PaperMate Handwriting Pencil.

Over the weekend, I came across some interesting pencils at Staples: the PaperMate Handwriting Pencil. My toddler is completely in love with all shades of purple and pink and otherwise brightly colored pencils, and I picked up a pack.

These are relatively short and fat pencils. They’re designed to comfortably accommodate tiny hands. My daughter immediately stole the fuchsia pencil, and she’s having a grand time drawing with it. My kindergartener will claim one later, and I’m curious to see what effect, if any, it has on the quality of his handwriting.

The erasers match the triangular barrels, and the ferrule and eraser assemblies are very securely clinched on top. The imprint is simple and pretty cute, albeit perhaps a little too far away from the eraser end.

The pencils’ finishes are okay. The paint is laid on a little unevenly but on the thick side. The wood is definitely not cedar, but that’s no surprise these days.

What really surprises me about these pencils is that the core makes a reasonably dark line, but it stays put. Perhaps the most ubiquitous learners’ pencil in the United States, the My First Ticonderoga is another fat pencil with a large eraser designed for small hands. These pencils have a wide and soft graphite core, but they smear all over the place. The writing sample above was made in a Field Notes notebook with the most recent iteration of the Ticonderoga in question. As Comrades can clearly see, the PaperMate Handwriting Pencil has a lead more similar to that found in an adult pencil. I wrote a bit with one of these pencils, and it was a perfectly comfortable and enjoyable experience.

The pack comes with a bright orange sharpener designed for the pencils’ diameter. The blade is made in Germany by Eisen, a name we find on some quality sharpeners.

I used as pencil enough to dull the point so that I could tryout this little sharpener. While the transition from the pre-sharpened triangular cone of wood to the round cone produced with his blade sharpener is a little strange at first, the sharpener did a more than serviceable job. The resulting point strongly resembles the angle of the original factory point.


At $3 for five pencils and a sharpener, I think the set is a reasonable deal. It’s too early to tell whether or not these are going to help my kids improve their handwriting, but any bright new pencils that come into our home are always welcomed by my kiddos. If you have children or otherwise enjoy a fat pencil yourself, you can’t go too wrong for less than the cost of a fancy coffee drink.

Blackwing Natural: Extra Firm and Kinda Naked.

A few weeks ago, a new pencil from Blackwing was leaked on social media. Shortly thereafter, Blackwing released their first permanent collection pencil in nearly six years: The Blackwing Natural.

Listeners of the Erasable Podcast might recognize some requests that we made repeatedly. The core is extra firm. The barrel is natural cedar. While I wished for a silver ferrule and pink eraser, this gold ferrule and gray eraser look fantastic next to the wood grain and the gold stamping. I’m not disappointed at all.

The barrel of the pencil is covered in some sort of thin varnish or lacquer. It’s matte, grippy, and lovely. The core is fantastic. It’s plenty dark for me, reminding me of the original Palomino that seems to be no more.

There was considerable delay in getting these shipped, but with them being a permanent part of the collection, that’s totally fine with me. A few of mine had quality control issues. Four or five of them have ferrules not attached very well, and one had a big chip in the wood. But I am not under any illusion that this dozen of pencils is going to be mine for long anyway. Once my kids and spouse see these, I’m going to have to order myself another box.

Thanks to Blackwing, for listening to your customers who have been wanting a pencil more or less exactly like this! Personally, I’m glad they have added the extra firm core to the lineup and that they have added a natural option. Natural pencils got me into these graphite beauties in the first place.

I’m holding myself back from buying many gross of these pencils. For now.

Write Notepads ZHŪ Winter Edition.

These notebooks, the winter edition from our friends at Write Notepads pay tribute to the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Pig. They come dressed in red, with a lusciously textured coverstock that is on the light-weight side. Within, Comrades will find 48 pages of bright white paper with a dot-grid ruling. All of the usual things that we ever have to say about pocket notebooks from this company hold true here too. The construction is simple and durable. The attention to detail is top-notch. And the design is wonderful.

And would you look at that gold foil stamping!?

Unfortunately, these sold out really quickly. (EDIT: These are still available from CW Pencils!) This is generally becoming the case each quarter, as Write Notepads seems to step up their game with each limited edition pocket notebook they release. When your Humble Editor found out about the theme, he was floored by the simple genius of the idea and its perfect execution.