Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Alfred Denny Museum: a Sketcher's Paradise!

Last month, Sheffield University began allowing the public limited access to a secret, little, teaching museum, which was created in 1905 for the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences: the Alfred Denny Museum.

It's just one room, but full of wonderfully traditional, wooden-framed display cases and slender, wooden drawers, all of which are crammed with skeletons, taxidermy and odd things floating in jars. Sketching heaven. Unfortunately, we were only allowed 1 hour, and that included the very interesting 20 minute talk by a 3rd year student, about the acquisition of some of the stranger creatures. 

I whizzed round with my sketchbook and captured specimens as they caught my eye. I was using  my brand new Sailor pen for the first time: 

It's designed for Japanese calligraphy, but it is just the ticket for on-location sketching as, though it's a fountain pen, it allows for extreme variations in line width, and glides really smoothly across the page, because of its curiously bent nib: 

The sketch below is only about a 3rd of the massive python skeleton mounted on the wall in the university foyer:

Some interesting news: the museum's curator likes the sound of SketchCrawling and it looks like we might get back in soon, for a longer session this time, just for sketchers. Can't wait!!

The other nice thing, was that I got 2 new recruits to SketchCrawl North while I was drawing. That's what I love about sketching in public: people just come up and chat, so you make all sorts of new connections. 


Karien Naude said...


Is your ink waterproof?

Lynne the Pencil said...

Yes, sort of. I have been trying to find a waterproof ink that works in a fountain pen. The one I am using here is Noodlers, which is only waterproof on certain papers. I have tried an acrylic ink that said it was okay in a fountain pen, but the flow wasn't good. The Noodlers flows beautifully.

Susan said...

Hi Lynne, thanks for sharing your pen..ive just oredred one from Andy :)
In the 90s i bought a Rotring Artpen (Fine), it was great for sketching too..the ink was really nice, black and could wet your finger and rub it to make it wash. I still have it, but no ink :(
I was looking for Rotring ink on Amazon UK, but read your blog and decided to try the Sailor instead.
Cheers Susan (australia).

Lynne the Pencil said...

Hi Susan - I have an Artpen too. It is very different to the Sailor, as the line width is more constant. I fancied being able to get really thick and thin marks, like I can with a graphite stick. You can buy a converter by the way, so you can load any ink into the Artpen, rather than having to find the right cartridges. Have fun!

John Roberts said...

Hello Lynne
Just come across this thread and thought I'd mention that Platinum Carbon Ink ( works brilliantly in fountain pens. Much more robust that Noodlers, flows beautifully and doesn't
seem to clog the pen up if left unused for long periods!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Now that is very useful information John - thank you! Is it waterproof? Noodlers is hard to get and not always waterproof (it depends on the paper as it's a chemical reaction).

Sue Eves said...

Hi Lynne - followed my nose and found this post - I was looking for a waterproof ink pen for out and about sketching and enquired about it at the time - fountain pens and waterproof ink do not go together because of the nature of these pens. I still sketch with my trusty Lamy and use dip pen and indian ink for permanent work

Lynne the Pencil said...

The Noodlers ink certainly doesn't do any harm to fountain pens, even if it's not always 100% waterproof. I love a dip pen, but I had a horribly accident with a bottle of Indian ink when out sketching (exit one pair of trousers and one sandal!)

Zoe, ontheroad said...

Lynne, the Carbon Ink is probably better than the Noodlers & I think available in the UK. You might check Nina Johansson's blog

However, it must be flushed out of the pen unless in continual use.

Also I was wondering how you liked the German calligraphy pen you mentioned in one of your posts (a gift for/from one of the Urban Sketcher workshops).

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks for the ink tip Zoe. Not sure if it would work for me though, as I swap back and forth between media so regularly that the pen might sit for a while and so get blocked.

I did do a brief write-up of the new pen at the end of an earlier post:

It's a very good pen, but I don't like it as much as my Sailor, as the line variation is too subtle for me.