The universe decided to drop a paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone into Mary’s lap this week. She read it in about a day (on to Chamber). After watching the movie together, we concluded that J.K. Rowling devised the Diagon Alley experience after reviewing an architecture student’s supply list. She even included accurately and insightfully the prerequisite withdrawal from the family vault at Gringott’s.
With my supply list in tow, I’ve spent the summer collecting various jars, pigments, paper, triangles, stencils, erasers, plywood, incandescent lamps, C-clamps, hand tools, and other goodies (notice no computer). At one store, I bought ten pieces of paper for $70 and at another, water color pigments with names like Alizarin and New Gamboge, instead of red or yellow.
Overall, my favorite score has been my set of brushes. They feature a mystique recalling Harry Potter’s wand from Ollivander’s. They were the last matching set of Size 1, 5 and 8 Kolinsky Sable water color brushes at a Utrecht/Blick mega-store in Chicago. These brushes are currently sparse because the US has banned the import of their key material; fur from the wild Siberian Kolinsky (or Red) Weasel, Mustela Sibirica. Regulation concerns aside, they have a nice look and feel to them. My industrial designer friend Joe might call it a genuine ‘validity’. They would easily command a few Cuban cigars or a roulette wheel if I were ever in a jam.
It turns out that this species is not endangered, and Blick Art Materials has provided more helpful information at the link below:
As a practical matter, my best luck overall came from handing over a sizable section of the list to Fris Office Outfitters in Holland, Michigan. They took care of the tedious ordering and applied a generous discount to the final invoice. Holcraft! in Grand Haven, Michigan was able to give a discount to my grandmother (a seasoned painter and thus regular customer) for another batch of supplies. I suppose I gave a bit of my savings back when I bought my brushes and lamps in Chicago, a city whose sales tax resides at 9.5%.