I’d heard about, and seen posts, from people who subscribe to various subscription boxes. People I follow on social media would post “unboxing videos” of whatever boxes they were subscribed to. I thought it was a neat idea but didn’t really think it was something I would necessarily be into.
Well… let me tell you about my last 12 days…
While randomly bopping around my feeds, in particular, YouTube (as I do subscribe to some artists’ channels,) some unboxing videos popped up for Artful subscription boxes.
Hmmm… Well, as you may know if you follow my blog, when I sold my house, and then eventually moved to the UK, I had to “get rid of” my lifetime accumulation of art and craft supplies and equipment. The hardest was when I was packing to move over to the UK – I only had three suitcases and a backpack to contain my entire life.
I arrived with minimal materials – some needlework items, a few sketchbooks, my watercolours, brushes, fine liners, pencils, pastels… Well, I suppose that doesn’t seem like I’m deprived, BUT, as someone who always had everything possible and stashes of scrap and reusable materials on hand, it is a bit of a challenge!
When I got here I went and bought new acrylic paints as I didn’t think packing used tubes was a good use of my luggage weight limitations (and what if they leaked in transit?)
So on Saturday, January 14th… I started Googling art and craft box subscriptions… just as a survey you understand, to see what they were like, and how they were rated. That may have been a mistake… or not? Jury is still out on that.
I checked out some blogs that ranked the various subscription boxes, looked at the websites, checked out a lot more videos of unboxing and artists using the materials from the boxes, and some of the instructional videos the various companies had up.
The Artful box subscription looked pretty good – the boxes looked to be good quality, containing everything you need (for the most part) and the value/cost looked very reasonable to me. They are a quarterly box, and there was a coupon if you subscribed to their newsletter. There was also an option to pick your first box, or go with the current box. So, I subscribed that day for one year (four boxes)… I chose the Gouache box for my first one. I’ve never actually used gouache so that seemed a good one to start with, to get a feel for how comprehensive it was – materials, instructional videos, etc.
I also ordered the “upgrade kit” for the Gouache box which contained a ceramic mixing tray and more brushes, and a few other things from the Artful store site – Ohh Deer.
Then, on Tuesday, January 17th… sigh, I started looking at craft boxes. Oh man… Again, I looked at reviews, videos, etc. Cosy Craft Club looked good. (BTW, these are all UK based companies that I was looking at due to postage costs!) All these companies have “old” kits available for individual purchase, so I ordered five kits from Cosy Craft Club: 2 x Mini Junk Journal Kit, Twine Basket Weaving, Loom Weaving, and Softcut Lino Printing.
I was impressed with the customer service from both Artful and Cosy Craft Club. The owner of Cost Craft Club immediately makes contact and engages in conversation via email which I thought was great. Artful responds quickly to questions and issues too, resolving them promptly.
The first order to arrive was Cosy Craft Club. It arrived around noon on Saturday, Jan 21st. That is one thing I love about the UK – Royal Mail delivers on Saturday. I immediately unpacked the shipping box – then had to open up each kit to check them out and, of course, took photos…
I immediately started on my Mini Junk Journal. I had to email Cosy Craft Club as I couldn’t get the link to the instructional video to work and she responded right away! As I said above, I am really impressed with her customer service!
I watched the video through once, then got going. I had done bookbinding in school, once, but it was a riveted cover. The instructions were clear, and everything needed was in the kit, including templates for the hole punching so no measuring of anything was required. The video was very thorough, and easy to follow through the entire process.
Each kit is put together by different artists – so branding varies, and they make their own videos. So far I am impressed with the instructions given in the two videos I’ve watched.
I really enjoyed this kit! I made a few “mistakes” – I think I flipped the template on one of the three signatures as it is out of alignment with the other two, but it is a learning curve, and I am really pleased with how it turned out. When I was finished I went downstairs to show it off… and it was 8 p.m.! I had no idea how much time had gone by.
As this was a “junk journal” the included papers were a little too messy for me – tea stained printing paper, odd sized scraps of lined papers, etc. So I replaced and added to it – artist paper mostly. Also, I created some pockets using card making supplies. On the artist who created the kit’s YouTube she had videos of other journals and books she made and many of the larger ones had pockets, etc. so I decided to make some for mine. There is a roll of funky tape included in the box so I used that for the edges/sealing of those pocket pages.
I haven’t tried the others yet. I passed along the Twine Basket Kit, as after watching the instructional video, I realized I won’t be able to manage it as I’ve some arthritis and RSI issues in my hands, and it requires at lot of tension, grip and twisting with your hands/fingers.
I was having such an enjoyable time with the book binding that I got back on the computer… oh yeah. I did a thing. So on Sunday, Jan 22nd I ordered a “Complete Bookbinding Starter Kit” from Learn Bookbinding, and several (as in five) refill kits – with the two included in the starter kit that is seven books! That is next Christmas sorted! They are really responsive to inquiries too.
The next delivery was Monday, Jan 23rd, first thing in the morning. It was the additional order from Ohh Deer (Artful’s store). This was the Upgrade kit for the Gouache and a couple of Papergang stationery boxes.
The Eden Project Stationery box contained a “Grower’s Journal” which was why I ordered it… it was a disappointment. The print was light grey on white and in a microscopic font size. I simply could not read it. However, their return policy is great – return it immediately and they’ll reimburse postage. I emailed them about why I was returning it and they immediately responded to thank me for my feedback on the journal. I sent it back by mail on Tuesday, Jan 24th.
The other stationery box, The Menagerie, was nice. It contained a calendar that you can start for any year (I’ll save for next year as I have one up for this year already.) These stationery boxes have one main item that varies, an art print, a couple of note cards, maybe something else (this one has stickers for the calendar,) writing implement(s) and a pamphlet or booklet.
The upgrade kit for the gouache box (they call it “Paint Mixing Kit”) was nice. I like the ceramic mixing tray/palette – very heavy and won’t shift if you are working the colours and loading your brush. It included two brushes – a fan and a filbert (which are different from what is included in the main box!)
The Gouache Box arrived later on Monday, Jan 23rd. Which was amusing as I didn’t get confirmation it was shipped until the following day. I am pretty impressed with this box.
The amount of paint is great – proper sized tubes, not “samples.” And the magazine is full of examples and some instruction about gouache. The brushes are synthetic which is fine – I have a massive supply of natural brushes. They do appear to be good quality (there is a no. 1 rigger, no. 3 round, no. 3 angle and a teeny tiny 5/0 round) but I won’t know until I use them! An F pencil is good for sketching before painting – lighter marks. The pad of paper is nice – a full sized art pad (many other kits seem to only include a pack of small sheets for use.) The colour chart is handy, and fits inside the box of paints (presuming I’ll leave them in the box they came it – it is a nice box!) Apparently every kit has four blank note cards – I assume to make your own custom art cards using this month’s media.
There is a link in the magazine to “tutorial videos” on Artful’s YouTube page. These are private until a couple of months after the kits are sent out. I have to say I was underwhelmed with their “instruction” video. But when it finished, YouTube populated the screen with dozens of other videos from other channels about gouache – now THOSE were helpful!
The magazine does contain instruction and information about gouache. And includes a pictorial step-by-step of the painting of the art print that is included in the box (not sure why I’d want to paint that as they sent me a print of the original? I would have preferred a step-by-step of something else.) There are articles about multiple artists and examples of their work using gouache. So the magazine is very useful.
Here are the links to the places I’ve ordered these kits and supplies from:
Learn Bookbinding – I’ll post about the kit I ordered once I receive it! I’m pretty excited to make a “proper” sized book. ** Right after I posted this I received notification my package had shipped! Yay!
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