Thanks to Art Alternatives for the items to help post this review
Art Alternatives is dedicated to providing you with affordable, quality art supplies. For everyday essentials, they’re the smart alternatives to high-priced name brands.
Since I'm a painter I'm always looking for a good deal on quality canvases, brushes, and other art supplies. Not only do I paint, but I also spend a lot of time doing crafts so I gladly accepted the request to review items from Art Alternatives. As I scanned through their website I found quite a few things I was interested in trying out. I received a box packed full of goodies and pulled everything out to find some things I had asked for and other things I hadn't asked for. While I haven't done any sketching in such a long time (way before having children, actually) I still tried out the Clutch Pencil Art Tin set and Graphite Lead sets. I also received the Self-healing cutting mat, canvas pads, and craft knife I requested.
Self-Healing Cutting Mats Protect your table top from sharp blades, writing instruments and other art and craft tools. These 3mm thick PVC mats feature a durable 5-layer construction, a non-slip, non-glare surface, 1/2" grid with 1/8" marks for precise alignment as well as 45° and 60° guides. Resilient self-healing surface won't break down with repeated use and actually prolongs the life of knife blades. The green/black mats are reversible with grid markings on each side. The clear mats are crystal clear and are great for use with a light box.
I wanted something to protect my table while I was cutting with my exacto knife, and this seemed to be the answer. This is a self-healing mat which means it's not suppose to break down with repeated use. I've found this to be true, I've been using this mat for a while and it seems as if after a cut is made into it, it seals itself back up. You can still see where the cut was made but if you run your finger over-top, you can not feel it. This mat also is suppose to prolong the life of knife blades. I've also found this to be true. When cutting paper or fabric over my wooden table top without a cutting mat not only did it ruin my table, but it also dulled my blade. I spent too much money buying new blades when I should have went ahead and bought this cutting mat.
Depending on the size Cutting Mat pad you want, prices will vary. $92.99 seems like a lot of money to spend on a size 24 x 36 mat but if you think about it, you'll be saving in the long run. You will end up buying less blades and you won't have your furniture ruined. You can check out this cutting mat HERE.
Canvas Pads These genuine artist's cotton canvas sheets are bound into an easily portable 10-sheet pad. The unbleached 3 oz. cotton is primed with acid-free acrylic titanium gesso to a finished weight of 8 oz. and is great for plein air, quick studies, classroom work, home decor and craft projects. Suitable for use with all acrylic paints, oil paints and other wet or dry media.
I had never used canvas pads before, but I was always very interested in them. In my mind, I thought it would have been much harder to work with. (since I'm use to painting on canvases that are already on a wooden frame.) I was pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up loving this product. It's so convenient and perfect if you're one of those on-the-go painters. You could keep up to TEN of your paintings together and use this as a portfolio or you could even tear out the pages to frame. When using as a portfolio, the pages do not bleed through nor do they stick together. When tearing out pages, the pad doesn't fall to pieces as I expected it would. Each page is lightweight, strong, and works well with all of my acrylic paints.
Depending on the size canvas pad you want, prices will vary. I have the 18 x 24 size and they are $41.99. So if you break it down, you are only paying $4.20 per page which is a great deal! Check out these canvas pads HERE.
A-2 Aluminum Art & Craft Knife Perfect for precision cutting of medium- to heavy-weight materials including paper, board, plastic, leather, wood, rubber, foam and more. The aluminum barrel features two textured grip areas to prevent slipping. Comes with one A-2 carbon steel blade and a hard plastic safety cap.
First of all, WOW! This exacto knife held up to cutting through almost 300 pages in a book where I was creating a "hidden" space. The knife was comfortable to grip onto and it was sharp the entire time, which made cutting seem effortless. There is a heaviness to this knife handle which helps you to have more control over the cuts. Even after being used on several more projects, this craft knife is still standing strong. It's not as sharp now as it was brand new but, it still makes very clean cuts. I feel like this exacto knife is a must have for all of my fellow crafters out there.
I'm truly amazed at the price of this product. Only $5.49!! For the quality, I would have expected to pay much more. You can check out this Craft Knife HERE.
Clutch Pencil Art Tin Set Many artists swear by clutch pencils (also known as drafting pencils or lead holders). Wood-cased pencils change in size, weight and balance a they are sharpened, which can be a problem. Clutch pencils have a constant weight and size for precise technique control. The 5.6mm, grade 2B lead is strong and will not break easily and the built-in sharpener can be a lifesaver during outdoor drawing trips. The set includes a drop lead mechanism, a built-in sharpener, three graphite leads and a kneaded eraser.
Graphite & Sketching Lead Sets Sets of 5.6mm leads for use with the Art Alternatives Clutch Pencil or other 5.6mm lead holders. The Graphite Set contains four graphite leads - two of grade 2B and one each of grades 4B and 6B. The Sketching Set contains five leads in traditional sketching colors: black, bistre, sepia, sanguine and white. Both sets conform to ASTM D-4236.
I can honestly say I don't remember these clutch pencils being around when I was sketching with my yellow #2 pencil as a teenager. Things have certainly changed! This clutch is a MUST-HAVE if you are an artist. The drafting pencil is heavy and that's very helpful when trying to keep a steady hand. The size is perfect and I was able to sketch without getting any hand cramps. The pencil is able to adjust the lead to your preferred length and it even has a built-in sharpener. The tin clutch makes it easy for on-the-go artists. Even while carrying this tin in my purse for a week, no leads were broken and the tin never fell open. While this set comes with leads, Art Alternatives also sells sets of replacement leads. (which I also was sent to review.) All of the leads included in this clutch set as well as the replacement leads wrote smoothly. They were able to withstand a great amount of pressure without breaking. When sharpened, these leads made very crisp and flawless outlines. While dull, the thickness of the leads were perfect when trying to shade in large areas.
You can find the art tin set HERE for only $10.99 and the set of sketching leads HERE for $3.99. These would be the perfect gift for an inspiring artist.
Find art supplies by Art Alternatives online and at local retailers near you HERE.
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