Tag Archives: nataraj

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: 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

Review: Nataraj Jumbo Plasto Eraser

Nataraj (and Apsara) includes a block eraser and sharpener in every pack of 10 pencils you buy. The eraser measures 3.5*1.7*10mm, is made of firm white plastic, and sports red printing on one side. The red printing has the brand name Nataraj in a red stripe and the words Jumbo Plasto. On both my erasers the printing is slightly different and the color of the red differs ever so slightly. In use the printing blurs under my fingers, but leaves no marks upon paper or my hand.The firm white plastic reminds me very much of the Staedtler Mars Plastic and performs as well, if not better. It is not dust gathering. I’ve tested it across No Brand Notebooks, Field Notes, Yoobi Composition Notebooks, cheap 3×5 cards, Story Supply Company notebooks, and the cheap recycled paper at work. Overall it performs really quite well removing most of the graphite from most of the papers. Here and there it would leave a  ghost of an image but if one is writing over the space, it isn’t noticeable.

The size is perfect for pocket carry. It’s small so it disappears in a pocket but isn’t so small (think of the KiN pebble) that it is lost when you reach for it. The edges are rounded and comfortable to use. The Nataraj eraser is naked while the Apsara is sleeved in a little card stock sleeve. Somewhere in  my piles of stationery shit, I have a sleeved Apsara, one might think I could find it for this review, but no, it remains hidden. I’ve been carting this eraser around in my pocket and it has provided not only useful for erasing but has also served as a very pleasing worry stone.

I have to say, that though this is a “freebie” it certainly adds to the appeal of the bonus items in the Nataraj boxes. Some bundled erasers are truly horrible, but these are darn nice.

Review: Nataraj Metallic and Glimo Super Black Pencils

Nataraj pencils are made and distributed by Hindustan pencil company, much like my previously reviewed and adored Casemates (which are distro’d by Walmart). I picked up these two packages of pencils from the ‘zon for $4.99 each with free shipping. Each pack holds 10 pencils, a white plastic block eraser, and a plastic sharpener. For anyone keeping track, that’s about 50 cents per pencil, though factoring in the sharpener and eraser it is about 42 cents per item in the package. The package itself, I should have taken a picture, was well done. The pencils were in a tough plastic envelope, then in styrofoam packaging, and the 2 boxes were wrapped like a gift inside the protective foam package. All in all it was like unwrapping a slightly bizarre gift. Shipping did take about a month. It reminded me of old school mail order. Ahh memories. After unwrapping my gifty to myself I was greeted with Nataraj’s fun pencil packaging. While companies selling in the US seem to have moved toward clear plastic shrink wrap and stickered belly bands, Nataraj uses cardboard boxes. Each package matches the contents well. The Metallics have a metallic box with a pebble finish, while the Glimo has pastel colored diamonds in the colors of the pencils. The Glimo has a diecut window. The packaging is nearly identical except for package date stamps and a line that the metallics meet international quality standards. My pencils were all packaged in 2015, so they aren’t particularly fresh. But then pencils really seem to last forever if stored properly.

Anyway, inside the packages are some nice metallic pencils. The Metallics have gorgeous jewel tones that really shine. The camera cannot pick up the color well at all. It’s seriously glimmery and shiny and reminiscent of dragon flies of nice metallic flake paint on a car. They sport a nicely done and jaunty white and black end dip that looks awesome with the metallic paint. There are blue, purple, green, and red. The Glimo features silver stripes with a coordinating pastel colors of magenta, pink, peach, yellow, and pale teal. The end caps are a nice thick dip of the pastel color. The silver is barely metallic and in some the pastel shade is a touch thin, but overall these are quite well done.

On all of the pencils, either Metallics or Glimo the paint is mostly well done, with the occasional pencil with drips and runs. I had one in each box that had not only visible but runs that could be felt under my fingers. Mostly they were okay. The wood is jelutong and sharpens well in all my sharpeners. The cores are centered in most of the pencils, off in about half, and out of each box one was badly off centered, but still usable.

The core in these is the same, Nataraj’s “Super Black.” The super black core is very dark for writing. It is also nicely smooth and glides across most papers that I’ve tested them upon- from Yoobi Comp books, Field Notes, Story Supply Company, Life, Tomoe River, and No Brand Notebooks. (Handwritten review is done on a NBN dot grid traveler’s size.) They glide, which is the best way to put it. Not quite skate, but glide. It’s smooth dark and a nice feel. I believe this is the same core as the Casemates Premium, which is slightly different than the Casemates Neon. It’s darker and smoother. The Neons seem to have more occasional bits of grit and are slightly harder with better point retention/durability.

Speaking of point retention and durability, there is batch variation. I’ve sharpened a few of each, okay one of each color and I’ve found that most of them are almost the same in terms of how many comp book or NBN pages I get, but one, the blue metallic is super soft and even darker than the others. The rest I’d rate around a Staedtler B in terms of point retention and durability the one oddball is closer to a 4B. The majority are closer to a Staedtler 2B in their darkness. That is to say I’m able to get around 4 composition book pages written before I reach for another sharp pencil.

I love how these look and how they write. Sure they are about 50 cents per pencil, roughly 4 and a half times the cost of most of the Walmart Casemate pencils. The trade off is the better paint jobs, consistent cores, no badly afixed ferrules, and  eraser turds. That said, if you don’t want to spend the money, getting the Walmart Casemate Premium pencils is still the best priced option. That said, I immediately sharpened one of each color way and added it to my novel writing pencil cup. The fun colors and metallic sheen make me smile.

My one worry right now is that these have gone the way of the Nataraj/Apsara Pop, which have an awesome coloring scheme, and have been replaced with the less awesome color scheme of the Nataraj Joi.

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Review: Casemate Premium No. 2 Pencils

I found these due to a post on the Erasable Facebook group. Casemates is Walmart’s private label office goods brand.I found a wide assortment of Casemate (CM) goods- from legal pads to pencils to journals in their office aisle. You name it, they have a Casemate logo slapped onto it. The majority of the goods, well, it is easy to see that they are simply rebranded things from other manufacturers. Such is the case with all private label goods*. With careful purchasing you can buy a product that is ALMOST the same as the regular product for a fraction of the price**.CMPP CMPP

The CM Premium Pencils (CMPP) are sold in an 8-pack for 97 cents. The 8-pack comes in a tin and plastic tube that doubles as a sturdy pencil case or stand. It does dent easily, but it is not crushed with ease. Inside the case are 8 pencils and a sharpener. The sharpener is pretty meh, but it does the job. It sharpens to a standard short point. The sharpener is labeled “Nataraj.” Which leads me to believe that the pencils are made by the Hindustan company which manufactures the Nataraj pencil brand***.

The pencils are quite nice. They have a thickly applied glossy lacquer in silver and black. The color scheme appeals to my inner angsty teen. The imprint is in silver foil and simply says, “No.2/HB.” the imprint is done well on some and not so well on others. On  a few of mine only part of the imprint was there the rest it was fine.CMPP

The wood appears to be linden/basswood. It’s light in color and sharpens well. When sharpened it has the smell of bay leaves. The ferrule is affixed to all of mine well. It holds a useless nubbin of an eraser that must’ve been added as a joke. It’s a white rubbery blob that is too small to fit properly into the ferrule and does an absolutely shit job of erasing graphite from anything I’ve tried- from Field Note to Story Supply Company to 3×5 card to Reporter notebook to my Mt Tom. It was a useless turd of an eraser. It sort of dust gathers, but mostly the pristine white eraser turns a shade of gray and feels mushy. This thing sucks sooooo bad.CMPP

The core itself is dark, smooth, sharpens easily, and holds a point remarkably well for a pencil this dark. I didn’t have to sharpen the pencil for page after page of writing. Holy smokes awesome. I was able to keep on going and going. Amazing point retention. However I would not call this an HB pencil, no, it is easily a B if not a 2B. Cores are mostly well centered, with one or two of the 24 I purchased off centered enough to notice a problem during sharpening.

Now the reason these pencils are kind of a big deal? Well first off the whole package- case, sharpener, and pencils are only 97 cents. That a pencil this dark and smooth is available for 97 cents is pretty amazing. The other part of the awesome is that these look and feel just like the Nataraj Platinum Extra Dark 2b pencil. Which is an awesome pencil with all the same flaws I’ve listed above. More importantly is availability. Previously, you have to order from CWPE (not a bad option) or find them via Amazon or eBay. None of these are deal breakers, but if you go the Amazon/ebay route you could wait weeks to a month to get your pencils, and pay more than 12 cents a pencil, plus you don’t get a sweet hackable metal case. The sharpener is okay, but nothing special. It’s the case that makes this a sweet deal. The case holds 13 pencils packed full, and is so much fun to decorate. I really really enjoy this tin.CMPP

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