Journaling with Kuretake

Kuretake BrushablesAbout 18 months ago, Christina from Kuretake visited us, to tell us all about their amazing art products. She couldn't have been too traumatised by the experience because she came back! Either that or it's taken her this long to recover, but let's not go too far down that path. This time we concentrated on pens that are particularly good for journaling.

Now - journaling. It's fair to say that it's taken the world by storm, and it certainly has Cult Pens in its clutches. Amanda, our boss, is never seen these days without her trusty journal, and Beth, Becky and James are enthusiastic dabblers. Helen, our HR consultant, is a journaler extraordinaire, and while Simon - the other boss - appears to have remained immune so far, he may be keeping such forays under his hat. Who knows? Anyway, as a simple 'to do' list could be seen as a (very basic) form of journaling, it's something we all do from time to time, and for many it's become a way of life.

Christina, from KuretakeCue Christina. She was very methodical, you know. No flinging around of random pens and being rather vague about what they do: no, no. Out of her compartmentalised case came firstly some practice sheets (so that the less-skilled among us could still look good), and then a selection of carefully-ordered pens, starting with the Fudebiyori. These fascinated us when Kuretake first told us about them, and it was great to learn how to use them properly. They have a flexible tip, so you can produce both fine and broad strokes, and they don't bleed through paper. They contain water-based ink, so they'll smudge if you let them anywhere near the wet stuff, but they do dry quickly. Best of all, they're metallic!

Then we had a look at the Brushables two-tone pens. These have twin tips: one end features a colour in the Zig Memory System range, and the other is a 50% lighter tint, so they're brilliant for touching up lettering and adding extra interest. They're permanent - so anything in your journal that's been Brushable-ised (not a word, but Roald Dahl made up words and he was a real writer) will last forever! A word of warning here - all twin-tipped markers should be stored horizontally.

Next up were the Mangaka drawing pens. Favoured - as you might expect - by Manga artists, there are the super-precise fineliners with 01, 02, 05 and 08 tips. Their cousins, the Mangaka Flexible, allow you to make much more of a mark. The ink is water-based pigment and resists both alcohol and watercolour markers, so they're perfect for adding detail and extra flourishes to any artwork in your journal.

The Writers were one of Christina's favourites (she has many - and it's impossible not to have many favourites with the massive range that Kuretake offer!) Another pen that needs storing horizontally, it has a bullet tip at one end which is ideal for colouring large areas, and a fineliner at the other which is great for when you want to use hatching to lend tonal qualities to your journal illustrations.

Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush PensAlso among her favourites were the Clean Color Real Brush Pens, which have a soft nylon brush tip that's super-flexible. You can blend them, either by touching the tips of two contrasting colours together, or with a Zig BrusH2O waterbrush. Even better, there are 80 colours to choose from!

Gansai Tambi Watercolour PaintWe couldn't have a Kuretake workshop without playing with Gansai Tambi now, could we? This is Japanese watercolour. Or is it gouache? It depends on what you do with it! Mix the pans of colour with plenty of water (a waterbrush is the best way) and you'll end up with beautifully-subtle watercolours in pretty much every shade you can think of. Be a little more parsimonious with the H2O, though, and you'll have vibrant colours with a glorious depth to them. The mica-containing Pearl, Gem and Starry Colours palettes lend a stunning sheen, too. Kuretake take great care over the manufacture of Gansai Tambi. They take a whole month to produce, with most of that time spent slowing drying in a room with a constant temperature and humidity. Otherwise they'll crack.

Kuretake Fudebiyori PensAnd that was it: the contents of Christina's well-organised case were now spread haphazardly across the meeting room table and it was time for lunch. We're very grateful to her and Kuretake for spending some time with us here in Devon. Journaling is many things to many people, and as far as we're concerned, you can never have enough pens to facilitate such a useful and constructive habit!

The table becomes a messWhatever you use your journal for, and however you like to personalise it, whether that's embellishing tables, colouring things in, creating borders or using calligraphy for headings, Kuretake have probably got a pen that'll do just what you need. For some of us, journaling is a means of awakening our inner artist, or our budding writer. For others it's a mind-thing, a way of relaxing while still knowing that we're doing something constructive, and not feeling guilty because we're not doing something couch-potatoey like watching trashy television. For still more it's how we keep all the different parts of our life in perspective, so we don't spend time too much time at the gym (yeah, right). There's also a certain amount of ego-boosting about it, too: you can gloat happily over everything you've achieved, and it's also a way of creating your own history. It's portable, it's inexpensive. Above all, it's fun.

6 April 2018


  • Helen G (Cultpens Team) 26 April 2018

    Hi Joanne, Thanks for your 5 star rating. We've only tried the standard colour paints with a Staedtler 308, which worked well, but it may be the metallic effect in the paint which is causing the issue. It might be worth trying a paint marker, we haven't tried it here but in theory it's worth experimenting with.

  • Joanne M 25 April 2018

    I have a question for you. I have a set of Gansai Tambi paints and love them. The effects, especially when you mix in a touch of the metallics is spectacular. However, I want to be able to draw over the paints once they are dry. But I struggle to find a pen that is happy to do that. All of my pigment fineliners (Sakura Micron etc) seem to semi sink into the paint (particularly the greater the amount of metallic used). Can you recommend a pen that would work better?

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