CELEBRATING ONE YEAR OF BIBLE JOURNALING WITH BRITTNEY VAKESIA MICHAEL

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

I first noticed Brittney Michael’s work on the Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling Facebook page.  Perhaps it was her middle name – Sfarzoso – (which means ‘gorgeous’ in Italian) that captured my attention.

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I reached out to her to get to know her a bit and to learn about her past year of Bible journaling.  Here’s what she said:

“I am married we do not have children but hope to have some in the future. I am currently in graduate school for the (human services program) to obtain my Masters of Science degree. I am a nature person! I love nature I and my husband and I like to take walks through the park and trails walks. We like to ride our bikes together! I basically love anything that is nature. My favorite hobby is arts and crafts. I am very artistic and unique. I hope to some day to travel the world. I am a firm believer that God sent his Son to die on the cross for my sins I love Jesus. I also like having quiet time in my prayer closet to meditate, study and pray to my father.

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I got started Bible journaling when a church member from Center Point Church in Warner Robins, Georgia offered group classes to educate anyone who was interested. I started following her on Facebook and she had a page and I observed and asked questions. She referred me to the bible journaling group founder Darlene and thats when my world changed. I started in February 2016. Soon it will be one full year in February 2017.

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Bible journaling is a vital part of my life because it help me grow spiritually and make my walk with God more intimate. Bible journaling has helped me read the word of God with excitement and not be a “bore” like before. Bible journaling allows me to worship God in spirit and in truth. I can praise the Lord with my bible journaling and I can express myself better through in the bible (like doodling throughout the bible). Bible journaling helps me to understand what I am reading and helps me remember what I need to remember.

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One day I was reading the book of Genesis 22:14 NLT and I was currently going through somethings financially and God spoke through his word that reads Yahweh-Yireh (which means “The Lord Will Provide”). That moment mattered to me and helped in a difficult time.

Being a nature person – I loved this text from Proverbs – which uses even ants to teach me a lesson!

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I like to use Crayola colored pencils, crayola markers (only if I use it in certain sections of the bible) I haven’t used gesso yet though (gesso prep your pages so the material used won’t bleed through, Washi tape, pencils, gel pens, gelatos paints, stickers, scrapbook paper, print outs, tip ins, glue, glitter, double sided tape, tape, easer, pencil sharpener, bible tab, and highlighters.”

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Rainbows, Recycled Folk Art and a Really Cool Van…Meet Bible Journaling

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

This week the Bible Journaling of Peggy Buckley Thibodeau caught my eye.  Perhaps it was her French-Canadian last name, or maybe her title of “Recycled Folk Artist”, or perhaps it was her painted van she drives around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Or perhaps, it was her story – a testimony to twenty years of sobriety.  Whatever the draw – I knew I had to reach out and get to know her a bit.  And I thought you might enjoy listening in to her story.  Here’s what Peggy had to say:

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“Thirteen years ago, I couldn’t draw a stick figure. Then I began my folk art journey. After painting for 12 years, a friend invited me to a Bible journaling event. My creative juices flowed and my eyes opened to all that is possible. I started with basic words in colored pencils. I’ve used pencil, gelatos, and gel pens. My first watercolor page struck my artist’s soul because of the vibrant color! I’m all about color! As a kid, I had a huge rainbow painted in my bedroom.

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Bible journaling is such a joy for me. I’ve been a student of the Word for 20 years, but Bible journaling has taught me to understand Bible stories visually. This takes them from my head to my heart. Sometimes, I’ll be studying the Bible, and I’ll get a picture in my head. Then I search the internet to find ideas to make it a reality on the page.

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Other times I’ll see a photo and think, “Where can I put that in my Bible?” This catapults me into topical scripture study, until I find where it fits. I’ve learned so much this way!

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Still other times, God will ask me a question. Once He asked me “what are you saved from, Peggy?” It caused me to study! I came up with Romans 5:9 and Matthew 1:21 and it was the impetus that led to the life preserver page.

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On rare occasions, I just sit down with my Bible and a pencil.

But usually, my designs begin on the computer. I’m blessed to be proficient at Microsoft Publisher. I’ll scan my Bible page, put it into Publisher, then copy and paste images and words. Sometimes I trace onto deli paper and play with the sketch, reworking it. It only gets traced into my Bible when I’m satisfied with it. I trace in pencil, then go over it with Micron or Pitt pen. Then I splash in a little watercolor. I usually do the background in chalk pastel because my finished page is less wrinkled that way. I want the focus to be on the sketch and the words, so it’s fine if the background is softer.

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For me, the process of creating gets me “in the zone”. Often, as I’m creating a page, God will speak to me about the scriptures. It’s amazing! It’s overwhelming! It’s hard to describe! I’ll have this awareness that my hands and heart are being guided by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the finished page looks completely different from what I expected or envisioned. This may seem weird, but what else can you expect from the Holy Spirit?! Anything can happen when He’s in charge! God is so honored when we want to create in the image of His creativity.

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I wish I could say that God solves problems or addresses my struggles through Bible journaling. But my life is so wonderful and stable since God lifted the yoke of alcoholism from me 20 years ago. I know I’m born again because I’ve been changed! I was a sick and selfish person and I’ve grown so much. The Bible changed my life. I study every day and it rubbed off my rough edges and caused me to grow up. Bible journaling has been an extension of that growth, a continuation of that journey.

My favorite moment in Bible journaling so far was when I did the rainbow Jesus page. I sketched it in my Bible, then lost courage. I felt overwhelmed by the subject matter. Two weeks went by, then God told me that the world needed to hear what I had to say with that painting. As I picked up my brush to paint, God told me that Jesus is Lord of all the colors (races) on the earth. The paint flowed onto the page effortlessly. I was so surprised by how it turned out. It’s my favorite page that I’ve done – so far!

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When I was a few months into Bible journaling, I went to the Lord and asked Him to teach me and help me become a better artist. After so many years of painting one way, I didn’t know if change was possible. Yet He has done exactly that. I continue to grow and learn all the time. Of all the things I do in my life, art fills me with the most joy. It’s like a spiritual umbilical cord between me and my maker! It’s like a fire that burns in my soul. I pray everyone can experience this that desires it. All we need to do is ask. God is so generous! People call me a self-taught artist, but really I am taught by the Holy Spirit. God can teach anyone! Wherever you are in your creative journey, ask God for help. Then believe God is giving you that help, and persist. God loves us to rely on Him!”

If you’re in Myrtle Beach sometime this winter season – keep an eye out for Peggy and her van!  Peggy says she uses One Shot paints. They are expensive oil based paints used by sign painters and pinstriping –$25 per quart. She notes,  “They are sticky but they wear well.”

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Or, if like me, you are far too distant from the beach this winter – follow Peggy on her Instagram: @peggythibodeau. And you can check out her work as a recycled folk artist here:  www.peggyart.com.

Best Colored Pencils for Bible Journaling

WordPress gives me a summary of searches that lead viewers to my blog.  A frequent search is “Best Colored Pencils for Bible Journaling.”  Below is a quick list of my favorites…

PrismaColor Premier Colored Pencils–Smooth and bright on Bible paper.

Faber Castell Polychromos–Rich, vibrant color that goes on smooth.  The pencils hold a tip well for detail work.

Crayola Color Escapes–New pencils from Crayola for grown-ups:  bright, vibrant color that blends well on Bible paper.

Koh-i-Noor Polycolor–Creamy, but not too soft, colored pencils with rich, vibrant color.

Here’s the longer answer:

There’s plenty of room for personal preference in the world of colored pencils, so I’ll do my best to just describe the different pencils.  Colored pencils, in general, lay down color nicely and they don’t bleed, so they are a great choice for Bible Journaling regardless of brand.  I hope you can easily find ones that suit your needs.  For this post, I decided to focus simply on permanent colored pencils.  (Dare I say, I’ll save watercolor pencils for another day?!?)  I also focused on how the colored pencils perform on thin Bible paper, which is kind of a niche use.

Colored pencils are basically wooden barrels filled with leads made of pigments mixed with water, an extender like clay, and a binder, either wax or oil (and some special ingredients).  It’s kind of mind-boggling to think of the effort that goes into putting together each box of 72 different colors:  growing the trees, cutting the wood for the barrels, mixing the materials for the colored leads and preparing them for the barrels, assembling the pencils, painting and stamping each finished pencil, and making sure they each get into the right box.

Colored pencils range in price from a few dollars to over $100.  What differentiates the more expensive options?  The premium pencils are more richly pigmented, have nicely crafted cedar barrels, advertise their environmentally friendly practices, sharpen nicely, don’t break as easily, blend better, have thicker leads and a nicer finish, last longer, have colors that don’t fade in sunlight, and include a storage case.  In many cases, they are also made where labor costs are higher like England, Germany, or Switzerland.  (As a side note, I couldn’t find any colored pencils made in the United States.)  Also, the oil-based pencils are generally more expensive than the wax-based pencils.

Most pencil manufacturers have several lines of colored pencils, which can get a little confusing.  In general, I selected the line (or lines) with the best overall reviews.

Just based on my observations, there are three main types of colored pencils.

Hard and waxy:  These tend to have softer colors, hold a point well, and are especially good for more detailed pictures.

  1. Derwent Artist Pencils
  2. Staedtler Noris Club Colored Pencils
  3. Crayola
  4. Crayola Color Escapes (A personal favorite!)
  5. Tombow
  6. Sargeant
  7. Artist Loft
  8. Cra-Z-Art

Soft and waxy:  These have brighter colors, provide smooth coverage, and need frequent sharpening.

  1. PrismaColor Premier Colored Pencils (A personal favorite!)
  2. Staedler Ergosoft
  3. Ohuhu

Oil-based:  These have rich, bold colors and show a little more texture.  Some oil-based pencils hold a point better than others.

  1. Faber Castell Polychromos  (A personal favorite)
  2. Caran D’ache Pablo
  3. Koh-i-Noor Polycolor  (A personal favorite)
  4. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
  5. Imaginesty

Here’s a photo with all of the pencils listed above and how they blend on Bible paper.  I was a little surprised to discover that all the colored pencils blended to create green from blue and yellow relatively easy:

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From here, I’ll just plunge into what I’ve discovered about the different types of colored pencils.  I commented on the following qualities:

  • Blending
  • Range from light to dark
  • Ease of coverage
  • Details
  • Vibrancy
  • Bliss factor (my totally subjective response.)
  • Ease of sharpening

I’ll start with the hard and waxy pencils.

Derwent Artist Pencils

Derwent Artist Pencils are made by the Cumberland Pencil company, which has the distinction of being located near Barrowdale, England where graphite was first discovered by shepherds, who hand carved the graphite and wrapped them in sheepskin to make the first pencils.  The first pencil factory was established in Keswick in 1832.  In 2008, the Cumberland Valley Pencil Company built a new facility in nearby Lillyhall.  The company was given the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for developing a unique, solvent free paint application system, improving air quality.  Derwent Artist pencils were used to illustrate the classic animated film: “The Snowman”.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Great
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent, when sharpened to a long point
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Softer, pretty colors
  • Bliss factor: Deeply satisfying to use.
  • Ease of sharpening: Awesome!  They are thick and may not fit in all pencil sharpeners.

When I first started using the artist pencils, I was somewhat disappointed.  I had grown accustomed to the creamy Faber Castels and the soft PrismaColors.  Derwent Artist pencils are hard!  But I really fell in love with the pencils after I started sharpening them with an electric pencil to a long, sharp point.  The pencil lead on the Artist Pencils is noticeably thicker than any other pencil.  The sharp tip is wonderful for detail work and the long side shades quickly.  These pencils had a learning curve for me, but they’ve become a favorite!!!  I love how easy it is to achieve subtle blended effects.  The color lays on the Bible pages like the finish on fine China.

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I did not hesitate to choose these pencils for the first page of my Inspire Bible

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Staedtler Noris Club Colored Pencils

Staedtler also lays claim to a very long history of pencil making.  Friedrich Staedtler, an ancestor to the company’s founder, was making pencils in 1662 in Nuremburg, Germany.  Staedtler is credited with combining the two trades of lead cutting and carpentry into pencil making.  In 1834, one year before the official founding of the company, Johann Sebastian Staedtler mixed coloured pigments with binding agents and placed a protective wooden casing around the lead to make some of the first colored pencils.

Staedtler has a collection called Noris Club that is recommend by Johanna Basford for coloring in the Secret Garden books.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Good
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Pretty soft colors
  • Bliss factor: Surprisingly pleasant experience
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed coloring with these pencils in the Inspire Bible. The colors are not exceptionally vivid, but they are pretty.  The pencils easily laid down color on the smooth Bible pages.  The pencils held their tip well, which made it easy to color the small detailed picture.  The pencil lead is specially treated to give it more strength.

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Crayola

Crayola was acquired by Hallmark in 1984.  I grew up in Kansas City, corporate headquarters for Hallmark.  My favorite childhood destination was Kaleidoscope, a wonderful place where kids could make art projects with leftover materials from Hallmark’s card-making materials and Crayola products.  What made it even better:  my grandmother was a regular volunteer.  As I got older, she would take me along as a volunteer.  So many good memories!

Crayola has a long stand-alone history in Pennsylvania, where I live now.  I have yet to visit the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA, but would love to do so!

In 1885, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith formed a partnership called Binney & Smith.  One of their first products included red oxide pigment used for barn paint.  They also developed carbon back from natural gas deposits found in PA.  In 1900, the company began making slate pencils in Easton, PA.  They introduced the first dustless school chalk in 1902.  And in 1903, the company produced the first box of eight Crayola crayons.  The Crayola name was coined by Edwin Binney’s wife Alice:  “Craie” is the French world for chalk and “ola” comes from “oleaginous.”  In 1958, my personal favorite box of 64 crayons was introduced.  Crayola markers came along in 1978.

(As an aside, Dayspring was acquired by Hallmark in 1999.  It seems clear to my why Illustrated Faith found a good fit at Dayspring by bringing creativity and faith together!)

For the kind of coloring that’s done in the Inspire Bible (small, simple illustrations), Crayola colored pencils are a perfectly fine choice.  They have bright colors, hold a point well for detail work, and provide smooth coverage.  They sharpen nicely without breaking the lead or splitting the barrel.  The pencils are made in Brazil with wood from wood grown specifically for gathering wood.

  • Blending: ok
  • Range from light to dark: good
  • Ease of coverage: Great
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: great
  • Bliss factor: pleased
  • Ease of Sharpening: No problems

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I think Crayola red is such a distinctive red.  It’s fun to know that Binney & Smith’s first product was for red barn paint.  I wonder if it was a similar color?

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When I was doing my review of Crayola products for Bible Journaling, I thought to myself:  I would love pencils that are blendable like Prismacolors, vivid like the FaberCastell Polychromos, but in the cheery palate of a box of 64 Crayola crayons.

As I was working on this post, I received an e-mail from Crayola about new colored pencils for moms!  This post would have to wait until they arrived!  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but when these pencils arrived my eyes teared up as I opened the box of pencils.  I feel like I wished them into existence!  The color is bright, vivid, cheery, and familiar!  If you’ve ever had a box of Crayola crayons, you will know instinctively how these colors play together.  And they are high-performance enough for the kind of coloring that I do.  Like the Derwent pencils, I find that these pencils have better coverage with a very sharp point, but that I prefer to hand sharpen them since they are not as thick.   I love all the pinks, purples, and greens!  And the silver and gold!  They are just what I wanted!  (The pencils are made in Vietnam.)  Especially for the price (I paid about $25), these pencils can’t be beat.  These were the last colored pencils I tried.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent (especially with a sharp point)
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor:  Pure Bliss!  A good balance of everything I want in a colored pencil.
  • Ease of Sharpening:  I had trouble with my “bright green”, but the rest of the pencils have given me no trouble.

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The pages on the left is the first page that I colored with these pencils.  I used a white Uniball pen to add dots to the flower.  As I look at the page now it reminds me of a a page colored with crayons, and I think its because I was immediately drawn to colors I recognized from my box of crayons.  I’ve tried to color with crayons in my Bible and they just don’t work as well as in the pictures below.  These colors also blend beautifully in a way that crayons don’t.  For me, these pencils totally bring back the joy of coloring.

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I couldn’t stop playing with these colored pencils.  This page from my Johanna’s Christmas coloring book shows the range of colors a bit better….

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Tombow Irojiten Colored Pencils

These colored pencils turn everything on their head for me.  I’ve been searching for rich, vivid color, and along comes a set of pencils where fully a third of the colors in the palate are light tints or shades.  In the hands of the right artist, these pencils could create some beautiful, ethereal effects.  They would be perfect for coloring books featuring Easter eggs or maybe a whimsical book about fairies.  The pencils themselves are so pretty. The colors blend beautifully and the pencils have the most elegant finish that’s almost glossy.  The set includes vivid colors I love, including some awesome fluorescent colors.  I don’t yet know how to colors like eggshell or sallow.

Irojiten means “color encylopeida” and the pencils come in these adorable little boxes, each box contains three book-shaped boxes that are little stories of color.  I can see how the colors within each box harmonize beautifully together.  Ultimately, I made myself a color sheet so I would know which colors play nicely together, and I put the pencils in a box for easier access.

Tombow is a Japenese company that has been making pencils in Japan since 1913 with production facilities in Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Tombow also makes my favorite brush markers.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent for the darker colors
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent for the more vibrant colors
  • Bliss factor: Inspiring
  • Ease of Sharpening: No problems

The pencils are encouraging me to think of some different color possibilities.

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In the left hand picture, I used colors from one story book.  On the right hand picture, I just picked the colors I wanted.

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Sargent Art Colored Pencils

Sargent is a big distributor of art materials to the educational market with a 75+ year history.  They sell just about everything for art classes, including colored pencils.  Since they sell art supplies for end users likely to use them in unpredictable ways, safety is a priority and a reputational necessity!  The company was named after the famous painter John Singer Sargent and founded in Hazelton, PA.  In 2006, Sargent Art was acquired by Pidilite, a company based in Mumbai, India.  Sargent Colored pencils are widely available.  (I found a box of them at WalMart.)  The package says they are made in Thailand.  The pencils live up to the description on the box:  they blend nicely, lay down color smoothly, and they have thick strong leads.  The pencils are hard and waxy; The colors are pretty but softer.  The 50-piece set includes a gold and silver.

  • Blending: Good
  • Range from light to dark: good
  • Ease of coverage: smooth
  • Details: good
  • Vibrancy: pretty, soft colors
  • Bliss factor: Pleasantly surprised
  • Ease of Sharpening: No problems

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Artist Loft Colored Pencils

I bought a 48-piece set of colored pencils at Michael’s by their Artist Loft brand.  The pencils are made in Thailand and that’s about all I know about their backstory.  The set has many pretty colors and includes a gold and silver.  They are remarkably similar to the Sargent pencils, but they are a bit thinner and not quite as smooth.

  • Blending: good
  • Range from light to dark: good
  • Ease of coverage: sometimes I had to go over and over the same area
  • Details: good
  • Vibrancy: pretty, soft colors
  • Bliss factor: just happy because they are colored pencils
  • Ease of Sharpening: Just one pencil so far has succumbed to wobbly lead issues.

These are an ok choice, but the pencils were not a perfect match for Bible paper.  The lead was hard and a little reluctant to lay down color.  I think the finished product looks like it was not as bright as some of the other colored pencils I’ve tried.  (I had better luck with these pencils in The Secret Garden coloring book, which has slightly more textured pages.)

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Cra-Z-Art

Color pencil preference is definitely a personal matter, even among student grade pencils.  My son prefers Crayola, but the little boy next door always chooses Cra-Z-Art.  I know that he loves to color, so I gave them a try.  I found that these pencils suffered more from wobbly lead problems than other pencils.  When I tried to sharpen them to a fine point and color detailed areas, the tip kept breaking on me.  I also had a strange problem with these:  As I colored, they lifted up some of the dark grey ink from the Bible pages.  The colors were still bright and cheery and I was still reasonably happy with the final picture.

  • Blending: good
  • Range from light to dark: good
  • Ease of coverage: good
  • Details: Weak, my tip kept breaking on the fine lines
  • Vibrancy: bright and cheery colors
  • Bliss factor:
  • Ease of sharpening: breaks easier than most

Cra-Z-Art is based in Randolf, NJ, and was founded by Larry Rosen in 2008.  I was surprised to read that the company is less than 10 years old since their products are ubiquitous.  My daughter was coloring with Cra-Z-Art markers at Karate last night, and I can’t even tell you how we ended up with a set of Cra-Z-Art pencils.  Larry Rosen is the grandson of Isidor Rosen, founder of Rosebud Art Company, which was eventually renamed Rose Art.  (Rose Art was acquired by Mega Blocks in 2005; the company was renamed Mega Brands America.  Mega Brands was acquired by Mattel in 2014.  I haven’t tried their colored pencils.)

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Moving onto soft and waxy pencils…

Prismacolor Premier

Prismacolor pencils have been made since 1938.  They were first made by the Eagle Pencil company, which was founded by Bavarian immigrant Daniel Berolzheimer in 1856 in New York City.  In 1969, the company changed its name to Berol.  In 1995, Newell Company acquired Berol and folded it into the Stanford division.  (Newell owns many other brands including Sharpie, PaperMate, and Uni-Ball).  Prismacolor Premier pencils are made of pigment, clay, stearites, hot wax, and some secret ingredients.  The lead is encased in California cedar, harvested on tree farms grown for their pencils.  They are made in Mexico.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: A beautiful marriage of pencil to paper!
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems, but must sharpen frequently

Prismacolor Premier pencils are the ones that I’ve seen most often recommend for Bible journaling.  I’ve read some complaints about breakage, but personally, I have not had this problem.

I feel like these pencils are in a category of their own.  The color glides on so smoothly and is richly pigmented, making them a good substitute for markers.  The colors blend beautifully.  Their soft lead works really well on thin, smooth Bible pages.  They come in a huge range of colors.  You definitely can’t go wrong with a set of these.

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Ohuhu 72-colored Pencils

These pencils caught my eye because they are relatively inexpensive and received excellent reviews on Amazon.com.  They are made in Shanghai by Marco, a brand owned by Axus Stationery Shanghai Co Ltd, a company that specializes in pencils and art supplies that was founded in 2003.  My pencil box was labeled Ohuhu, but the pencils are labeled Raffine Color Marco, which is a little confusing.  The pencils came in a cardboard tube and have slightly thinner pencil cores than other brands and are made in China (all of which helps explain the lower costs).  I’ve been storing them in a mason jar for easy access.  The overall experience of using them is similar to PrismaColor Premeirs.  They have bright colors that blend well and glide onto the paper.

  • Blending: Good
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: I can see why these got such good reviews
  • Ease of Sharpening: No problems

I think these are a great choice for Bible Journaling and a good value.

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Steadtler Ergosoft

The Steadtler Ergosoft are made in Germany and have a triangular casing.  It seems strange to me that Staedtler pencils don’t come in larger sets.  The lead is very soft and bright.  These are my 9-year-old son’s favorite colored pencils.

  • Blending: Good
  • Range from light to dark: Good, becomes fully saturated quickly
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Good
  • Vibrancy: excellent
  • Bliss factor: Pleased with the pencils, but would like more colors!
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

I really enjoyed the bright and vivid colors.  The pencils felt nice in my hand.

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And finally oil-based pencils…

Faber-Castell Polychromos

Faber-Castell lays claim to being the oldest manufacturer of pencils in the world and also the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-cased pencils.  Headquartered in Stein, Germany, the company was founded in 1761 by Kaspar Faber and has been in the Faber family for eight generations.  The Polychromos Pencils, which were introduced in 1908, are still made in Germany.  The oil pastel pencil lead is made from color pigments, kaolin, and a binding agent.  The lead is smudge-proof and water resistant.  It is encased in cedar wood sourced from sustainable forests.   The pencil is painted with environmentally friendly water-based paints.  Each pencil is a work of art!

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: Can a colored pencil get any better?
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

I love the vibrant colors, the ease of blending, and how easy it is to get a range of values from light to dark with each pencil.  The pencils hold a sharp point, which makes them nice for detail work and yet the lead is soft enough to provide easy coverage.  The 72-set of pencils comes in a nice metal case with sturdy plastic trays.  After reading many reviews, this was the first colored pencil set I bought and still my favorite.

These pencils hold up well over time, too.  Over the past two years, these pencils have been my most used set and they still look relatively new.  Not one pencil has been consumed by sharpening troubles.

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Koh-i-Noor Polycolor

Koh-i-Noor has been making pencils since 1790.  It was founded in Vienna by Josef Hardtmuth, who claims to be the inventor of the modern graphite pencils.  Koh-i-noor pencils are made with rich, top quality pigment.  The pencils are made with special oils and other binders so that the pencils are smooth and creamy and require very little pressure to create dense, even strokes.  The pencils are encased in California Cedar.  They are made in the Czech Republic.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: Dreamy
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

The first moment I put the pencil to the paper, I loved these creamy, bright pencils.  Honestly, these pencils are everything I like in a colored pencil.  They blend beautifully, they require very little pressure for coloring, and the colors are vibrant.  Personally, I also love the color range that comes with the 72 set:  lots of greens, blues, purples, yellows and pinks, not so many browns and greys.  The set also includes a nice metallic silver and gold!  These pencils show color lines, but personally I like the textured effect and they can be burnished out if desired.  The Koh-i-Noor tricolor pencils are awesome, too.  My kids love them!

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Caran D’ache Pablos

Caran d’Ache was founded in 1915 in Geneva, Switzerland to make graphite and colored pencils.  It diversified to include wax oil pastels, mechanical pencils, and ballpoint pens.  The company has several color pencil lines, many of which are water-soluble.  When I was young, my mother bought me a set of Caran d’Ache pencils and coloring book for a long train ride.  I don’t recall, which line of pencils it was, but I remember the gold letters that read “Swiss made”.  The pencil set brought me hours of enjoyment and an appreciation for how great colored pencils can be!  The Pablo pencils are water resistant and oil-based.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Great, but a little uneven on Bible paper
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: A joy to use
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

These pencils have exceptional lightfastness and vivid colors.  It is easy to shade, mix, and layer the velvety colors.  The pencils come in a nice metal case and even the inside tray is metal.  The pencils are made in Switzerland with eco-friendly standards using premium California cedar wood.  They are dreamy and a little addictive.  I found that it was a bit of a challenge to achieve even color on the Bible paper, but the colors are vivid and the pencils are a joy to use.

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LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor

LYRA was founded by Johann Froescheis in 1806 in Nuremberg.  It is a leading brand in the school market in Germany with a strong presence in Austria, the Scandinavian countries, and Eastern Europe.  It does not have a big brand presence in the US.  In 2008, it was acquired by FILA, a manufacturer of school and art supplies based in Milan, Italy.  (As an aside, in 2005 FILA acquired the Dixon Ticonderoga Company founded in 1795, the American maker of pencils and art supplies including the Prang brand.)

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Poor, the tip does not hold well
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: Generally pleased
  • Ease of Sharpening: I found the wooden barrel a bit brittle and I had some breakage.

I want to love these pencils because the oil-based colors are lovely and bright, but I found the pencil lead to be a little too soft for my personal taste.  I found that color went where I didn’t expect it to go as I lost my point.  I had some trouble sharpening these pencils:  The lead was softer and the wood barrel was harder than with other pencils.  Out of 72 pencils, I had two pencils break as I sharpened and one where the wood barrel split, which isn’t terrible, but it’s still frustrating when that happens.  The set comes with a wonderful selection of greens and two blender pencils.  The smooth pencil lead is a good match for thin Bible paper.

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Imaginesty Colored Pencils

These pencils caught my eye because they are oil-based, but at a much lower cost than most other oil-based pencils.  The box promised that they had a smooth and creamy texture, high quality pigments, and strong leads.  The pencils did not live up to their promises:  The pencil lead was hard, the colors faded, and my pencils kept breaking.  If you are willing to accept that they are lower quality pencils, they are still fun to use, mostly because the set includes a great mix of pinks and purples.  There’s no accounting for taste:  My four-year-old daughter loves these pencils, so they won’t go to waste.  I could not find too much about the company.

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Here’s a few tips for colored pencils:

  • Handle colored pencils gently.  Treat them as if they are made of glass!  The lead inside the pencil can break inside the casing, which would lead to bad pencil sharpening experiences and wobbly lead!
  • You can use either a hand-held or electric pencil sharpener.  I generally prefer the handheld pencil sharpeners.  If you use a handheld pencil sharpener, hold the pencil steady and twist the pencil sharpener around the pencil.
  • Keep a sharp point.  You won’t hurt the Bible paper and it will give you better color coverage.  This is especially true for the hard and waxy pencils.  It’s a little counter-intuitive, but a sharp point is easier on Bible paper because you will instinctively use less pressure.
  • I generally like to build up color in layers, coloring lightly and then adding more color on top of the first.  This lets me have more control.  If it turns out I am not happy with the color, the I just add another color on top for a blended look.
  • I like to keep a sheet of plain paper nearby so that I can test out color combinations before working in my Bible.
  • There’s lots of ways to store colored pencils.  The pencils that get used most often tend to be the ones I store in mason jars on top of the china cabinet.  My best pencils I keep in their original casing.  Sometimes I use a pencil box, and a special pencil carrier works well for a large set.

I came across this quote while studying colored pencils:

“If a person wants to accomplish something, he has to have the wherewithal to unleash his innate creative potential.”-Baron Lothar von Faber 1869

I hope finding the right colored pencils for you will you unleash your creative potential!!!

Our Father

Towards the end of October, the pastor at my church encouraged us to turn Facebook into Gracebook.  After a powerful sermon, we all watched Miss Clara’s prayer on a big screen and we prayed for our church, our community, our nation, and the world.

I thought one way I could respond to the sermon was to journal my way through this powerful prayer.

Doing so took me through the Presidential debates, the election, the aftermath, and Veteran’s day.  I felt grateful for God’s love for the world on Thanksgiving and I moved gracefully into the Spirit of Advent.  I felt the experience brought me healing by reminding me who God is and how we are called to be His church in the world.  I pray that it brings you healing, too!

Here’s the whole prayer:

You’ve done it again, Lord.  You’ve done it again.

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You are good..

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You are  mighty…(I found quite a few verses for this line!  I needed the reminder!!!)

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You are merciful…

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And you keep taking care of me…

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when I don’t deserve it…

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Praise You, Jesus!  You are Lord…

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Raise up more that will call upon Your name…

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Raise up those that love You, and seek You, and trust you…

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Raise ’em up, Lord!  Raise ’em up!

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Lord, we need a generation of believers who are not ashamed of the gospel!

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We need an army of believers, Lord, that hate to be lukewarm, and will stand on Your Word above all else!

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that hate to be lukewarm…

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and will stand on Your Word above all else!

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Raise ’em up, Lord!  Raise ’em up!  I pray for unity among those that love You..

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I pray that You open their eyes

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so that the can see Your truth, Lord.

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I pray for Your hand of protection and guidance…

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Raise up a generation, Lord, that will take light into this world…

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that will not compromise when under pressure…

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That will not cower, Lord…

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when others fall away…

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Raise ’em up, Lord that they will proclaim that there is salvation in the name of Jesus Christ!

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Raise up warriors, Lord, who will fight on their knees..

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who will worship you with their whole hearts, Lord!

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Lord, call us to battle…

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that we may proclaim King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!

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I pray these things will all my heart.  Raise ’em up, Lord!  Raise ’em up!

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I pray these things in the powerful name of Jesus, who taught us to pray and we are bold to do so…

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AMEN!

I Pray These Things with All My Heart

I am nearing the end of Miss Clara’s prayer.  This is the first time that I’ve ever challenged myself to journal in my Bible on a a daily basis.  I’ve been doing so right before bed, and for the first the first time in months, I’ve been sleeping well.  I don’t know if there’s a correlation or its just a coincidence, but it’s been at least 30 days of no insomnia, and I’ll take it!!!

It seems a little funny to me that I spent so much time with the prayer of a fictional character from a popular movie, but someone wrote the prayer and whoever wrote it must have known the Bible so well that the language of the Bible just flowed naturally, as if it were simply part of the author’s vocabulary.  It was so easy to pick a verse for every line.

Searching for the phrase:  “All My Heart” took me to Psalm 111.  This short Psalm covered so much of what I’ve discovered about God as a result of journaling through this prayer.  God does great works and its a delight to study them.  His work is full of spendor and majesty.  God is righteous, gracious, and merciful.  He cares for us and keeps His promises.  The precepts taught through the Bible are trustworthy.  God alone is our redeemer.  The fear of the Lord gives us wisdom and putting faith into practice gives us a good understanding.  God’s praise endures forever!!!

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That We May Proclaim King of Kings and Lord of Lords

As I was putting my daughter to bed tonight, I was thinking about God as King of Kings.  I was thinking about believers around the world and how hearts are changed when they encounter God, how God arouses within us a desire to bring glory to Him.  It’s the most incredible, amazing power, especially because it depends upon our free response to it.  It’s never coercive, but inviting of our participation because it is such a joy to have Jesus in our heart, and when we experience this, we know we want to enjoy His loving presence forever.  Jesus says not a sparrow falls from the sky without God knowing and God embraces all of us, leading us all to be saints for his kingdom.  What a blessing!

All day long, I’ve had the song “He Reigns” stuck in my head.  I just watched the video and the images of believers around the world echoed my thoughts.

As I continue through Miss Clara’s prayer, I’ll join my voice to the loud Halleluiah chorus:  King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!  He Reigns!!!

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Call Us to Battle

I have a confession.  After praying for worship in my last post, I managed to oversleep this morning.  Personally, I didn’t want to miss the first Sunday of Advent, especially after my prayers last night, so I bolted out of bed, got dressed, and went to church.  I didn’t worry about getting the kids ready; they stayed home with Dad.  When I came home, I was amused to find my husband and my daughter engaged in a Shopkins battle.  (If you don’t know what Shopkins are, they are tiny little toys that look like groceries with faces.  They are cute.)  My husband’s army of Shopkins was lined up on the kitchen table and my daughters was on the piano bench.

It was just a reminder to me that as humans, we are drawn to battle.  I wonder if the movie “The War Room” would have had the same draw if it were called “The Prayer Closet.”?

The guest preacher today talked about Peter and said that Peter was everything that’s right about Christians and everything that’s wrong about us rolled up in one.  I thought about when the soldier came to get Jesus and Peter cut off his ear to protect Jesus.  Then Jesus healed the soldier.  I found myself wondering:  What does it mean to go to battle for someone who loves our human foes as much as he loves us?

First, it means that we must remember who the real enemy:  the thief who would come to steal and destroy.  Second, it means that we must go into battle with the spirit of Advent.  Our preacher told us today that Advent is the time to remember love wins, peace reigns, and God is king.

There’s no better way to go battle with our real foe than with the joy, the love of Jesus, and the peace that passes understanding deep in our heart.  And if the devil doesn’t like it, he can sit on a tack!!!

I picked out the verse:  But the Lord is faithful.  He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.   Then I discovered that I already made this page all about peace.  I decided to live with this irony:  We battle the devil by being at peace with ourselves and one another.

God, I pray that as Christians we can take our very human tendency to turn small things into battles and apply the same energy to living lives of peace, love, and joy.  Make it our first instinct at times of conflict to turn to prayer.  And may the devil go sit on a tack!!!  Amen!

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Who Will Worship You with Their Whole Hearts, Lord

This is one of the few lines from Miss Clara’s prayer that didn’t bring a verse to mind immediately.  Searching for the phrase “whole heart” brought me to Jeremiah:  “I will give them a heart to know that I am the the Lord and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”

The verse appears in a story about good and bad figs, which made me think about Jesus cursing the fig tree (a story that’s always confused me).

I wish I had some deep thoughts to share about figs, but I don’t.  I need to do more research!  But I found a cute picture of a basket of figs.

Here’s the honest truth about the tip-in, too:  I finished dinner before everyone else and there were art supplies on the table! It just sort of happened.

As I look at this page and wonder if it all works together or not, I pray that God is preparing hearts for worship around the world and that as we enter the season of Advent, Christians will bear the fruits of hope, peace, joy, and love.  Wishing you a beautiful worship experience!!!

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Warriors, Who Will Fight on the Knees

I started this journey through Miss Clara’s prayer in late October after my pastor encouraged us all to be praying for our country as a response to the anxiety caused by this year’s presidential election.  I prayed this prayer right through the election and I am still praying it in the aftermath.  It’s been quite a ride!

It feels to me like things are maybe beginning to settle into a new normal and that life is moving on, especially as the holidays bring us into a familiar state of mind.  I keep praying for healing and God’s blessing for the country.

I liked this whole page from James as it relates to the idea of fighting on our knees.  I love the encouragement to be patient as the farmers and the reminder not to grumble against one other.  Part of the battle for a prayer warrior is an inward one, to be as good as we can be for the glory of God:  “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  Keep praying and being the best version of you!

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There Is Salvation in the Name of Jesus Christ

After a blessed day with family and friends, I had a few moments of quiet tonight to continue on my journey through Miss Clara’s prayer at the end of the movie “War Room.”  This is the first time I’ve challenged myself to do something in my Bible every day.  I’m nearing the end of this prayer.  Maybe five more posts to go.

Feeling grateful tonight for many blessings, and especially the knowledge that God loves this world of ours and all of us who live here.  I’m looking forward to Christmas and celebrating God’s best gift of all, his Son!

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