Staedtler Gel Crayons – Gelato option?


I am determined to reign in my acquisition of new stash.  I bought a set of Pan Pastels and while I do love the look you can get with them, and love a few techniques, I also now know that they are not a go-to supply.  Given what *I* do with them, they were expensive for the use I will get out of them.  In 2014 figuring out ways to use them for MY type of crafty work is top of my list.  Having said that, there are other things, like Gelatos, where I can see the possibilities immediately.  Still, I thought I would have a look and see what cheaper options there might be.  My rational is that spending less up front, to experiment and see if the TECHNIQUES are ones I would use often,  makes sense.

A couple of things to note.  I had a LOT of Amazon gift money, so that is where I got these.   I saw Lindsay (The Frugal Crafter) do a comparison of Gel Sticks v Gelatos (both by Faber-Castell) so had a look for them first.  Amazon has the Gel Sticks but they are over £40! They have another set that is proper Gelatos, about £25 for 12. The colours are within a sort of floral palette, rather than a good basic range, to my eyes.  Critically no black, and they seem to ship from the USA.  There is an even cheaper version from The Early Learning Centre for under £4 for 6 but it’s unclear how they might compare.  We have an ELC in town locally so I may see if they have a set to try out.

Then I found these – Amazon is so helpful, showing alternatives when you are looking at a product LOL!


OK so these are the “for dark cardstock” ones but they also have a Basic set with more standard colours (some of these are a bit…neon) and a Glitter set, and the sets are under £7 for 6 pens.

Here they are:

staedtlerHard to see but for each little scribble sample I smeared with my finger UP and dragged DOWN with a waterbrush.  One set includes BLACK and one WHITE but I didn’t do samples of them.  Aimed at kids, much like the Gel Sticks, they don’t come in the shaded selections like Gelatos – but then the Gelatos shaded sets (in the UK) run in the £12 for three range.  It’s a trade-off, cheaper for the basic colours,  but limited selection.  For ME, to try this supply out, that was fine.  It may not be for you.

When I first opened them I had a moment when I thought the little tip showing was all the gel there was! That would have been a disaster.  But no – twist the bottom and the gel extends:



Yes, it goes back in if you twist the other way LOL!  It’s about 2 inches of colour:


The light has been rubbish the last week (hey, at least we HAVE lights now!) so these may not be the most informative photos but you get the idea.  I did three things with them just quickly, as this is a busy time for me with UKS stuff.  First I rubbed the gel on a stamp and stamped it.  Then I rubbed it one the stamp and wet it, for a more watercolour look:



Both worked fine.  But I let the gel dry for 5 minutes or so to check the water-proof properties.  If you look at the left photo above you can see the smeared areas – that was from running the waterbrush over the stamp.  Note below that running the waterbrush over the DRIED stamped image, there is no further smearing.  Once they are dry they won’t reactivate with water.



I had a go at just smudging on some colour and blending it with my finger.  MOST of the colours worked basically as I have seen Gelatos work, but the PINK didn’t blend out very well:



You can clearly see the “ghost” of the smudge in outline.  It’s marginally better if you blend IMMEDIATELY and a heavier application seems to blend better than a light one.  I want to try it with a make-up sponge, for example, to see if it helps. Also this is on not-great cardstock.  I think that may matter too.

So this is my point – yes, the Staedtler gel crayons are LIKE Gelatos, but a LOT cheaper,  and I would say that if you THINK you might like using Gelatos, you could get away with a BASIC set of 6 for about £7 and give them a go.  If you find you like using them,  the basic set won’t give you enough colour options.  THEN you can look at true Gelatos, which have shaded ranges.  BUT if you find they don’t suit you, you don’t like the effect or find you don’t go back to them again and again, well then you haven’t wasted much money finding that out! And if the ELC crayons share the same properties, £4 for 6 in a good basic range, is even better for an initial experiment.

Happy I did find something to say and to close out 2014 with my 1200th post! Happy New Year to all…..


13 thoughts on “Staedtler Gel Crayons – Gelato option?

  1. Hi, I’ve found you blog through Google. I’ve been looking at Gelatos alternatives myself, not wanting to spend too much money on non-essential art supplies. Just a quick note: be careful if ordering from the US. Anything over the value of £15.00 (including postage!) will automatically incur import VAT and £8.00 Royal Mail handing fee. I’ve found out the hard way!

  2. I just came across your post as I wanted to compare Faber Castell with Staedtler, which I’ve just put in my Amazon basket! I think I will go for them, as they’re so much cheaper! Thanks for the review:)

  3. In the US, Faber Castell makes a “kids” set of 12 (including black) that is EXACTLY the same as their regular Gelattos for half the price. Look up Gel Sticks – 12 Creativity for Kids to see them. I love Gelattos. Do read the reviews and find videos to look at so that you are using them to their full potential. In the US, they are $9.99, which, if I did it right, is 7.3417 in your money.

  4. Pingback: Monday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #Lifeimitatesdoodles | lifeimitatesdoodles

  5. thanks Mary Anne that’s a really useful tip – I have been thinking about gelatos for ages but it is a bit outlay if you’re not sure – these sound like a good “toe in the water” starting point.
    Happy New Year to you :o)xxx

  6. Thanks for sharing this, I’ve not read up on all the new Gel things. So this will help me a lot. I have to use Amazon, nothing close by and sometimes when I make a trip 60 miles they don’t have a clue what I am talking about.

  7. Crayola came out with these, but I don’t believe they are water soluble:
    I thought they looked interesting, but have not tried them yet.

  8. Congrats on your 1200th post! The Staedtler gel crayons look fun. I have a couple gelatos but I wasn’t very happy with them and their (to me) limited use, so I won’t be buying more. Actually, after looking at my craft room, I don’t think I’ll need to be buying any craft stuff for quite a while, lol 🙂 Have a Happy New Year!

  9. Thank you for doing all the experiments!!! Love all your tips and techniques. Congratulations on your 1200th post! Happy New Year 🙂

  10. Hi Mary Anne & Happy New Year! Thanks for the shout out! You might like the Portfolio water soluble oil pastels by crayola, they are $8 for 24 USD and they are great, very creamy and lots of product, I got mine on amazon too!

  11. Thanks for all your posts. I would so love to experiment, but I can not stand the mess. Your wonderful posts show so many techniques and products. I do enjoy seeing your art play out. I even enjoy seeing what goes wrong.

    Happy and Blessed 2014!

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