Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Toys Arrived - Neocolor IIs & Mondeluz Aquarelle Pencils

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling low, and that's always a dangerous time for this art supplies addict and her credit card.  Do they have a methodone equivalent for art supplies?  I really need it right now.  Confession time....I fell off the wagon and bought too much.  I have no natural resistance to art supplies and books.  My art immune system is shot to pieces.  I am a victim and sadly in need of a support group.

Living in the antipodes, I had to wait two weeks for my goodies to arrive from the UK and of course the postage charges on the Neocolor IIs were horrendous due to their weight.  It was fortunate that I found such a great deal on the products I bought, and the savings went a long way towards subsidizing the postage.  If one tries hard enough and is feeling very creative, one can always justify succumbing to this accursed disease.  Subsidizing postage costs with bargain prices of the art supplies is a handy excuse, as is the free postage on the four art books I also bought at 50% discount.

This morning I found two nice fat parcels in my mail box.  Luckily, I live in a rural area and we have huge mail boxes.  The mail lady will deliver packages, as she does her rounds by car so I didn't have to scuttle off to the post office to collect them as do urbanites.

What did I buy?  Well, apart from the art books that haven't arrived yet, I am now the proud owner of lashings of colour in the form of a set of 84 Swiss made Caran d'Ache® Neocolor II water soluble wax pastels and a set of 72 Koh-i-noor®  Mondeluz watercolour pencils.

Did I really need a set of 84 colours in my water soluble wax pastels?  Probably not as I am perfectly able to mix colours to extend a modest palette, but they really are luscious.  I always get this huge high from a great colour array, be it knitting yarns, fabrics, wall paint swatches or art materials.  Doesn't matter the source, it's the colours that sing to me and make me happy.  I feel quite proud of myself that I resisted the full set of 126 Neocolor II colours.

Right:  The nice, solid tin in which the Caran d'Ache® soluble wax crayons are supplied.

Left:  The gorgeous colours found in both trays of the set of 84 Neolour IIs.  The top layer of wax pastels has it's own metal tray, making it so easy to lift the layer out of the tin to get to the lower array. These were found on eBay UK  (Buy Now or Best Offer) and I made an offer of AUD$99.97 (UK65 pounds, USD$105.82) the set, plus postage.  They wanted UK75 pounds per set and was pleasantly stunned when my offer was accepted. 

The second of my purchases was a box of 72 Koh-i-noor® Mondeluz water soluble pencils.  They came in what is termed and "Art Set" and in addition to the pencils the box contained two very basic pencil sharpeners and sizes 8, 6, and 3 watercolour brushes.  The brushes are some sort of natural fur but there is no labelling to indicate what it might be.  My guess is squirrel hair, but it may be cheap sable.

These pencils are manufactured in Czechoslovakia and I wanted to try them because they are one of the few student grade brands that claims excellent lightfastness over all colours.

Right: Set of 72 Koh-i-noor® Mondeluz Water Soluble Pencils, together with the brushes and pencil sharpeners which came with this set.  Big disappointment was that, unlike the Koh-i-noor® Giacondo Pastel Pencils, these do not come in a nice, solid tin.  They are in a rather flimsy, cardboard box and cushioned by segmented thin plastic trays.  I will have to buy a good quality pencil wallet to house them, which is an additional expense that must be factored in when considering purchasing this set.

I have a set of 48 Koh-i-noor® Giacondo Pastel Pencils, also now made in Czechoslovakia, which I adore as they are so creamy and lay down very easily, delivering bright, saturated pigments.  I prefer them to any of the other more expensive  brands of pastel pencils I own.  They too have excellent lightfastness ratings.  So, in view of this experience, I'm expecting good things from my budget priced Mondeluz set of water soluble pencils.  I'm hoping their standards and pigments are similar across their range.  It's a gamble, but when I only paid AUD$27.67 (17.99 UK pounds, USD$29.29) plus postage for a set of 72, which is dirt cheap, I thought they were worth the risk.

Koh-i-noor® market so many of their products as student grade, when they are really excellent artist grade, lightfast pigments that they use, with minimal fillers.  Is it a language problem when translating their website to English or is it because the student market is enormous in comparison with the artist market?  Their pan watercolours are not very nice though.  Very pigment poor.

I have used a few Neocolor II crayons before, but only briefly, and loved them.  Can't wait to try these and the Mondeluz set of aquarelle pencils.  Having sat and drooled and blogged rather uselessly about packaging and appearances, I suppose I'd better get stuck into trying them out. I'll review both sets more fully when I have put them through their paces.

You can find the Neocolor II colourfast ratings here on my blog.


  1. Just testing the Comments section as would-be posters are reporting difficulties.

  2. I also trying get bigger boxes for koh-i-noor based my 24 colour mondeluz set they look lovely stuff. And price is nice.

  3. I'm becoming a big fan of some of the Koh-i-noor Artist's products. Loving the nice pigment load in these watercolour pencils and their Giaconda pastel pencils are my favourite brand for the same reason. Not too keen on their student grade stuff though. There is a big difference in the quality between their artist's grade products and their student grade ones. Not surprising as they are much cheaper and you get what you pay for.


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