Tribute Pencils: Buffy Edition

I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. I remember when the movie came out but didn’t watch the show until it was no longer on the air. I’ve made up for lost time by watching the entire season when I can’t figure out what I want to watch. Needless to say, with all this talk of commemorative pencils I started to thinking, “What would a BtVS tribute pencil look like?”

Would it be a #2 Faber Castell American, like what she used to slay the vamp while studying? Or would it look like a stake?

For this pencil modification I chose the stake route.

Materials were as follows:

  1. General’s Cedar Pointe #1
  2. L.A. Looks Endless red fingernail polish

I removed the erasers from the pencils and brushed on a generous coating of the polish. At the end I put a large dollop of polish on one facet and allowed it to run down the side of the pencil. Then I stuck it into a box so it stood up and could dry overnight.IMG_0143

I searched for a nail polish called “Harlot” but could not find one, however I think Endlessfits the bill and is the right blood red color.IMG_0144

Why the blood red? “Cause it’s always got to be blood….  blood is life.” IMG_0146

Anyway, this is my BtVS tribute pencil.

Memory Sparks

It seems that bright colors and stripes are all the rage in pencil fashion these days. I’ve waxed philosophical about the neons in both Wopex and Ticonderoga in the past. This year Dixon has introduced striped Ticonderoga pencils in 5 colorways. Green, blue, yellow, orange, and magenta. Each pencil sports 2 shades of the color- one bright the other pastel. Each has an eraser to match the brighter color and that traditional green and yellow Ticonderoga ferrule. All that bright cheery goodness is wrapped around good old American cedar. These are all made in their pencil manufacturing facility in China, so don’t be fooled that these are American made. That is the only thing that could make these better. The core inside is their soft HB which reminds me more  of a B than anything else.IMG_0138

I dig these bright colorways so much. I am most taken by the green. It reminds me of school bus seats in buses dating back to the 60s, like the one I rode back in 1980 when I first went to school. They remind me of the old supplies in green cardboard boxes my teachers had in their pale tan cabinets. The dark green color is also nearly the same shade as the enameled tin boxes that tools would be in before molded plastic became popular and cheaper. The outside of the tin would be a mottled green color and inside the tool would be set into a thin plastic molded shelf. I used one of those metal tool boxes as my pencil and pen case in high school. It also served to protect my fancy graphing calculator from harm.*

The green striped pencils evoke memories of early childhood and school for me. The yellow reminds me of the school bus- the dark shade is just right for the rickety school bus I first rode.

The  final three colors, the magenta, blue and orange remind me of summers as a child. That blue perfectly encompasses the color of the sky reflected off the oceans and lakes I swam in. The orange is the sand and sun beating down on us. The magenta is the color our skin turned after a few days in the sun. IMG_0141

These bright cheerful pencils are awesome and nostalgic.

This post was inspired by Brandon’s over here. Continue reading

Pencils for Heros

Yesterday’s post, and the responses to it across the other 2 blogs and the Erasable community got me thinking. I wondered, “What currently produced pencils would I assign to each of these people or things that I feel embodies them?” If I think about my pencil collection and each of these people/things, which pencils match up? This list is my imagination and doesn’t take into account what the person would have or does actually use. I base this list off my readings of the person listed and out of my imagination.

With the old in with the new. #pencil #penaddict #stationery

A photo posted by LC Harper (@originallcharper) on

Lois Lane. I think Lane would use a tough, serviceable pencil like the USA Gold. Not the natural but the old fashioned yellow, made in the USA, USA Gold. It’s a smooth, tough core that lasts and lasts. I think she’d need that for writing in her reporter notebooks.

Hannah Hoch. This was an easy one. Hoch is the Staedtler Norcia, black with a white eraser. A hint of goth but it’s too cool for that. It’s got a hint of controversy too. Perfect pencil for this brilliant artist.

Sojourner Truth. Ticonderoga Renew. It’s got that renewable thing going for it, raw wood, smooth core with the occasional scratchiness. It’s remade into something awesome, and if there is one person on this list that is awesome, It’s Truth.

Audre Lorde. General’s Cedar Pointe #1, Raw, tough, serviceable, signs of use are easily visible as the sweat of one’s labor stains the barrel.

Softball. Eberhard Faber EcoWriter. A pencil that took years of work and research to create, but wasn’t around long enough  and is now gone, gone, gone.

Ellen. Nataraj Pop or Ticonderoga Stripes. Both pencils embody her bright, cheerful and positive attitude. The Pops sold out here in the States and the Tic Stripes on well on their way to being a best seller.

If you were to honor someone you admire with a pencil that is already on the market, who would it be, and what pencil would represent them?

Diversity? Schmercity

I haven’t subscribed to the Blackwing Volumes. There are so many reasons why, but after I let my Field Notes sub lapse I thought a lot about what it means to me to subscribe to something. I forced myself very carefully to examine my want vs need internal meter and each time I am faced with that WANT feeling, I carefully examine it.


For the most part, the Volumes don’t hit home for me. I like Dylan but uh, it’s a little before my time. The 211 was nice and hit all the buttons for me- except for the core. I don’t like the 602. Then we had the 1138 which I just don’t care about. The 24 is really nice but I have to actively divorce the Steinbeck association away from the pencil.* Finally we have the 56, the Dimaggio edition over a 602 core. Meh. Of the 5 editions only 1 really spoke to me.

Part of my disdain of the majority of the BWV is the heavy handed marketing by BW, the corporate atmosphere surrounding the editions, that they won’t release numbers produced** but also, the majority of the stuff memorialized is before my time. I’m not their target demographic- which is apparently older white dudes.

Mellissa in the Erasables group put up an interesting post pointing out that all of the editions have memorialized dead white guys and a music festival. Not one woman. Not one person of color. We could probably explore the myriad of reason for this, but I’ll leave it alone.

There’s been plenty of research in sociology and psychology that people tend to see people like themselves as their heroes. So when it comes to portraying heroes we usually see white dudes as those heroes. So I started to think about if I were to do a tribute pencil what would it look like and who would it be?

The Lois Lane Edition, 1938 She first appeared in the comics in 1938,m sure she was the love interest for Superman, but she was also a “tough broad” who held her own- a difficult thing in the newsroom back in ‘38. It’s be black, because Lois has black hair (most of the time) and a blue eraser, to match her eyes. The core? The extra-firm of the 24.

The Hannah Hoch Edition, Dada No numbers for this one, the Dada movement would insist. Hoch is often overlooked in favor of the male Dadaists, but she was no joke. Some of her art is astounding and stand up to this day. Call her the godmother of creepy teenage collages with oversized eyeballs. The pencil would be paperwhite, with a silver ferrule, and a black eraser because most of her work was done in black and white.

The Sojourner Truth Edition, 1851. She ran to freedom with her infant daughter in 1826 Changed her name in 1843. And gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech in 1851. The pencil would be dark blue for the Union Army’s Uniform, silver ferrule for lead shot, with a red eraser for blood lost.

The Audre Lorde Edition. 1984, For the year she published, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” an amazing read that every person should read. The pencil would be the grey of a well used tool handle, the ferrule rust colored, and the eraser, white to denote it’s the master’s tool.

The Softball Edition, 2012, Softball was removed from the list of olympic sports in 2012. But it’s played all over the world by millions of girls and women. Go figure. The pencil would be red for the stitches on a baseball, it’s have a gold ferrule for the gold medals that’ll never be won, and a brown eraser for the color of the infield. The core would be an MMX, because no one buys those.

The Ellen Edition, 1997. Ellen DeGeneres was the first openly gay woman on TV and had the first character to come out. The importance of this cannot be minimized. For years lesbians had to pretend that other female characters were “like” them and suddenly, there she was on the screen. It’d be a god damn rainbow.

Interested in reading more posts like this? Check out Johnny’s post and Andy’s post.

Please be aware there are no accusations leveled here, simply ideas for things I think would hit my demographic just about right.

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Review: Bob Slate Quad

Comrade Johnny recently informed me in the Erasable Facebook group, about Bob Slate’s Quad ruled 5×7.75 spiral bound notebooks. I had to buy a few.

The Quad is $2.95 at Bob Slate Stationers in cambridge, MA. It is not available anywhere else.*  The covers are the Standard BSS hard kraft imprinted with a red brown ink. The decoration is simple, their logo, notebooks info, and a little grid on the lower right corner. These covers are hard with minimal flexibility. Folded over on itself you can write in hand. The spiral is bright silver and doubled. Though I’ve shoved this notebook into my bag and let it get beaten up. The spiral looks as good as the day I bought it while the cover has developed a nice patina of graphite, fingerprints, and coffee rings.QUAD

Inside the paper is white with blue ruling. There are 4 lines per inch. It is narrow but not as narrow as many graphs or grid that are out there. The printed grid is quite a dark blue, and though they are dark, they are VERY fine, very narrow, so though dark, they still disappear behind darker shades of ink.QUAD

So let’s talk about ink. With ballpoint, rollerball, and gel inks this paper is great. It’s got a nice tooth and feels good. With porous points, fiber tips, fountain pens, and other liquid ink pens it’s not as nice. Fountain pens bleed through and even my smoothest fine points feel rough. Larger nibs feel better, but they bleed like I’m writing on TP. Even fiber tips and fineliners soak through this paper. This was a huge surprise to me, because BSS paper is usually so good with fountain pens and liquid inks. That said, if you are a pencil fan, these are amazing. The toothiness of the paper is great with every single pencil I’ve used within its covers.Stick to pencils or ballpoint and this is a great notebook.QUAD QUAD QUAD QUAD

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Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner

triplusI decided to pick up a trio of these pens a few months ago for sketching. I picked them up at Blick for around $2 a pen. They are now available at Artist and Craftsman for a little less. You can get multipacks on Amazon for decent prices. I’ve only seen singles at Blick and A&C. Blick has a great range of colors, while A&C had only 24 shades.

The Triplus sports a very fine fiber point that is sheathed in metal. The ink flow is smooth, generous, and even. The feel of the tip is smooth on every paper I’ve used. It will soak through on some thinner and more absorbent papers. It performed well in Field Notes, though the black does soak through if I linger upon a word in my meandered thinking.triplus

While drawing I found that they performed well. The teal shade was a tad too light, while black and blue were dark. What is important that you can leave them uncapped for ages and they won’t dry out, hence the “dry safe” designation on the pens.

I found the size and shape of the pen comfortable but not for long periods of time. Like most narrow, triangular writing instruments I find the shape and size annoying. Why? I’m not sure. I tend to death grip narrow pens but add triangular to the mix, I’m attempting strangulation. The tip itself is nearly a full inch long and if you are a “near the point” type gripper, you are going to feel the transition from body to point, and likely find it uncomfortable.IMG_0064

These have been marketed with adult coloring books. Have I yet mentioned that the tips are incredibly fine? They are smaller than 0.5, likely in the 0.38 category. It would take FOREVER to do a coloring page. I colored in 3 ¼ inch squares in a Mt Tom and 2 hours later I finish. Yes, hyperbole. That being said, if you would like to use a fiber tip pen the Paperhate Flair, which is cheaper, has a wider tip, might be a more enjoyable choice.
triplusOn the other hand, I tend to be heavy handed with fiber tipped pens and crush them. These survived and still work really well. I could see drawing with these or using brighter colors for highlighting. Mostly I’ve been using them for doodles and occasional quick notes in my Field Notes.

Review: Field Notes Byline Summer Colors Edition


I don’t usually review the new Field Notes (FN) color editions as they come out, but Bylines is so different I think it really deserves a once over.

First, I’ve been digging Reporter Notebooks for the last 6 months and began to get interested in them about a year ago. Why? I don’t know. Universe synergy? Collective consciousness*. Clearly something is in the air, because reporter notebooks are booming. Field Notes and Write both came out with one at the SAME FRICKIN’ time. Whoa. Crazy cool.IMG_0107

Anyway. The Byline has been hailed as “reinventing” the reporter notebook among many other things that fans of Field Notes are wont to say. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Aaron Draplin design, but this is not reinvention. It is a fabulous interpretation of the reporter notebook, but reinvention? Well, if you count using floppy barely functional covers as radical. But then Tops, Portage, and Mead have been doing that since the 90s. So radical, what a  departure. Please, cool your hyperbolic jets, field nuts.daringfireballhyperbole.bmp

But the covered spiral binding? That’s surely radical. Err, yeah, you haven’t seen many annual reports for midsized companies** have you? The covered spiral binding is routinely used by print companies to dress up a company’s annual report. It’s relatively inexpensive yet looks great. It stands up well to being tossed around and shipped.IMG_0113

He made it narrower! By a quarter inch. There are also half as many pages as in a regular reporter’s notebook. Yes the paper in the FNB is twice as good and I’m able to use both sides. There is a pocket! Is that really your trump card? *shakes head* The pocket makes the last few pages lumpy and bumpy and hard to write on. It also gives some weight and thickness.IMG_0108

Here’s the thing, I LOVE this edition. I love reporter’s notebooks. The long narrow form factor is great for making outlines for stories, podcasts, videos, and other things that need outlines. It’s one of the reasons I love the Write Notes Ledger and I want to love all notebooks that are tall, open at top, and narrow. If you like this form factor it’s going to work for you. If not, well, my address is…
IMG_0112 IMG_0115One of the best aspects of his new design is the paper. It’s heavy, quality, and great with all manners of ink. This is a notebook for the fountain pen users of Field Notes, granted it’s not the right form factor, but you can’t get everything you want.IMG_0111

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Follow Up: Lightfast Testing

A month ago I created some samples of art and writing materials to see if their pigments were lightfast or fugitive. I’ve checked them here and there throughout the month to see which pens fared the worst. There were some surprises and with other expectations were met.

Let’s start with lightfast expectations met. The Uniball and Zebra pens all proved to be lightfast. This was expected, every Uni pen I’ve ever tested has been lightfast. In this case I tested the Air and  Jetstream 3.0. I also tested the Zebra Surari 3 and Sarasa 3, both were lightfast.IMG_0056

The lightfast surprise was that all of the highlighter pencils did not fade, at all. I tested all shades of the Yoobi,  Very Best, Koh-i-Noor Dry Marker, as well as the Koh-i-Noor MagixFX series. None of the colors shifted, changed or faded. Quite amazing given that the general rule is that highlighter and neon colors shift.

For fugitive properties I expected that all of the Bic colors would fade or shift within a short period of time. Most met this expectation in both tip sizes. Purple, red and pink all shifted in a week and at the end of the month we’re extremely faded. I have no doubt that if I were to continue with the experiment these colors would be gone in months. Blue and Black had noticeably shifted in shade and begin fading at the end of the month, with the black fading the most. Interestingly light blue, light green and dark green exhibited the least amount of color shift and fading.  I would not suggest that these 3 colors are lightfast merely that they did not shift as much as the other colors.IMG_0060 IMG_0059 IMG_0055

I also expected that the 4 fountain pen inks I tested would show fading and color shifting. There was no surprise here. Both Edelstein shades faded within a week, and by the end of the month the Turquoise was on it’s way to being gone and Tanzanite had only the black left behind. Emerald of Chivor had shifted shade noticeably and was showing signs of fading. Interestingly of the fountain pen inks tested only one was lightfast, the Platinum Preppy black cartridge used in an EF Preppy pen.IMG_0054

I tested 2 ballpoint pens- the Retro 51 REF71 (a Schmidt refill) and a Schmidt mini refill. Both proved to be fugitive but still easy to read at the end of the month. The black ink was quite faded.

Finally as predicted the Papermate Flairs proved to be incredibly fugitive. They showed rapid color shifting- radical color changes in a week and several colors complete gone from the page at the end of the month. Both shades of purple and pink were gone and no longer at all visible. Yellow and Peach were nearly gone. Red, both shades of blue, black, both shades of green showed fading and massive color shifts at the end of the month.IMG_0058 IMG_0057

What does all of this mean? For me, anything that shows color shifting or fading should only be used in an art journal, or something that will not be displayed. Because even artificial light can fade and alter colors it’s not safe to allow work done with these fugitive pigments to be anywhere the sun or light shines.

Review: Handbook Trav-e-logue Series

I’ve been using the Handbook Trav-e-logue (HBT) series of notebooks for a few years and it is time I do a review. I’m in my 3rd of the 5.5×8.25″ 128 page sketchbooks. I’ve used both the landscape and portrait versions, with 128 pages each. The paper inside is buff or creamy colored and has a nice texture that is fantastic with pens, ink, graphite, markers, and light watercolor washes. The paper has a nice tooth and it is decently thick. The covers are a rough linen and hard. They are available in blue, red, green, and black. The colors are warm and invite you to fill the pages. The sturdy elastic is gray and charcoal. The journal is stitched and glued. The page marker in all colors is made of nylon and bright orange. Inside the back cover is a clear poly envelope. Overall the HBT is very well designed.HBT

There is a reason that I keep buying these, they perform as well as they are made. First, the feeling of the cover is fantastic. It’s smooth and not too rough. It is not sealed so it can collect dirt but you can wipe most dirt off easily. I did have a few instances where I spilled watercolor and it stained. The cover is hard and offers very little flex so you can sketch in hand. The elastic is very strong but stretches to encompass a great deal of stuff added to the sketchbook. The stitching is tight and well done on all the HBT I own*. The orange page marker is heat sealed so it does NOT fray.HBT

Global Arts, the parent company of Handbook, describes the paper as able to handle a light wash of watercolor. I’ve gotten really sloppy with my watercolors, layering on wet sloppy washes. While the paper had some cockling none of it was bad and the paper survived quite well. In addition to the wavy pages I found that the paper would pill if I worked the very wet paper with a stiff brush. I did all my politician series in these sketchbooks and I was very happy with how the HBT responded. They handle pencil, colored pencils, layered brush pen, and collage with ease.HBT HBT

The HBT are $17.99 at Artist & Craftsman. While this is not a cheap sketchbook it is a good sketchbook. Every single one that I have looked at in store and later purchased has responded well. The paper, binding, elastic, and stitching are consistent. The poly pocket is just big enough to be useful. Finally, there are the lovely colors and fabric covers. I just purchased a green version and man, what a nice warm shade of olive green. The red is brick colored. The blue is the brightest of all the covers, but still quite nice. The black is charcoal-ish and rather nice.HBT HBT

Overall these are simply fantastic sketchbooks. They are not available lined but if you are looking for something in the moleskine size of large or pocket, these are a great replacement. Personally, I look forward to filling my shelves with these.

Nitty gritty detail at a glance:

  • 128pp
  • Buff/cream colored paper
  • Stitched, Smythe Sewn binding, opens flat and folds over on self.
  • Orange page marker
  • Sturdy, well glued elastic closure
  • Hard covers covered in linen, available in red, blue, green, black
  • 3 sizes large 5.5×8.25, pocket 3.5×5.5, square 5.5×5.5
  • Landscape and portrait orientation
  • Rounded covers, very little overhang
  • Minimal branding, Hand-Book logo debossed on lower right corner
  • Large size retails for $17.99

John "boozo" Boozman voted against background checks for gun purchases, so we can #blameashitbag here.

A photo posted by LC Harper (@originallcharper) on

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Sarcastic Pencil Portraits

I’ve been working on a series of portraits as a method of working though my thoughts and feelings surrounding the Orlando Massacre. I started the series using BIC pens but they seemed to colorful for the grim theme, and I switched to pencils pretty quickly. These images have almost exclusively been drawing with Palomino Blackwing pencils. I’ve used the MMX (original Palomino version), Pearl, and the 24. I’ve also used the Casemate’s Premium as well as a few Pentel Sign pens*. I am drawing all of these images in a Hand Book travelogue series sketchbook- 5.5×7.5 in size. Each image is takes up roughly one spread in the book, with the bulk of the image on one page.Doing a portrait series like this is a GREAT way to get drawing portraits. As these people are relatively well known, there are loads of images available via Google.

I look at about a dozen images and use them to create a single image. I might use the eyes from one image, the nose from another, and the mouth from another. Finally I look at how the lighting affects the shading of their face and I take this into account. I am NOT trying to create flattering portraits. They are meant to be unflattering and harsh. Think Alice Neel’s realism. If I were to use colors there would be a strong pink, yellow, and orange coloration in these images.shitbag

I try to spend no more than 10 to 15 minutes per drawing and I try not to erase unless I need to bring out a highlight. This is going to be an image heavy post, so I’ll hide a few image after the cut.shitbag shitbag shitbagshitbag

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