Save the USPS!

#SaveTheUSPS

If you have placed an order with us in the last few weeks, you might have noticed that your order is getting to you more slowly than expected. This is because of new policies put in place by the Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, who was appointed in June.

As a small business who does most of their shipping with USPS Priority Mail, this is a potentially devastating turn of events. The normal shipping time for Priority Mail packages was one to three days before the pandemic started impacted service. Then it started slipping by a day or two.

In the last few weeks, packages we handed off to our mail carrier took as long as a week just to get scanned in at the local distribution center. Packages dropped off at our local post office have been scanned in within a day or two. Even once they are scanned at the distribution center or post office, packages are taking several days, if not longer, to make it to the next distribution center on their way to a local post office for delivery.

We have had packages to Oregon and Nevada take nearly two weeks to be delivered after they left our hands. But it’s not all bad! We also continue to have a number of packages make it all the way to New York or North Carolina in four days.

We will continue to drop off packages at our local post office so that they get scanned into the system as soon as possible and you can follow the tracking as they make their way to you. This also seems to avoid them going through the Los Angeles International Distribution Center, which appears to be the biggest local bottleneck.

The American Postal Workers Union has a page full of resources with more information on these slowdowns and how to get in touch with your congressional representatives to encourage them to get the USPS the funding it already desperately needed to manage the impacts of the pandemic, and also restore the footing of the postal system instead of trying to carve it up and privatize it.

As always, thank you for your support, patience, and understanding. Stay safe!

An update from Raw Materials Art Supplies

tl;dr We aren’t open yet except for online ordering, hope to open for curbside before June 15, and not sure when we will be opening to in-store shopping.

Celia is recovering now, but after her fever spiked and she started showing other symptoms two weeks ago, she tested positive for COVID-19. She never required hospitalization, but it’s hard to convey how terrifying this has been experiencing symptoms that could spiral out of control at any moment, given how little is still known about this disease.

We don’t know how Celia was exposed. Jim hasn’t shown any symptoms, tested negative at the same time that Celia tested positive, and is waiting to get tested again.

All of our staff have been furloughed, and they were all able to receive extended UI benefits that meet or exceed what they were earning at the store. Our landlord was able to extend forgiveness for some of the rent due during this time, we have cut every possible expense, and while the road ahead looks tough, we at least feel that we are in a position to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and customers above the strong desire to get back to business.

If Celia recovers, Jim’s next test comes back negative, and the local numbers on COVID-19’s impact continue to improve, we hope to start up with curbside service, local delivery, and shipping from the store by June 15. As we do that, we’ll also work on making the changes to the store layout and securing the necessary equipment and supplies that would allow us to welcome staff and customers back into the store.

If you’re new to us, please understand that we’re a mom & pop operation, even more now than ever. Our first priority has always been the health and safety of our employees and our customers. While we have made sacrifices and taken risks to grow our store, we also know that we have benefited from privileges and opportunities that aren’t accessible to everyone.

There’s so much more to say about what is going on in our city and country, but we also know we’re not necessarily the people to deliver the message and want to get back to how we think we can help most: putting the tools of expression into the hands of artists.

Thank you, and please stay safe and healthy.

How Faber-Castell Makes Pencils

This video shows the 14-step process of making a Faber-Castell pencil.

From the selection of the wood, to the thickness and quality of the lead, Faber-Castell pencils stand head and shoulders above the competition. Since 1761, they’ve been perfecting the pencil. Check out the video to see the 14 step process behind their superior products.

What’s special about their pencils?

  • SV Bonding glues the lead the entire length of the pencil for break-resistant leads.
  • Thick leads use the highest-quality pigments for gorgeous color lay-down.
  • Graphite pencils with dipped ends or erasers on ends.
  • Coated with eco-friendly water-based varnish.
  • Made from reforested wood grown in their Forest Stewardship Council certified forest.

You can see all the Faber-Castell products we carry in our online store, including pencils, markers, sharpeners, erasers, paints, and kits. New to the store are the Albrecht Durer Watercolor Marker Sets, and we don’t think you can go wrong by starting out with Goldfaber Colored Pencil Sets or Goldfaber Aqua Watercolor Pencil Sets.

Safer at home

Friday, March 20 will be our last day of business while our street, our neighborhood, our city, and our state closes all non-essential businesses (which includes us, even as essential as this business is to us and the arts are to all of us). We will only be packing up and shipping orders that are placed before we go in to the store in the morning, after that any incoming orders will not ship until we transition into whatever phase of this crisis comes next. We’ll keep you posted. Stay healthy and safe.

COVID-19 Update: Open for Delivery and Pick-Up

As all of our thoughts are on the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to share an update on how Raw Materials Art Supplies is responding. The safety and health of our loyal customers and dedicated associates is always of the utmost importance to us. We want to be hyper-responsible about containment and prevention, and fully recognize that any gathering place is an at-risk setting.

Given what we know today, we believe it’s our responsibility to do what we can to slow the spread of this virus and minimize the impact on our community. Effective Tuesday, March 17 we are temporarily closing the store to the general public. We are paying our staff and asking them to work from home for at least the next two weeks. The situation is complex and evolving rapidly, and as our situation changes, we’ll let you know.

Our online store remains open and we urge you to shop with us at rawmaterialsla.com. We will continue to fulfill online orders from our in-store stock, and vendors’ warehouses while they are still shipping orders. We offer same and next-day delivery in DTLA, ship nationwide, and you can Buy Online Pick-Up In-Store (BOPIS) and schedule a non-contact, curbside pickup.

Take care of each other, and we look forward to seeing you back in the store soon.

Jim and Celia
Raw Materials Art Supplies

PS Here is a link to Arts Resources During COVID-19 Outbreak: https://creative-capital.org/2020/03/13/list-of-arts-resources-during-the-covid-19-outbreak/

Art-Making in the Time of COVID-19

As the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to have an increased impact on our communities, we feel it important to share the steps we’re taking in our store to help keep you, our employees, and our communities safe and healthy.

Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected. The safety and well-being of our employees and customers is our top priority at Raw Materials Art Supplies, and this is a rapidly evolving situation that we’ll continue to monitor. Our store is cleaned and sanitized daily as part of our normal course of business. We’ve increased the frequency and extent of these cleanings, in addition to adding resources like hand sanitizer for employees and customers. Our employees have the information they need to stay healthy. We employ practices and make business decisions informed by guidance from the CDC, WHO, and local US government and public health agencies.

Based on the information and guidance we’ve received, our own preparedness, and current state of operations, we are confident our store continues to be safe and we remain open for business during regular hours to meet the needs of our customers. As always, our hope is to make it easy for you to shop when and how you’d like. In addition to our clean, spacious, and well-ventilated store, our team is ready to serve you online at www.rawmaterialsla.com. If we become aware of any condition that would make it unsafe, please rest assured that we’ll close the store until those conditions have been addressed and impacted associates will be compensated for their missed work hours.

Again, the health and safety of our customers and employees are our top priority and we’re committed to doing our part to help keep you safe. Thank you for being a loyal customer.

Jim and Celia Winstead
Raw Materials Art Supplies

Gamblin Conservation Colors

Restoration of van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles. Photo courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum.

At Raw Materials Art Supplies, it is important to us to carry products from the companies who are out there doing good things for artists and art. The work that Gamblin Artists Colors does with their Gamblin Conservation Colors is a good example of that.

In the world of art conservation today, there are three important considerations regarding the materials used on artwork. First, the materials used for this work should be stable – meaning that the materials should not change over time. Second, the materials should be reversible and able to be removed without damaging the original artwork. And third, the binder of the material should visually saturate the pigment in a similar manner as linseed oil.

In the mid-90’s, Robert Gamblin collaborated with a group of conservators to improve upon these considerations. Gamblin Conservation Colors were born from this collaboration. They include 50 lightfast colors – made with pigments found in the Gamblin Artist’s Grade and 1980 oils and bound in a contemporary resin binder, which makes the restorations stable and reversible.

Conservation Colors are not sold to artists for a couple reasons. First, they lack the texture and mark-making possibilities of oils. Second, they demand a stronger solvent than artists have (or are willing to work around) in their studios.

Gamblin Conservation colors is truly a labor of love in support of conservators around the world. When you purchase Gamblin materials, you are also supporting the field of conservation and helping to protect our visual history. We are very grateful for your support.

Warm Welcome from the Fashion District BID

Trending With: Raw Materials Art Supplies video, courtesy of LA Fashion District BID

Our friends at the Fashion District Business Improvement District (FDBID) @lafashiondistrict shot this fun video to welcome us and to introduce us to the neighborhood! 🧡

Thank you Miranda and the entire marketing team at the FDBID, you guys rock! 😘

Farewell, Swain’s and C2F!

Karl Wiest, owner of Swain’s HQ Art Supplies

It has been a rough start to the fall in the art materials industry. The Los Angeles area lost an institution with the closing of Swain’s HQ Art Supplies, which has been supporting artists and selling art supplies in Glendale for seventy years, and we are very sad to see them go.

Read Karl’s message to customers. Thank you Karl for mentioning us and the other independent retailers still fighting on in Southern California.

The imminent closure of C2F, one of the few distributors of art materials was also announced. They were the primary source for a few of our favorite brands (such as M. Graham, Bee Paper, Pentalic, and Cheep!), but it looks like most of those will find new homes so we plan to continue stocking them as long as we’re able!

We live in interesting times for retailers and the art materials industry. Sometimes we feel like we’re mice scampering beneath the feet of giants with names like Amazon, Blick Art Materials, and Artist & Craftsman Supply, and it’s tough to lose friends and allies like C2F and Swain’s.

We, and our employees, thank all of you who have stuck with us, are just discovering, us, and hope to feed your artistic endeavors for years to come.