I’ve gotten a bunch of new coloring books to review on my docket, which means I find myself craving new shiny art supplies to color with. I reached out to Winsor and Newton, a British company that’s been around since 1832. They had just released a new marker line called ProMarker™; and I was madly curious about them. I received a sample of 6 markers in rich tones, and I have to say, I’m hooked! These colors are SO pretty!! These are dual tipped markers, having both a bullet tip and a chisel tip. ProMarkers™ have an alcohol based ink, which is classed as a permanent ink, but can be blended.
Okay, the outside is nice, but how do they color??
Oh, my goodness! I’m in love, I really am. The ProMarkers™ are round, thick and fit well in my hand. The bullet nib moves smoothly over the paper with minimal bleeding. The chisel tip covers large areas well; though, since I hadn’t used chisel tips before, it took a little time to get the hang of. I’m new to professional grade coloring markers, as my default is usually a Sharpie®.
I think that out of the six colors, the Marine and the Maroon are my favorites. All the colors are amazingly rich and each layer I put down just added depth. While the different size caps for the two tips mean that you can’t place one cap upon the other when working, I do love the little Cap Nub (my phrase). The Cap Nub makes it so that the round marker doesn’t roll off of your work surface, which is super important if you color in bed or using a lapdesk.
Disability Notes: These are great for marker lovers with mild to moderate arthritis (don’t overdo!), and can be used on the couch or in bed since the Cap Nub keeps them from rolling. Warning!: If you have brain-fog or a short-term memory issue – Remember where you put the cap down!
Where to buy: You can buy Winsor & Newton ProMarkers™ in sets or individually at their website or a high-end art supply store. The Rich Tones set I received retail for $24.99 usd.
I’m on my way to DragonCon in Atlanta. Since I’m still building content, I’m cheating a little bit . I found this awesome picture in a coloring book my mom had given me a few years back. The majority of the coloring was done with Bic® Brand Markit Markers.
Since this is such a perfect page for my cats, I figured I’d do a brief intro to the furballs that end up photo-bombing my posts. I’ll be doing in-depth interviews with each cat on my Patreon when I get back home in early September.
Pandemonium: Pan is my shadow, my therapy-cat when my disease makes life miserable and an all-around sweetheart. She is 13 years old and starting to show her age. Don’t let her fool you…her fangs are still sharp!
Teedle: This picture doesn’t do Teedle justice. He’s a 25 pound orange marshmallow. Teedle is 9 years old and sweet, but dumb. He has a bad habit of drinking water with his paws, which makes the other cats cranky because it makes their water dirty.
Zoomie: SC calls her PuzzlePaws, due to her tortoiseshell coloring. Zoomie is also 9, about 6 months younger than Teedle. Zoomie is shy, but can be demanding. She loves playing indoor soccer with hard jingleballs, and is learning fetch.
Zane: SC brought Zane into our marriage. As you can see from his dapper tux, he is a consummate ladies man. As Zane was adopted when full-grown, we think he’s between 9-11 years old. He’s not much for treats, but he likes to steal Hurricane’s wet food. Zane is freely affectionate with headbutts and cuddles.
Hurricane: This is our baby. Hurricane Enlil was teeny kitten barely 2 weeks old when she and her sister were given to me to hand-rear last September. She’ll be 1 on Sept 14, (estimated). While her sister found a good home, Hurricane bonded to me. She loves to play fetch and grooms my hair. She is taking therapy-cat lessons from Pandemonium.
Disclosure: I received this coloring book as a gift from my mother. The opinions are my own.
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In February, at NY Toy Fair, I came across a micro-brick booth I hadn’t seen before. The ladies running it were very nice, and gave me a mini pterodactyl kit to try. I’m ashamed to admit it has sat in my brick box since then. I remembered it when starting the blog, and reached out to The Lazy Dog & Co., TICO® bricks’ US distributor. I’m really glad I did!
I was asked which kits I was interested in, and I responded back with a list of possible kits, including The Smithsonian Institute, which was my pie-in-the-sky item. Imagine my surprise when that is exactly what they sent me! Poor Spouse-Critter, there was much squealing and happy-dancing that day.
Now, the Smithsonian Institution name covers over 19 museums, a zoo, 9 research facilities and tons of affiliated buildings. The building featured in the kit is called “The Castle” which is the first of the Smithsonian buildings, and its headquarters to this day. Look at this pretty building! There are days I think it lovelier than Buckingham Palace.
Set up is easy, open the box, lay it all out, grab tweezers and magnifier, and check out the instructions.
Okay, so this just jumped a level of difficulty! Unlike some other brick companies; each step is only shown by pictures, there are no lists of how many bricks of each type are needed. I know that a kit this big will have a ton of pieces, nearly 1,100 according to the box, so I haul out my MasterPieces™ Puzzle Sort and Save. Sorting all the little pieces by type and keeping them away from the cats is a necessary thing!
This build took me about three and a half days over the course of several sessions. My hands tended to start to ache after a few hours, so I was glad to have photographed the process.
I hit a snag on step #9, I had a piece missing! I searched all my sorting trays, thinking it may have been missorted, no dice. Okay….I’m a resourceful brick-builder, I subbed in a 1×2 and a 1×1 brick for the missing 1×3. I kept moving on until by step #11, when it was very noticeable that I was missing not one, but several pieces! Worse, these were pieces that I needed! I dug into my stash of micro-brick spares, and found a few that would sort of match. The upside to this? I found out that TICO® Bricks are compatible with their competitor’s bricks!
Then I emailed my contact at TICO®. She was awesome! Quick response, a request for a full listing of my missing pieces so they can be replaced, and a promise to let the manufacturer in Taiwan know. Customer Service Win! In the end, I was only short 9 pieces, 2 of those because I subbed them in on step #8. In a kit of 1085 pieces? That’s a minuscule amount, and I would not have noticed if there was a large amount of spare bricks.
This Is Now Officially My Biggest Micro-brick Kit Ever!
TICO stands for Tiny – Intelligent – Combinative – Originality. Honestly, this company really embodied this! It is tiny, it took and stretched my intelligence, I managed to combine pieces I did not think would fit, and while following a set of instructions doesn’t use originality, TICO® also sells bulk piece kits.
Brick Kit SPECS
US Distributer: The Lazy Dog & Co.
Title: Smithsonian Institute
Kit Number: T-1536
Year released: 2018
Difficulty: 3/5 I personally rate it a 4/5 for the instructions
Brick Size: 4mm x 4mm x 5mm
Figure size: N/A
Finished size: 28.75cm x 9.5cm x 12cm
Made from ABS Plastic
Made in Taiwan
Box: lightweight, 20cm x 14cm x 5.5cm
Build Integrity: Very Good, the trees and flag are a bit fragile
Piece shapes: Standard brick shapes, with some new shapes like 90° angles
Piece Fit: Excellent
Notes: The size of the bricks lean towards using angle tip tweezers. As there are extra pieces provided, I recommend saving them with the instructions in a sealed bag. I will be sure to add an update to this blog post when the customer service issue of the missing bricks is fully resolved. I’m incredibly happy overall with both the Smithsonian kit and highly recommend TICO® for other micro-brick enthusiasts!
Disability Notes: Due to the fine motor control required for this build, I do not recommend TICO® Bricks for those with fine motor control impediments, arthritis, or palsy, unless you have assistance. If you have a visual impairment, this is possible to do with the assistance of a magnifier.
Where to buy: The Smithsonian Institute and other kits are available on The Lazy Dog & Co. website for $64.99 USD.