Yes, you can afford art supplies

By Vanessa Bentley

Have you ever wanted to try painting but the paper, paint and brushes are all just too expensive? What if you only paint once and don’t like it? Worrying about the cost of the paper might also make you reluctant to experiment – and after all, what is art without experimentation?

A product brand that seems to be available in many stores is Rolfes. They make sketchbooks for a variety of applications. I was looking for something really affordable for illustration purposes, and this was right up my alley.

For the purposes of the illustration I wanted to do, I also purchased a set of watercolours. This set is perfect for someone who wants to try out watercolour paint for the first time and not worry about cost. These are also perfect for children – and in my case, for illustration purposes.

For the watercolour illustration, I decided that the Rolfes Watercolour pad would be the best choice. The first step was to draw my sketch in pencil.

Once I was happy with my sketch I could start adding colour. The lid of the paint container is lovely as it serves as a palette for your paints. Add a bit of water into the little lid of the paint tray, then add the colour to the water and your paint will be perfect for a wash.

For this painting I worked in layers, adding the colours until I had the look I wanted. To finish off, I waited until the paint was dry before adding details using pencil crayons and a bit of white gel pen.

17 May is pen and pencil day

Pens and pencils are used almost daily by most people. As we observe “pen and pencil day” during Stationery Week, here are some fun facts about these important home and office tools.


  • Pens are at least 5 000 years old. Ancient Egyptians used reed straws and ink made of soot or red ochre mixed with vegetable gum and beeswax.
  • The largest ballpoint pen ever was made by Acharya Makunuri Srinivasa from India. The pen is engraved with scenes from Indian mythology and is 5.5 m in length and weighs 37.23 kg.
  • Modern ballpoint pens have metal balls as the writing point. These are made from tungsten carbide which is three times tougher than steel!
  • Ballpoint pens were very popular among World War II pilots because they did not leak at high altitudes.
  • Gold-nibbed fountain pens slowly adjust to your writing style. As the pen is used, the nib flexes and softens.
  • The United States is the largest manufacturer of pens, producing 2-billion pens in a year.
  • In 95% of cases, the first word a person writes with a new pen is their name.
  • The oldest surviving fountain pen is from 1702 and was designed by M. Bion from France.
  • The most expensive fountain pen is “Fulgor Nocturnus”. It is made by Tibaldi of Italy and is decorated with 945 black diamonds and 123 rubies. Its price is $8-million dollars.
  • There are five main kinds of pens used worldwide: ballpoint, fountain, soft-tip, rolling-ball and specialty pens.


  • Pencil leads contain no lead – just graphite and clay.
  • The longest pencil in the world is 323.51 m in length. It is made by Edward Douglas Miller from the UK.
  • In 2004, factories in China made over 10-billion pencils, enough to circle the earth more than 40 times.
  • Demetra Koutsouridou from Greece has a collection of 8 514 different pencils sharpeners – the largest collection of pencil sharpeners in the world.
  • The name “graphite” comes from Greek “graphein” which means “to write”.
  • The most expensive pencil is a limited edition of the Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil. It is made of 240 year-old olive wood and 18-carat white gold. Its price is $12 800.
  • Famed author John Steinbeck used as many as 60 pencils a day to write his novels.
  • Emilio Arenas of Uruguay has the largest collection of black pencils in the world. He has a total of 16 260 pencils from all over the world and holds a Guinness World Record for his collection.
  • Newspaper pencils have casing made from old newspaper. Each one is made from one sheet of newspaper.
  • The oldest surviving pencil dates from the 17th century. It was found on the roof of an old German house while it was being renovated.

Sourced from

By Vanessa Bentley

Did you know that the month of May will have many artists drawing, painting or illustrating mermaids? The official Mermay website says the following:
“MerMay is a month-long celebration of creativity, community and above all … MERMAIDS.”

Apart from the daily MerMay prompts provided by, you can search for other prompt lists on Instagram by using #mermay or #mermay2022. There are many, so you should find one that suits you.

If creating daily mermaids is a bit much, then look out for shorter prompt lists. Some lists give one to three prompts per week, allowing busy creatives to still partake in this magical challenge.

Although most artists participating in the MerMay challenge work digitally, there are many who work traditionally using standard art materials.

Prompts are what make the challenge fun. The prompt list used to create the mermaids in the image below included prompts like best friend, 1920s, circus, fruit, ice and fairy.

So go out and find a prompt list that inspires you – and start creating your mermaids!

Source: Pink Villa

To write down things on hard paper has become an old school thing. With the rise of digital media, a lot of us have forgotten the blissful feeling of writing with hands on paper and how it makes our hearts pour out things through the pen. Journaling is one of the best habits or hobbies one could have to understand themselves better and also to refine life with past experiences. This self-introspection process is an interesting aspect of growing and is very much recommended for anyone who wants to be a better person than who you were yesterday.

Here are seven supplies that are a must-have if you are making journaling a habit:

Paper punch

Exciting and colourful paper punches that come in different designs are ideal to create lovely clear embossed patterns. You can use it to make your journal look more interesting and vibe with your persona.

Marble sticky notes

To mark important dates and events of your life in a brief form and also to highlight your best moments, sticky notes can be a great help. It’ll add an aesthetic spin to your journal.

Canvas pencil wrap

Instead of having a pouch or a sturdy box to carry your pencil, pen, sharpener and other stationery items, a beautiful print wrap will accommodate all your essentials and is also easy to carry around.

Spiral notebooks

If you need pages you can tear out and use a regular and basic journal, then these spiral notebooks are what you were looking for.

Self-exploration journal

With exercises, prompts and quotes, these journals will put your creative brain to work and encourage you to write, draw and answer questions that’ll make you connect with your soul better.

Vintage masking tape

These masking tapes featuring colourful sea elements like starfish, scallops, shells and whales will make your journal feel more lively and interactive.


A planner is sure to help you take small steps each day to reach your goals and dreams and live a life filled with magic, creativity, and happiness.

Gucci releases stationery line

By Osman Ahmed for i-D

The Italian fashion house has officially launched a lifestyle collection of stationery and objects, and it’s just as whimsical as you’d imagine.

Oh, the joys of shopping for stationery ahead of that back-to-school feeling in September. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, returning to office or looking to freshen your WFH set-up, there’s nothing quite like the nostalgic feeling of amassing crisp notebooks and sharp pencils for the year ahead. Now, you can buy your stationery supplies at Gucci. The Italian house’s creative director Alessandro Michele is bringing his whimsical touch to the most mundane objects: pencils, pens, and notebooks, just in time for the first term of school (and for the Milan Design Week).

Opening a temporary store in Milan, ‘Gucci Cartoleria’ (Italian for stationery) will be an Aladdin’s Cave for visitors, who will stumble across ‘flying’ notebooks, chess sets that play themselves, ‘haunted’ items, endless bookcases, micro-apartments for mice with Gucci furnishings. It marks the Italian house’s first ‘lifestyle’ collection — although, this being the weird-and-wonderful world of Gucci, it’s not what you would imagine.

It marks a continued trend seen across the industry for fashion houses designing objects that are far from clothes or accessories, and made with the idea of a branded ‘lifestyle’ in mind — think of Chanel’s surfboards, Saint Laurent’s condoms, Prada’s cutlery, Maison Margiela’s egg boxes, and Loewe’s candles. Now, Gucci has staked its claim on pens and pencils and writing-paper, brought to life by the surreal campaign images by Max Siedentopf.

“When I was a child, going to the stationery store and finding pencils, pens, and notebooks .. meant bringing a dream into my daily routine,” said Alessandro Michele. “They were fine, well-made objects that spoke of craftsmanship and that, though part of my everyday life, were able to give off a magical, mysterious and wonderful aura.” He adds that he imagined the dedicated Milan boutique as a small cabinet of curiosities, a “Wunderkammer like the cave of Ali Baba” that could bring a fairy tale dimension to the most ordinary of objects. “[It] is a sort of consecration, a tribute that was right for me to pay,” he added. “I could have included them in the collections long ago, but they were not strictly related to clothing and accessories. That’s why I wanted to build a whimsical space where they could be laid out, to restore to everyday life that sense of wonder that makes them so dear to me.”

So, what can you find in the collection? Notebooks come in printed canvas (with a choice of monograms, flora-and-fauna, even Donald Duck), as well as hand-made boxes of graphite pencils, pens, glass-domed paperweights, tasselled fans for balmy days, leather pencil cases, as well as briefcases of backgammon and poker sets and travelling sets with sleeping masks, slippers, and pillows. Everything comes with Gucci’s distinct branding (good news for logomaniacs) and much of the materials are Gucci’s ‘Demetra™’ textile, developed by the house’s own technicians and artisans, who created used it with the same process for tanning with animal-free raw materials that are from renewable and plant-based sources.

If you’re in Milan, the store at Via Manzoni 19 will be open throughout Milan Design Week, until 17 September. For the rest of the world, it hits selected Gucci boutiques and its online store on the 10 September.


Think ink

In its most simple form, an ink is composed of pigment and solvent. The pigment gives the ink its hue, while the solvent is the vehicle that carries the colour.

Pigment comes from a variety of sources with nitrogen-containing compounds, commonly known as dyes. Solvent is derived from soybean oil, linseed oil or a heavy petroleum distillate.

Inks run the gamut from pen to printer, and different types of ink have very different applications.

Dye-based inks
These types of ink are made with a water base, and are therefore very cost-effective. They are used, for example, in fountain pens. They deliver rich, bright colours which don’t smudge easily. The small molecular structure of the dyes used allows for immediate absorption while reflecting and scattering very little light, contributing to their vibrancy.
The water base allows the ink to be soaked into the paper or surface being inked. As the ink is absorbed into the surface, it stains it. One disadvantage of water-based ink is that it has a tendency to bleed. Because dye-based inks are water soluble, they’re quick to run or smear upon contact with water or humidity – regardless of how long it’s had to dry beforehand.
This characteristic can be used in an artistic way to create a water-colour effect: lightly spray porous paper with water before applying the ink and watch it feather on the page.
Dye-based inks dry quickly and are most often used for card making and scrapbooking.
Many dye-based inks are acid free, but colours will fade over time. The small molecular makeup of the dye means that water-based inks are highly susceptible to oxidation and fading, and the colours they produce usually don’t last very long. Excessive exposure to sunlight or UV rays will accelerate fading.
Another drawback of dye-based inks is unintended overlapping of separate colours, due to the fast-absorbing nature of the ink.

Pigment-based ink
Pigment-based inks are made from pigments suspended in a glycerine or resin base. They are generally more expensive than water-based ink and are used, for example, in gel pens.
Unlike dye-based inks, pigment-based inks do not stain the paper or surface – they sit on top of it instead. This means that less pigment-based ink than dye-based ink will be used similar colour intensity. Pigment-based inks can be more vibrant than their dye-based counterparts, and work very well on matte paper or embossed paper.
However, these inks will not dry on glossy paper.
Pigment-based inks a favourite with crafters and scrap-bookers because they do not fade that much over time. In fact, they can retain much of their original vibrancy for a century, as long as the correct type of paper is used. This is because each colour is made up of a neutral base and tiny coloured particles. These particles aren’t organic and don’t break down to mix with the liquid – and therefore don’t break down in sunlight either.
This mixture of a neutral base and pigmented colour produces a slightly diluted pattern, so the printed result is often less vibrant than would be the initial dye-based version.
Pigment-based inks are also great for embossing. They take longer to dry than water-based inks, ensuring enough time to work with the embossing powders.
Because pigment-based inks can’t be absorbed by traditional paper, pigment ink is more susceptible to smudging if it isn’t allowed to thoroughly dry before handling.

Solid inks
Solid inks are a relatively new addition to the world of print. Solid inks are vegetable oil-based, wax-like blocks that are melted and applied to paper. Similar to pigment-based inks, solid inks remain on the surface of paper instead of being absorbed by it. This means they are durable and won’t fade much over time.
The results of solid ink printing are often more vivid than those of pigment-based inks, because the printed colours aren’t broken up by a neutral base.
This type of ink offers an environmental advantage as they are not housed in plastic cartridges that require disposal.
A big downside to solid inks is their lack of availability and their relatively high price point.

Other types of ink
There are a number of different types of ink that occur in the world of print, but they are often used for very specific industries.
Solvent inks contain colour pigments and organic chemical compounds that become waterproof after being treated with heaters. They are used in the production of decals, banners, billboards and artwork on plastic goods.
UV-curable inks become colour-rich polymers when their acrylic molecules are saturated with direct UV rays. They are used to print on stainless steel, glass, wood, ceramic and other materials.
Dye-sublimation inks contain a type of dye that transfers to fabric when heated. This type of ink is used to manufacture T-shirts, caps, flags and other cloth materials.


Calling all exhibitors:

shop-sa, in conjunction with My Office, will be hosting a digital trade show on Wednesday 11 August 2021.

The 105-year-old association of the stationery and home office products industry is hosting a virtual trade show to provide both association members and members of the public with a platform for brand exposure during these trying times.

What is a virtual trade show and how will it work?

In these unprecedented times, a traditional trade show is not possible. This online event will allow exhibitors to showcase their products and services in many different ways, in one online space.

The expo can be viewed using any device from mobile phone to computer, from virtual stalls to live presentations.

  • A pinned post will remain on the top of the news page on the My Office Magazine website, and will be updated with information on exhibitors up to the day of the event.
  • Logos, brochures and links of participating exhibitors will be displayed on the website.
  • Participating exhibitors will select an available time slot to host a live presentation.
  • Workshops will be advertised prior to event.
  • Visitors will contact exhibitor to book “seats”.
  • The exhibitor will send links to visitors prior to live presentation.
  • These videos will be hosted on YouTube or the exhibitor’s own website.

Links and advertising for the trade show will be sent to a database of 20 000 end-users and consumers on a regular basis, but any member of the public will be allowed to view the videos and brochures during and after the show.

The expo will also be marketed on various social media platforms to create awareness leading up to the event.

Sign up to be an exhibitor today! You too can become a member of shop-sa from as little as R855 ex VAT per annum – and access our exclusive member pricing.

Exhibitor packages

Lite package 
Member pricing: R1 000 ex VAT / R1 150 incl VAT
Non-member pricing: R1 500 ex VAT /  R1 725 incl VAT

Introduce yourself: who you are and what you do
1 short video (5 minutes or less)

Basic package
Member pricing: R1 500 ex VAT / R1 725 incl VAT
Non-member pricing: R2 000 ex VAT / R2 300 incl VAT

Introduce yourself: who you are and what you do
Up to 3 videos

Pro package
Member pricing: R5 000 ex VAT / R5 750 incl VAT
Non-member pricing: R7 000 ex VAT / R8 050 incl VAT

Introduce yourself: who you are and what you do
Up to 10 videos or brochure links
The option to host a live Zoom workshop/talk/demo
Additional promotion and spotlight features on mailers sent before the event

Call for prizes

Put your brand front and centre!

A number of competitions will be run during the course of, and after, the event. All donated prizes will be listed with your company’s name or logo visible.

For more information, please contact Wendy on (012) 548 0046, 082 963 7441 or

The art of writing beautifully

When drafting a letter or document, most of us would rather type it out and print it with our trusty printer. This way we know it’s neat and legible. But there is something so satisfying about reading a beautifully-crafted piece of writing. Each letter skilfully written by hand in rising and dipping swirls, turning each word into a masterpiece.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to write words that look like works of art, then learning brush lettering could be for you.

Robyn Anderson presents workshops in brush lettering for beginners. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll probably want to attend the intermediate workshop too. Brush lettering is done using pens with a tip that acts almost like a brush. The amount of pressure and the angle it is used at create the thick or thin strokes that make up the beautiful letters. The basics of brush lettering are taught using pens with smaller, firmer tips and – with acquired skill – you will learn to move on to the larger pens.

At first you are taught the basics, such as holding the pen correctly. Then you learn the basic strokes: thin, light strokes up; and thick strokes down. It all seems easy enough until you are required to do curved shapes. Your mind tells you it’s “easy-peasy” but your hands seem to lose all co-ordination. With Robyn’s guidance and encouragement, we all managed to get the hang of it … well, sort of.

So you might ask, how is this different from calligraphy? Calligraphy is traditionally done with a hard-nibbed pen, nibs are in different widths and the angle at which you hold the pen creates the thin stroke up and thick stroke down. No difference in pressure and no adjusting of the angle of your hand to make the change is required. The misconception is that brush lettering is similar to cursive writing.

Brush lettering is similar to calligraphy in that each letter is created separately, but it is done in a way that makes the word look like it was created in one fluid process. Brush lettering requires a little more flexibility while creating the thick and thin strokes of each letter.

There are many brands of brush pens on the market. Some are readily available in South Africa and some not. Robyn has managed to source some of the more difficult-to-get-hold-of pens, and these can be purchased from her directly.

In 2020 when South Africa went into lockdown, Robyn had to find a way to continue teaching and started offering Zoom workshops. This she still does, along with conventional in-person workshops. If you are not sure what pens are available for brush lettering, Robyn has many informative videos on Youtube that will help you choose the correct pens and paper. Her videos will also help you with your lettering if you have forgotten some of what you learned in the workshop.

You’ll find all the information on her web site

Making a mark with art

Gail Wilson is a local artist easily recognisable by her long, bright pink hair. She is well-known in both the Johannesburg street photography and Johannesburg Heritage Foundation circles.

Gail’s parents moved from Kimberley to Johannesburg when she was a child. She returned to Kimberley to complete her high school education, but later came back to Johannesburg and has remained here ever since.

Gail often takes part in local art events, such as Land Art installations. Creating tree wraps is just one of her creative art forms. Since creating her first tree wrap she has improved greatly and now has it down to a fine art.

She currently uses a bright pink synthetic fabric that is weather resistant and more durable than other material. The large letters are then drawn onto the wrap with the aid of a stencil, and painted with black acrylic paint. The white patterns are drawn on with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen, which is a pigmented India ink.


For the first few tree wraps a white correction pen was used as there were no white permanent ink markers available in the country at the time.
Using the correction pen for a large project was cumbersome because Gail had to squeeze the pen constantly to get the correction fluid out.

The white permanent ink Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen applies easily and does not clump, which makes it perfect for using on the wraps.

Gail’s tree wraps with the large words “Hug Me” have been installed in a number of locations around Johannesburg – but they don’t remain in place for long, disappearing after about two or three days.

The only tree wraps still in place are at The Wilds in Houghton, Johannesburg.
You can follow Gail’s blog here.

Image credits: Gail Wilson / Mark Straw

How to create a stationery cake

Source: Daily Mail

Stationery cakes are fast becoming the popular gifts for teachers and parents this holiday season.

The very handy bundles usually include pencil case staples like felt markers, coloured pencils and pens.

They can also have exciting additions depending on the who it is for, including glitter, chalk, scissors and glue.

One mum who was initially stuck for ideas for her children’s teacher’s Christmas presents ended up making them stationery cakes. She said the teachers were thrilled with the gift.

“They noted it as one of the most creative and thoughtful gifts they had ever received,” mother said.

Teachers can use the packs for classes the following year, saving them time and money as they don’t have to buy supplies themselves.

And teachers appear to love it as well.

“So clever. As an educator myself you can never get enough resources,” one said.

“This is the best gift ever, supplies go so fast,” another said.

How to make a stationery cake

You will need:

  • A variety of stationery such as coloured markers, glitter, pencils, chalk, scissors and glue
  • A firm, round cardboard base such as used for a cake, or a round plate or tray
  • Round plastic containers, either empty or containing stationery, to form the tiers
  • Ribbon or tinsel for decorating

Place your round container on the tray and secure with tape, glue or prestick.
Place a rubber band around the container, then add pencils, pens or markers until the entire bucket is hidden.
Add another rubber band around the pencils and bucket and make a layer of glue bottles around the bottom of the cake.
Use a second, smaller bucket or container to create the second team. Add crayon boxes around the sides and with a rubber band. Fill in the sides of this layer with erasers, scissors, and other items.
Use tinsel or ribbon to tie around the rubber bands on each layer of the cake.

Image credit: The Craft Patch 


  • 1
  • 2
  • 8

Follow us on social media: 


View our magazine archives: 


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective