Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

A few nights ago I was reading the May/June issue of Somerset Studio Magazine and first I saw Diana Trout's article. Then Lynne Perella's, then Renee Stein's, and of course featured artist Jessie Chorley with her little hand stitched journals. The whole issue was chock full of fabulous projects (I won't even start on the wax/encaustic projects!) Well, I have a ton of "open" projects and the last thing I needed was to start another big project that I probably won't finish. Enter the ATC! (Yup, arting just ONE ATC at a time!)

After reading these articles, my hands started to Itch to Stitch something. Not a lot, just a small project. So I grabbed my little IKEA bag with my fabric scraps I used at a class I took with Jane Lafazio, ripped some ATC size fabric and went to work. The fabric I used for the top was some I hand dyed and then painted over using Lynn K's Marked Series stencils, both the X's and O's. The X's were painted with a metallic silver paint, the O's with an iridescent paint. I also used the Quasicrystals Infra for those small gold dots. I do have a piece of batting in between, cut a little smaller than the ATC.

I wanted the X's to stand out. They represent Kisses, right? So I outlined them with a simple running stitch in a red embroidery thread. I picked a few dots and put yellow French Knots over them. And to hold the layers together I decided on a... heck, I don't know what the stitch is called, but instead of a running stitch, I decided on a ladder type stitch all around the edge. It gave it a bolder outline. The edges are natural and frayed, the stitches are imperfect and crooked, - just like me!

The backing fabric is a piece I did in Jane Lafazio's class, where she had us journal on the fabric, then rip it into the pieces we wanted to use. I think I talked about the fabric being the very first one I dyed, back when I did a lot of that stuff. (I have bins full to prove it!)

So the project took about an hour to finish (since I knew where all my supplies were and didn't have to go hunting!) and it satisfied my urge to stitch something. Until the next magazine, or FB post, or book comes out! (So much inspiration, so little time...)

I hope you like my little project and try something like this when you feel the urge to make something but don't have a lot of time. ATC's are perfectly sized canvases for little "Art Snacks." Leave a comment, leave some love!

I wanted to share another cool technique you can use with the Fineline Masking Fluid Pen. (Find it in the TOOLS section.) This technique comes from Linda Edkins Wyatt, you may know her as a previous Artistcellar Design Team member. She loves us, what can I say? No complaints!

This technique is a Faux Batik Effect using the Masking pen. You can color the paper first, make sure it's thoroughly dry, add some masking fluid doodles and words, paint over it again, and when you remove the mask, it gives a great batik effect.

Linda also talks about different papers, and which ones work best with the masking fluid. We discussed this a bit, and I found that a thick watercolor paper also works great. I use the Canson 140 lb. watercolor paper, or I rip pages out of the Strathmore Watercolor Journal. I think we have both found that "soft" porous papers absorb the liquid mask too much and the paper tends to rub off with the mask. I also had an issue when I masked off words of an antique book page. The dried out old paper just absorbed the masking fluid and it wouldn't rub off! Oops.

I also agreed with Linda that watercolor paints (regular pan paint, or thinned tube paint) work best. Twinkling H20 paint works great too. A thin fluid acrylic would also work pretty well. Thicker acrylics tend to form a skin which grab onto the mask, so when you remove the mask the paint comes off too. I have found liquid dyes to absorb too much into the paper and under the mask. Any other "dry" color should work if carefully applied (not rubbed in hard enough to remove the mask!) Try pan pastels, or soft chalk pastels, ink pads, etc. Careful application is key.

Linda wrote a blog post all about her experiments and has a lot of yummy pictures showing her work. Check out Linda Edkins Wyatt Blog Post HERE.

Do you have another technique you like to use with the Masking Fluid Pen? Let me know in the comments for a possible blog feature!

First, I would like to apologize for running out of the masking fluid pen last week! It was a featured product in our last newsletter and we sold out in 3 days. Apparently I'm not the only one who loves the stuff! But the good news is that I just got a shipment in and updated inventory so we have plenty in stock again. Go forth and mask :-)

So what does it mean to "Be Fearless"? I had a little lesson in this while making this picture. I offered to make someone her favorite phrase with the masking fluid. First I started out practicing lettering, you know, pretty swirly script. My daughter: "Mom, that does NOT look like fearless lettering." She was right. I needed something bold, so I went with architectural type lettering (from the old days!) I wrote out the phrase with the masking pen, traced over the letters to make the lines thicker and let it dry. I threw the paper in my spray paint box and very carefully chose some dylusions sprays and very carefully spritzed certain areas. And very carefully made a muddy mess. Then I carefully threw it in the trash bin. Take 2.

The second one I did was on smooth bristol paper and I used Dye-na-flow dripped and swished with a soft paint brush. It looked pretty cool at first, very colorful and drippy, but when I went to rub the mask off, I discovered the paper had absorbed the dye under the mask and well... Number two went into the trash bin. Lesson: Dye-na-flow + Bristol + Mask = Mess. Take 3.

I was getting nervous I wasn't going to get anything good. (But I wanted awesome.) I prepared two watercolor sheets with the phrase, just in case one sucked. Something came over me and I just started grabbing stuff and being fearless. Not thinking about the result, not being careful or controlling, and not expecting anything in particular. With the above picture I grabbed my Autumn Brilliance Twinkling H20's, wetted them and just started smooshing paint all over, not thinking about results, just being in the moment. I puddled and dripped and smooshed.

I kinda love what happened.

The second sheet I had prepared was even more fearless because I already had one I liked, there was NO pressure to make it good. I used regular watercolor in a tube, so it was extra intense. I dipped and used broad bold strokes to paint over the masking.

This turned out kinda awesome too. I think I'll let my friend choose which one she likes best and that's the one she'll get. I'll frame the other for myself, as a reminder to Be Fearless when creating art.

Now let's see what YOU do with the masking fluid pen. Send me the link in the comments section.


One of the new products that Artistcellar added to the shelves is the Fineline Masking Fluid Pen. Even though it's a bottle, it's called a pen because it has a very fine (20 gauge) wire tip, so it's pretty easy to "write" with it. And to prevent it from clogging, it has a pretty cool cap, with a needle that fits in the hollow wire tip, screw it on, and you're good. (Make sure you have your reading glasses handy though! LOL)


I saw a similar project like this on Pinterest and thought I'd try making one. I did this in my Strathmore Visual Journal. This is the completed page.

First thing you do is just write what you want to say on the blank page. I didn't gesso it or prepare it any way, just the naked paper.

It takes a little practice to squeeze and write at the same time. Have a scrap paper or tissue ready for any blobs that may appear at the tip. But... if you do make a mistake (or a mess) just wait a minute for it to dry, and rub off with your finger, and have another go at it! Easy Peasy. After I was satisfied with my writing, I let it sit and cry for about an hour. Then I got out the Distress Stains and Twinkling H2O's. You can also use Dylusions Sprays or Dye-Na-Flow. Get your soft watercolor brush nice and juicy and just start painting over everything. For this one, I used Distress Stains with a few splooshes of Twinkling H2O's to give it some sparkle. After the paint was dry, I splattered some black india ink over the whole thing.

I would suggest letting it air dry for a few hours at least. I did try using a heat gun, but it started shooting sparks and blew up. But then I wasn't sure if the heat gun would have softened the masking fluid or made it harder to remove. Once your page is thoroughly dry, take your finger and rub off the masking fluid to reveal the nice bright lettering. It's like magic :-)

Here are a few others I did. This one I used Dylusions Sprays in my spray box.

It was nice and wet and the ink pooled around the masking fluid and ran through the letters.

The next one I did was using only Twinkling H2O's. When it was really wet, I let it drip a bit to the bottom. It's nice and shimmery in real life, hard to capture on camera.

Since I made three of these, I'm going to give one away to someone who comments on this post. The one in my journal you can't have, but I will give one lucky winner the choice of the Twinks one or the BeYOUtiful one. I'll use a random number generator and pick one winner out of all the comments. Because this is a new blog, your chances might be pretty good! So tell me what you think about this project and what word or saying you would want to use in a page. I'll pick next week... let's say Wednesday.




Hello! Today I have a pen review for the WHITE pens that Artistcellar sells. I think every artist I know uses white pens to journal and draw over dark backgrounds. And we're all looking for the one perfect pen. There might not be a pen that does it all, but I have some that are pretty darn good for what they do.

Let's start out with the ball tip pens. We sell two kinds, the Uniball Signo and the Sakura Gelly Roll. They are both excellent pens.

The Signo has a nice bold white line and is very opaque. It flows very smoothly. Great for doodling and writing, as well as accenting drawings and paintings (like putting those highlights in eyes!)

The gelly roll also produces a nice bright white line and flows smoothly, although the line width is just s smidge smaller than the signo so it doesn't appear as bright white. But here is the difference:

Even though I have read reviews that the Signo is waterproof, my tests showed differently. I found the gelly roll pen tended to be more smearproof when brushed with water. The Signo... not so much. Smear city. It was even worse on the acrylic surface. They BOTH smeared with water, but to be fair I only waited a few minutes to try it.


I would say that both of these pens would be best used as a very top layer of a drawing or painting. And caution used when sealing or spraying it. Let it dry thoroughly and spray lightly.

Next up are the markers. We have two sizes of Sharpie oil-based markers and Sharpie water-based markers (called Poster Paint markers). The oil-based markers practically disappeared in uncoated porous paper. Not much to get a picture of. The water-based marker looked great.

Once dry neither one smeared at all.  On a non-porous surface, The oil-based was a little lighter than the water-based, which was very opaque white. They wrote smoothly, and from experience I know they write over most surfaces (although the white ink will pick up any water soluble medium you write on top of.) Both were permanent when brushed with water.

 The last pen I have is the Pitt Artist Pen in white. Also called the Stampers Big White pen.

You can actually use this pen to color in stamps and viola! Stamp with it.

The first stamp impression I did was on a dirty stamp (who cleans their stamps anyway? I don't trust 'em!) The Mustache and the last design were done on a clean stamp, the impression was much better. 

So... this pen/marker rocks! It has a felt bullet tip, acid free, india ink, and totally waterproof on both porous surfaces and acrylic paint surface once dry. (And you don't have to shake it and pump it to work) It WILL pick up water soluble medium, but that's the medium's fault, not the marker :-) You can see below it picked up some tint from the ink that was already on the dirty stamp.

I've decided that I don't use this pen enough! I need to put it in rotation with my other white pens and get more use out of it.

Well that was fun. Let me know if you have any questions about the test or want me to test anything else. Have a great weekend! 


I had a great question about the last blog post - which of these pens are waterproof? So I ended up doing a little test and wanted to share the results. I wanted to test a couple of surfaces, first a regular porous paper surface, Bristol finish cardstock. I wrote Dry and Wet with each pen and let them sit for about 20 minutes to make sure that they were properly dry. (I think any pen would smear if you immediately brush a liquid over it right after writing.) I then took a water brush and gave a generous application of water over the word "WET."

I was pretty pleased with the results. The Pitt Pen did the best, with the Pocket Brush pen coming in a close second. You can barely tell they were brushed with water. The Fude Ball pen did pretty good on this paper as well. The Pentel Stylo was not waterproof as you can see by the smudging. The Hybrid Technica didn't fair as badly, but still was a little smudgy.

The other surface I tried was over a base of acrylic paint. I wanted to test a non-porous surface that we use so often in our art journals.

Again, I let it dry about 20 minutes to make sure it set. I think I got the same results, although the ones that smeared, smeared a lot worse. Which makes sense, with the surface being non-porous. Best option is the Pitt Pen again, with the Pocket Brush coming in right after it. The Fude  Ball pen was a little big smudgy, while the Stylo and the Hybrid Technica probably wouldn't be an option for mixed media/over paint work. Unless it's a final coat and won't be sealed with varnish or mediums.

So based on the pens that Artistcellar sells, my first choices for waterproof-ness would be the Pitt Pens and the Pocket Brush Pens, depending on what and how you want to write. The Fude Ball Pen is good for a bold black line on top of anything, as long as you're not going to brush a liquid over it. I would stick with the Stylo and Hybrid Technica pens for journaling and ink sketches and drawing, on dry media.

I want to leave you with an art journal page I recently made using the Pocket Brush pen. I started out with a felt tip marker, but the point was gunking up because it's over a Gelato background. I pulled out the Pocket Brush Pen and after a small learning curve (tip pressure and angle) was able to letter this beautifully and quickly! Enjoy!



Hi. My name is Lisa and I'm addicted to pens. Now admit it. You are too! We could start a 12 step program but what's the point, really?

I love the pen reviews Kelly Kilmer does on her blog, so I decided to do a pen review of all the pens that Artistcellar carries. We added a bunch recently! We've always sold the Pitt Artist Pens in the 4-pack, so I didn't review those. It's a basic staple for any type of artist. I always carry that pen pack around with me, along with a mechanical pencil and a little clear 6" ruler tucked in the pack. You never know when the urge to doodle will hit! 

I'll start out with my favorite new doodling pen set, the Hybrid Technica 4 pack by Pentel. They are smooth writing ball point pens. I have never been in love with ball-points, I'm super picky about how they write. But these are... divine!

 They come in 4 pen widths, 06, 05, 04, and 03. You can tell which ones I've been using the most!

This is what the line widths look like:

For regular journal handwriting, I prefer the 05. The 03 is a very fine line, perfect for detail work on tangles and doodles. I love that I have a choice in widths.

If you need a bigger, bolder pen width, look to the Fude Ball Pen. Check out that monster tip!

This pen has a big, bold stroke and also writes quite smoooothly. The tip size is 1.5, compared to biggest Hybrid Technica, which is 06. Mixed media artists love these because the ink is rich black and writes over layers of paint and ink. Make sure it's dry before you paint anything wet over it and it will prove to be permanent.

If you need a super bold, super versatile and super fun pen to use, here it is! It's the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. It comes with two ink cartridges to start with. (Soon we will have just the refill cartridges available.)

The tip is a soft flexible brush (a real brush, not a felt tip one) and it comes with ink cartridges you just snap on. No messes, no dipping in ink, just cap and go. Depending on the pressure you put on the tip, you can get different line widths. Manga artists love these! And think of the calligraphy you can create with this one!

A few 30-second doodles to show you the different line widths you can get out of one tip.

This probably isn't a pen you would use to write in a journal, but it's great to keep around for those quick face sketches and fancy lettering. It's just fun to use!

Another pen I discovered that is really fun to use is the Pentel Stylo. It has a really cool fountain pen-like nib. It's great for inky sketching and handwriting/journaling. It makes you feel a little fancy writing with it. You might want a cup of tea and biscuits while journaling with this pen.

The line width is variable depending on how you hold/angle the pen. The horizontal lines in the sample above show the different pen widths I got, just from holding the pen at different angles/pressures. This pen makes me want to write letters on stationary instead of emails!

Well, I hope you enjoyed my pen review. I am working on a review of our WHITE pens next, and then maybe our pencils? Let me know if you want to know anything about a specific product, or if you have any questions about a product.

Have a great weekend!





Back in June of 2010 Lisa and I purchased Artistcellar. Our first site was designed in a rush in the two weeks immediately after purchase to get the store re-branded and launched as quickly as we could. It was quirky and clunky, but it provided the initial bones for our store:

In 2011, Artistcellar 2.0 took shape as we expanded into art journaling, mixed media and textile arts supplies. This saw the adoption of the "Artistcellar Blue" background into our branding, as well as hundreds of new products added to the store. In 2012 the site saw an update to accommodate the addition of our own Artistcellar line of distinctive stencils. As Artistcellar continued to grow, other than adding products our site stayed pretty much the same. It was clunky and creaky, but it kept humming along.

During this time we listened to you. We heard your requests for larger stencils, different products and your complaints about the checkout experience. Ugh, the checkout experience! We were never happy with that at all.

So after more than a year of researching and hard work, we're proud to unveil Artistcellar 3.0! Here's some handy dandy new features:

  • Updated design. Our the site matches our muse's vision.
  • A "search" feature to help you find what you're looking for.
  • Simple addition of products to cart without leaving the product screen.
  • A much quicker, easier checkout experience with much less waiting.
  • The ability to create an account for easy ordering.
  • Bigger, better, more awesome product samples.
  • eGift Cards so you can share the love and goodies.
  • The ability to run all kinds sales, so you can get your goodies on sale!
  • The ability to run all kinds of discounts, so repeat customers can get sweet discounts!

But some things have not changed. We still hand select and fall in love with all of the products we sell. We still offer distinctive stencils sure to inspire your muse. We still offer free shipping on qualifying domestic orders over $50. We still offer customer service second to none.

And we still believe that art is not optional. You have to create. We'll lend a hand.


Shhhh!  You're getting to see our new site before anyone else.

Consider this a sneak peak preview just for you because you're special!

Our official re-launch of Artistcellar will be this Saturday, April 18th!

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