The Dixon Oriole is a pencil that reinforces my determination to use a pencil (or pen) for roughly a week, if not longer before writing a review. It also is a caution for other bloggers who might do what @paperandhand referred to as “beauty” reviews*, wherein a blogger is sent free product that is outside her/his expertise and (maybe) feels pressured to do a review. The resulting review is clearly cursory, took perhaps 15 minutes to do, maybe less, and the product is rubber stamped as, “Gorgeous, lovely, awesome, great, superb.” Maybe the products are gorgeous and great, but often times I find myself chuckling at horrible reviews that really don’t explore the product or their uses. In the end the reviewer has done the reader a disservice by promoting a product that they don’t know much about, don’t understand all that well, and ins some cases actually spread incorrect information**.
I digress, my point being had I initially written a review of the Dixon Oriole after handling it for 15 minutes that review would have been glowing, “OMG you guys, get this pencil, it’s soooo awesome, on par with some of my faves.” Except, I found out over the course of a little over a week of on and off use, no, it really isn’t. In fact, I would go so far as to call this pencil a polished turd. Let me start the review by stating that Dixon appears to have moved production of this pencil from the US, to China, and now to India. The box I received was from India. According to other reviews, there were some quality issues with the finish while they were produced in China.From the box I received these are stunning yellow pencils. The finish is thick and bright chrome yellow, aka school bus yellow. It’s smooth and without blemish. This finish is premium, up there with a Palomino Pearl. When you sharpen it you can see the thickness of the finish. The gold foil imprint is sharp, tight and clear. The brass colored ferrule is well fixed to the body of the pencil, matching the gold foil. The pink eraser looks great on the classic yellow pencil. Overall if you are looking for a really good looking classic yellow school pencil, this one will fit the bill and then some.Inside the pencil is made out of a light weight jelutung (I think anyway, it looks like the other jelutung pencils I have). It sharpens quite well.The core is of average diameter and also sharpens easily. It is well centered. If sharpened with ANY long point sharpener the point snaps off. EVERY single freaking time. Since I used this a fair amount on the road (OK at school but not at home) and I carry one sharpener- a KUM handheld long point, I spent a ton of time sharpening my pencil. *** It was so annoying. Then came the fractures in the core. I’d sharpen my pencil, and pull it from the sharpener only to fine the core had fallen out. I’d sharpen it up again, only a great deal of the core had fallen out. I lost a good 2 inches of each pencil I used to the sharpener. This would break my concentration as I was studying. It would also irritate me. It’s clear from this that the core is not bonded well to the wood and is of uneven enough quality that though it was well padded in it’s shipment to me that the cores are all fractured to hell.The eraser is also pure shite. I’d be better off rubbing my notebook on the ground or on my ass to erase a word. I was so frustrated with the eraser I just stopped erasing.Another issue that I can’t figure out if it comes from Amazon or Dixon is that these pencils smell STRONGLY of mildew. I received several other items from the same warehouse in the same box and notice no discernible smell of mildew from those other items. So, either the smell is from this particular area in the Amazon warehouse, or these pencils smell. The box itself doesn’t smell too strongly and it does dissipate after the pencils are allowed to air out. But it is off putting and should be mentioned should anyone be tempted to order a pack after reading this review.****Over all these are good pencils when you sharpen then with a wedge, like the Alvin/DUX inkwell, KUM ellipse, and get past the fractured core. When they write they are pretty nice. However, the fact that they cannot be used with a long point sharpener without endless frustration really puts them off my radar. The core is also fractured in every single pencil I’ve tested, starting about 2 inches up, then every other sharpening thereafter. Honestly, this was a tough pencil for me to get past my week of use mark******. I cannot bring myself to sketch with such a shoddy pencil.
Why Dixon would put such a nice finish on such a terrible unholy pencil core is beyond me. Truly a situation where they polished a turd.
*Excellent term and I’m stealing it.
**I could go on here FOREVER about art blogger maligning entire product lines because they are brand snobing on another equivalent brand. They don’t even know WHY they like this other brand other than so-and-so told them it was great. Don’t even get me started on the great gel medium debate and the tongue lashing I was given by a fellow artist for suggesting that students look for Liquitex basics heavy gel medium in a tube over Golden. Jeebus crisco.
***I also carry a Rainbow Kershaw Chive but I can’t just sit in the cafe at school and whip out a spring assisted knife to sharpen my pencil, as is I’m the weirdo with a pencil.
****If you are tempted to order a pack don’t, just don’t. I mean, unless you LIKE to be unhappy with your writing tool. Or MAYBE you have a coworker or family member you hate. That is the ONLY suitable reason I can think of why you might want to buy these awful pencils.
******I’ve decided that I will only write a review of a pencil after it’s been in my EDC for a week or longer. I will also take notes as I read and in class with each pencil I review for at least one class (2.5 hours.) I will also strive to sketch with a pencil, unless it clearly does not lend itself to such a use.