Saturday, April 26, 2008

new MCP comparison

Last night I said I'd do a more formal comparison of possible blending agents for magic colored pencil. Here it is. But first, a disclaimer! I'm not a great colorer/blender to begin with, so keep that in mind when you look at these images, okay?

I stamped a Rhonna Farrer/Autumn Leaves image four times on a piece of Beckett Expressions cardstock using Archival Jet Black ink.

Next, I pulled out my Prismacolor colored pencils and tried to color each of the images similarly.

I then blended the colors of each image using one of four different blending agents: Goo Gone Mess-Free Pen, Icky Sticky Stuff Remover, Orange Plus, and Sansodor. Like last time, I used a blending stump. Well, except for with the Mess-free Pen. I've listed them alphabetically, not according to the order in which I used them.

In the above photo you can see the results of the blending phase of my experiment. I'll show you which image was colored with which agent in the following photo. Scroll down when you've had a chance to do a bit of independent and unbiased judging of the blending. Or just scroll on down.

Now again, I wanted just a bit more of a comparison. You'll notice that each image has a free flower--the one where I used blue at the center. I colored that one with a different blending agent. To keep things simple, and I do like simple, I just blended that part of the image with the agent that I'd used on its left. So, the single Orange Plus flower was blended with the Goo Gone Mess-Free Pen, the single Sansodor flower was blended with the Orange Plus, the single ISSR flower was blended with Sansodor, and the single Goo Gone flower was blended with ISSR. I hope that made sense.

Let me say now, that I'm not going to review the Goo Gone again since it's been the subject of a couple of posts here already. You can find links to those in my colored pencil sidebar menu.

The Orange Plus did move and blend the pigments, but not as well as the other three. It was also trickier to use. Too much and it tended to break down the cardstock--NOT a good thing! Too little and you had to work at it to get the color to move. There was a small window of opportunity where it worked well, but it wasn't easy to consistently use that correct amount of fluid. It also had an annoying tendency to make the stump squeak when coloring. I think I have a new, more environmentally friendly cleaner that I'll be using here in the kitchen.

The Sansodor did its job as usual. I will say that compared to the others, it definitely was the worst as far as fumes. Nothing else came close to being so... aromatic. ;-)

You can see a closer side-by-side comparison of the Sansodor and ISSR below. I didn't compare these two directly when I mentioned the ISSR before as an alternative, so here's that comparison for you. The Sansodor is upper left and the ISSR lower right.

Both worked as far as moving the pigments. The ISSR colors look a bit more vibrant in the photo. This is true in real life, too. In retrospect, I think I'd laid down a bit more color in that ISSR image to begin with though. And don't forget that the single flower in the ISSR image was blended with the Sansodor, so there's a bit more of a comparison that you can make.

My conclusions after all of this?

Orange Plus--probably a good cleaner, but not a good choice as a blending agent for MCP.

The Goo Gone Mess-free Pen was by far the simplest and easiest to use. No stumps, no dipping, no odor. I'll add here that the lack of odor does not make it safe necessarily, eh? It's still better to use this in well-ventilated areas and not hover directly over you image for long periods of time. But for ease of use, it's hard to beat the pen.

The Sansodor, like Gamsol, has been the agent of choice for this technique. These odorless mineral spirits are not completely without odor though, and despite keeping only a small amount of the stuff exposed to the air, the fumes were noticeable. Then there are the safety issues and environmental issues with those products.

The ISSR with its ability to move and blend pigments, its lack of odor, better safety profile, along with the fact that it's more environmentally friendly seems to make it the best choice, at least of these four that I tested here. I found it in a local grocery store. I'm not sure how widely available it is, though at least you don't have to order it from abroad.

Lastly I should mention that Zest-It has been used for quite a while in the UK by artists as a safer alternative to odorless mineral spirits. A year or two ago I read a discussion about folks using it but couldn't find a vendor for it here in the US. Still can't. It's a citrus zest-based product, but you'd have to order it from the UK at this point. That's still something to keep an eye out for should it become available on this side of the pond though.

Edited to add: I posted an update to this that might be worth looking at if you're interested in using Goo Gone in place of odorless mineral spirits. You can read that post HERE.


  1. Awesome Jay!. One question. Where did you buy the Goo Gone pen?

  2. This was really interesting.

    I've been using Eco-house's X-tra Mild Citrus Thinner that I found at Pearl Paint.

    It smells strongly of orange, but doesn't trigger my asthma.

    I found it works as well as the Sansoder stuff.

    Here's a link for you.

  3. Is the ISSR also knows as DeSolvIt? That's the only thing I could find one their website that said Icky Sticky Stuff Remover but the bottle was DeSolvIt - I'm confused :-)

  4. I think that ISSR is part of their DeSolvIt line of products. They have the citrus solution, a stainless steel cleaner, some kind of odor eliminator. I was ready to give the citrus solution a try. I'd seen it a while back, but hadn't had any luck finding it on the shelves lately. That's why I went ahead and picked up the ISSR when I saw it. I recognized the brand, plus I figured if it worked like Goo Gone, then it might work on colored pencils. On their page the citrus solution and ISSR are listed as 'related products', so not exactly the same, I guess, but the descriptions sure are similar.

    Thanks for the info, Kathi. I'd heard of the Eco-House product. I hadn't made it to Dick Blick to look for it. It did sound better than Gamsol or Sansodor, but it looked like it still carries a warning to use with good ventilation?

  5. Yes, it carries that warning. My unferstanding is that most solvent based cleaning products whether "natural" or not, carry that warning.


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