Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gift Idea for Traveling kid artists (or the kid-at-heart)

Spotted this set of Pilot Watercolour leads kit at the Relay gift shops throughout the Hong Kong airport a couple of weeks ago. Each waxy watersoluble 3.8 mm thick color lead (6.0 cm/2 3/8" long) is contained within a color-coded Pilot Croquis holder (which so far, I have been able to find only in British websites). The holders advance the lead with a twist action mechanism and are refillable. The leads produce crayon-like marks which dissolve easily into watercolor-like washes of color with the provided waterbrush. Actually this set is a well-thought choice for a traveling kid artist since the holders protect the waxy cores from breakage while keeping fingers clean, and the waterbrush and 2 sponges (for cleaning the waterbrush tip between color changes) included in the kit keep the potential watercoloring mess to a minimum even within an airplane cabin. Bundled with a small watercolor pad, this kit would make an ideal gift for budding artists to take on long car rides, flights, or just keeping busy on a rainy day. I would have been nice if the whole kit were packaged in a sturdier carrying case rather than the simple cardboard box. The sample color chart below was done on Hot Press watercolour paper and compares them against some Caran D'Ache Museum watercolour leads. The latter are actually harder watercolor pencil cores that are more heavily pigmented than the waxy Pilot watersoluble cores. The color swatches on the bottom right were done by wiping the waterbrush after dissolving the pigment in the circular samples. Since I have not seen this product in the USA yet, I guess for the moment is just a gift shopping recommendation for those traveling to Japan or Hong Kong. It retailed for $162 HKD or roughly $21 USD. Since Pilot refills are not readily available stateside, the useful life of this watercolour kit might have been rather short. Yet luckily the simple round plastic clip of the Croquis holders also work with the 3.8 mm Caran D'Ache Museum watercolour leads which can still be found through some online retailers. Each Museum lead just needs to be splitted in halves to fit within the Croquis holder. As much as I enjoy using the Caran D'Ache Fixpencil 44 in my studio, the Pilot Croquis holder is a more suitable field sketching tool since it's lighter, inexpensive ($2-5 USD/each depending on currency exchange and quantity pricing), and has a comfortable shorter barrel (easier to fit within a pocket).
Sample done on Hand Book Artist Journal.
Tombow mono 6B graphite outline colored with Holbein and Pilot watercolours.

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