pressure applied. The pigment is soluble in water although as an aquarelle it is not as good as Supracolor II Soft or Derwent Inktense.

Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Water-soluble Woodless Pencil

A slightly thinner but heavier pencil than the wood pencils, the entire pencil (apart from the fine lacquer coating) being made from pigment. Pencil shavings can be dissolved in water to use as paint.

Derwent Inktense

The best of the water-soluble coloured pencils! Used dry, the pencil is a little resistant on the paper and less smooth than some of the other colour pencils, although the colours transfer well. The "lead" is a special formula, when wetted dissolves quickly into a vibrant ink, which is permanent when dry. This allows for layers of colour washes and other exciting techniques.
The pencils can also be used for "painting" on silk and other fabrics as the marks are permanent when the pigment has dissolved and dried.

Derwent Inktense Pencil

The cedar wood casings are painted blue and the end of the pencil is painted the same colour as the pencil lead.

Water Soluble Coloured Pencils

Here are the results of the three water soluble pencils tested. The Derwent Inktense coloured pencils and the Caran d'Ache Supracolor dissolved very easily and the colour spreads readily. The Cretacolour Aqua Monolith took slightly longer to dissolve.

Water soluble coloured pencils

Browse the George Weil website for the full range of drawing and coloured pencils >