Tag Archives: pencil

Attention! Kickstarter Cerat Pencils Not a New Product

A few days ago I found this Kickstarter for Cerat pencils of Britain. I’ve seen the gem or jewel topped pencils around for ages, usually being sold on cheap import shops. So to see them on Kickstarter being sold as something new and of quality, well, I found that kind of funny.

Anyway, I’m not sure if the pencils are really a quality item or not, but that they are being hawked on Kickstarter as a new item is untrue.

Anyway, this is one of those Kickstarter beware campaigns. Oh you can find the same pencils on ebay and amazon for about the same cost. If you are going to buy them get them from Amazon or the ‘bay instead. Don’t encourage Kickstarter fakers.

From Cerat’s own kickstarter page it states:

Here are the approximate breakdowns:

– Around 10% will be taken as fees by Kickstarter and transaction fees.
– Production takes 45% due to the labor involved as these pencils are partially hand made.
– 15% will be reserved for materials cost including acrylic blocks for the crystals on each pencil.
– A maximum of around 25% will be going into Postage and Packaging of the pencils.
– Any remaining funds after the rewards have been completed and backers are satisfied will be invested into & by Cerat Creations for new projects in the future.

Let’s break this down: The fees are about right. The production costs may be correct. The crystals made of acrylic look to be molded on every other iteration of the pencil. Earlier in the Kickstarter they mention these being “carved” from acrylic blocks, I highly doubt that. Postage may be correct. However, the cost to back this project is about what these cost on eBay or Amazon.

Also a quote from their page:

The pencils are all in stock, we have plenty thanks to a batch production we undertook, there really are no risks present and we’re prepared to ship immediately. Of course all costs have been considered and reward prices set accordingly.

The only risk that we may encounter is the over-funding of this project, which isn’t a bad thing at all! In this case, we’ll send out as many as we can fulfill the rewards by December where our production will have begun by.

The pencils are in stock. I’m not sure what you’d be backing here? Shipping? Them opening up the packages and repacking them by color? Again, not sure.

Be sure to read some of the Amazon reviews of a VERy similar product that basically state that these are cheap. The rhinestones fall off before they even arrive.

Review: Best Pencil for Notes #1

I decided to do a competition  among my regular classroom pencils to see which I deem the most perfect note taking pencil.These are the pencils I reached for over and over again as I took notes in class. I have a pencil box with between 8 and 10 pencils, each sharpened in the Carl A5 aka “The Classroom Friendly Sharpener.” I try to use each until it is dull and then grab another from the box as I need it. I work my way through the pencils as I wear each down. Now my note taking style is of the capture then reflect method. I capture the basic ideas, and then reflect upon them later. Getting everything down is less important than capturing the interesting bits. Most of my professors load their powerpoints and sometimes notes to a class blackboard site. Anyway, after class, as I ride the train home, I will reflect upon the class and jot some information down on the opposite page or flesh out my notes. Mostly I do this so that I have a good basis for which to write my papers.

The 9 pencils currently in my pencil box are:

  • General’s Kimberly B
  • General’s Test Scoring 580
  • MitsuBishi Hi Uni HB
  • Dixon Ticonderoga Target Neon Blue HB Soft
  • USA GOLD “vintage” Megabrands label, metallics HB
  • Musgrave Test Scoring 100
  • Staedtler Noris HB
  • Staedtler Triplus HB (Regular Size)
  • Blick Studio 2Bclass pencils

Since I’m looking at this as a competition as to the best pencil for my note taking needs, it is important to note that I’m taking notes in a Staple’s College Ruled Composition book. This is the made in Brazil version with slightly smoother paper that is fountain pen friendly.

I do not consider erasers as I have a Sakura Foam in my pocket at all times.

I took a number of things into consideration. The first two considerations were availability and price. This took some of my favorites out of contention. For classroom note taking, I don’t want to have my Blackwings*. In availability, I rule out anything vintage, like my beloved ECOwriters. If I can’t easily get them in a store they don’t make the list. The USA Gold that I have listed, is no longer available. I kept it on the list for the sole reason that it has the same core as a regular USA Gold, so it basically represents the cheapest of the cheap. If I’m ruling out champions due to price, the General’s Test Scoring 580 at over $1 a pencil is a loser, as is the Hi Uni HB.

The next consideration was point retention. The leaders in this were the Ticonderoga, USA Gold, Noris, and Musgrave TS 100. The Blick Studio was a miserable failure and was kept in the pencil box only for it’s capabilities for drawing.** The Triplus has decent retention but wasn’t in the top  5.class pencils

The next to last consideration was darkness. Did I have to jab the pencil to the page to get a decent line? Or was I able to write lightly and get decent line integrity? The Musgrave TS 100, Triplus, Kimberly, and Noris were all fantastic in this regard.class pencils

The final consideration was aesthetic. The Noris, Triplus, Kimberly, and Ticonderoga all were winners here.class pencils

So based on these considerations entirely unscientific results are as follow

#1 Musgrave TS 100
#2 Staedtler Triplus
#3 Staedtler Noris HB
#4 General’s Kimberly B
#5 USA Goldclass pencils

The Musgrave TS 100 will never win a beauty contest, but there is something I really like about its thin silver paint, cheesy printed logo, and craptastic eraser. I finally got a few with flaking paint to, but the dark core with decent tip retention really means I reach for it over and over again. The Staedtler Triplus, has no eraser, but it’s school bus yellow paint, and dark core had me reaching for it over and over again for both quick and long term notes. It’s rounded triangular body was comfortable and easy to grip. The Noris’s black and yellow striped body with smart red cap just looks awesome. The fact that it’s dark and holds a point make it even better. The Kimberly in B allowed me to do some sketchnoting as well as regular notes. It’s smooth dark core was a winner every time. I even enjoy it’s cheap bras cap against the thin green paint. Nothing says American Made like a shitty paint job. Finally the USA gold brings up the tail end. When I had to write for long periods of time and I would not be able to grab something out of the box fast, I grabbed this. It’s point retention is great, and I’m able to scribble on my articles and notes for the entire train ride into school (lasting about an hour.) With a cap it’s a great pocket pencil.

I took out of consideration the Staedtler Norica Blue (canadian) version because it’s not readily available, though lately I ALWAYS have on in my Twist BP. I also removed the Tombow 8900 in HB and B because it’s not as readily available as the rest of the pencils. I considered adding the Staedtler Rally, but felt that Staedtler was already well represented. Added to this list should have been General’s Cedar Pointe #1, but they decided to cease production right after I bought my first 12-pack. The CP#1 is a great note taking pencil. Dark, good point retention, and the raw wood finish, oh baby…

Of course, I reserve the right to revisit this list with entirely new pencils for my summer classes and then my fall classes, and maybe just because.

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Perfect Pair

I particularly enjoy Staedtler Wopex pencils, sadly they do not perform well on my notebook paper. I recently started to write in a Poppin Medium Soft Cover Notebook. The paper is smooth and allows my pencils to glide over it’s surface. This got me to thinking that if my harder pencils are not only gliding over the surface but leaving a nice dark line then maybe my Wopexen would work especially well.

And I was right. Not only do the Wopexen work really well on this paper but so do the generally horrible Write Dudes Recycled Denim* pencils. They write well on this paper but they still sharpen horribly.

Finding a paper that works particularly well with a particular pencil is kind of awesome. I happened upon this perfect combination randomly. As I mentioned that I use the last page of all my pocket notebooks as a place to test my pencils and pens for compatibility. Which is what I was doing with the poppin notebook. I’m really happy that I tested the pencils and found these perfect combinations.

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Reflection: Feeling Accomplished via Pencil Use

When the new semester began I decided that I was going to pick a pencil and use it until there was just a nub left. The first pencil I used down to nothing was a Creatacolor fine art graphite in B grade. Because it is a drawing pencil, the point retention was junk and I quickly wore it to a nubbin. It fit into my Stad One Touch well and I was able to use it until there was less than a centimeter left. I felt accomplished in using a single pencil until there was an unusable piece left, as if I could measure my learning through the amount of pencil used for notes and writing. Ridiculous right?

Feeling accomplished is a good intrinsic motivator. (For me anyway, I don’t know what intrinsically motivates you.) I like to feel accomplished. For a lot of my life I’ve done things and thought to myself, “Ha, I did that! That’s an accomplishment!” as if knowing that I did something, even a simple thing, was an accomplishment. And when I think more deeply about these thing, even the smallest of chores can be turned into an accomplishment. “I washed the floor! Yay, I accomplished something today!” Looking back at the pencils and learning, learning, other than counting the articles read or papers written, has little in the way of measuring itself daily. Rather, I write a paper and wait for the grade. I read an article and make notes, maybe journal a few ideas that come up. Until the end of the semester there is no way to measure my accomplishment. Enter the pencils. Using up a pencil gives me a measurement of use; notes taken, ideas recorded, and time spent.nubbins

Using a pencil from new down to a nub is not something that can be done in a short period of time. It takes dedicated use, concentration, and a lot of writing. Supposedly, an average (what is average? HB#2?) pencil will write 35 miles of words. That’s a serious amount of writing. Thirty-five miles. How many miles of notes, journaling, ideas, mind dumps, and grocery lists have  I made? Just thinking about writing for 35 miles makes me feel even more accomplished and less ridiculous.

I’m almost finished with a Dixon Ticonderoga Renew Wood. I’ve got an inch and a half left. After that I’m going to finish the last 5 inches of my Staedtler blue Norica from Canada. I’ve had the last 6 inches of a Palomino HB on my desk for a month, that will get the nubbin treatment next. While my enjoyment of using a single pencil down to near nothingness is holding true, I will admit that for ease of use I keep a pencil box full of sharp pencils with me for note taking. I’m going to pare this down to 4 pencils so that I can really focus on how much pencil I’m using. nubbins

Review: Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Gunmetal Mechanical Pencil

David Reese might refer to mechanical pencils as bullshit but I’ve had a long standing love affair with these wondrous pieces of awesome. From my first knurled metal gripped Koh-i-Nor to this pencil, I love ’em. Well, except for that cheap ass Kuru Toga I previously reviewed. 20141203_172208Enter the metal bodied version of the Kuru Toga, the Roulette. I have previously discussed the smooth metal bodied version, this one is knurled. And the knurling is nice, it’s crisp and grip-y and completely not slippery. Which was a problem I had with the smooth metal gripped version of this pencil.20141203_172129

The balance is just right for my hand. With the larger weighted end of the pencil being at the business end and the lighter end being the rest of the pencil. It is also important to note that Uni cheaped out and made the rest of the pencil out of colored plastic.  While the pencil is metallic and perfectly matches the paint, I do wish it was made out of the nice aluminum of the grip section. I find that the plastic is less noticeable on this version than the pink version, possibly because the grip and the plastic are the exact same color.20141203_172032

The tip floats a bit as it needs to be able to move up and down without friction thus has a loose-ish fit in the cone. It’s barely noticeable as I’m writing. The Kuru Toga “engine” does it’s job and moves the tip in miniscule amounts as I write, keeping the edge sharp and crisp. The line doesn’t widen at all, it’s stays the same. IF I remember to not rotate my pencil. Since I’ve been writing with wooden pencils all summer I have gotten back into the habit of rotating my pencil, so in effect I defeat the mechanism.20141203_172136

The key to making these pencils work well, it to not rotate the pencil as you write, something that is hard to stop yourself from doing if you’ve been making yourself do it for a full 4 or more months. It also helps if it’s held at more than a 45 degree angle. Steeper angles don’t provide quite enough force to the mechanism to actually rotate the lead. So it just acts like any old pencil.20141203_172048

Anyway, bullshit aside, this is a great looking and feeling mechanical pencil. I break very few leads with this beauty and my writing is crisp and accurate, well as crisp and accurate as my crappy handwriting can be. The price isn’t bad depending on where you purchase it. I found mine on Amazon for about $10, but they are now out of stock. On Jetpens they are $16. In my opinion, if you are looking for a great mechanical pencil, the knurled metal grip Roulette is a fine choice.

Review: Uniball Kuru Toga Starter Kit 0.7

I’m going to start off this review with a negative statement then run into the more positive. This isn’t my first Kuru Toga and won’t be my last, but you shouldn’t buy this as your introduction to Kuru Toga. Why? It’s a cheap imitation of Kuru Toga greatness. The idea of the Kuru Toga is that the lead rotates so you are always writing with a sharp crisp point. This pencil does that, and does it pretty well. If I were just reviewing the Kuru Toga “engine” this pencil would get a high five and stellar review, unfortunately the great guts are marred by a god awful pencil body.bad kuru toga bad kuru toga The body of this pencil is smokey gray plastic that allows you to see the inner workings of the pencil. In theory this is a pretty cool idea, but unless you are working in bright light you can’t really see the inner workings. For me to see through the plastic I must be under a nice bright light otherwise I can’t see anything inside moving, certainly not the small white logo on light blue that is inside this pencil.bad kuru togaThe other Kuru Togas I’ve handled have had a stainless steel tip section, this model has a chrome plated plastic section with a super wide silicone ring around it. The rubbery silicone grip keeps your fingers from sliding off the pencil. The problem is that it’s really hard, has a raised ridge, and is very uncomfortable. I consider myself to have a pretty tough writer’s callous on my right middle finger, but this pencil irritated it. bad kuru togaThe eraser is puny, but works okay once you can get it into contact with the paper. The eraser is so short that you have to flip the pencil completely upside down for it to make contact with the page, otherwise the body of the pencil gets in the way. When you do flip it over you have to press so hard you deploy the nock.  The end cap is also miniscule and easily lost. Basically, just keep a block eraser on hand for erasing. This starter set arrives with 2 extra erasers, but no case to keep them in, so you’ll lose those too.bad kuru toga bad kuru togaThe set arrives with 2 leads in the chamber and a 10-lead tube of NanoDia HB leads. While these are not my favorite leads, they are very nice and smooth for HB leads.  This is probably the best part of this $5 starter set. bad kuru togaI don’t know why Uni made such a terrible pencil package as it’s Kuru Toga starter kit. I don’t think this pencil is going to bring anyone to a love of the Kuru Toga. If anyone is interested in getting a Kuru Toga they are better off getting the rubber gripped version or one of the metal gripped versions. The rubber gripped version is only a few dollars more expensive, and has better reviews.

In short I’m saying this pencil is very cheap feeling but the Kuru Toga engine inside works just fine. I wish I had just saved my $5 and put it toward another metal bodied Kuru Toga or a package of BIC disposable mechanical pencils. The “good” thing about it is that I can use it at my internship and not worry about losing it. Since I don’t have desk space of my own, I have to carry all my stuff around either on my person or leave it in my bag, meaning I don’t leave anything of any valuable laying about.

Review: Tattersall Pocket Notebook

I picked up a 2-pack of OrangeArt’s pocket sized tattersall letterpress printed notebooks at Black Ink in Harvard Square awhile back. The 2-pack was $8.50, so pretty pricey.TattersallEach notebook has a cover and pages that are letter press printed with a  tattersall pattern. Basically zigzag lines in a large grid pattern. The covers are printed in 2 colors while the interior is a nice shade of gray. The interior paper is nice, toothy enough for pencils and smooth enough for fountain pens. Fountain pens perform reasonably well on this paper, with a little show through and hardly any bleed through but for where I rested my pen a second too long. I used 3 inks in my testing, Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite, J. Herbin Lie de The, and Noodler’s Heart of Darkness.  All were in medium or fine nibbed pens that run wet. I had no feathering or widening of the lines. With the finest of pens the paper made them feel scratchy, but not bad enough to stop me from writing. Pencils performed admirably on this paper. I was able to use my soft dark Palomino Blackwing (“original”) as well as my harder lighter Mirado Black Warrior to good effect. The paper was toothy enough to pull off a decent amount of graphite but not so toothy it felt like I was writing on a cheese grater. Pretty much just right.TattersallTattersall TattersallThe book is held together with 2 standard staples. This works reasonably well. I did not subject this to a stress test as this book was my at-home journal and even there lived in a leather cover. The cover is letterpress printed in 2 colors on white. The cover paper is not much heavier than the interior pages and feels flimsy. It is the worst part of the whole book. While pretty, this cover simply isn’t going to hold up to much abuse or pulling in and out of a back pocket. This is a paper cover that necessitates a case for any use out and about.TattersallThe 40 pages take fountain pen and pencil well. This notebook has 8 less pages than other pocket notebooks that are cheaper. The ruling is also  odd. It is a gray version of the exterior printing but without the cool letterpress imprint*.  The ruling is super wide, about double the width of a Word notebook and most other ruling. It measures in at 13mm. Super wide. i was able to fit 2 lines of writing into one line. I find this annoying. the ruling is also thick about .5mm. even though it’s gray it shows up under all my writing and remains very noticeable. They are available without the ruling. If I were to buy these again I’d look for them with blank pages.Tattersall TattersallOverall these are very pretty pocket notebooks and wonderful if you use a case/cover for your books. If you use fountain pens you will be pleased with the interior paper, and likewise for pencil. They are higher priced than Field Notes or Word notebooks, but boast letterpress printed covers and interior pages. Worth it if you like letter pressed items and want something a little different from the standard fare.

Here you can see the Tattersall on top of a Field Notes Red Blooded, it's a tad smaller than the Field Notes.

Here you can see the Tattersall on top of a Field Notes Red Blooded, it’s a tad smaller than the Field Notes.

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Review: Ticonderoga Sensematic HB #2

After using wooden pencils nearly exclusively for an entire summer it feels somehow wrong to admit to using a mechanical pencil, especially a new fangled one like the Ticonderoga Sensematic. I mean a ballpoint pen is necessary for filling out forms and such, but a no knock mechanical pencil? Oh my!sensematicThe Sensematic* sports a silver body made of plastic. It is roughly the same size as  a regular pencil. The imprint is teal that matches the typical Ticonderoga green foil pretty well, but I find myself wishing it were green foil. The silver is tough and thus far in my week of use the imprint is staying strong.sensematic

The writing end is all black plastic. The a-typical sleeve is also black and conical is shape. The mechanism is similar to a Uniball Kuru Toga. As you write the interior of the pencil feels you writing and advances the lead just a smidge. It works really well, advancing a little tiny amount of lead each time you make a letter. Now, if you write with long flowing cursive strokes, like the Kuru Toga, this is going to be an issue. Cursive tends to defeat the mechanism, making this pencil well suited for printing and crappy cursuprint like I use.**sensematicThe ferrule is metal and painted Tigonderoga colors. It’s fitted to the lead holder very well and is where one grips to remove the lead holder for refilling the pencil. After unscrewing the ferrule one finds a small white plastic tube with a black cap. This holds 3 leads.*** The cap removes with a pull. On the back end of the pencil is a black eraser, which is the same quality as any other Ticonderoga eraser. That is to say, pretty good as far as pencil cap erasers go. It appears to be the same as the Ticonderoga Noir.sensematicThe lead itself is pretty meh. It is slightly scratchy and not as dark nor as smooth as most Ticonderogas. However, it will accept any 0.7 leads you have available.  I’ve used about a lead and a half over the last week of use. I’ve done quite a lot of writing but no sketching. The lead in this is pretty light so I don’t find it very useful for sketching.

So what am I using this for? First off you’ll notice in the pics, I added a pencil clip. While it’s not the most secure clip in the world it does let me clip the pencil to my shirt at my internship, so that I can grab it for quick notes. The fact that I don’t have to click a knock to advance the lead is super convenient. That only a small amount of lead is exposed at any one time is great. I’m not breaking off bits of lead  or stabbing myself with the pencil. With the clip this is a super convenient mechanical pencil. The final great thing is that they are not much bigger than a pocket notebook in length, so they pair wonderfully with pocket notebook in a cover for EDC.sensematic

In addition to the core being a little scratchy the big downside is that it feels really cheaply made. Granted it was merely $2 for a 2-pack (on clearance) and regularly isn’t much more expensive, but I do wonder what these would be like if made out of better quality materials. They also feel disposable, so I doubt that people, other than me, will replace the lead in them to use them over and over. Honestly a Ticonderoga is a pretty inexpensive pencil to begin with why make a cheap mechanical pencil that will be discarded when empty and pollute the environment? Why not just stick to wood?sensematictoss out the included leads and pick up a pack of Uni NanoDia leads in B or 2B. You'll thank me.

toss out the included leads and pick up a pack of Uni NanoDia leads in B or 2B. You’ll thank me.

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Review: Dixon Oriole HB #2

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. polished turdLet 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.polished turdFrom 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.polished turdInside 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.polished turdThe 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.polished turdThe 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.polished turdAnother 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.****polished turdOver 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.

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Review: Stabilo GREENgraph HB

Another recent purchase via Pencils.com the Stabilo GreenGraph is yet another good looking pencil. We can talk about my love of olive drab green and how it might skew my review of this pencil’s good looks. Or not.

This pencil features a flat olive green paint and cream colored pin stripes and imprint. The pairing of colors is very nice, and as I’ve stated previously easy on the eyes. The reverse side has a bar code  printed in white. It’s not obtrusive. The ferrule is brass colored and tightly fixed to the body of the pencil. It holds a super firm white eraser. The flat paint of this pencil feels strange at first but through use it isn’t slippery even when moist. (I tested this out by picking up my iced coffee, getting my hand wet with condensation then continuing my writing.) greengraphgreengraphThe wood is soft and fragrant but I don’t think it’s cedar. The pencil is FSC certified. The average sized core is well centered. It sharpens with ease in any of my sharpeners. It holds a point nicely.  In terms of darkness Iid rate this more as a B or 2B grade than HB. greengraphIn use this pencil is very dark, smooth with feedback from the graphite. Some pencils, like the Staedtler Rally and this are smooth but have what I call feedback in the graphite. this means that rather than feeling like skating across paper like a Blackwing it’s more like driving a dirt bike through sand.  The feeling isn’t drag per se but more subtle. With a fountain pen this would be called feedback. This is a pencil that if you  like feedback from your pen and paper combination you’ll get it. This is a pencil for people who don’t like the feeling of the Blackwings.

I digress, the pencil is nicely dark both in writing and in sketching. It layers up to dark nicely it is hard enough that lighter shades are possible as well. It was really fantastic for sketching. I also really enjoyed it while writing. I used it for a brainstorming session for internship group art therapy ideas and really enjoyed the writing experience.  I also used it while reading a textbook for underlining the pulpy paperback. It worked well. greengraphThe super firm white eraser worked really well. It is one of the best erasers I’ve gotten on a pencil in a long time. I was able to use it while sketching and for cleaning the written word off composition book paper. Though I’ve used it repeatedly the ferrule and eraser are still fixed firmly to the pencil. greengraphIn terms of value, this pencil when purchased in a 3-pack via pencils.com is around $1 per pencil. When purchased in a 12-pack the value is better at 83 cents per pencil. This puts them into the affordable but not cheap category for me. I like them enough that I wish I’d bought he 12-pack rather than the 2-pack. Pencils.com is the only place to get the at a reasonable price.  I cannot find them on ebay and the price on Amazon was about $30 for 12!!!