Inks in Depth: Birmingham Allegheny Observatory Celestial Blue

 I like what Birmingham says on their website:
We started Birmingham Pen Co. in 2012
in the Southside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
with the doors of our first retail shop opening
to the public in 2016. The region of Pittsburgh
where we began once called “Little Birmingham”
due to the area’s prolific manufacturing industry
in the early 1900’s. The Birmingham moniker
was derived from Birmingham, UK –
a manufacturing hub that specialized in,
among other things, pen and nib
manufacturing with thousands of
craftspeople employed in the industry.
We chose the name Birmingham Pen Company
to share this little known piece of history and
continue in the traditions behind the name.”

Birmingham also turns their own pens,
which I’ve noticed often sell out as fast as they make them!
*I am currently in line for the
“Model-A Demonstrator Fountain Pen, Violet Beauregarde,” hint hint!*
A small family business started by the brothers, Nick and Josh,
Dad is the chief pen machinist, and Mom does one of the coolest things about Birmingham, which is their amazing historic names!

This brings us to one of the prettiest dark blue inks,
Birmingham Allegheny Observatory Celestial Blue.
It is named after the Allegheny Observatory, opened in 1912.
Designed by Thorsten E. Billquist in the Classical Revival Style,
it is part of the University of Pittsburgh campus, and is now on the
National Register of Historic Places.

Remember that others review these inks just for writing;
I am also interested in how they are used for ink-painting!

Properties of Birmingham Allegheny Observatory Celestial Blue ink:

Celestial Blue is a well behaved ink
which dries relatively quickly.  It feathers slightly on Post-its, but not in my Hahnemühle Nostalgie journal even with a wet writer, right, nor on watercolor paper, above. When I scrubbed it, it seemed to be water resistant, and further test sketches in my journals show it to leave a good imprint of water resistant ink lines when the waterbrush moves the color, easily.

*Above, watercolors from Daniel Smith.*

When painting, it first goes on the paper with a hyacinth blue cast, then deepens.
Looking at watercolor comparisons, the colors fall in the Indigo to Indanthrone range.
It is closer to Indigo but has a bit of that brighter Indanthrone blue.
In watercolors that puts the pigments in the following Munsell ranges:
PB 15:3/PBk7/PV17 and PB60.
*For more info go to this page.*
It has no sheen that I could produce, and is not a strong shader, so I don’t consider this a complex ink color.  Above you can see the pretty blue that pulls out of the dark writing ink.

MOST water soluble ink companies do not pay attention to lightfast qualities and Birmingham is no different.  Most artists who use ink are making prints of their work —
But ink-painting is becoming more interesting so maybe it is time!

I drew the Allegheny Observatory on my test page with a
FPR Muft pen with a 1.0 stub nib (below on cold press watercolor paper,
and touched the lines with water using a Pentel Aquash waterbrush.
This was a 30 minute sketch with water movement…
The lines stay slightly visible but also release ink; which means slight water resistance.
I did not add linework in, but left some lines untouched.

I’m committed to drawing every bottle too;
Birmingham’s are nothing special but they are glass, and functional, even in the small sizes.  I like glass bottles; they feel like they will last longer.
In my Hahnemühle Nostalgie journal, with the pen that is currently hosting it!

You can see the water resistant properties best in this posie,
as the lines of the ink stayed even after being hit with water.
They were not scrubbed, but the waterbrush was run repeatedly across
them lightly to move the ink where I wanted it to go.

Disclosure, I bought my own inks from Birmingham.

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Inky Blue Posie

My inky posie is in Birmingham Allegheny Observatory Celestial Blue ink.
This layered so nicely.  I used 2-3 layers, which often doesn’t work,
but maybe thoroughly drying in between helps —
Or the slight water resistance in the ink.
I won’t be sketching in color other than linework in this ink
because I didn’t know the lines would stay and I didn’t like the sloppy colored lines
I added at the base to bring in the dark ones.  Instead I will dip my brush tip in the ink.

Ink painting is a huge experiment for me!

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Wax Resist Pencils

I use a fluid resist sometimes, but an urban sketcher had a good pencil
he was using and I asked him repeatedly what that might be and
he even answered me once but without giving me the name of it…
so, withholding the name of a great tool, right?

I hate that!  I don’t do it!

So I bought one that described as what he said,
“A wax resist pencil”  Caran D’ache, above.  Not too good…

Then I tried every whitish colored pencil
(not the watercolor pencils) and the white one gave some resist… .

So I tried it again, pressing down.
So-so, though I love the colors mushed together.

I got more serious about it and made more images of Prismacolor white
and did it again, above, running inks over it.
Not what I want in a resist, but I like this effect.

Does anyone know of a good
resist pencil that works?

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SoCS: Anti-Social

I  journal and do morning stream of consciousness exercises, and
I’m again participating in Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday
I write to a timer, 15-20 minutes, no editing except spelling, and of course I add my art!
You can do it too!
The Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “social.” Write about the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word “social.”

When I first heard the word for today, I thought of social media, and was going to write about how it is not making us more social, but maybe ill-mannered and righteous.

Then this morning I read news while waking, which I almost never do.

So here is the thing, my opinion.

The USA is a giant narcissistic antisocial two-year-old who cannot deal with facts
(many scientific ideas about global warming, for instance, including memory of normal weather, but no real scientist that is saying it is not happening),
and even if they did, does not care about the welfare of their children,
their grandchildren, and so I say, the worst kind of narcissistic child ever.  EVER.

This is non-partisan.  Maybe more Dems discuss it, but wait,
in the last election the Democratic candidate give it a bit of lip service but was unconvincing because she was unconvinced of its importance,
and the other one is the poster boy for the narcissistic two year old.
*I am over apologizing to Trump supporters…
I mean, come on: Megalomaniac crazy man.  You picked the wrong child.*
Obama talked about having this or that done by 2020 and here we are…
I guess they thought we had time despite what scientists said.
Nothing done, not really.

I mean, we have to get moving, each and every one of us.

The USA does more damage than any other Western society,
as they live in homes sized for their activity and family size,
drive less, waste less, use less fossil fuel…
Our war machine, which is not necessary, is a huge culprit;
this is what made me skip writing about social media this morning
and focus on our general stupidity as a nation.
It is not that the two year old is stupid, but two year olds grow up
in the face of peers who don’t like them, facts,
and being shunned by parents who say “go to your room.”
If they don’t, they become dangerous madpersons..

I don’t see us growing up.

Sine qua non.
Without this, nothing.

For the rules, go to Linda’s blog;  feel free to join the fun!

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Bottles matter!

The right bottle helps sell your ink!
A nice shape, brown preferably because it helps protect the ink inside.
A not too tall bottle or pear shaped is ideal so it doesn’t tip.

And of course, a beautiful bottle is amazing.

I am not sure why Diamine changed their old bottle, as it was lovely.
Simple, nice shape, proportional, and the lid was a nice lid that fit well
and looked as if it belonged to the bottle, not borrowed from another bottle.
The new bottle is not bad, a bit taller proportionally.
But, it has an ugly gold lid that doesn’t work!

The older bottle, above, of Diamine Ancient Copper ink.

The top, and the way the
top seals is critical because
if the bottle tips with the top on tight and ink spills,
you lose ink, you stain things, and no one likes to clean up ink…  But there is more —
If you have your top screwed on tight and it leaks then
air is also getting into the bottle which means it is evaporating… And this is exactly what the new gold
tops from Diamine do,
they leak even when on tight.  Right, the leakage with the
top screwed on TIGHT…

The newer bottle, below, of Diamine Havasu Turquoise ink.

Understand, I LOVE Diamine inks. 
I just don’t love the new bottles…

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VSW: Tuileries, Paris

Tuileries, from an image
by Demi Kalfa for
Virtual Sketchwalk.

Robert Oster’s Green at
is new to me,
on sale at Vanness in
Grandpa’s Basement
*I shouldn’t tell you about Grandpa’s basement
because, more for me.*

It has rich undertones of
black and also touches of
warm yellow, though it is hard
to see in the washes above.

I have been told that the way an artist crops an image changes the way the piece feels.
Maybe that is why I like playing with cropping after the fact…
Included in this cropping is the banner above (if you can see it on your phones.)
But I’m not sure about this.  I think it is line or brush stroke and color.

What say you?

*meanwhile, these french words are driving my dyslexia insane…
i double check spelling and still! u,e,i,l… i mix hem up when writing!*

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Puppy Postcards

And the showdown, water color versus ink!

Okay, we know that watercolors, good ones, have light-fast ratings.
This is a huge plus for sending postcards that someone might stick on a wall…
PBeaux (left) should last longer than Poppy (right)
especially the bright orange bowl he is sitting in.

Inks are much harder to paint with, they bloom much more easily than watercolors
Still, I love them!

He was a pup when this picture was taken…
Platinum Carbon pen and ink with watercolors.

He was a pup too, that fit in a Fiesta Bowl…
I had intended to borrow images from @muchofiesta (IG) for his lovely colorful bowls,
but look who caught my eye… his new Boston Terrier.

I do commissions!

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