Tag Archives: Hindustan

Review: Nataraj Active Gel Ink Pen

The Nataraj Active Gel Pen is a prime example of why I don’t like to review things after only writing a few pages using the product. Let me start off by stating this is not a BAD pen but it has a few things that make it not great.

First off I love the colors. They remind me of the Pop or Joi pencils by Hindustan. The pens aren’t much thicker than the pencils and are also hexagonal The stripes are similar but not exactly the same. Alternating with the colored side is a translucent milky colored side that allows you to look in and see the refill. Neat.

The refill is pretty narrow and features a needle-like tip that seems to be about 0.5mm depending on the paper. I found that the tips were smooth on most paper and felt pretty good. The ink flow has been decent on almost all papers. On the super absorbent recycled paper we use at my DayJob the ink would occasionally flow less well, it never actually skipped but it did take a moment to catch up. You can see the ink level drop as you write. The ink color is a really nice blue shade. It’s bright but dark enough to stand out on most papers and really pops on the forms I use at work. I really like it on the cream paper of the Ondulo I reviewed earlier.

I work in what most call a heavy use environment and within 3 days of use I have used more than half a pen. I’ll have one drained by the end of a week. These won’t be long lived pens. That said other than the slowed ink flow on super absorbent paper, these things flow consistently and smoothly from start to finish.

So my big gripe about these pens is… The cone at the tip that holds the point of the refill in place. It’s soft flexible plastic and the hole the refill slips into isn’t tight enough. It’s a tad sloppy. Further the refill is flexible as well. The metal pen tip sticks out of the cone too far, so when I write I get a soft spongy springy feel to the pen. It is weird and took some getting accustomed to. It’s not like the movement you get with some pens, it is a feeling of flexibility. It is a really odd feeling when you are going between these cheapie pens and a Baron Fig Experiment with it’s precision made body and refill.

Anyway, I like these pens. They aren’t meant to compete with something like the Baron Fig Experiment or even a cheap fountain pen. These are pens that you buy because you MIGHT lose them or because you need to have pens with a decent ink in them in assorted place and maybe you want something bright that you can find in the bottom of your purse/murse/messenger bag. They aren’t special but they are fun.   Continue reading

Review: Nataraj Marble HB Pencil

This is marbling done right. I really adore the look of these pencils. They range from cool shades of pink to hot red and yellow with a bit of blue interspersed. The swirls are lovely and again range from big swooshes of color to tiny thin whorls and peaks. There are occasional bubbles that mar the surface of the lacquer but for the most part mine are smooth and well done. There is no seam to overlap because these pencils are actually marbled.*

In my 50 pencils, or half a tub of them, I had a few that were warped, but mostly mine are straight and well done. Cores are about as centered as I’d expect for any pencil made by Hindustan- that is to say, a handful of my 50 are off center with a few of those really off center, but are totally usable. The white end dip is pretty well done, though they do occasionally crack, but I’ve yet to see that in this batch.

When you order a bucket of these, depending on the vendor, you may get graphite dust all over the pencils. It’s ugly but pretty easily cleaned using either a wet wipe or hand sanitizer or electronics cleaning spray on a microfiber cloth. The graphite wipes right off. The graphite won’t harm you and it never seems to get on my hands from the pencils I haven’t bothered to clean.

The graphite in these is a nice smooth HB that reminds me of the Apsara Beauty “Dark Writing” core, and I suspect it is one and the same. Thus far in this batch, the handful of pencils I’ve sharpened are consistent. I’ve bought a few in the past that seemed harder and lighter. That said, these have a really nice core.

End point? These are nice pencils that are cheap as dirt when you order them via Amazon. You get 100 for about $25. You can order a handful on CWPE or hit up The Curious on Facebook to get fewer. If you order the bucket of 100 expect a few to be warped, a handful of cores to be off center, and maybe some cracked end caps.

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Review: Apsara Beauty Dark Writing Pencil

The Apsara Beauty, or as I often mistakenly call it Black Beauty in some sort of homage to my childhood spent wondering why so many of my classmates loved the book and the movie Black Beauty while I continually thought to myself, man, shoveling horse poop is hard work.

Since these arrived on my doorstep I’ve had one in my hand, in my pocket, or in my pencil case every day. These tick several boxes for me- no eraser, mostly black, nice dark core. I love pencils without erasers. They are mostly black. I’ve written about how black pencils satisfy my emo goth inner child so I won’t digress. They have a jaunty little red end dip that makes me super happy. The imprint is gold, but there is a simple little double red foiled bar on the pencil. That red foil logo is awesome. The looks of this pencil hits every happy pencil look that I want. I love how these look. The lacquer is thin and the grain of the wood is visible, but it’s super glossy.

The included pencil sharpener is the Apsara Long Point sharpener. It does a decent job for a freebie. The eraser is the Apsara Non Dust Eraser, I reviewed that over here.

Inside the delightful paint and foil is either pine, linden, or basswood wrapped around a smooth dark core. The core has decent point retention/durability when compared to other Hindustan pencils, so I’d rate this a B core. It’s smooth on all the paper I’ve tested them on, and also nicely dark. It does smudge on some paper, so it does lay down quite a dense line. It sharpens well in almost everything thing I’ve used. I did have one pencil with a partially shattered core that my Pollux ate up, but another pencil did a-ok with the Pollux. I suspect the core not the sharpener.

The one thing that I don’t like about this pencils but other will find as a plus- it’s super lightweight. They feel like nothing in my hands as I write. I prefer a little more weight to my pencils but these write so well I forgive their lack of weight.

As for price I picked up 2 boxes, so 20 pencils, 2 sharpeners, and 2 eraser for a mere $5.23 for those of us keeping track at home, that is 22 cents per item in the box, if you discount the sharpeners and eraser then you are looking at 26 cents per pencil. I love these and they have taken the place of the Casemates premiums as my favorite super cheap pencil. Continue reading

Review: Nataraj Trikone Super Black Pencil

The Trikone sports a core of Nataraj’s Super Black graphite. I’ve reviewed other Super Black pencils before, and these are no different. The core is silky smooth, dark, and I love it. The point retention/durability isn’t the greatest, but nor is any 2B pencil, and that is exactly where the Super Black cores sit- in the 2B range of graphite. With that aside, all we’re looking at is the rest of the pencil.

The Trikone is a triangular pencil. It arrives in a nifty triangular box, mine was very battered in shipping, but thus far the pencils seem no worse off. Inside the top of the box is nestled a standard Nataraj 621 sharpener and a nifty triangular eraser. The sharpeners work well enough to be used, while the Trio eraser was good enough to warrant it’s own post and a glowing one at that.

The Trikone is a standardly sized triangular pencil with rounded side and rounded over points on the triangle. It’s got the jelutong inside like most Hindustan pencils. It sharpens well with anything I’ve thrown it into.. The exterior of this pencils is what I see as markedly different from other Hindustan pencils. The lacquer on these is thickly applied and glossy. Though there are some issues here in there in the finish, for the most part these are better finished than most of the Hindustan pencils. I cannot see the grain through the lacquer.

The imprint is gold and deeply set into the paint. The triangular logo is smart looking and I rather adore it. Honestly, I might order more of these just for that logo. The colors of these pencils deserves to be mentioned. I really like the color combinations Hindustan comes up with for it’s pencils. In this case we’ve got yellow and red, blue and yellow, green and blue, red and orange, and finally orange and green. These color combos are just awesome. The shades of each color are bright and vibrant. I love the contrasting end dip. Speaking of the end dip, it’s thickly applied as well, and almost looks as if it were individually dipped.

I tend to be pretty meh on the whole triangular pencil front. They seem to be an odd shape to me, but these are pretty comfortable and feel more like around pencil than one with a mere 3 sides. I love the look and the feel. A handful have entered into my regular use pencil cup and like many of the Super Black pencils are in regular rotation. They aren’t a bad deal either, at $4.99 shipped they come in at a mere 42 cents if you include the “free” sharpener and eraser as items. Even if you don’t that is 49 cents a pencil.

I’m linking to the item I bought from the vendor I bought them from. However, I didn’t order the Trikone, I ordered the Trio 621.  So roll the dice?
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Review: Apsara Non Dust Eraser

These tiny erasers arrive bundled with Apsara pencils along with a sharpener. The NDE measures 35X12x18mm*. It is just small enough that it can disappear in my pocket but is just barely big enough that it’s easily found, so long as my pocket isn’t full of junk. It is white with a blue, green and white sleeve for protection. The sleeve does wear in through use, but it gets a nice patina that I pretty much love. 

The NDE is, as the name implies, a sticky eraser in that it doesn’t make crumbs and what it does make sticks to the eraser. It does exactly what the name implies- no dust and it sticks. As sticky erasers go this is quite firm, quite a bit more firm than the Sakura Foam or the Matumaru I reviewed previously. It does a decent job on smooth paper but on rough paper it does not clean as well, because the firmness prevents the eraser from getting deep into the fibers. That said, as far as sticky erasers go, if you are erasing on writing paper this will do the job well enough. No need to spring for a more expensive eraser to protect the paper in a Field Notes. This will more than do the job and keep eraser crumbs from messing your desk.

This is a great eraser for pocket carry. It works great as a fidget and also as an everyday eraser. Like most of the Apsara or Nataraj erasers you can find packs of 20 for sale on Amazon, but the prices fluctuate from $7 up to $50. The good thing is that if you order a pack of Apsara pencils, there is almost always an eraser and sharpener in the bundle, which makes them a good deal. Continue reading

Review: Nataraj Trio Eraser

This eraser arrived bundled with a package of Nataraj Trikone pencils along with a pencil sharpener. It arrives wrapped in plastic inside the box of triangular pencils.

The eraser measures roughly 35mm L x20mm W x15mm H, or 1.25 in x 0.625 in X 0.75in. Mine is traditional eraser pink but they are available in an assortment of colors. The eraser is an equilateral triangle with rounded corners, much like their Trikone pencil. This is a dust free or sticky eraser. It is soft, squishy, and has a sticky texture that is off putting when first used. The sticky feeling tones down through use.

The eraser works the best of all the dust free options from Hindustan. It is super soft and squishy so it really scrubs graphite out of the fibers of paper. Because it is so soft and squishy it does wear away quickly. It does not harm the paper as it’s being used. I was able to use it in my Paper-oh! Ondulo and it didn’t shine up the coating of the paper as would harder erasers. This is important if you are making art or are using paper with a delicate coating like Paper-oh! It also seemed to do well on rougher paper, like my 3×5 cheapie cards. Rough paper does eat the eraser up, but it does a great job.

If I were going to adopt an eraser for everyday use as well as art making, this would be it. First they are cheap- bundled with Nataraj triangular pencils but you can buy a box of 20 of them for about $8 via Amazon. Which brings them to about 40 cents per eraser. It doesn’t get cheaper than that for an eraser that works this well. The Hindowashi Gold is  $1.75 at CWPE. A Sakura Foam in a similar size is $1.65 via Jetpens.

If you can’t tell from this review, I like this eraser, a lot. It’s a great value and it really erases well while preserving the surface of the paper. I may have a box of 20 sitting in my Amazon cart… Continue reading