Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN


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Green is our favorite color

loveearthWithout a lot of fanfare, many of the small companies that manufacture and distribute art supplies have been going green. I was just reading that very few industries overall are welcoming recent rollbacks of our US environmental protections.  Major companies see no need to turn this train because it serves their customers and shareholders to keep their promise to be more efficient and reduce their long term impact.  It seems that most companies do care about the long term effects of their methods and, more importantly, find that green tech is good for the bottom line. Maybe a few are cynically labelling themselves “eco-friendly” to get into the pocket of the SRCs (Socially Responsible Consumers) but those customers are not just the stereotypical college professors and yuppies.

Most importantly, in my opinion, we learn that plenty of companies that are new or expanding make a business decision for their facility that has more to do with their operations than their marketing department.  We figured that this week we’d call out a few cool things that we’ve noticed happening in our niche of the economy beyond strategically investing in LED replacement bulbs.

  • MABEF has been producing fine painting supports in Italy since 1948.  Their “French Easels” are iconic gear for the outdoor and portable painter . It turns out that MABEF uses only Forest Stewardship Council certified beechwood in their products, meaning the wood has come from a forest and supply chain that is managed responsibly.  Even the scraps and saw dust from the manufacturing process are converted to wood pellets that heat the MABEF factory and offices.
  • Artograph makes light tables and projectors and has been bringing their production of some of these products back onshore to the US (in nearby Delano, MN) which reduces the fuel used in shipping and transport.
  • Stabilo (Markers, Pencils, and Pens) added an environmental officer in the early 90s and pays very close attention to where their products come from and where they end up after the artist is done with them. I like their FAQ.
  • Gamblin Artist Oils has a page that wisely talks about the safety of the artist in the same breath with the safety of the environment. Their Gamsol product is designed with both in mind and every oil painter should be familiar with these safe studio practices.  They are like a lot of other manufacturers that also power with wind and are sharply on top of their waste management.
  • DaVinci Brushes relocated their new factory in 2006 to cut the commute of their staff and keep them close to public transport. The facility is green and happy employees are good for business!

Making paper consumes a lot of water in the growing of the pulp plants and in the papermaking process.  The manufacturing process can contaminate waste water with bleaches and other chemicals. Also, the product is just plain heavy to ship, which drinks a lot of fuel.  All of our manufacturers are addressing these issues. Here are some good examples of where their care with our resources makes good business sense:

  • Clairefontaine (Rhodia) makes some of our most popular softcover note/sketchbooks. Like more than a few other companies they use only pulp from managed forests.
  • We have several companies that use renewable plants for their stock, like the Lokta papers we were featuring this week and papers made with hemp or kenaf fiber.
  • Strathmore, Bee and others mills routinely now use 20-30% PCW (Post Consumer Waste) in their sketch paper. That’s a big deal as 20 years ago “recycled” was usually pre-consumer, meaning that a company was just re-pulping waste material and overstock found in their facility. Now they buy from companies like our local Rock-Ten and keep my shredded credit card offers out of the landfill.

TropheeDeLeauCLF

Some of this corporate responsibility is visible on the packages, but not all of it is shouty big green “ECO-Friendly Organic Paintbrush” stickers with treefrogs and leaves on the labels. I went looking and found these everywhere, not just in the brands mentioned here.  I encourage you to grab the pads on our shelves and read the inner or back covers to learn more about each pad’s sources. It’s there and I’m impressed.  If you don’t see it on the packages, hit the manufacturers’ websites or ask us and we’ll have a chat with our vendors.  It’s not all of them, but I have been really lifted up to discover that this has been threaded so thoroughly throughout our business over that last couple of decades that it is now just a fact of how we do business and I cannot expect any of this is going to be dropped in the next few years.

Absent the protection of law, the good news from 2017 is that few companies would turn their back on the consumers who want them to be responsible and only a poor quality business would think they could survive in the long term by being purposefully neglectful of their natural resources.

Heavy. Maybe next week we’ll investigate the practices of craft breweries and distilleries that compost and send their spent mash to farms for cattle feed.


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So Many Things!

We’re getting new creative supplies almost daily after our trip to the art materials trade show in Salt Lake City…here are a few of the exciting things that have already arrived:

rublevRublev Colours Artist Oils from Natural Pigments are unlike any other brand of oil paints today. Why? One reason is that they use genuine natural and historical pigments like those used by the old masters. Most of these pigments are not found in other brands. Another reason is that Rublev Colours Artist Oils are made as all oil colors were before modern tube colors—without additives.  Rublev Oils contain only pigment and oil. They are formulated to maintain the specific characteristics of each pigment, so the character found in each 50ml tube is unique due to the pigment inside. We’re thrilled to have Rublev in stock in time for the three day Oil Painting Best Practices workshop in June, taught by George O’Hanlon and Tatiana Zaytseva of Natural Pigments.  It’s the only time the workshop will be offered in the Saint Paul/Minneapolis area, so don’t miss this opportunity!

fabrianoStudio Watercolor Pads from Fabriano While supplies last, you can get an 11×14” 50 sheet pad of either hot press or cold press Fabriano Studio 140# watercolor paper for only $19.99 (list price $54.95). Not a dream, not a misprint…this amazing deal will not last long.  Studio paper is acid free, with a high cotton content and both internal & external sizing.  You will love it and your art supply budget will, too!

Viarco Vintage Collection Pencils These beauties were one of our absolute favorites from the show, and they are just arriving as of this writing. Both pencils and packaging are faithful reproductions of Viarco products from the 1940s to the 1970s.  Designed in Portugal using long-established production methods, and the quality you’ve come to expect from Viarco.  They are almost too fantastic to use.  Choose from six unique 12 pencil boxes, but don’t wait…there’s a very limited number available.

viarco

guerrillaGuerrilla Painter Campaign Box The Campaign Box™ is an alternative to the traditional pochade box or French easel. Think of it as a portable taboret that mounts on almost any standard camera tripod. It provides more work space, a large center area for a palette, two storage compartments under the slide out palettes, and brush rests. The Campaign Box™ easily attaches to the legs of any standard tripod with adjustable clamps. Shown pictured with Guerrilla’s tripod mounted #17 Flex Easel™…it goes great with a Guerrilla Watercolorbord, too. We have this set up at the front of the store…stop by for a test drive!

Richeson Transparent Marble White Oil Paint This safflower oil and marble dust combination produces a slow drying, transparent white that can be used to extend your oil colors while subtly tinting them. We’ve just received a stack of 5oz tubes of this versatile & useful white…we’re sure it will become a staple on your palette.richesonoilpromo

padsjournalsTons of New Pads & Journals Fun ‘n’ fancy new cover styles in Michael Roger Press Decomposition Books; brand new Nepalese soft cover books with dots & chevrons, mermaids and cats; cool new Moleskine “Two Go” books with alternating lined & blank pages, plus blank and lined books featuring handsome chevron pattern fabric covers; attractive lined and blank books from France with classic “Parisian-style” art covers; plus new colorful cover ranges from Rhodia and Legion (including new Stonehenge Aqua blocks).

djecoActivity Kits from Djeco Back by popular demand, these themed creative kits from France are designed by artists from around the world. Choose from a bunch of new, uniquely intriguing projects, including collage, paper crafts, drawing, silk painting and more.

JAC9515-Jagua-BoxJacquard Jagua Temporary Tattoo Kits Bluish-black temporary tattoo ink made from fruit juice, jagua has been used by indigenous peoples of the Amazon for thousands of years to create body art. Safe, non-toxic and 100% natural, Jacquard’s Jagua tattoos last 1-2 weeks and LOOK LIKE A REAL TATTOO! Apply to any part of the body to express yourself, fool your friends or test drive tattoo ideas!

cutethingsSuper Cute Stuff: New styles of Nepalese garlands (decorate your home!); tons of new Japanese stickers (Whales & cats! Ninjas! Sumo wrestlers & cats! Sushi…& cats!); Fancy Fox Light from Creativity For Kids (decoupage a real lamp!)

That’s a lot of stuff, and there’s still a bunch more on the way. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and this blog for all of our updates.  Teaser: there are two really big events in May that you won’t want to miss hearing about!


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Wet Paint Staff Pick of the Day: Rhodia Pads

We have such a wide and ever-expanding selection of journals/notebooks/pads at Wet Paint, we thought it would be fun to feature some of our staff favorites. Stay tuned to find out more about what we stock and maybe find a new favorite for yourself!

Today’s staff pick comes from Kate: Rhodia Pads

“Having the right tools when learning a new skill is essential to maintain engagement and mitigate frustration. When I started learning calligraphy, I was constantly trying new papers to practice on and eventually fell in love with Rhodia for its performance as an economical and wonderfully smooth paper for pens. Rhodia makes grid, lined, blank and dot grid pads and books in so many sizes and formats it is hard to pick just one. For calligraphy practice I use the grid, but keep blank ones nearby for freehand design work and dot pads for geometric doodling. Whether using metal nib or fiber tip pens, the reliable surface that Rhodia provides is joy to have at hand.”

Rhodia Pads

The French notebooks with a cult following! Rhodia is known for high quality, exacting standards and timeless design. These economical pads are a favorite of artists & designers, writers, notebook fans and people who like to use graph paper for notes, sketching and hand drafting. People love them for their smooth paper & iconic cover- the classic orange has been around since 1934! Today, they have expanded their selection to include blank, lined, and dot paper and are available in a variety of formats, colors, and styles.  Click here to see our selection of Rhodia Pads!