Back in the dark days before Britain was invaded by the big US style chain "hobby" stores it used to be so straightforward to buy art equipment. There were just a few brands and all aimed at the Beardy-pipe-smoking-beret-wearing "Professional/Amateur Artist" (Cow Gum anyone?) and only available to buy at specialist Art stores or very big branches of WH Smiths.... OK, so a complete lack of choice - and if you lived out in the sticks like me, involving a rather long and hazardous bus journey (my pipe once set my fake beard alight!) - but at least you knew when you bought a product from Winsor & Newton and the like, it would do what they claimed it would do... and I, for one, saved a lot of money.
These days I find myself scampering around the aircraft hanger sized hobby superstores (sans disguise for this, if there ever was one, is the preserve of the menopausal woman!) dazzled by the promise of all that glittery, cracquel-glazed flim-flam. Hyper-ventilating at the thought of what I could create with all this stuff when I get home. There are virtually no stand alone products of course, most come in great big ranges with a ridiculous array of choices and the majority have an accompanying video tutorial, each narrated by very S-L-O-W T-A-L-K-I-N-G American who explains, very slowly and deliberately, how to use their product (and all it's accompanying sister products - do they repeat the BRAND NAME every few seconds because they worry the audience for their product is senile I wonder?) to do something very simple that could easily be achieved far more cheaply with PVA glue and some acrylic paint. But they won't tell you that, slowly, or otherwise.
Anyhow, I am not disparaging this whole "hobby/craft/self taught artist boom" as a big business opportunity, I am just as much a sucker for it all as the next middle aged woman, BUT, how often do these products actually live up to the claims? By my experience alone, not very often at all.
Take this product for instance. I bought it a while back but earlier today followed the directions to the letter and look at the wonderful matt finish I have achieved on the lips and eye rims of my newly painted Dollstown Estella BJD head.... well, if we redefine the word MATT as meaning "really bl**dy shiny". This sculpt has huge lips, so the last thing I wanted to do was give them a gloss finish, her eyes were meant to provide the drama... I'm not even sure how I am going to fix this.
My tip: avoid buying Decoart Duraclear Varnish - Matt at all costs, unless you really want GLOSS, that is!