Saturday, August 3, 2019

Amsterdam Symposium Swag!

Amsterdam symposium swag!

I’m back from two (mostly) wonderful weeks in the Netherlands, including attendance at the 10th international Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam. My intention was to begin blogging about my travels first, but jetlag is a formidable foe, and writing coherent reflections would be better left to another day.

Exciting swag and art materials, however, require less coherence, so I’ll start there instead. Each year the symposium sponsorship team outdoes itself in procuring sponsors for the goodie bags, and this year’s haul was the best I’ve seen. Our bright red bag contained many full-size tubes of paints, several sketchbooks, a complete set of Faber Castell pens, and many other pens, pencils, markers, waterbrushes and ink from Derwent, Caran d’Ache, Daniel Smith, Royal Talens and other well-known international brands and smaller local companies. I’m looking forward to trying all the products that are new to me. Many thanks to all the sponsors for spoiling us yet again! (I apologize for the dimly lit photo taken on my apartment bed. To fit all the swag into my suitcase, I knew I would have to leave the packaging materials behind, so I had to take the photo in Amsterdam before I disassembled everything.)

Although I appreciate all the gifts, the one item in the bag that thrilled me most is, of course, the Cretacolor pencil tin emblazoned with the Amsterdam symposium logo! It’s the sixth such box I’m adding to my collection, which I cherish.
My beloved symposium logo pencil tin collection.

Speaking of the symposium logo, the only purchase I made from the vendor show this year is a tiny, wood watercolor palette handmade by Charlie’s Urban Sketch Factory. I had seen and admired Charlie’s beautiful products last year but resisted because I haven’t been using watercolors much lately. This year, however, he added a new product line that was irresistible: Various configurations of his palette designs sporting the Amsterdam logo! The one I chose has space for six paints and two mixing areas in the hinged lid. A tiny magnet keeps the box closed. I love the slender design that enables me to slide it into a bag slot vertically like a pen or pencil. I’m still not using watercolors much, but I might again someday. In the meantime, the box is a beautiful keepsake of the symposium. (I’m glad I grabbed it on the vendor show’s first day – he sold out of this design quickly.)
Tiny watercolor palette handmade by Charlie's Urban Sketch Factory

Space for six paint colors and two mixing trays (I put in
one dot of Ultramarine to get started; I'll eventually
fill the others)
Sturdy hinges

And speaking of the vendor show, it was a great opportunity to chat with reps of some of my favorite products and play with samples they provided. We were told by the symposium team that the sponsors and other vendors were eager to hear our feedback and opinions (many of which I have and am willing to share) about their products.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I’ve tried many, many sharpeners and extenders to find ones that can accommodate my favorite Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils, which have a slightly larger barrel than standard pencils. After much trial, error and expense, I’m currently using a Mobius + Ruppert sharpener and a Derwent pencil extender. Why, I’ve often wondered, doesn’t Caran d’Ache make a sharpener and an extender to fit their irregularly sized Museum Aquarelle and Luminance pencils?
Caran d'Ache pencil in competitor
Derwent's extender
I marched up to the Caran d’Ache reps to ask this very question. Opening my bag to show them all the Museum Aquarelles I use regularly, I explained how many sharpeners and extenders I have had to try and showed my current favorites. I was perfectly nice about it – really, I was! – but one of the reps visibly winced with chagrin when I pulled out the extender displaying a prominent Derwent (a prime competitor) logo. They admitted that Caran d’Ache doesn’t currently offer products specifically made to fit their larger pencils. (If Caran d’Ache comes out with a sharpener and extender for Museum pencils, remember – you heard it here first. 😉)


  1. What a collection - all that lovely Caran D'Ache stuff. And you were right to give the rep the feedback - Derwent don't miss out when it comes to accessories and night should CdA. And I too would have grabbed the lovely wooden mixing box.

    1. Let's see if Cd'A takes my feedback to heart! ;-)


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