When I saw these on JetPens I immediately added the blue and green color Capsule to my wish list. I then made the mistake of tweeting and posting pics of it. By the time I was ready to buy it, in just a few days, they were all gone! I had to wait over a month for them to get back into stock. This sharpener uses the Sonic Rachetta ratcheting mechanism. In stead of continually twisting the pencil, you twist it back and forth. It works pretty well and quickly. It’s only slightly faster than using a regular twisty sharpener.The point produced is a short point without a needle tip or a blunt point, your choice thanks to the nifty switch. The great thing about the needle tip is that there is little tip breakage when using the pencil after sharpening. Which is pretty great. The sharpener takes the thinnest shaving of wood off my pencils, producing see through shavings and dust. It’s great to use with my nicer pencils because I’m not wasting a ton of the core when I use it. I never use the switch on mine as I have no use for blunt pencils. I really enjoy this sharpener’s looks. I like the crystal clear shavings reservoir and the bright coordinated colors in the sharpener itself. I also enjoy the facets and details in the cap. My one complaint about this sharpener is that it looks a little… Phallic or uh, adult toy like. It’s one step away from “massager” design, all it needs is a button battery and a motor. Of course when it’s filled with graphite dust and wood shavings the sex toy look is diminished. But opening up my JetPens package I had a little chuckle. If you are neurotic about your sharpener and want it to look “always clean” this is not going to be the sharpener for you. the graphite and shavings are always visible and while I don’t mind the look, in fact I LIKE seeing the shavings fill the clear reservoir* the graphite does cling to the sides and look dirty even when empty. At $5.50 it’s not the cheapest sharpener but it’s not the most expensive. In several weeks of steady use, I’ve been very happy with this sharpener. The major downside of this sharpener is that the blade, while screwed in, is not technically replaceable, since you can not find replacement blades to fit it. Which is a major bummer. That being said, I really like this sharpener and I’ll keep an eye out for blades that may fit, it looks like it might use the Staedtler sharpener blades.When compared to the other Sonic Rachetta** sharpener, it works much much better. The other sharpener was plagued by being hard to empty and having and odd shape which held the shavings in at weird spots. This sharpener empties with a simple tap on the trash can. Continue reading Review: Sonic Rachetta Capsule
I’ve been toying with the idea of adding reviews of my other other passion, coffee to this blog for awhile. I haven’t gotten around to doing it, but the idea is still sound. Of all of the things that come and go in my studio, coffee is a constant. I cannot remember a time I did not create with out a good cup of coffee somewhere nearby.
Over the last few years I’ve had to cut back on my coffee consumption. I was a full pot a day kinda woman, only I found that it was making me jittery and was interfering with my sleep. I’ve cut back to 1 or 2 cups of good coffee a day. Occasionally when pulling a late night study session I will have an additional cup. But most days I’m down to one cup.
Because I cut back so much I decided that I wanted to drink even better coffee than I was before. I began exploring higher end coffees and micro roasts. Though I spend more per pound of coffee I’m spending less than I was before because I’m drinking less. I’m also enjoying it more. I’ve also gotten very picky about the brews I’ll drink. I could tell you stories about the undrinkable swill I bought at a Starbucks on the Maine Turnpike or the delightful cups I’ve purchased near school.
Basically, I like coffee a lot and I’ve spent the last few years learning about different brewing methods and good coffee, maybe I should write about that. Maybe not. Maybe this stuff should go on a whole new blog, but I kinda feel like coffee and art go together like peanut butter and chocolate.
Because I’m neurotic I took the eraser out and screwed it back in a couple of times only to realize that the base of it was cut crooked and thus couldn’t really be made straight. I grabbed an emery board and filed the end of it flat, then screwed it in again. Success. It now sits perfectly aligned with the body of the pencil. The white with the blue is great. I’m not too ecstatic about the eraser material itself. It’s a serviceable white plastic of unknown variety, it does the job relatively well. Thus far it has not fallen out in my pocket even when I’ve walked about in the city or to the train. I can say that the threads do a fine job of what they are supposed to do- grip that eraser and hold it in. I do think that I’ll eventually upgrade to a metal cap to hold in the clip because I carry a block or stick eraser with me all the time and use that.On the flip side of the pencil is the bullet that hold the pencil. This also utilizes a thread to hold any pencil firmly. It arrived with a Blackwing 602 inside, held in very tightly. I tested out my spare tip with a Tombow 8900 and it worked just as well. I’m hoping to test out a bunch of pencils in this thing. The great thing about this tip is that it holds about a half inch of extra pencil screwed into it, so as you use up your pencil, you can unscrew it to get at the “spare” pencil hidden inside. The threads hold the pencil secure as you write.
The bullet itself screws in and out of the body pretty smoothly. One of my tips can with some grittiness that soon smoothed off in use and by rubbing the threads with the end of a pencil nubbin. The threads are slightly sharp feeling, while they won’t cut me and I know that they’ll wear down with age, the sharpness is noticeable and irritating if I write more than a few lines. Because I was a Kickstarter backer I was able to get a second bullet tip at a reduced price. I picked a rounded and a pointed. I prefer the rounded to the pointed tip but that’s mainly a preference. I carry the second tip with a Pearl nubbin screwed in and capped with a General’s sav-a-point. This effectively allows me to carry a spare pencil safely just in case I wear my nubbin down to point where I can’t sharpen it easily*. There are other nubbin toting options, such as Randy’s great nubbin tins. They work great.Anyway, if you can’t tell by now, this is a great bullet pencil that is super tough. While not a throw away advertising item like vintage BP it is a fantastic spin on the old tools, and one that works very very well. While vintage BP will always be a fun EDC item for me, this version is tough, stylish, and very functional**.
I received this pencil free from Notegeist in my first order. As far as I can tell other than some large quantity packaged on Amazon and eBay, Notegeist appears to be the only place to get just a few of these. Frankly, you’ll want at least one of these in your pencil case.
The looks of the pencil are very nice. It’s coated in a nice thick lacquer with silver and black stripes. The end is capped with a simple black end dip. The imprint is even and not too deeply set in silver foil. It stands out well and is easily read.
The pencil sharpens with ease, though it appears to be made out of basswood and not cedar. I was able to sharpen it in any sharpener and to any point. It held a long point well.
As far as the core of this pencil goes, it’s nice and dark. While it holds a point reasonably well it doesn’t hold one nearly as well as an HB. It is fantastic and smooth. In my use I have not encountered a single bit of grit nor scratchy bit.
David Reese might refer to mechanical pencils as bullshit but I’ve had a long standing love affair with these wondrous pieces of awesome. From my first knurled metal gripped Koh-i-Nor to this pencil, I love ‘em. Well, except for that cheap ass Kuru Toga I previously reviewed. Enter the metal bodied version of the Kuru Toga, the Roulette. I have previously discussed the smooth metal bodied version, this one is knurled. And the knurling is nice, it’s crisp and grip-y and completely not slippery. Which was a problem I had with the smooth metal gripped version of this pencil.
The balance is just right for my hand. With the larger weighted end of the pencil being at the business end and the lighter end being the rest of the pencil. It is also important to note that Uni cheaped out and made the rest of the pencil out of colored plastic. While the pencil is metallic and perfectly matches the paint, I do wish it was made out of the nice aluminum of the grip section. I find that the plastic is less noticeable on this version than the pink version, possibly because the grip and the plastic are the exact same color.
The tip floats a bit as it needs to be able to move up and down without friction thus has a loose-ish fit in the cone. It’s barely noticeable as I’m writing. The Kuru Toga “engine” does it’s job and moves the tip in miniscule amounts as I write, keeping the edge sharp and crisp. The line doesn’t widen at all, it’s stays the same. IF I remember to not rotate my pencil. Since I’ve been writing with wooden pencils all summer I have gotten back into the habit of rotating my pencil, so in effect I defeat the mechanism.
The key to making these pencils work well, it to not rotate the pencil as you write, something that is hard to stop yourself from doing if you’ve been making yourself do it for a full 4 or more months. It also helps if it’s held at more than a 45 degree angle. Steeper angles don’t provide quite enough force to the mechanism to actually rotate the lead. So it just acts like any old pencil.
Anyway, bullshit aside, this is a great looking and feeling mechanical pencil. I break very few leads with this beauty and my writing is crisp and accurate, well as crisp and accurate as my crappy handwriting can be. The price isn’t bad depending on where you purchase it. I found mine on Amazon for about $10, but they are now out of stock. On Jetpens they are $16. In my opinion, if you are looking for a great mechanical pencil, the knurled metal grip Roulette is a fine choice.
I’m going to start off this review with a negative statement then run into the more positive. This isn’t my first Kuru Toga and won’t be my last, but you shouldn’t buy this as your introduction to Kuru Toga. Why? It’s a cheap imitation of Kuru Toga greatness. The idea of the Kuru Toga is that the lead rotates so you are always writing with a sharp crisp point. This pencil does that, and does it pretty well. If I were just reviewing the Kuru Toga “engine” this pencil would get a high five and stellar review, unfortunately the great guts are marred by a god awful pencil body. The body of this pencil is smokey gray plastic that allows you to see the inner workings of the pencil. In theory this is a pretty cool idea, but unless you are working in bright light you can’t really see the inner workings. For me to see through the plastic I must be under a nice bright light otherwise I can’t see anything inside moving, certainly not the small white logo on light blue that is inside this pencil.The other Kuru Togas I’ve handled have had a stainless steel tip section, this model has a chrome plated plastic section with a super wide silicone ring around it. The rubbery silicone grip keeps your fingers from sliding off the pencil. The problem is that it’s really hard, has a raised ridge, and is very uncomfortable. I consider myself to have a pretty tough writer’s callous on my right middle finger, but this pencil irritated it. The eraser is puny, but works okay once you can get it into contact with the paper. The eraser is so short that you have to flip the pencil completely upside down for it to make contact with the page, otherwise the body of the pencil gets in the way. When you do flip it over you have to press so hard you deploy the nock. The end cap is also miniscule and easily lost. Basically, just keep a block eraser on hand for erasing. This starter set arrives with 2 extra erasers, but no case to keep them in, so you’ll lose those too. The set arrives with 2 leads in the chamber and a 10-lead tube of NanoDia HB leads. While these are not my favorite leads, they are very nice and smooth for HB leads. This is probably the best part of this $5 starter set. I don’t know why Uni made such a terrible pencil package as it’s Kuru Toga starter kit. I don’t think this pencil is going to bring anyone to a love of the Kuru Toga. If anyone is interested in getting a Kuru Toga they are better off getting the rubber gripped version or one of the metal gripped versions. The rubber gripped version is only a few dollars more expensive, and has better reviews.
In short I’m saying this pencil is very cheap feeling but the Kuru Toga engine inside works just fine. I wish I had just saved my $5 and put it toward another metal bodied Kuru Toga or a package of BIC disposable mechanical pencils. The “good” thing about it is that I can use it at my internship and not worry about losing it. Since I don’t have desk space of my own, I have to carry all my stuff around either on my person or leave it in my bag, meaning I don’t leave anything of any valuable laying about.
I hit the Japanese gift shop at my University before class and picked out a selection of stationary goods as I shopped for potential Christmas gifts. I ended up leaving with stuff only for me (and this blog) and no Christmas gifts. But I did have ideas.
Anyway, one of the items I purchased, on a whim was the 3×5 spiral bound fancy pants Midori World Meister’s Grain notebook. Before I go on my rant/tirade I’ll give you some fact, then I’ll lose you with the rant. It has 100 sheets of paper. 50 lined with a solid line then 4 dashed lines then another solid 4 more dashed lines and so on. Then 50 more blank pages. The lined pages are a creamy color with brown lines. the blank pages are a warm ivory shade. The paper is smooth and crisp. It’s great with pencil, gel ink, and fountain pen. No bleeding and little show through. Quite stunning with fountain pen.
The spiral binding is a copper colored metal and feels sturdy enough. The elastic is brown and goes quite well with the copper wire. The elastic is held to the back cover by two sturdy looking black eyelets. I picked out the black “leather” cover. The copper wire looks great with it, the brown elastic? Eh, it’s okay, just not great. They had brown and tan covers available as well, the brown elastic looks great with them. The “leather” cover also looks pretty good. It’s got a nice texture and feel that goes well with the rest of the materials. Altogether this is a great looking notebook.
The price is a tad on the high side. Okay, well, it’s not a TAD on the high side it’s really god damn expensive. I paid $8.25 on a whim, for a 3×5 spiral notebook with 100 sheets. Yes, I feel like a fool. I could get 12 notebooks on amazon for $10 if I looked for 5 minutes. Could I get one with paper this nice? No. Would fountain pens and gel ink soak through like I was writing on TP? Most likely. This paper is premium and lush. It’s fancy. Is it $8.25 fancy? Well, probably.
If you use fountain pens this is a great looking 3×5 notebook that you’re likely to reach for again and again. It works so flawlessly with fountain pens I’ve been loath to use it with anything else. It’s great with pencils too but man, the ink just works on this paper.
My gripe with this notebook is painting the “leather” cover as “recycled” leather. It’s less an issue with the notebook than it is with the industry (maybe Midori) for taking something that is a standard practice and painting it as some sort of green recycling thing when it’s been done FOREVER. They call this “recycled leather.” It’s leftover leather that is ground up, mixed with plastic, and pressed into a sheet. Sometimes leather scent is added. This has been around for so long that it’s the reason there are laws in the US for labeling leather products. This is why you get a tag on your boots or gloves that says “full grain leather.” This product has been used in bookbinding for ages and ages. It’s easier to use- the leather is rubberized so it’s flexible, it comes with glue on the back (if they order it that way) and it’s an even size. Yes, it’s a good practice, but is it really green? After all they are mixing plastic (probably vinyl) with an organic product that would break down.
As I’ve delved further into my graduate work I’ve felt more and more out of touch with the world of online art teaching, specifically the teaching of art journaling. Part of this is that I’ve deliberately distanced myself from all the hoopla and brouhaha that surrounds the opening of new classes. The marketing and commercialism turns me off. I get that these classes bring in new people to the joy of art journaling but I can’t help that I just don’t like some of the things I’ve seen. I don’t begrudge the creators of these classes their fat paychecks**. But to me, art journaling when done for healing is a private thing.
This sort of uneasy feeling was cemented when earlier this week I met with a client who isn’t an artist, would likely say she’s not interested in art, but was willing to try out visual journaling. As we sat together and she learned about the materials and expressed herself visually I realized that these sorts of moments- true expression and exploration are what got me interested in art journaling in the first place.
What hooked me wasn’t pictures of big eyes girls, or classes, or even making pretty pages. What hooked me was the authentic expression I found within the pages of my journal.
What I was so very privileged to share in this woman’s experience was pure unadulterated authentic expression using only the most basic of art materials.
When was the last time you used something basic in your art journal? Cheap markers? Oil pastels? Crayons? Prang watercolors?
This was the first time in a year where I’ve felt connected to visual journaling in the same way I did 10 years ago. I was able to see the connection to the journal form and the pure expression of her art build. I witnessed something special.
I haven’t felt that online in ages.
This isn’t to say that the mega classes aren’t fun, I’m sure they are, but they aren’t what I think of when I think “art journaling.”
I picked up a 2-pack of OrangeArt’s pocket sized tattersall letterpress printed notebooks at Black Ink in Harvard Square awhile back. The 2-pack was $8.50, so pretty pricey.Each notebook has a cover and pages that are letter press printed with a tattersall pattern. Basically zigzag lines in a large grid pattern. The covers are printed in 2 colors while the interior is a nice shade of gray. The interior paper is nice, toothy enough for pencils and smooth enough for fountain pens. Fountain pens perform reasonably well on this paper, with a little show through and hardly any bleed through but for where I rested my pen a second too long. I used 3 inks in my testing, Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite, J. Herbin Lie de The, and Noodler’s Heart of Darkness. All were in medium or fine nibbed pens that run wet. I had no feathering or widening of the lines. With the finest of pens the paper made them feel scratchy, but not bad enough to stop me from writing. Pencils performed admirably on this paper. I was able to use my soft dark Palomino Blackwing (“original”) as well as my harder lighter Mirado Black Warrior to good effect. The paper was toothy enough to pull off a decent amount of graphite but not so toothy it felt like I was writing on a cheese grater. Pretty much just right. The book is held together with 2 standard staples. This works reasonably well. I did not subject this to a stress test as this book was my at-home journal and even there lived in a leather cover. The cover is letterpress printed in 2 colors on white. The cover paper is not much heavier than the interior pages and feels flimsy. It is the worst part of the whole book. While pretty, this cover simply isn’t going to hold up to much abuse or pulling in and out of a back pocket. This is a paper cover that necessitates a case for any use out and about.The 40 pages take fountain pen and pencil well. This notebook has 8 less pages than other pocket notebooks that are cheaper. The ruling is also odd. It is a gray version of the exterior printing but without the cool letterpress imprint*. The ruling is super wide, about double the width of a Word notebook and most other ruling. It measures in at 13mm. Super wide. i was able to fit 2 lines of writing into one line. I find this annoying. the ruling is also thick about .5mm. even though it’s gray it shows up under all my writing and remains very noticeable. They are available without the ruling. If I were to buy these again I’d look for them with blank pages. Overall these are very pretty pocket notebooks and wonderful if you use a case/cover for your books. If you use fountain pens you will be pleased with the interior paper, and likewise for pencil. They are higher priced than Field Notes or Word notebooks, but boast letterpress printed covers and interior pages. Worth it if you like letter pressed items and want something a little different from the standard fare.
Over on the Erasable podcast they spent an entire episode on erasers. The episode focused on erasers from the perspective of writers and lacked the perspective of an artist.* This highlighted to me the major differences in how artists and writers use erasers and why they use them.
An overwhelming favorite of the podcast were the Pearl erasers, which are now available in the classic pink but also in black and white. The pearl series of erasers feature a gritty removal mechanism that artists tend to avoid as it can damage the delicate surfaces of your art paper, but removes graphite quickly and pretty cleanly while writing. And if you are pressing hard while writing the Pearl erasers can press down the surrounding paper fibers and get down into that groove and get that graphite out. Great for writing, not so great for drawing.
When it comes to using erasers for drawing or shading, there are so many options out there that it’s confusing. What do you use and when do you use it? This post is about a few classic erasers that you’ll find many art teachers recommend.
All of the images show Design Drawing 3800 4B and a General’s Semi-Hex HB/#2 swatch on color lined 3×5 card. The Semi-Hex was chosen for it’s grittiness and ability to leave scratches in the paper, to demonstrate how the soft erasers have issues with getting into these grooves. The 4B was to demonstrate how the pencil can be pushed into the fibers of the paper. Also included in the first image is the pile of eraser crumbs created via erasing.
Let’s start off with the classic Art Gum Eraser. It’s tan and can be purchased in a variety of sizes for cheap money. when you use ity you’ll notice that it is also crumbly and makes a mess of crumbs across the page. It does an okay job of graphite removal but it really does a better job with charcoal. It also doesn’t have any grit to speak of so it doesn’t abrade the paper like the Pearl erasers. It is however pretty stiff so I can dent your page.
I recommended this one to my former students mostly because it was super cheap but also for it’s great work with charcoal pencils. Next is the standard kneaded eraser. These are made by a bunch of brands and can also be found in soft, medium, and hard varieties. though most varieties are medium (IMO) and are not labeled. If you aren’t in an art store you will not find the various “hardnesses.” Even most art stores simply carry one style. Many stores also have their brand label of kneaded erasers. In the past kneaded erasers were always gray. Now you can find them in blue, yellow, and other colors.
To use a kneaded eraser you stretch and pull it until it is soft and pliable. You can form it into shapes to make erasures on your page. My favorite shape is a teardrop, the pointy end can be used for details while the larger rounded end can clear away larger swathes of graphite. These can be trickier to get the hang of than similar block erasers, but once mastered they are great. You would use these on almost any drawing paper where you want to clean off graphite or charcoal without damaging your expensive paper. They leave no trace behind so generally, even after erasing your paper will react to watercolors just the same as before you erased. If you have pressed into your page, this eraser will not get that graphite out. This is a delicate eraser meant to remove delicate marks. However with work it will get a paper close to clean. The final classic eraser we should discuss and is always on every art supply list I’ve ever received is the Staedtler Mars Plastic (SMP). While white plastic erasers are now everywhere** the Mars Plastic is the original. The SMP is suggested because it’s soft enough that it doesn’t damage paper but also can clean the paper really well. Unlike the Pearl erasers it has no grit but works really well. It was originally designed for designers to remove graphite from blueprint films, it removed graphite cleanly and easily. It tends to tear if you hold it too far back from the working end, and the paper sleeve helps to keep it from breaking but also to keep it clean. It was able to be cut into shape and used to get tiny small details, which was always fantastic for detailed drawings.
It was always outrageously expensive but has gone down drastically in price over the last 15 years. Which is really great for the art students out there. I tended to go through one of these, if not more in a school year, as I sketched out ideas, added ink, and then erased my lines later. It never worked as well with charcoal as it did with graphite but still did okay. It was also available in a click stick format. But that is for another round up. These three erasers were on every art supply list I received in college and later I often recommended them. Over the years I’ve gotten rid of the art gum in favor of other styles but recognize it’s usefulness.