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Monthly Archives: November 2015

  • Dundee Wearable Arts

    A Different Kind of Art


    This autumn Dundee Wearable Arts returned after an extremely successful crowd funding campaign and support from local businesses to put on the second annual showcase of incredible imaginative work.

    Iartsupplies was proud to sponsor one of the prizes for this year’s competition and we were very grateful for the VIP treatment we received from the team who put the show together.  The whole evening was a spectacular experience showing some incredible skill, both conceptually and practically, as well as some excellent individuals who helped to make each piece a performance and not just a costume.

    A Great Turn Out

    The event was incredibly well attended, filling the auditorium of Dundee’s Bonar Hall, and front row seats right by the catwalk is probably the closest thing we will ever get to fashion week.  The variety of work on display certainly showcased the wealth both of technical skill and creative inspiration kicking around our fair city.  Picking winners certainly wasn’t an easy job.

    21990419223_52c4a032b2_n Irene Blair’s Tatty Sack Dress. Photo courtesy of Graham Black and Dundee Wearable Arts.

    The pieces were shown in four sections; Environment, Olde World, Technology and Open.  Interpretive depth was in abundance. There were pieces which displayed humour such as Irene Blair’s Tatty Sack Dress and Linda Thompson’s She Scrubs up Well made of micro fibre cleaning cloths, and those which were also inspiring of more negative emotions such as Jill Skulina’s Perfect Mother and the inquiet Synthetic Biology by Neil McIntee.


    The fact that we can talk about the emotions these pieces inspired hopefully illustrates to the reader that we are not just talking about fashion pieces here but indeed something more evolved and deeper.  Other pieces showed great thought involved in the way they moved, like Morag Taylor’s Chrysalis Pupa and Ana Inès Jabares-Pita’s Ignis, simple pieces in terms of size and materials but which had a big impact. Designs such as Captain America, combining elements of Native American dress with the all American hero’s costume displayed a jarring juxtaposition which showed that political messages can also be transmitted through this media. We could go into descriptions of every piece shown as all of them were truly amazing but it would be hard for us to do them justice, so we think you should check them out here:

    And Here:



    A Three Dimensional Experience

    Great credit must also go to those who did the choreography, lighting design, hair and makeup which made the show a three dimensional visual experience, as well as mentioned above, the performers who modelled the work.  All of these elements brought life to the pieces which cannot be communicated in the photos, nor could the same effect have been achieved by displaying the pieces on lifeless mannequins or in a less inspired catwalk framework.  Credit has to be given to all hands involved for creating a very unique experience in which a great many facets of Dundee’s creative community’s talent was displayed as a combined effort.  Unfortunately this full effect cannot be transmitted in the photos, but trust us it was awesome.


    DWA15_Show_GrahamBlack-52-e1446302315574 Ana Ines Jabares-Pita, Ignis. Photo courtesy of Dundee Wearable Arts

    And The Award Goes To....

    Several prizes were awarded and all were thoroughly deserved.  The Spirit of Dundee prize was awarded jointly to Rachel Goodman for Ice Crystal and Ana Ines Jabares-Pita for Ignis. Samantha Bryan was awarded both the Best Innovative Use of Recycled Material and Technology Section prizes for Sheer Connection and Everlasting Spirals.  Jill Skulina’s Perfect Mother won the Best Use of Yarn award and Rhiannon Wright’s Ravens/Crows took the Best Use of Paper/Print prize.  Morag Taylor’s innovative Chrysalis Pupa won the Open section and Gabrielle Von Waldburg’s Deep Sea Diva took the Environment section.  The winner of both the Olde World section and the overall prize was Morag Nowell for her piece Ship Ahoy.

    DSC_5430-e1443478254389 Morag Nowell, Ship Ahoy. Photo courtesy of Laura Mumby and Dundee Wearable Arts

    Nowell’s work was inspired by Dundee history, particularly its connection to the sea and the importance of ships to the town’s economic foundations.  Materials used all had some connection to the city as well with Levi’s jean material, jute and muslin playing their role as well as papier mache from the Courier and Evening Tele.   As well as various vouchers including our own the winner will be enjoying one year of free membership of the Dundee Makers Space at the Vision Building.  We hope to see what great use this is put to in the coming year.


    The Dundee Wearable Arts competition is a great opportunity for everyone involved.  For those participating, either as choreographers, makeup artists, performers and creators it is a great opportunity to showcase your work to an audience.  For that audience it is a great way to have a thoroughly different evening out and artistic experience. We look forward to seeing next year’s competition.



    Fiona MacHugh

  • Watercolour Paper 101

    Confused about Watercolour Paper?

    Whether you are starting out with watercolour, have had a bit of practice or are a seasoned user you will probably know that watercolour requires a specific type of ground to work on.  Due to the essential use of water, sometimes in large quantities, in the process normal drawing papers are often not suitable for your work, as paper can buckle or spoil effects due to the way it absorbs liquid

    .Watercolour Paper

    So you might be thinking, grand, give me some watercolour paper then, and suddenly have found your self with another heap of confusing letters, numbers and textures to choose from.  If you are feeling a bit at sea about which water colour paper you should be using, never fear, we are here to break down the options for you.


    To begin with let’s set down some basics.  Watercolour paper comes in different surfaces and weights.  When you are looking at watercolour paper you should see a piece of information which tells you the GSM (Grams per Square Metre) of the paper.  This tells you how thick the paper is.  Standard machine weights of water colour paper are 190gsm, 300 gsm, 356 gsm, 400 and 425 GSM.  As a frame of reference normal printer paper is generally around 80 GSM, so this should give you an idea of how much thicker watercolour paper generally is.  Paper which weighs less than 300gsm will probably need to be stretched before use or warping may occur.  Heavier paper does not need to be stretched but is generally more expensive, so this is another consideration you may have to factor in to your choice.

    Stretching paper does not have to be an ordeal but it is another stage of preparation which takes time if you choose to do this.

    It is basically done in two steps.

    1. First, place the paper on your drawing board and wet it thoroughly and evenly with cold water and a small sponge (you can use another tool but a sponge is the best way to get an even wetting). Do this quickly and carefully because you have to move on to step two whilst the paper is still wet.
    2. Stick the paper to the drawing board using brown gummed paper tape all round the edges. It should overlap the paper by about 2cm. Leave the paper to dry naturally before using. Do not worry if it looks wrinkled as it will flatten as it dries.


    If you still don’t feel confident with stretching your own paper, you can watch this detailed tutorial, to see what we’re talking about.

    Textures of Paper

     Texture of Watercolour Paper

    The second piece of information you will have to decipher is the paper texture.

    Machine- made watercolour papers come in three textures:




    Hot- Pressed


    Hot pressed watercolour paper is the smoothest option.  Its fine grain and low level of tooth (so basically lack of textured surface) makes it better for large even washes, fine detail and work which combines pen and ink work with watercolour.  Because the smooth surface does not allow the paint to collect in pockets, paintings on this kind of paper will also dry quicker.

     Cold- Pressed (or NOT)


    Cold-Pressed paper (also known as NOT because it is not hot- pressed) is more heavily textured than Hot-Pressed paper, but less so than rough papers.  This intermediate texture makes it the standard choice for watercolour artists as you can get the benefits of a bit of texture without having to deal with some of the technical issues involved with a really rough paper.  This surface may not be suitable for very fine detailed work, especially if it is linear as it can distort your lines due to the texture.  For all other kinds of work this paper is the most versatile of the watercolour paper textures as most other types of work can be carried out on it.  It is probably the best surface for beginners or if you are still unsure about your technique, or will be using a variety of techniques.



    Rough paper does exactly what it says on the tin.  It has the most textured surface (or tooth) of the watercolour papers and creates very specific effects due to the way that the paint pools in the indentations on the papers surface.  The bigger and bolder your work is, the more likely that rough paper will work for you and it is not really suitable for fine detail drawings.

    It is worth baring in mind that there is no international standard for what constitutes any of these textures and so while this gradation will always be similar different manufacturers may have slight differences.  For example you may find that one manufacturers rough paper if more textured than another’s.  It is worth trying different brands to see which one works best for you.  Also bare in mind that the way that you work and the effect you want to produce will largely dictate which paper is best for you so what is good for someone else may not be what is best for you.

    Choosing your Format

    Watercolour paper is generally available in several different formats the majority of which we stock here at iartsupplies.  You can buy your paper in gummed pads, spiral pads, blocks or single sheets from us.  There is also the option to buy your paper in rolls or by metre but unfortunately not from us. If you would like to check out the ranges of watercolour paper we carry you can find the selection here, or visit us in store.

    Again the format of the paper that you choose is probably largely going to be dictated by the type of work you are going to produce and also where you are going to be producing it.  If you want something more portable you may want to consider a spiral pad, whereas if the conditions under which you are painting favour it you may select a larger single piece of paper.  Remember that it is important to consider both the limits of the conditions in which you will be working as well as the desired outcome to produce a positive creative experience.

    Did you Know?

    Bockingford and Saunders watercolour paper, two very well known watercolour papers which we stock are both made in St. Cuthburts Mill.  They have been making paper sine the 1700 and still use one of the only cylinder paper moulds left in the world, which is over 100 years old and was built in 1907.  Here’s a nice little film they put together to show you their process.  Cylinder mould paper making is a craft and a lot of skill goes into making sure the process runs smoothly, and this is reflected in the quality and the price of the paper produced.

    Hopefully, this little breakdown has helped clarify some of the confusing information out there to do with watercolour paper.  The important thing to do is not to panic, and remember that the choice ultimately is yours.  The best thing you can do to help make your decision the right one is have a clear idea of the result you want, or be open to the varying results you can achieve whilst you experiment and find what is right for you.  In the creative game this is one of the most important elements which we often forget, that what feels right is also an important consideration.  The only way to find that out is to give it a go.


    Fiona MacHugh

  • Art is a Healer

    Artist with Multiple Sclerosis

    It always amazes me the individuals out there who have some form of bad health which gets them creative and, find healing through it. The Perthshire artist Veronika Verden-Anderson  was diagnosed with progressive MS which ravaged her nervous system leaving her with no use of her legs and unable to use her arms. She learnt to paint with her mouth and paints lovely colourful art which are inspired from the Aboriginal and African Art.

    ms artist


  • Kissing up Portraits

    Creating Kiss Art

    Artist Natalie Irish from Houston creates stunning kiss-art, using a tube of lipstick and placing over a 1000 kisses from her very own lips to create spontaneous portraits of very well known celebrities. Marilyn Monroe was just one of her many perfect candidates and catches her perfectly well.

    Kiss Art

    Natalie came upon the idea of kiss art after an evening of preparing herself for a night out with friends. She was layering on her make up and blotted her lips on a piece of tissue and realized she could do the same thing onto canvas and, create something in a similar way to when she use to create images with thumbprints a s a child. From this moment she starting to shine in the art world for her unique highly personal art - which may seem semi romantic, but look at the results it gets her. Watch the video to see her kiss-art in action.  It is awesome but yet very strange seeing someone kiss away on canvas but, it is very different and what a talent to have.  Read more about the artist on her website  & here.



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