Art Supply Frustration and Solutions

I was trying to find one of the new Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbooks with the heavier 180 lb. paper. I like my Gamma sketchbook with the ivory 100 lb. paper, but wanted to buy one of these new Zeta ones with the smooth white paper in a really heavy weight but can’t find it in Canada. I can’t buy online and the only shop I can find in Ontario that carries the Stillman and Birn sketchbooks is Curry’s, but they don’t have the Zeta ones.

It’s frustrating when companies release new things not to be able to get them in Canada. I wrote to the company to find out if they were at all available in a shop but received no reply and it has been many weeks. There are scant sketchbooks with heavier paper available in Canada. I have an Arches with cold-pressed 140 lb. watercolour paper but I prefer smooth papers so I can mix watercolour, ink and coloured pencil. Available sketchbooks are lower weight coil-bound or contain tear-out sheets and I prefer the hardbound books. I have never seen anything with 180 lb. paper like this until the Zeta came out.

Rats, foiled again. Maybe next year they will wend their way up here?

Update: I wrote to Stillman and Birn again in early June and this time I received a nice reply from Michael Kalman who told me that Curry’s are currently evaluating the Zeta book. So I wrote to Curry’s to say how much I liked the Gamma and that I hoped they would be carrying the Zeta at some point. I am just one person, but if you don’t speak up no one knows you are interested. I remain hopeful! Good products are good products, word eventually gets around. Update 2: Curry’s is going to carry the Zeta and agreed with me about how wonderful they are. Coming in July 2013.

My husband went to Curry’s for me as I don’t drive, and they sold him a bottle of gold ink that only had a tiny bit of ink and looked like it had been used. He also bought me a plastic case for re-jigging my field kit, and the dividers were missing. So I wrote to the company and they kindly replaced the ink and sent dividers and an extra box, so I’ve got two kits, one for dry media and one for watercolour stuff.

They are ArtBin Solutions XL and very lightweight and inexpensive. I like them better than the sewn rolls I made because the tiny stubs of coloured pencil I use in the field kit don’t get lost or hidden by fabric.

This is the one for coloured pencils:


And this is the one for watercolour bits and pieces separate from my watercolour paint palette:


While cleaning out my desk drawers and cupboard in my bedroom, I found my old eraser shield that I’ve been looking for. I had this back in 1980 for a drafting course I took, but at some point it got lost. It will be great for my sketchbook.


And although I have a nice template with circles, squares, ellipses, and triangles, I didn’t have one with rectangles. I bought one and it was perfect for drawing out small boxes for my palette tests in the sketchbook. It will be great for adding small elements to the pages. I have cardboard templates for drawing borders and rectangles in larger sizes but this template really filled a gap. There are chair and piano templates, how often does one feel a desperate need for that sort of template? I can now ink in a side arm, Windsor, club, or wing chair anywhere I feel like it, just plop them down like magic! (I pull my tongue out from my cheek.)


We are having some problems with a kitchen renovation so I haven’t been able to concentrate to make any art. The closest I have been to painting is painting a hall closet and shelves and I still have to clear and paint two more closets.

Every year I vow to paint the daffodils when they come up and I didn’t get around to it this year either. I think I’d probably feel better if I drew or painted something and got my mind on something else than the stress of problems and money worries.



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