Organizing your Inktense Blocks / Stick Pastels

Recently I purchased a small assortment of Derwent Inktense Blocks.  Big mistake.  No sooner had I used them that I wanted every color available.  I should have known this!  Of course my luck with the set of 24 was that there was a single use 40% off coupon at Blick Art Stores (not online) – and this made the set of 24 around $26.00.  That was a great deal.  If they'd had the set of 72 that day?  I'd probably have bought them immediately.  

This item is HARD TO FIND open stock.  I don't know why, but my local Blick and Jerry's did not have them available.  And so I went to the Derwent website and made note of what colors were included in my now paltry set of 24.  The misfortune is that they always have cumulative sets 12, 24, 36, 72 – and no set of 'here are the other 48 you really wanted too'.

Now that the other 48 were on there way, I knew they'd be coming in some crude packaging. But I will confess – even when I buy full sets; I usually hate the containers they come in.  The tins (for pencils, ugh!) and even for the blocks aren't great at staying closed when you want to take them out for a sketch. So my next stop was organization-land.  Now for pencils there is no end of solutions.  Inventory of them is both more simple and more complex.  Pencils can go in any old thing, and they are labeled, and even color indexed on the shaft somehow – but inventory of pencils is another matter, for another post…

When I'm looking for storage solutions, it starts with a small rubbermaid of containers from the past.  You never know if that marker thingy might work well for something else, etc. For some of my crazy ideas, you can always look up the organization keyword; or the 'Organize Your Space' tab up top. But I was coming up a bit empty on this one.  I really wanted something that would keep each block seperate from its neighbors — if you haven't used them, they can stain each other when wet, and so they really need a barrier – unlike chalk pastels.  But chalk pastels can break easilly, so they too need some kind of cushioning. In a perfect world I'd be able to store both in one container because they work so nicely together.

After combing through my bin, a catalog and online, I kept finding wooden drawers or cardboard boxes. Then I came across the Roz Box and Bag.  I liked that the trays were made of plastic, not cardboard, and that each compartment was lined, as well as the bottom of the trays.  Cardboard is no good for Inktense – because you activate them with water.  I'm quite certain those boxes wouldn't last an outing… so my decision was made.

Shop closely.  The Roz Box at Blick's site only has two trays, for $51.44 – and it's very nearly the same price as the one I got, which has four trays.  If you already have a tote or other way of storing the trays, they are sold seperately too.  Jerry's regular price is $60.21 for the four-tray version.  My luck was that Blick had a 20% off coupon good through tomorrow, for in-store only; and Jerry's store honors competitors' coupons.

So in the end, I got the four-tray version for $48.00.

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I liked how snugly they fit into the Box — which really looks like some kind of secret agent case, according to my little blondie…

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I've included my phone, etc. in the picture for scale.

What I didn't like was that the branded 'handle' in the middle of each tray, isn't enclosed.  See how most of the compartments have a little white dip at the end to keep the pastel inside?  Not so on either side of the 'handle'.  To fix this, so I don't have a wandering block — I took a little piece of foam (cotton ball would work too) and stuck it into the opening under the handle on each side.

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Now here is something to note if you are an inventory-keeper, like me.  The blocks are labeled, actually they have an impression on one side that says, at the far end, a teeny number code.  That's GONE once you've used a brush loaded with water on it a couple times – so ack!! We must take inventory!

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*image courtesy of the Derwent website.

First I put together a colorable chart with the product number AND the color name.  The table is formatted to match the configuration of this case.  I printed it on a sheet of 13" x 19" (super B) paper on my wide-format printer… but it could be printed on 8 1/2" x 11" just as easily.

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I put it in color number order.  I discovered that despite my best efforts I'd gotten two Cherry Reds, and was missing Golden Yellow and Thistle.  Drat.  But I digress…

I scribbled the block in dry form on the left side of, in its section on the card.  Then I took a brush and wet half of the scribble and let it disperse to make an ink blot.  Then I took a brush directly to the block and scribbled a bit back towards the ink blot. Now I have an inventory sheet, as well as a useful color reference.

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Here's an up close shot:

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Now my Inktense Blocks have a permanent storage and travel case.  And my Koss soft pastels and oil pastels will fit in here as well.

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I hope this helps you in any way, either to find a storage solution for your Inktense Blocks or at least to inventory what you have.

Do you have any great storage solutions to share?

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