Not too long ago the new Blackwing limited edition series called “Volumes” was announced. With this new series of limited edition pencils, a subscription service mimicking that of Field Notes was introduced. There are some obvious differences, which will be discussed later on, but for now, let’s just say, it’s not the same.In the subscription you receive a dozen of the quarterly limited edition pencils, a tubed “collector’s” pencil, and it’s all packaged in a nifty box with shredded paper, a sticker, and apparently, magic. This is a vastly different package than what you get if you order Volumes on it’s own. In that case your Volumes box is slipped into a pretty sleeve and placed into a manila bubble envelope. While the subscribers get ceremony, non-subscribers don’t.The cost of a subscription is $99 and $12 for shipping, for a total of $111 for a year. Buying a single box of the Volumes will cost $24.95 plus $4 shipping for a total of $28.95. The sub cost per pencil is $2.31 or $2.13 if you count the extra 4 collector’s tubed pencils. Non subs pay $2.41 per pencil, less if you can buy them from a retailer that offers free shipping.*I won’t go deep into my thoughts on the heavy handed marketing that is used with the Blackwings. I will say that I’m annoyed that I still have no idea how many of these sets were produced. That aspect of Field Notes is something that I appreciate. It is completely transparent. The number produced of each edition is printed on the inside back cover. The Blackwing marketing is highly reminiscent of Moleskine marketing, which I could really write about for hours, but won’t. You can just go here and read the pinned post for more info.Anyway, I decided to buy the first Volumes edition after seeing all the stellar pictures posted of it online. It is a really really pretty pencil. The starburst finish which starts as yellow at the tip, fades to red, and ends in black. The end is capped with the standard golden ferrule and filled with a standard black eraser. The paint is glossy and thick. It is glossy like the Pearl and the 602.**Anyway, after the pictures I saw online, I guess I expected something, more? Ripping open a bubble mailer isn’t as sexy as opening a carefully packed box. Having spent nearly $30 on 12 pencils, it felt a bit cheap. I won’t describe the sleeve or the box itself, as you can find other blogs that go on about the beauty of the sleeve and box. The pencils themselves are very pretty. In use they are no different than a Blackwing Pearl, which I have to say is my favorite of all the Blackwings. The kicker to me in all of this is that if I were to peel away the fancy new paint job, all I’d have in my hand is a Pearl. A very expensive Pearl.*** Of course there are other less expensive Pearl replacements- the MB Nano Dia B is only $1 per pencil and sports a pearlized finish although with some funky diamond shapes printed in lame pastel colors****. There are other blogs that really search out for Blackwing replacement pencil, and though I enjoy them, I’m not one to spend a lot of time researching this topic. I’m pretty happy with my Musgrave Test Scoring 100 or General’s Cedar Pointe #1.The fact is that with $30, I wish I’d picked up another box of Pearls, a few erasers, and maybe another sharpener instead of the 725.
My least favorite of the pencils in the Pencils.com Palomino pencil pack is the Forest Choice. This “least favorite” business must be qualified with the fact it’s my least favorite of a group of spectacular pencils.
This is a very good looking pencil. It’s incense cedar case is lightly finished with a clear finish. the green imprint is crisp and includes the logo and website. The ferrule is a nice evergreen color and holds a pink eraser. The ferrule is fixed securely. Even after repeated use it doesn’t loosen.
The cedar sharpens with ease in any sharpener. The core holds a nice point with the KUM long point sharpener or a wedge. It’s labeled an HB and performs as such when compared to normal type pencils. In the Palomino world this would be rated an H as it’s the hardest of the group of pencils. As such it’s pretty good for underdrawings or taking notes, as the harder core holds a point better than a softer core. It will not give a range of shades nor a deep dark.
I like the look of this pencil very much, but wish it came with the standard Palomino core. This is a nice core but for my preferences not soft and smooth enough. Honestly though, if you are looking for an ecologically minded pencil for note taking or writing this is a great pencil. Even for basic sketching this is a great pencil.
In my next to last review of the individual pencils in the Palomino mixed pencil pack from pencils.com I’m looking at the Palomino premium HB eraser topped pencil. It’s features a perfect bright orange finish with a gold imprint. The ferrule is a matching gold colored ferrule holding a white eraser. The ferrule is well fitted to the pencil and stays strong even after repeated use. The eraser is, like most Palomino erasers, disappointing. For writing and general use it cleans most of the pencil off the page but to really clean the page you’ll need a stick or block eraser.
The pencil is made of incense cedar, smells great, and sharpens easily. The core holds a point really well from any of the sharpeners I’ve used. It is especially good with the KUM long point sharpener. The Palomino HB rating is similar to a 2B in most other brands of pencils. That makes this pencil super smooth in use. The point also wears down pretty quickly for class notes. But for drawing, this is a great pencil. It gives a nice gradation of shades, and decent darks.
These are not extreme value pencils. A 12-pack will cost around $13. Compared to other art pencils this isn’t a bad deal. Palomino sells the HB pencil in 12-packs. It’s unfortunately that Palomino doesn’t sell the 2B- 6B pencils in mixed drawing pencil pack in individual packages of 6 or 12. It’s a fantastic pencil for writing or drawing.
I am excited to report that AC Moore stores are carrying KUM brand sharpeners and the prices are fantastic. I spotted my favorite KUM Automatic Long Point for about $6. Even though the long point is $6 on Jetpens, getting it locally for $6 is worth it because there isn’t any shipping. The other thing about AC Moore is that they offer monthly coupons. These coupons can be for 40%, 50%, and even 55% off. Taking any of those percentages off means that the price of the sharpener is even lower. They carry other KUM sharpeners. I snagged an Ellipse in orange. They are available in pink, yellow orange, green, and blue.
The Ellipse is a small smooth sharpener. The caps fit onto the sharpener securely on each end. inside is a small KUM wedge sharpener. The sharpener is plastic with a quality KUM blade secured with a screw, which makes it replaceable. (You can get replacement blades here.)
The sharpener gives a medium sized point, somewhere between a small blunt point and the KUM long point. The point is good for writing and drawing. But it does leave the point with a long needle point that breaks off, so you have to keep a close eye on the point to prevent over sharpening. It sharpens quickly and easily. A few twists in this sharpener and the point is sharp and ready for action.
The long smooth curves of this sharpener along with the secure caps make it ideal for pocket carry. It won’t poke or gouge into your thigh when carried in a pocket. For that matter it’ll be really great to carry in the pocket of a backpack or bag. It’s a terrific compact pencil sharpener.
Mine was purchased with a 55% off coupon for $1.70, which is a great deal on a good pocket sharpener. While this isn’t the best KUM sharpener (that would be the KUM Long point) it’s a good one for daily carry.
The Palomino Golden Bear is my second review of the pencils.com Palomino pencil pack pencils. The Golden Bear pencils (GB) are in the mid-range grouping of the pack. The are available in blue and orange. Like all of the Palomino pencils the finish is crisp and perfect. the ferrule is brass with an orange stripe in the middle, on both colors of pencil. It is fitted to the pencil sturdily and without any wiggle, even after repeated use of the eraser. The blue eraser is fitted with an orange eraser and the orange pencil has a blue eraser. The erasers are okay, but not great. For sketching one will need a block or stick eraser to do a job. For just writing, the included eraser is just fine.
The GB is made of cedar and as a result sharpens easily and smells great. Using any of my sharpeners, like the KUM long point or wedge. the lead itself holds a point well. The lead is an HB so it’s a good balance of soft and hard for writing. It won’t need to be sharpened every 5 seconds of writing and drawing. The lead is a nice dark shade, but won’t give you deep darks as you draw. It gives a decent range of shades for an HB but to get true dark shades you’ll need to switch to another pencil.
This is a completely enjoyable pencil that looks great and is great to use. A 12-pack on pencils.com is about $3. Not a bad price for a pencil that performs as well as this one. The pencil was made in this US.
The first of my full reviews for the Pencils.com palomino pencil pack is for my favorite of the mid-range pencils, the Palomino Prospector. The prospector is available in 2 different finishes clear and bright green. The ferrule on both is a light golden color and holds a white eraser. The imprint is gold foil. The quality of these pencils is top notch. On both my pencils the finish is flawless, smooth and crisp. The ferrule is fitted strongly to the pencil and even after repeated use doesn’t get loose. The eraser is okay but not great. For writing the eraser does okay but for sketching you’ll need a block or stick eraser to do a good job.
I’d rate the pencil an HB when compared to sketching pencils. For writing this is a fantastic pencils. I used it for note taking during class and was quite happy with it’s performance. It’s just hard enough that I’m not sharpening it after every written word. For sketching the pencil is quite nice. Again, it’s HB so it won’t give you deep darks or huge range of shades but it does quite well. It’s a good starting pencil for drawing. After getting the bones of a drawing down with this pencil you can shift to a darker pencil.
These pencils are fantastic. I’m quite taken with the natural clear finished pencil. The clear finish is thick and smooth. Not only is it a great looking pencil it performs really well. These are my favorite of the mid level pencils in this pack.
These pencils were once produced in Thailand but are now made in the US. The wood of the pencil is Basswood which is soft and sharpens easily. It doesn’t smell as nice as cedar but looks great. At $1.95 per 12-pack these are an affordable HB pencil that is fantastic for writing or sketching.