Review: Mermaid Markers
In yesterday's post, I very quickly discussed my use of Jane Davenport's Mermaid Markers, an art supply that debuted with her 2016 collection. This collection is exclusive to the craft store Micheal's and Jane Davenport's website. It features arts and crafts supplies, such as watercolors, paint pens, colored pencils, and acrylic paints, as well as an array of sketchbooks and books with elastic bands that hold inserts, "Butterfly Books", which are fairly similar to the Midori traveler's notebooks. The supplies that I was most interested to get my hands on were the Mermaid Markers, which are waterbrushes filled with water-soluble dye based ink. (I also own the empty waterbrushes included in the collection, and the watercolor palettes; both of those supplies are ah-may-zing.)
When you first get these markers, you will notice a lime green ring around the base of the lid. You must unscrew and take apart each Mermaid Marker to remove this ring. Once that ring is removed, you then screw the markers back together. After you do this, the seals have been broken, and the inks will be able to flow into the brush tips. I have done this with other supplies, so I didn't immediately read the loose leaf instructions included in the box. However, I'm glad that I gave them a second look, because these instructions also give some facts about the markers. This paper states that the ink in Mermaid Markers is not lightfast (will fade if exposed to sunlight) and the markers must be stored upright to avoid leaking. Mermaid Markers come in a plastic box that can be closed, making it a fine place for future storage—as long as you don't just toss the box into a drawer. These supplies are too expensive to lose even a little bit of ink due to negligence!
My first impression upon opening and using these Mermaid Markers went like this: These colors are phenomenal! Forty dollars is a lot of money, but I'm definitely going to use these up, so it'll be worth it! What is this piece of paper folded up in the box? Oh, these are not lightfast. Well that stinks. And I have to store them upright? Goodbye more desk space. Okay lets use them... WHOA! THESE COLORS ARE PHENOMENAL!
The body of each Mermaid Marker is made of clear soft plastic, with the word "PUSH" on the barrels. Because the liquid must move from barrel to tip with some resistance (or else it would just all pour out), the user must squeeze the body of the marker to make the ink flow; there is really no way to know exactly how hard to squeeze when your bristles start to dry out, so this will be a learning experience. Some Mermaid Markers require more or less pressure to saturate the tip. When working with the Mermaid Markers, you may want a piece of scrap paper to wipe excess ink onto; I did feel like this was wasteful but necessary.
As you can see, I found a few pros and cons with these markers, and the majority of the pros are 1) the colors are gorgeous, and 2) I like the novelty of them. Having to store the markers outside of my pen/marker cubby is a con to me, as I already hoard far too much on my desk (and I'm clumsy); it's not a huge problem, but I sincerely recommend that you store the Mermaid Markers in their original packaging, because they will leak if stored horizontally. However, the versatility of these markers and their ability to travel easily is what makes them worthwhile for me.
Below is a concise list of what I feel are the great and not-so-great things about the Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers.
Great: The colors are vibrant, the ink is reactive to water, there are a wide range of colors, the inks are blend-able, the markers are good for travel, and the pens are refillable when empty. Not-so-great: The pens must be stored upright, the ink is NOT lightfast (i.e. not professional quality), they do not layer because they reactivate each other, you cannot refill them with the original ink as it is not available, and it is difficult to control how much ink flows out when squeezing the barrel. I suppose my biggest complaint is that I can't be rough with these markers, like thoughtlessly tossing them into my bag, but this may be a nonissue for most.
I've seen other artists use empty waterbrushes as travel friendly brush markers, which have been filled with said artist's favorite ink. Though I have personally never done this, I do have some experience with similar supplies. Years ago, I was gifted a set of Bienfang brand watercolor brushes—which are almost identical to the Mermaid Markers in build and ability—but have not thoughtfully used them. I have found other reviews online (like this one) which claim that Bienfang's watercolor brushes are lightfast...or at least close to it. If this is true, I may prefer the Bienfang markers for their professional quality. My Bienfang watercolor brushes are still in working condition, and while I found the colors to be far less vibrant than the Mermaid Markers' colors, I was not displeased by their ability when comparing the two. Unlike the Mermaid Markers, the Bienfang watercolor brushes are not clear, so one can never be certain when the ink has run out—but a quick shake told me that my Bienfang markers still had some ink in them. Compared to the $39.99 price tag of the Mermaid Markers, I was able to find the Bienfang's watercolor brushes for about $25 on Amazon, containing just one less color than the Jane Davenport's version. However, the Bienfang 12 Set includes an empty waterbrush. During my play with the Mermaid Markers, I continuously grabbed for a waterbrush to use with them, so the empty waterbrush is a welcome inclusion!
If you are unable to get to a Micheal's craft store (or, more likely, don't want to shell out the cash for Mermaid Markers), I found it surprisingly easy to find similar items online. Amazon provided me with a few different products, including watercolor brushes by companies that I have never heard of. That being said, Jane Davenport's Mermaid Markers are a product of American Crafts, which is an art supply company that I have never before purchased from, and—so far—I cannot complain about their quality.
I recommend these Mermaid Markers for their intended buyers: crafters, art journalers, and watercolor fanatics. However, if you are a professional artist who sells originals, then you may want to stay away due to the ink not being lightfast. If you couldn't tell, I'm a bit sad that these markers are not professional quality, as I like to imagine my work surviving me. I'm very conscious of the supplies that I use when creating for-sale pieces, so I would know not to grab these markers for a commissioned piece. However, you could still (and should!) use the Mermaid Markers for pieces that will be scanned and sold as prints. Please note that the Jane Davenport watercolor palettes, "Petite Palettes," are made with pigments, lightfast, and professional quality. Petite Palettes seen below.
Now, beyond the review, let me please tell you that I adore Jane Davenport! She is bubbly, and thoughtful, empowering, and an absolute art journaling goddess! Jane has a YouTube channel full of Vlogs, art making, and info about her online classes. She also blogs on her website, which is also you can find art tips, her courses, and art supplies for purchase. She's an expert at drawing beautiful female faces, and even has a how-to book called (imagine this) Beautiful Faces.
Disclaimer: I have recently become an Amazon and Get Messy affiliate. Amazon links and Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to purchase the art supplies or subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership, without any extra cost to you. You support this blog and my ability to continue making awesome content through the use of these links! (And also gain my unending gratitude!!!) The Jane Davenport website, Michael's website, and other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience.