Baron Fig had some issues with the Snakes and Ladders edition of their Archer pencil. Shattered and off center cores were the worst of the issues. I also read reports of the core being significantly softer than the previous edition, which to me is a good thing. The original Archer is lovely to behold but contains coarse somewhat gritty graphite.
Let’s start with the awesome thing about the Prismatics* they are gorgeous and the packaging is beautiful. When I opened the box that Michael of Leadfast sent my way, I was struck by the gorgeous tube- deep blue-ish purple with red, blue, pink, and yellow geometric shapes all over. There is a white outline of a pencil shape and opposite is the informational copy. The tube feels sturdy and it lovely to hold. I ripped the plastic off the tube and was greeted by the pretty hexagonal pattern created by the 12 pencils held tightly together. The end dip matches the package. Perfect.
Inside there are 4 pencils of each color- red, blue, and yellow. The colors are bright and cheerful. One hex side is adorned with geometric designs the opposite simple says, “Baron Fig.” Inside the bright cheerful coloring is cedar. The cores are well centered and the whole deal sharpens with ease in all my sharpeners- from the Carl A5 to the Pollux to the Masterpiece.
The Prismatics contain the same core as the Archer with it’s somewhat coarse and gritty graphite. I sharpened 3 of the pencils, one each color, and found that each pencil had different level of coarseness and softness. One was about perfectly an HB, another slightly harder and much more coarse, and another slightly softer with less grit. The point retention is great.
These are not a bad pencil but nor are they a good pencil, they are acceptable. I found them to work perfectly fine on toothy paper- paper where the coarseness of the core was less evident and mattered less because the paper was working hard to create the smooth experience I prefer. That said, if you use composition notebooks, yoobi journals, and other inexpensive paper with plenty of tooth you’ll like these well enough.
The Baron Fig LE Confidants have fresh covers wrapped around quality innards.Their newly updated paper stock is thick, has some tooth, is decent with fountain pens, pencils, gel, rollerball, ballpoint, and other inks. There is minimal bleed and show through. Feathering? The new Baron Fig paper doesn’t even know what feathering is, bro! The dot grid pattern is pale enough to fade into the background, which I adore. The book block is Smythe sewn and done well- I have no glue creep or loose stitches in mine. The creamy off white paper is great for long writing session and journaling. This paper is great and I love it.
They have changed up their limited editions a little bit, in this box there is an included booklet with a short 16 page illustrated short story called… Raspberry Honey. The illustrations from the story adorn the box and the end sheets. Which is a lovely touch. The cover of RH is brick red or as BF calls it maroon. The color is dark enough that dirt and dust won’t mark it up easily. It will gather cat and dog hair, so if like me you have light colored dogs, well, all that hair will show. The cover is debossed with little bees all over. They are precious and tactile. It is a really different cover from the previous Metamorphosis edition. And I love it. I love feeling the little bees under my fingertips but know that they aren’t felt when I write on the pages of the notebook. The color on this one is hard to photograph. I tried my best to capture it, but you know every monitor is different. It looks good on mine.
Sadly, the ribbon book mark is still about an inch and a half too short. It is a lovely shade of pink that reminds me of raspberries and cream, or rosé.
You can get one at Baron Fig’s Website here.
The Metamorphosis is a really well done journal. It sports a nice hard cover that is covered with a nicely textured linen (or similar) bookcloth in very light salmon aka Millennial Pink, the end sheets are bright blue. It feels awesome. The spine is flat and opens relatively flat. It’s Smythe sewn like most journals of this style and this gives the journal quite a lot of flexibility and strength. I have not found any loose stitching in my Metamorphosis. It sports a bright blue wide cotton poly blend ribbon that is heat sealed to prevent fraying. It’s a tad too short for my preference, I’d like a full 2 inches protruding from the bottom of my book, but this has less than an inch. This makes it hard to use as a place marker and for opening the notebook. Unlike other journals of this style there is no elastic or pocket in the back. More on that later.
The paper inside is cream colored with grey dot grid or ruling if you chose that option. The dots are quite large but spaced 5mm apart. The gray of the dots is light and they fade into the background of my writing no matter what tool I’m using. BF doesn’t disclose the weight of the paper but it’s a decent thickness without being cardstock heavy. Most of my fountain pens performed relatively well on the paper with a minimum of bleed and soak through. There wasn’t a great deal of show through either. You can comfortably write on both sides of the page and have no problems reading it all. That last 12 leaves/ 24 pages (an entire signature) are perforated so you can tear them out. It does take quite a lot of effort to tear them out so no worries on them working their way loose. The paper is smooth but has enough tooth that it is wonderful with pencil. I actually prefer it with pencil over pen- even fountain pen.
The linen cover, like any linen cover, attracts dust and a bit of dirt. It shows up especially on this pale salmon shade. That said, I like the look as it wears in with use. As I’ve used the journal and bent back the spine repeatedly, it now sits flat on a desk but doesn’t close as well as it once did. I have giant rubber bands I use to hold it closed, but that’s not totally needed. I adore the paper and the color of the dot grid, I do wish that the dots were a tad smaller.
Overall I really like this journal and I know it won’t be my last Confidant, I’ll definitely be back for more. I do not miss the inclusion of the back pocket- a addition I rarely use in journal in which I write. However in an art journal I would miss the pocket. Once the book has been opened a few times the cover has difficulty staying closed, hence the large ass rubber band you see in my pics. It holds my Metamorphosis closed. It’s ugly crepe rubber but I love it. I bought a giant box of them and use them all the time. I as looking for some that were FN “bands of rubber” size, but ordered the huge version. I like them anyway. I digress. I love my Confidant. Perhaps Baron Fig can add a nice braided or woven elastic pen/cil holder to their stable of accessories?
So I’m a few days late and a few bucks short when it comes to this review. I’ve been sitting on it hoping my opinion would change. For the TL;DR crowd- it is pretty, if you like pretty, go ahead and buy them. If you want performance, go elsewhere.
I picked up a few of these from a friend for a few bucks. I didn’t want to spring for a 12-pack of pencils where the whispered undertone to all the reviews read, “scratchy.” I sharpened one up and used it extensively in a cheap Staples comp notebook during NaNoWriMo. I’ve forced myself to use it on slick as teflon Tomoe River paper and silky smooth Maruman and Life notebook pages. I’ve even jotted a shopping list on the nondescript paper in Field Notes.
Ignoring the feeling of the point on paper, the looks of these pencils is gorgeous. The matte finished cool gray paint with a perfectly end dipped darker charcoal gray end is just pretty. It is simplistic and pretty. It works. The imprint is also minimalist- a simple Baron Fig on one flat, with a stylized arrow on the opposite- both in crisp perfectly imprinted white. The pencil is perfectly minimalistic in design. They are gorgeous to look at.
I sharpened mine in, gasp, the Carl Angel-5 with it’s dangerously chewy teeth, which chomped into the soft linden wood body. I suggest linden over bass based off scent. Linden smells like bay leaves to me and these pencils when freshly sharpened have that dusty odor of impending kitchen magic. Linden is ridiculously light weight. These pencils feel lighter than most pencils. I have not weighed them to be sure. the absence of a ferrule and eraser make them lighter but even compared to other pencils without ferrule and eraser they feel significantly lighter. I should weigh them and and take the subjective out of this review, but I’ll leave this here to let you know they FEEL lighter than other pencils. I prefer a little bit of heft to my pencils
This brings me to the core of these pencils. Scratchy is an apt description of these pretty pretty pencils. I’d lean more toward gritty. They are the antithesis of smooth. If you are a fan of pencil points gliding over your page like butter on a hot griddle, look elsewhere, these aren’t the fix you are seeking. They have a durable point that lasts for a good long time. I found myself getting pages in the comp book with the Archer. But it was an effort to write with- I had to force the graphite off the pencil. Compared to *gasp* my penny-per-pencil Casemates, these were a disappointment in use. Going back to kitchen based comparison- writing with these on most papers, even the glassy smooth Tomoe River, is like spreading chilled butter on cold toast- a gritty mess that is simply unpleasant.