Welcome to QuirkyColors! 

A blog about creativity, artsy pursuits, crafs and DIY projects and the occasional oddities of life.

Plus, how to keep it all your creativity and materials organized! :) 



Below you can find the latest 3 blog posts:

Watercolor Pencils from China - Color Chart and Review [part 2]

This is part 2 of the post Watercolor pencils from China, for part 1, follow the arrow below!

This post is about watercolor pencils, specifically, three brands which I ordered from China. The brands I tested are:

  • Marco Raffiné Watercolor pencils (set of 24)  ~€10
  • Corot watercolor pencils (set of 72) ~€17
  • HERO watercolor pencils (set of 72) ~€18

And as a comparison, the Caran d'Ache Prismalo set of 40. 

All pencils were tested on 200g/m2 (or 90lbs) Watercolor paper from Fabriano, specifically the Watercolour studio block (Cold pressed, fine grain)

Acquarello paper
Fabriano Watercolor Studio block

I drew a grid of 24 by 9, with each box measuring half by 1 inch.
Then I colored each box as follows; the first third was colored with fair pressure, the second third with light pressure, and the last third remained white.

After coloring all boxes, I only wetted and mixed the lower half of each box, leaving the upper half dry.
This way, you can still compare the dry to the wet color.

Marco Raffiné vs Corot vs HERO vs Caran dÁche Prismalo
The Complete Color Chart

One using the pencils;

The softest pencils are the Marco Raffinés. They are on par, if not softer than the Prismalos. They lay down very smoothly, and I kind of regret not having bought the 72 set of this one. Wetted they give lovely colors, which match quite well with the dry color. I only find the black a bit harder to blend/pick up.

The Corots are the hardest of all sets, but not unpleasant to use. They feel quite sturdy, and I think they would benefit artists/hobbyists who use a lot of detail in their work. 
On all Chinese sets, the yellows and pinks do quite well, the dark blues end up a bit lighter, as well as the dark greens. I find the Caran d'Ache Prismalos do a better job here. One of the dark blue Corots is more purple than blue once wetted. (4th column, 9th row) Something to pay attention to if you plan on using it in a project. As long as I know beforehand, it is not a problem for me. :)

the HEROs are in-between of the Marcos and the Corots; they're not hard, but not as soft as the Marcos. The colors are very close to the Corots, and I wouldn't be surprised if the pigment mixes are near identical for some of these pencils.

A close up of the color chart
A close up of the color chart

I think these pencils are a good buy for the price.

The largest set of Marco Raffiné watercolor pencils I have seen is 48 (in a tin), while the Corots and HEROs are available as 72 sets. I personally like to use rolls, so I don't mind if the pencils are in cardboard boxes.

Overall, I would give the HERO pencils the highest rating, since they look and feel very nice with their round, partly natural wood, casing, and are cheaper than the Marcos. 
The Marcos come in second, because they lay down very smooth and softly. The Corots get third place, because they are fairly hard, but they have their uses in detail work, and I do like the colors. These would do well dry on coloring pages with small details as well.
I am happy with my purchases, since all three sets together cost less than the Prismalo set (of 40) at retail, and are thus an affordable option for artists and crafters with a smaller budget.


If you plan on ordering any of these set: be aware that they mostly ship from China, and that shipping may take a while depending on the country you're living in. 
Be sure to check reviews if you buy from aliexpress, so you buy from a seller that packs the items well. Mine came quite fast, and I only had one broken tip, because the pencils could move inside their respective cardboard box, not due to the lack of protective bubble-wrap around it! ;) 
Also note that custom/import taxes may apply when ordering abroad! Please check regulations that apply in your country before ordering!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!
If you liked this post, I'd also appreciate it, if you could share this post on pinterest or other social media. Thank you! :)

Watercolor Pencils from China - Color Chart and Review [part 1]

To say I love pencils, would be an understatement. A friend of mine jokes that I have a larger stock than the local art shop, and I'm afraid she might be right!

There are several types of pencils available, the most common being the 'standard coloring pencils'. Next in line are the watercolor pencils, which can be used to create very nice painterly effects by simply adding water.

This post is about watercolor pencils, specifically, three brands which I ordered from China. Art materials can be quite expensive, depending on quality, light-fastness etc. So of course cheap options sound pretty interesting!

The brands I tested are:

  • Marco Raffiné Watercolor pencils (set of 24)  ~€10
  • Corot watercolor pencils (set of 72) ~€17
  • HERO watercolor pencils (set of 72) ~€18

I ordered all three sets through aliexpress, although I've seen them being offered on amazon as well.
For comparison I also tested a 40 set of Caran d'Ache Prismalo, which is usually around €60-70.

Sadly I forgot to take pictures of the boxes before throwing them out, but you can find those on the sites mentioned above. Instead of using the bit flimsy cardboard boxes, with slide-out trays, I prefer pencil rolls.

First I'll show you how the sets look, then how they color in comparison to each other. Of course I included a self-made color chart!

First, the Marco Raffiné set:


The pencils are hexagonal, with a silver colored barrel, and a colored rounded end which matches with the core. The color selection is nice, with a fair selection of reds, blues and greens.
The colors don't have names, but they are numbered instead. 
Overall, the pencils look well made.


watercolor marco raffine
A single Marco Raffine pencil

On to the Corot watercolor pencils

According to the package, the leads in these pencils are actually made in Indonesia. The Corots are also hexagonal in shape, but have a straight end. The body of the pencil is completely colored in the respective hue of the core.
Some of the 'body colors' look almost identical, and the colors have no name, nor a number on them to distinguish them. More on that later!
I personally find the range of blues and especially turquoise (blue-green) a bit lacking. Contrarilly, theres a vivid range of greens and browns, and the yellow to orange section is very nice as well.

Corot watercolour pencils
The text on the Corot watercolor pencils, in gold! And British spelling :)

The third contender, the 72 set from HERO

I like the look of the HERO pencils best by far; the barrel is natural wood, with a ring of silver and then the colored rounded end. In contrast to the other two brands, the barrel is round, not hexagonal.
These pencils look more luxurious than its counterparts. And the barrel colors differ more than the Corots'. There seem to be a few more reds and blues than in the Corot set, or they are easier to distinguish, and there are an additional silver and gold in the set.
Similar to the Marco pencils, there are no names, but numbers to distinguish between colors. The HEROs are the only pencils with text printed on two 'sides' of the pencils; one side shows the brand name and color number (and some Chinese symbols,) while the other side says 'Water Colour Pencil'.

All three brands next to each other
All three brands next to each other

For completeness, some photos of the Caran d'Ache Prismalo set, which I used for comparison to a known brand.

These are the well-known Prismalo pencils in the famous Matterhorn tin. 
The hexagonal barrels are completely colored, with gold text imprinted on them and a white rounded end and bar code.

For the color chart and coloring review, follow the arrow below!

The Photographic (Wool) Inventory List

This post has been long overdue!
Life kind of happened, and before I knew it, there was only one week of February left! But better late than never.. Enjoy! :)

In this post, the example used is wool, but creating a photographic inventory list works for other supplies as well. 

Does the size of your yarn stash create problems in finding a specific ball of wool? Is finding the right weight and amount next to impossible? Or do you simply have way too many boxes in your craft room that you want to move, and you are worried that you have to climb into the attic just to check which wool has been stored there?

Then you are in the right place! Whether your problems are fabric, or other large quantity craft items, carry on as well, as this method can be applied to many items.

The basic idea, is to create an inventory of your boxes, before they are stored somewhere out of the way. But instead of taking hours to make lists (which can now be done later if you so wish) the method is photography!
This works well for supplies that you do not need often, and are too bulky to keep in the craft room.

The steps are fairly easy. All you need are your boxes, or totes, or other storage containers, your supply of wool or other materials, a few labels and your camera. Some empty space on a table or floor is recommended, as well as some good lighting. It may be a good idea to do this while you have some decent sunlight, so colors are captured as lifelike as possible. So here we go!


How to organize your craft supplies by QuirkyColors.jimdo.com

Step 1:
label your boxes. I personally just label them A, B, C etc. If you have more than 26, you can continue with AA, AB and so forth. Numbering is also possible. Make sure the labels are large enough so that you can easily see them at a glance, even if more boxes are stacked. You may want to stick labels to two or more sides of a box, just in case. For my boxes, I simply printed two letters per sheet of A4 paper and cut them in half.
On the pictures they are still on top of the lid, but I later put them inside, on the sides. (the boxes are translucent, and the letters show through) You can also tape them on, of course. :) Whatever works for you!


The box, with the label clearly in view.
The box, with the label clearly in view.

Step 2:
Prepare for taking pictures. Make sure you have plenty of space on your camera storage. You may want to set your image settings to a smaller size, so the images are not too large in MB.
Set up 1 box that you want to take the inventory of, and empty it. Now sort the contents (in this case wool), into piles of the same brand/type/color.

Step 3:
Take pictures; First, take a picture of the label of the box!
Then, take pictures of the wool. First, take a picture where you can see the total amount of the specific type in one photo. Then take an additional photo of one of the labels. (You may need to take more than one photo if it doesn’t fit into one picture). Continue this for the other balls of wool.

The total amount. You can easily count the number available per type.
The total amount. You can easily count the number available per type.

You can see the contents of 'box D' in the slideshow below.
If there were any labels with important information (like weight, or material) these were photographed. You can find all information in the pictures, without having to grab the box.

Step 4:
Continue this for the other boxes. So first; photograph the label, then photograph the various types of wool per lot. (If you are working with other things, like fabric, you may need to take measurements and write these on a note, which you can then photograph along with the fabric)

Step 5: Create a folder on your pc or laptop, and name it ‘Wool Catalogue’ or similar. Copy all files from your camera into your folder. Do not rename them! The camera automatically numbers the pictures in the order in which you took them, and you need them to remain that way!

Lots and lots of Wool!
Lots and lots of Wool!

Optional Step 6:
Create a zip file from the folder and save it somewhere in the cloud. So if anything happens to your hard drive, you still have the files!

Step 7:
Enjoy your wool catalogue! Open the pictures in a photo viewer that allows easy browsing back and forward by using the arrow keys. Now you can flip through your wool photos until you find the one you need. Then you flip backwards until you find the label, and you’ll know in which box it is.

The photographic wool catalogue works well if you need to know which wool you have, but don’t have it that accessible. One of the downsides is, that you need to maintain the catalogue; every time you remove a few balls, you’ll have to either update the photos (edit them in paint and cross out a few balls) or retake pictures, and number them such that they fit into the right sequence. (Or redo the whole box and paste the pictures in at the end). For this reason, it's a good method for stashes that are not used very often, or that just need to be stalled somewhere for a time.
(If you're like my mom, and have boxes up to P and more, it may be time for some nice stash-busting projects! ;D)

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends on Pinterest or other social media! Thank you!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below, or send me an email. :)

How to organize your craft supplies by QuirkyColors.jimdo.com