User, Collector, or Stockpiler Part 3

In my final post based off the user, collector, or combination question that I posed to the Erasable Pencil Podcast group, I’ll write about a couple of points that seem to have several adherents, and those are: the seemingly accidental acquisition in the search for the right tool; enjoyment of variety and change;  a love of stationery; as well as a fear of writing or use of the materials. Each of these is a vastly different point that is deserving of a blog post on it’s own but for brevity I’m addressing them here.

Initially it seems that all of this collecting and using begins as a love for stationery- be it pen, paper, or pencil. Pure unadulterated enjoyment leads to a quest for a pen, pencil, and paper combination that brings writing joy. In some cases, the chase precludes the writing, and people begin to not feel worthy of their pretty pretty tools. That really is an entirely different post or even series of posts. The chase also brings about an enjoyment in variety, after all, how many of us are truly monogamous with our pens, pencils, and paper?

Here again, I’m in the camp of people who like variety and yet once I find a tool I like (General’s CP#1,  Staedtler Norica, Calepino, Field Notes) I stockpile a decent amount of those tools so that I’ll always have them. While I enjoy change I also realize that I enjoy knowing that I have tools that will work the way I expect them to all the time. Say my monthly 6 pencils* include a few duds, I know that I can grab a CP#1 and use it and be happy with how the pencil works. While I enjoy what I use regularly I also enjoy the chase and variety of pencils available.

My love of stationery is derived from my love of writing and drawing as well as a need for a time management system that is flexible and easy to adapt to my changing needs over time. I’ve used such planning systems as the pocket mod, attempted bullet journaling, the pig pog method, and various other GTD styles. Anyway, my planner style has evolved over the years and you can read more about it here. It’s not the point of this post, but to point out that through the finding of the right tool, pocket notebooks, my planner style has evolved to use something I like and fits my use and life.

The final point, which I think I’ll expand upon in another, separate post, is the fear of using our tools. I saw this again and again in art journaling. Journalers would buy the most beautiful journals and then never use them. we call it fear of the white page in art circles, I’ve seen it mentioned as fear of the page in NaNoWriMo circles. It boils down to a person’s inner critic getting the best of them, filling the mind with the phrase, “Who do you think you are?” As a phrase, this just kills any sort of creativity. In therapy circles we call this “negative self talk.” I prefer to call it an inner critic, it seems friendlier, and lacks the clinical feel of the latter. Also, when artists write about the inner critic it is pretty approachable and most people can relate, but if I link to a research study about negative self talk, eyes glaze over.

When I teach art one of the first things I try to do is just get students moving their pencils, pens and brushes across a page in an effort to get to know the material but also to simply enjoy how it feels. This tactile sensation is one of the primary reasons for using analog tools. It’s a sensation you don’t get from swiping a finger across a screen**, it can only be derived from pencil, pen, or brush on paper or canvas. The joy we derive from the tactile sensations associated with analog tools is a large part of why we use them, collect them, and stockpile those we fear will disappear.

In conclusion of this brief series, I’d like to thank all the members of Erasables for feeding my curiosity and looking within themselves to answer my questions. It’s certainly fun to read about everyone’s love for writing, no matter the tools they use it really does boil down to love.

Continue reading User, Collector, or Stockpiler Part 3

Review: Bullet Pencil TT

Recently I purchased a used Bullet Pencil TT (BPTT) made by Metal Comb Works. It was highly funded on KickStarter and something I was not able to back. I heard some murmurs on the ‘net shortly after people received theirs that it was not well balanced when used as a pencil. Once I got the BPTT in  hand, I was able to see that the  BPTT is really well and  badly designed.BPTT

First, let’s start with the good about this pencil. It is amazingly pretty, simply a gorgeous modern take on the classic bullet pencil. It’s all sleek lines and perfect tolerances in how it is machined.* The bullet pops in and out of the tube smoothly and with a nice suction noise. The experience of opening and closing this pencil is fantastic. It feels awesome in this part of it’s use.BPTT

I also love that it uses the Palomino erasers. While the Palomino erasers really suck, they look great in the pencil, and are super easy to find if you use Palomino pencils regularly. They also work well enough for the occasional use one might need them for when using the BPTT.BPTT

Now  the bad. The balance on the Bullet Pencil TT is god awful. It is pretty clear to me that this was designed with the ST, stylus tipped, in mind. That is that when it is in hand and held as a stylus  it feels perfect. When it is used with the pencil deployed it is top heavy and strains the hand when used for more than a few moments. That is unless the pencil is very short. Which defeats the purpose of having such a lengthy tube- it holds a seriously long chunk of pencil, but that chunk is unusable at it’s full length for any period of time. It is kind of ridiculous if you want to use the BPTT as a pencil extender, a serious use for most bullet pencils.BPTT

The BPTT fails, spectacularly in its main function but it does so beautifully. I am very tempted to take a hacksaw to it and make it work but I wouldn’t want to destroy it’s oh so beautiful clean lines.BPTT

Of course I had to compare the BPTT to the BP Twist. The Twist looks like a classic BP and I love it. It wins in the comparison because it is usable for not only quick notes but also longer writing periods. The Twist only loses in one category and that is speed of deployment. The BPTT is ready to use in seconds while the Twist needs to be unscrewed and screwed in, while it only takes moments longer, it is longer.BPTT

Finally, let’s talk price. The BPTT and BPST ranges from $35 to $40 for US shipping and depending on the color. You have two choices- silver or black. I do not see tips sold separately. The Twist starts at $37.50 and you can buy tips and clips and caps separately.

Anyway, I know which BP I reach for over and over again, and it isn’t the BPTT.

Continue reading Review: Bullet Pencil TT

User, Collector, or Stockpiler Part 2

The last post was about how do stationery users really get to a point where they stockpile, basically the journey from simple user of an item to stockpiler. To boil that down, the group consensus was that people were searching for the perfect pencil/pen/notebook/sketchbook. In that search some people had the rug yanked out from under them and their favorite item disappeared, which seemed to directly correlate to instances of stockpiling. I think that it is important for me to state here that in these posts I do not intend to speak for “all” stationery nerds, but rather I’m combining my experience with an informal conversation that was had on a Facebook group. I’m writing this, or compiling this information because I find it fascinating and I suspect that others might as well.

The second important aspect was how people defined themselves- as users, collectors, a combination of the two or stockpilers*. Some people see themselves as pure users of their purchases. Most of these people seem to keep a small stockpile of their favorite items on hand. While other users call themselves user-stockpilers and they keep large quantities of their favorite items on hand. This seems to relate back to having difficulty finding their favorite items due to scarcity or manufacturer discontinuing the product, that the item is vintage, or that the manufacturer changed the product.

The last two items on that list- discontinued products and manufacturer changes seem to take people down the path of stockpiling favorite items. This can also lead to the other end of the spectrum- collecting. Collecting doesn’t preclude using but it is an interesting subset of stationery users. I must admit that I do have a small collection of pencils. One of each pencil that arrives in my home goes into a pencil case. Interesting to me is that collectors range from wanting one of everything that interests them to people who collect pencils in packages or great quantities of particular pencils that interest them. I think that the whole collecting side of the stationery world could be (possibly should be) a post in and of itself.

Here is where I make an admission. I wanted to be a collector, but I’m simply not. I really like using my various pocket notebooks, pencils and pens. I have a Danitrio Cumlaude pen that I’ve been on the fence of selling. Though it is a beautiful piece of celluloid that I adore looking at I don’t use it. It’s got the most buttery smooth nib but I don’t use it. I don’t use it because I’m rough on my tools and I’m deathly afraid that I’ll break it. So it sits in a lonely drawer, never being used. That bugs me. I want to use all my tools. I chew through pocket notebooks at the rate of roughly 1 every 2 to 3 weeks and I destroy pencils when I draw and I use them pretty quickly when I’m writing too. I take delight in using my more “collectable” Field Notes**, sometimes as coasters. I’ve got a whole post about how I came to the conclusion that I’m a user not a collector, so this isn’t the place for that story, but the reality is I’m not a collector.

It seems that most collectors use some of their stockpile but never the collection. This is another point of difference between collectors and users- nothing in a users stockpile is sacred, it’s all up for grabs. This, I think is the primary difference between users and collectors. A user primarily stockpiles or collects items to use, eventually, while collectors will hold certain items as sacred and not for use, ever. One member specifically referenced enjoying their pencils as objects- finding enjoyment in the look and feel of the item, not just in it’s use. Even users will take into consideration the look of a pencil or notebook as they use it, the more attractive the item to that person, the higher the desirability. In some cases, people had favorites due to nostalgia. My enjoyment of the EF ECOwriter is largely nostalgia. It’s a dark soft pencil but it also has some grittiness that can be unpleasant in use, but I love the dark chrome yellow of it’s paint combined with the silver ferrule and green eraser. This is nostalgia. While my enjoyment of the Palomino Blackwing Pearl is largely because it is pretty and performs well.

In this discussion, it’s clear that there are a lot of factors that determine if someone considers themselves to be a collector or user or combination of the two. Most importantly it seems that there is a sacredness to the collection of the collector and a lack thereof for the user. Most importantly it seems that each person determines and defines if they are a collector, user, stockpiler, or some combination. 

Continue reading User, Collector, or Stockpiler Part 2

User, Collector, or Stockpiler Part 1

Not long ago I posed a question to the Erasable Podcast Pencil Community (EPPC) about how the members would describe themselves in terms of their stationery use: hoarder (for future stockpiler), user, collector, or some combination in between. I then asked them to really think about why they use their stationery goods in the manner they do. The results were, at least to me, fascinating. Not only in terms of stationery use and purchasing patterns* but also the deeper psychological reasons people collect, stockpile, and use the products they love. From this brief online exchange I think a deeper survey could be created and interesting research paper written. But I might be too deep into my thesis to think clearly and everything might look like a possible research study.

To begin, let me discuss my own stationery journey. I started journaling way back in the late 80s in a cheap but very cool to my young mind 5 year diary with a lock, when I hit high school I decided I would only journal in the Mead 5-Star 6×9 inch 5 subject notebooks. The reasons were, to my 13 year old mind, well reasoned. I liked the size and the paper did well with the pens I used for journaling. Also the paperboard cover accepted the glue I used to collage the covers. I filled one for each year of high school. When I went to college, I could not find the same notebooks. They had changed the covers, so I decided to switch to something a little more adult. This is how I began my journey into finding the “perfect” sketchbook.

This is a process that came up often in the EPPC responses. Many of the members were searching for the “perfect” pencil, pen, notebook or combination, this process seemed to lead to an initial flurry of purchases to test out all the things. Some people solve the stockpiling problem through gifting pencils they don’t like as much to others who might like them more. Others added the excess to their hoard of supplies.

At this point in my own use and stockpiling of supplies I began to evaluate my constant influx of more supplies. For quite awhile I was able to justify my accumulation by writing reviews of various items for my blog. At one point I was buying items faster than I could possibly review them. I had a running list in one of my notebooks labeled, “Shit to Review.” Eventually I did review some of those items, but I also realized that there was no way I was going to be able to review everything that came across my desk, especially since I don’t tend to review stuff I dislike**. I took the gifting approach. I boxed up a bunch of the pencils that I knew I’d never use again and gave them to a classroom in need***. I still have a box of sketchbooks and pencils that I intend to test and review, or have tested and will review.

This leads to the second point that seemed to be common, that people would find an item that they liked, and like myself with my Mead 5-Star and EF ECOwriter, find that it would disappear or undergo change. This seems to lead to stockpiling of a favorite item(s). In my case, I have a half gross each of General’s Cedar Pointe #1 and Vintage EF ECOWriters. Why? Both of these items have disappeared on me in the past and been impossible to find. Fortunately, the CP#1 is back on shelves, but the ECOWriter is gone for good and is only available on eBay. Almost every person who stated that they stockpile a favorite item said that another favorite has disappeared on them in the past. I think this is clearly an important motivator and point of change in the stationery journey.

I have to wonder if I would stockpile**** pencils, notebooks, and sketchbooks if in my early years of stationery love a favorite notebook and pencil hadn’t drastically changed or disappeared?

Consider this part one in a multi part series that muses on the thought process between using, collecting, and stockpiling.

Continue reading User, Collector, or Stockpiler Part 1

Review: Koh-i-Noor Thermoplastic Eraser

In one of my last CWPE orders I added the $1.75 Thermoplastic to my cart. It was a whim, as if I needed another eraser. I ordered the teal, because I really like teal. Anyway, I was looking for a pocket eraser that would stand up well without needing protection from the wear and tear of pocket carry.KINH

Anyway, this hexagonal teal eraser is a nice size and shape for both pocket carry and using as a fidget and worry stone. It is a decent general eraser but it doesn’t do as good a job as the Sakura foam. It cleans well enough for writing but it is too hard and stiff to really get deep into the fibers of the paper, so a little bit of graphite remains. It does a decent enough job for quick notes and notebook use. I was happy with how well it did with the majority of my pocket notebooks.KINH

The hexagonal shape allows for many corners and edges for detailed erasing and getting into single lines for erasure. It wears well and for a quick eraser doesn’t leave a ton of crumbs on the page. It does leave crumbs though, so be aware you’ll be dusting off your page and desk after useage. It isn’t gritty so it is gentle on the surface of your page. It isn’t as aggressive as a Pearl or other silica containing eraser.

Overall, it’s not a bad eraser. It feels nice in the hand and is gentle on the paper. Granted it doesn’t remove all the graphite but that isn’t really needed for notes and writing. It is worth the price, plus it is a  really really pretty teal color.

Review: Story Supply Co. HB Pencil

I backed the SSC kickstarter campaign, and you should too. They are fully backed and are in the stage of scoring extras, so go back it and score! Also if you don’t want to read the rest of my review, I really dig these pencils. Nutshell review: Dark, decent point retention, great for class notes.SSC PencilI had hoped to get this review out a little sooner than I have but due to a new internship, classes, and a ridiculous number of papers due in the first weeks of class, I haven’t had time to write up a proper review. However all of that means I’m able to really put this pencil through it’s paces. I’ve used a good chunk of it for class notes, reading notes and underlining, as well as general writing. Thus far I’m impressed.SSC Pencil

First off let me tell you more about the how nice this pencil looks. It’s a naturally colored pencil with nice navy blue printing, a golden ferrule, and a snappy blue eraser. It all works together to look really nice. It’s a sharp looking pencils. It is billed as raw, but it is not. After sharpening, there is clearly a finish that can be seen. Maybe a water-based varnish? I’m not sure, but it is not raw. (This could also be due to the fact that I have a reviewer sample and the final version might be different.) Regardless, it is  a good looking pencil.SSC PencilThe pencil is made by Musgrave*, right here in the USA. It is not made of cedar instead pine or basswood. It smells appropriately woody, though not as good as cedar. It sharpens well in every sharpener I’ve tested it with- the Carl A5 (aka the Classroom Friendly), the KUM stenographer, the KUM Automatic, and knife. The core sharpens up well too. It doesn’t chip or flake, even in my slightly dull KUM Stenographer. It has decent point retention for as dark as it is. With HB pencils I never know how many pages I’ll get out of them HB pencils seem to be all over the map in terms of darkness and point retention. I favor darker pencils, and don’t mind sharpening pretty often. I found myself getting about 2 composition book pages before I’d need to touch up the point. That’s pretty darn good if you ask me.SSC Pencil

I’d compare this favorably to a General’s Cedar Pointe #2, but being better in terms of darkness and smoothness, but not quite as smooth as the CP#1. Overall, this is a great pencil. It looks good and performs well. What more can you ask for?SSC Pencil

The only thing I wish is that the blue of the printing matched the blue of the eraser. That is a tiny little thing. Read more about SSC and what they do here. Back their kickstarter while you are there. It’s a great cause and you can score some great rewards.
Continue reading Review: Story Supply Co. HB Pencil

Six Pencils for September

There are a lot of challenges on the internet- use this material, use that material, use only so many pens, etc… None of them really interested me. I dislike rules that aren’t my own… The first challenge that I’ve see that I really feel like I can do it the “6 Pencils for a Month” challenge that I first saw on the Erasable Facebook group.

Last month I struggled with which pencils to chose? I already had a pencil case full of 9 pencils. I chose not to take part in the challenge.

This month I decided to go with the following, with a few caveats, which I’ll detail later

  1. Musgrave TS 100– a solid pencil for note taking and sketching.
  2. Mitsubishi 4563 2B– Soft dark, but yet doesn’t wear down like crazy. Awesome for notes and sketching.
  3. Tombow 8900 B– A great pencil for notes and sketching. Dark but with decent point retention.
  4.  Staedtler Tradition B– I’m less familiar with this one, it’s dark and soft, we’ll see how it contends with the rest for notes.
  5. Palomino Blue HB end dipped– One of my last pencils of this fine iteration of the Palomino HB. I was sad to learn that these are no longer produced.
  6. Caran d’Ache SwissWood Dark HB– the only true HB of the lot, but a very nice HB. Smooth. It smells like a campfire. I wish this pencil came in a 2B. I say 2B and not B because I find Cd’A’s graphite to run substantially harder than more other brands. I am doing this for Toffer. He can consider my using a hard pencil like this his wedding gift.

My 6 for September.

A photo posted by Less Herger (@lessherger) on


My caveats, because I cannot follow someone else’s rules without also imposing my own to flaunt them, are as follow:

  1. If I use a pencil down to a nubbin, I can replace it with one just like it.
  2. Or not if I don’t like it very much, or it proves to be a pain in my ass.
  3.  I can also chose to replace it with something else from the pencil cup.
  4. I’m free to use whatever I’ve put into my bullet pencil.
  5. Art pencils and pencils used for art don’t count.
  6. Pencils may not be replaced until worn down to a nub.

Another issue that I will be running into is that all summer I’ve knife sharpened all of my pencils into delicate hummingbird points. I’ve found that I can write for 4 or more pages with a pencil sharpened as such, and have grown quite fond of these points. The issue that I’m going to run into is that if I don’t point up my pencils before heading into school, I’m kinda screwed. I feel like I have to decide to either remember to sharpen the pencils the night before or sharpen them with the “long” point sharpener. *grumble* Knife sharpening in a outside of the art rooms is not looked upon kindly.
So that is my personal challenge, with caveats.

Review: J.Herbin Fountain Pen

I look at this pen as the partner to the J.Herbin refillable rollerball, which seems to have been around for awhile. There is a reason I see it as a partner and it’s hard not to compare the two, as the body and cap and even grip are nearly identical. They differ only in the writing point and the color of the J. Herbin logo on the cap. The fountain is silver gray and the rollerball sports red. Both take standard small international cartridges. An yeah, I tried to stuff a long cart in, no bueno.JHerbin Fountain

The plastic of the body and cap is not crystal clear but has a milky appearance. I suspect this is due to the type of plastic used, as the body and cap have a certain amount of flex. The grip section is a different kind of plastic which is crystal clear and hard with zero flexibility. The cap snaps on for capping with an audible and to me, satisfying, click. For posting, and you must post or the pen is too miniscule, even for my lady hands. It friction fits. I found that I had to jam it on there or it would work it’s way off.JHerbin FountainThe nib at first use/inking/ out of the display (no packaging or box) worked well. I was surprised at it’s smoothness, even with the dry J.Herbin cart I loaded up. I, of course, polished it up a bit, and frankly the nib is great for the price of $15. The nib looks to be a fine or medium, depending on what  you measure it against, I’d put it as right between the two. There are no other options, purely one size fits all on this baby.JHerbin Fountain

I’ve been using this for about a month and have just burned through my mixed cart of Noodler’s Nikita and J. Herbin Indien Orange. I’m pretty happy with the performance and expense. This pen was $15 to the rollerball’s $12 and I find this to be the better value of the two. The nib performs well for this price range and the flow is great, even with dry J.Herbin ink. All in all a good value for $15.JHerbin Fountain

This would be an excellent give for someone looking for a cheap pen to leave in the office, gift to a preteen, or teen. It would be a great beginner pen. This and a few packs of J. Herbin or Diamine inks carts and a journal would make a fantastic gift.JHerbin Fountain JHerbin Fountain

For my pen hacking readers, this is a pen that maybe up for eyedropper mod. With only 3 small, tiny, holes in the back end, this is a prime first seal-it-up pen hack. The little holes could easily be filled with a small dose of E6000 and the threads treated with silicone grease. It would hold a decent amount of ink, probably triple the amount of the little short carts. I might try this and report back.

Highly Visual Calendar

Because I am a visual person, I’ve always used some manner of large wall mounted calendar to keep track of the things I need to do. When I had a nifty office for my job, I had it mounted right next to my monitor and wrote in stuff as far in advance as I knew it was going to happen. I’d also add in a variety of things that were reoccurring. I attempted at one point to use a fancy Palm Pilot but it didn’t get my visual nature as well as a simple calendar.

Then I left my job and I used pocket planners alone, but I found that stuff would slip my mind. Last fall I started out with a simple piece of cardstock in a Trapper Keeper folder with a clear pocket on the front. Each class was assigned a color and I’d write out each assignment and the due date onto a Post-it  of that color. I used the small 2×2 cube Post-its.

Not only was this visual, but when each task was accomplished I was able to rip the Post-it off, crumple it, then toss it into the trash. I’m telling you the feeling of tossing the Post-it was better than a gold star.

Enter this fall and a slightly fuller class load than the previous semesters, plus the looming possibility of having to write a thesis, and my  simple piece of cardstock isn’t BIG enough. Yup, I’ve only got 2 of my 4 syllabi and the single sheet is full. Some of the notes are redundant- Blackboard responses to readings, ongoing art responses, etc… But for the most part, if I subtracted those, I’d still have a metric ton of Post-its. Plus, 2 more classes need to be added.

To accommodate the additional course load I decided to make a 5×4 landscape table in publisher, with a super thick grid. (PDF here.) Notice that there are no labels. I just write above the grid M-F. I omitted Saturday and Sunday because the grid was too small with them, and those days will simply be days for reading and writing, with the exception of weekends where I have class. I’ll have special Post-its for those weekends… Probably.Visual Calendar

What this gives me is a flexible and HIGHLY visual calendar. I can see at a glance that the week of October 12-16th is going to be busy while the week of September 14th through 18th is going to be pretty quiet.Visual Calendar Visual Calendar

You can buy this already printed and with all 7 days from Post-it themselves. Or make one that works with whatever sticky notes you happen to have on hand. The grid was easy to set up in Publisher, but would also be just as easy to do in any word processing program like google docs.*

I also use Google Calendar to remind myself of reoccurring items like my Blackboard assignments. I tend to forget about things like that. though the due date is the day of the class, I tend to not have time on the day of the class and self impose that those assignments are finished in advance of the actual due date.

Continue reading Highly Visual Calendar

Revision: Pocket Notebook Set Up

Every successful system and tool must be reviewed periodically to assess its usefulness. Case in point is my use of pocket notebooks. I’ve been using a little card with a 3-month calendar taped to the front of the book. This has served me pretty well, but requires transfer from book to book.

I’ve also pretty much stopped using the 2-page “To Do” list pages. generally, when I move to my next book the pages are nearly empty. Now this could partially be due to this being the summer or just because I’ve slightly outgrown the list.setupv

I’ve been on the lookout for a one month rubber stamp with blank month/year/etc. I finally found one from this seller on etsy. It fits perfectly onto a half page of a pocket notebook and leaves room below for making notes for important dates. This will go on what was my blog to do page and will replace my calendar card, as I’ve found in my last few books the washi tape tore the cover. Which annoyed me more than anything.20150827_175119The new set up is as follows:

  1. index
  2. catch all page
  3. shopping list/ to do list
  4. Calendar pages (2)

The shopping list and to do lists will be combined onto one page with the top half being the shopping list and the bottom half the to do list. If I need to make a large list of stuff to review for the blog, I’ll make that within the notebook at a random location. I can find it quickly due to the index page.setup  setup

 

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