Writing in color (ii).

Ashley sends us some cool stuff regarding the ability to write in color, without resorting to ink:

“Sorry to inundate your inbox with my pencil finds [ed. never! keep them coming!], but the latest ones, CRAYOLA TWISTABLES Colored Pencils are truly exciting. It would not be going too far to call them a supermarket serendipity, as I stumbled upon them at the grocery store. Yet another impulse purchase, but not one I regret!!

I’d never heard of them before. They write really well, like very thin crayons. They are a shameful waste of plastic, since the ‘lead’ twists and retracts within a transparent plastic casing. One would probably not want to write term papers or reams of notes with them. I plan to use them for editing, highlighting, and journaling, in addition to all those times I want to write in pencil, but not in graphite gray!!

A pack of twelve cost 3 dollars.”

Thanks, Ashley!
[See Writing in Color (i) for more!]

Come origin-ahl.

Dave from New Zealand sent us this cool graphic that I can’t say I’ve seen before. But’s a sentiment known very well in the Revolution. I wish we could find whoever created it so that we could get permission to put it on a T-shirt. Lead-ittes;)
Too bad there’s no way to blog with pencil, a way that wouldn’t require a computer to read. Now that would be cool. Print doesn’t allow the timely responses on ongoing discussion that the web does, though, or at least not all responses. Letters to the Editor get cut, pasted and — above all — chosen. I suppose the web might be one of the few (if not only) mediums where we all have a voice. Nonetheless, there’s something amenic about the net sometimes, and something so organic about pencils. Just something…

Dave also has a new blog where he’s writing about his mechanical pencil collection. The most recent is of the Yard-O-Led Deco 34:

“The all silver square body and uncommon looks of this mechanical pencil make it stand out from your everyday office pens and pencils. Twist action top to advance or retract lead. Extra leads stored individually inside the body, 12 x 3 inch leads making the ‘yard of lead’.”

Read on. Thanks to Dave for the graphic, and best wishes on his new blogging venture.

[Images, D.P. Used with permission.]

Welcome to the new Revolution.

We have a few reviews in the queue and a profile on a talented artist, but we’ve fallen behind in the transfer from Blogger to WordPress. Blogger is great, but we will have greater flexibility with WordPress now that we’ve become more of a community than just a blog about pencils. Apologies for anyone who tried to access the site today without success, as it was down for an hour or two while the switch was being finalized.

Everything has been saved and/or transferred — all posts, comments, etc. Now commenting will be easier.

The feed may or may not be down. I honestly don’t know. If anyone would like to let us know either way via email, we’d appreciate it.

Our masthead was sort of thrown together in a few minutes by myself, so we hope to have a better one in place shortly, perhaps shifting them around regularly.

Thanks for your patience, and normal posting will begin this week, ASAP.

Marc’s collection.

Nearly a month ago, Armand sent these great photos he took of Marc’s pencil collection: the Perfect Pencil in two forms:)

Many thanks to Marc and to Armand!

[Images, A.F. Used with permission.]


(The new Leatherman e301.)

Sharpening a pencil can be the best or the worst part of pencilship, depending largely on one’s preferred method of pointing the pencil. Raven writes in about sharpening by straight blade:

“In the midst of this long discussion of pencil sharpeners, let us not forget the humble pocket knife. I was taught to sharpen pencils with a knife as a small girl, and I’ve never looked back. True, you have to keep the knife sharp, and figure out what to do with the shavings, and make other arrangements when you fly — but look at the advantages: 1. You probably already have one, or can pick one up from your local hardware store. No hunting around on the net for the perfect instrument or the perfect supplier. 2. Some manual skill is required, but the skill is easily learned. 3. It’s completely silent. 4. It impresses the heck out of people when you quietly and in an off-hand manner begin sharpening your pencil with a knife. I have not explored the potential for deflecting a boring or toxic conversation, but give me time….”

Is anyone else a fan of the blade?

[Image, J.G.]

Berol Greenback.

This article comes from Germany (Deutschland): Jon-Paul at Freelancers’ Guide.

They say money won’t make you happy. Berol’s Eagle Greenback Pencil is trying to argue the point.

Before we get into the review, here is a thumbnail history of the Eagle Pencil Company:

Eagle Pencil Company was formed in 1856 in New York by the Berolzheimer family. About fifty years later, the Empire Pencil Company was founded. Eagle started building operations all over Latin and South America while the Empire folks kept growing. In 1969, the Berol Corporation formed, merging no less than nine different office supply companies from North America and the UK. In 1986, Empire bought the Berol Corp making an office supply superpower swimming in pencils, which was then called Empire-Berol. In 1995, the Sanford Corporation acquired Empire-Berol, where it has remained since. (Reference.)

And that brings us to today’s discussion of the Eagle Greenbacks. Yes, they are pencils that are, as quoted from the front package, “made from RECYCLED MONEY!” There are six No. 2 pencils in a pack, with each pencil containing on average $7.33 of recycled U.S. currency. These pencils are PMA certified and are made in the USA out of US currency mixed with plastic. These pencils are supposed to be great for the environment since no trees are destroyed.

And don’t forget the “copper-colored eraser bands that look like shiny, new pennies.”

And now, my 2¢:

Writing with the gimmicky pencil isn’t nearly as fun as spending the pre-recycled materials. While they are light and smell nice, the buck stops there. The lead isn’t worth one red cent, a light gray that doesn’t keep a point, since it’s plastic and extruded with the barrel. The “wood” is soft and, frankly, makes your palm sweat. You can bend the pencil quite a ways before it breaks because of the plastic, so if you like pencils as solid as clams, this definitely will bug you. They are the standard 7.5” long with a green eraser that tends to make your page look like lettuce.

If you’re looking for a fun pencil gift to give your grade-school aged friend to show off to his or her friends, this is definitely the one. However, it’s not a serious pencil to carry out all of your favorite tasks.

Wise people say to beware the wine that comes in a fancy, colorful, bright and shiny bottle: they are selling the bottle – the wine is junk. And so it goes with pencils.

[Text and image, J-P. Used with permission.]

Raising a writer.

A recent article on Parent Center is about how to raise a child who loves to write. Of course, pencils are featured:

Experiment with writing tools
Let her try all different types of writing implements — crayons, chalk, pens, pencils, paints. Keep in mind that she may have an easier time using “fat” crayons or pens than skinny pencils. Even dough and modeling clay are writing tools — you can roll them out and form rope letters (this helps develop her motor skills as well). Keep these supplies in a drawer she can reach easily.

Experiment with surfaces
For starters, white paper is a must. Big pads of newsprint are inexpensive, and children love having a big surface to fill in. But don’t forget about chalkboards, sidewalks, and dry erase boards. If you’re concerned about the mess, set up a kid-size table outside or in a section of your kitchen or playroom where the splatter won’t matter. And buy water-soluble markers and erasable pens for easy cleanup.

Read the rest of the artcle here.

Happy Birthday, E. A. Poe.

I’ve searched and searched and searched, but I can’t find information on whether Mr. Poe ever used pencils to fashion his tales of the macabre. (If anyone has any, we’d appreciate it!) It really looks like he was an ink man. So I know; this post has little to do with pencils, then. But Mr. Poe is one of the patron writers of my hometown, so much so that they named their football team after his most famous poem. And I just plain like him.

But even if wishing Mr. Poe a Happy Birthday is not really “pencil related,” it can’t hurt to stop and think about the idea that all that separated him from the stories in his brain and posthumous fame was paper and something to write with. Pencil collectors, fanatics and casual users always have these on hand, since pencils usually come by the dozen or so. What if Mr. Poe had no ink or quill?

Besides, who among us has not read Poe with a Black Warrior of Dixon Black in hand, or written a scary story or grizzly poem without fancying her or his self to be in cahoots with the Master of Dark Writing in English?

For more information about Mr. Poe, visit the website of the famous (or infamous, lol) E. A. Poe Society of Baltimore. Great editions of Poe’s work can be found by the Library of America series, and you can get them at a very good price (comparable to less authoritative editions with typos, etc.) on Amazon or Overstock. They are based on the authoritative (but out of print) Harvard University edition. The Library of America also makes a great collection and analysis of Poe’s poetry in their American Poets Project, and the Everyman Library’s Pocket Poets edition is also excellent.

And finally, for a bit of fun, check out the adventures of Li’l Edgar (requires Flash) at Accoutrements, makers of the Poe action figure, Li’l Edgar figure and the Poe bobble head.

[Image, Joe Kubert. Found here.]

Submission Guidelines.

Pencil Bridge.
Photo from my friend Carrie in Portland, Oregon.

We’ve been very very lucky to constantly get awesome submissions from Comrades of the Revolution: links, photos, drawings, essays, reviews, etc. We cannot be more thankful for this. But it turns out that we have been remiss not only in not expressing this gratitute, but also in providing any kind of guidelines for submissions. This became obvious when several Comrades have asked about the guidelines for submissions lately — very justifiably. We are always very happy with the submissions we get, and I only decided to take the time to write up some guidelines in order to encourage more people to submit if they feel so inclined, not to express any kind of displeasure with the wonderful things folks have always been so kind to send in to us. So I personally apologize if there are folks who wanted to submit but did not because they did not know how or what sorts of guidelines we have. We will keep a link to these guidelines in the right column indefinitely, too.

Without further ado:

Pencil Revolution Submission Guidelines

1) For links, emailing is best so that we see it right away. If you have a site or blog we can link to, please let us know.

2) For visual art, the only guideline for content is that it involves pencils in some small way and common sense in a big way. While we will not censor art that contains nudity or violence, please don’t send us pornography or images for which someone else owns the rights, etc. For formatting sake, we appreciate the original (if possible) photo or a large scan of an analog image so that we can format it for the page and upload it to our server.

3) For written work, any genre, format or topic is very welcome. Poems, stories and essays about pencils, written with pencils — these all certainly apply. While we would rather not censor anyone, please be thoughtful and considerate of all the Comrades of the Revolution.

4) For reviews, we do have some specific guidelines. However, to save space, if you would like to review something for Pencil Revolution, please email us (see right column) first. This is both to get the guidelines for the type of gear you’d like to review (pencil, eraser, sharpener, etc.) and to see if the gear you’d like to review is something we are really in a position to publish a review of presently. For instance, if we were to publish too many Faber-Castell or Dixon reviews too close together and in a disproportion to the other gear we review, we would certainly be unbalanced and would sacrifice some credibility thereby.

Nonetheless, if you’d like to review something from a manufacturer for which we have published several reviews, please contact us, and we can arrange a future date for submission or publication, etc. We don’t want to discourage anyone from writing reviews, just from appearing to play favorites. And besides, the things we choose to review do not necessarily reflect preferences anyway. We’ve had some negative reviews, and that’s a good thing if we expect anyone to trust the things we say:)

For all submissions, we reserve the right to re-format, edit or reject whatever we feel is inappropriate for Pencil Revolution. Other than re-formatting some photos, we’ve never had to do this before, and we doubt we ever will have to.

While we’re talking about reviews, there are some for the near future which we would eagerly like to publish, and we invite one to all to contact us if you’d like to review any of the following sometime soon, this winter or spring:

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100 (drawing or writing); other Staedtler products.
Erasers! Erasers! Erasers!
Sanford Prismacolor Turquoise (drawing or writing).
Various kinds of art pencils (colored pencils, watercolor pencils, pastel pencils, etc.).
And of course, suggestions from Comrades.

We have such a talented community, we’re hoping that some artists and writers and thinkers can share the wisdom of some specific pencils and related goodies.

Myriad thanks to everyone who has shared something with us so far, be it a link, a review, an essay, a photo or drawing — we are thankful for everything!

World’s largest pencil.

Doug Martin from the famous Pencil Pages sent us this great photo of the new World’s Largest Pencil, updated from the previous champion. Both are by Faber-Castell, though. Now that is German engineering! Check out the page at Doug’s site.

“This is a photograph of the World’s Largest Pencil, a Castell 9000 located at Faber-Castell’s facility in Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur. This pencil is nearly 65 feet tall and is housed in a glass enclosure. Completed in 2002, it is made from Malaysian lumber, fitted from small pieces tongue-and-groove fashion. Once the first half was built, a German-made polymer lead running the full length was inserted and the remainder was built, then sanded and finished. The project required over 7000 man-hours over a two year period to complete. The pencil is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest.”

And be sure to surf around the Pencil Pages, since Doug tells us that he’s updated much of the site, including the links section and some other goodies.

[Image, Sandra Suppa, Faber-Castell GmbH & Co., Germany.]