Well, it's been over a month since I bought my Icarus Art Board and I had hoped to get this review out sooner but real life had other plans. It's a good thing, however, since it has given me more time to really try out this new equipment. And I have been playing! It's taken my colored pencil art to a new level of intensity!
First off I'd like to say that overall the Icarus Board is a wonderful piece of art equipment for any wax based media and I have enjoyed experimenting this month. I'd also like to add that the artist/inventor Ester Roi is very passionate about her product and she and her husband, Mario, provide excellent customer service. They both communicated with me directly and quickly before, during and after my purchase.
Now for the pros and cons!
1) It's very well made in America!
It's made with high quality materials. The base is light weight but sturdy metal. The top working area is a thick, tempered glass which (although I have been careful with it) I suspect will resist damage with moderately hard use. The electrical cord and plug are heavy duty and the power button, heat setting dial and carrying handle are sturdy.
2) Even the smaller size board is a good working size!
The board is available in two sizes: 20" x 26" at 15 lbs and the smaller size 14" x 20" at 9.5 lbs.
I purchased the smaller size and I've found that it's perfect for me since my largest work is currently 11" x 14". But if you prefer larger pieces then the larger board will be a benefit.
3) The heating element works wonderfully!
I generally had it set at 6/7, which is the recommended typical heat setting. It only took a few minutes to reach a workable heat and while it's definitely warm to the touch the board has plenty of room to rest your arm to avoid excessive heat exposure. I also found that lying a chamois cloth over the art to rest my arm protected well against heat but did not harm the work itself.
4) Shortens working time!
This wonderful tool shortened my overall working time almost in half! It works best once you reach paper saturation with the chosen pigment but because of the heat it takes far less time and effort to reach that heavy saturation. The tendinitis in my dominate first finger loves it! Burnishing and blending times are drastically shortened as well.
5) Cleaner working!
That's right with the Icarus Board solvents are unnecessary. The heat is the solvent. So no more turpentine!
6) Online support!
Ester Roi and her husband Mario Bassi have created a great website that offers helpful advice and step by step instructions on different techniques. Plus they offer outstanding, personalized customer service. Ester personally emailed me with recommendations and advice that she had not posted on her website yet.
7) Quick, professional shipping!
I ordered my board and received it in perfect condition in about 2 days. It was very well packaged and not a scratch or mar was found any where. Unwrap and use immediately!
1) Price -
I hate to say it but the price is a bit daunting, especially in the current economy. The large size is $297 plus approx $43 s/h depending on delivery location and the smaller size is $217 plus approx $35 s/h depending on location. That's not to say that the price is unfair or that the board isn't worth every penny. This is a great new product which has the unfortunate timing of an unstable economy against it. However, I think once this current financial crisis it over the price won't be so painful for the average artist.
It's made to be portable; and it is. But even the small size is somewhat cumbersome to carry with you. And I'm a natural klutz so I'm afraid that I'll drop it and quickly ruin it if I carried it around too much. My full time job allows me to occasionally work on my art while on duty. I had initially considered taking the board with me but after using it I decided that it would be safer and easier to keep this aspect of my work at home.
I honestly can't think of any other negatives! I really love this product and look forward to experimenting with it. I already love my Primacolor pencils and now I have another way enjoy my favorite media!
I wish Ester and Mario of Icarus Art the best and hope their new business is wildly successful!