Troy has graciously offered up another Classroom Friendly Sharpener for a give-away. These beauties produce a crazy long point and are build to last (see our 2010 review). The winner gets to pick the color, though the give-away is limited to Comrades in the United States.
To enter, leave a comment on this post with your New Year’s Resolution. You can lie, but please enlighten us with the truth. Please do share this with your Comrades who might enjoy such a fanfreakintastic sharpener.
You get an extra entry if you listen to Erasable Episode 22 (about pocket notebooks) this weekend and leave another comment here reporting on Johnny’s “Tools of the Trade” for Episode 22. These won’t show up, but we’ll know you entered.
We will close entries on January 24th at 11:59 pm EST. We will pick the winner at random and notify the winner by January 26th, who will have one week to respond before we pick a new winner.
Thanks to Troy for the opportunity to share the Heavy Metal Love.
I love the theme of intergenerational pencil discussions. My daughter and I have them on a regular basis, though my son (at just about 19 months old) just yells “Puh!” for now. Luke recently posted a piece by a father and son review team:
“My 17-year-old son has taken an interest in my growing collection of Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602s and he and I share a mild (in our minds, anyway) obsession with finding the ultimate writing wood pencil. After collecting an assortment of recommended pencils for comparison, we sat down and conducted our unscientific test…”
Read more at Pencilism!
A few weeks ago, I opened my mailbox to see the Dudek logo. I wondered if I had ordered something and forgotten somehow, since I had certainly eyed up Mike’s designs for a while, especially the custom block he made for my Erasable co-host Tim. Nope. I didn’t order anything. Mr. Dudek kindly sent along his most pencil-friendly offering gratis, and I love it.
Mike Dudek, author of the always excellent Clicky Post, crafts gorgeous blocks to help store and organize your stationery items, in lovely stained walnut. The Divide holds six pens (or thick pencils) on one side and six regular pencils on the other. In the middle, there is space for a Moleskine-style book or a few Field Notes-style notebooks.
When some of my…clutter in the dining room was shifted to this Beautiful Block, my wife asked what it was, where it came from and probably sent Mike a thank-you note for neatening up my go-to area in the dining room. I love this organizer. It helps me to cut down on the number of pencils I leave around a house with two smallish kids, and I haven’t misplaced my current notebook (a problem I often have) since I started using my Divide.
Comrades can purchase The Divide online for $60, plus shipping. This is the kind of item you can literally leave to your grandchildren. If I saw this on my Dad’s desk, I would still be begging for it.
Thanks again to Mike for his incredible generosity and for making such gorgeous and functional stationery designs for us fans of pen[cil]s and paper.
I am coming off of a Pencil Drought, during which I “won” NaNoWriMo using only gel pens for speed. As I mentioned on the podcast, my brain doesn’t relax around pencils, no matter how much I prefer them. True to form, I got sick literally two hours before the month was over, but my words were in, and all was well. With NyQuil, that is. I am happy to have found new blogs, as I come back down to the world of graphite and writing at a normal speed.
In no particular order, here are two great new additions to The Stationery Blogosphere.
Pencilism, by Luke Sinclair, author of the great hand-sharpening guide featured here. There is some great writing already on Luke’s blog, including a great post that is a moving piece on the meaning of pencils.
My son handed me something that he got out of the diaper bag: a mechanical pencil. I said to him, “What’s that there, bud?” My innocent four-year-old daughter butted in and said it was, “A Bullshit Pencil.” We have talked about Mr. Rees’ book too much in our house. And I hope she does not say that at school.
(I do not actually think they are all bullpoop.)
We used to post much more about readers’ art, and I am glad we can do it again today. Wendy sent this wonderful image recently, and I think it would make a great Pencil Revolution T-shirt one day, if she was willing.
I discovered this excellent blog a few months ago and, on a recent archive binge, I found your post on the Staedtler Norica. Now, being the art hobbyist that I am, I was immediately struck by how dark the line looked compared to other “writing” pencils. And, being the pen and pencil addict that I am, I went to Staples and got myself two whole packs.
This is probably the most economical impulse buy I have ever made. “Art” pencils are usually a step up in quality compared to their “writing” cousins, but they are also several steps up in price. The Staedtler Norica is just as good as you said – and for a very good value. I’m in the business of making art, not Art, so I’m happy with having a single hard pencil paired up with a soft pencil for shadows. The Norica is an excellent pseudo-B to have on hand, and it doesn’t scream, “Art in progress, peek over my shoulder!”
Thank you so much for writing about this pencil, and everything else on your blog. I am slightly poorer but very grateful!
Many thanks to Wendy for sharing her art! Please click to see the embiggened version.
Jetpens sent over a package to HQ today which included this cool little ghost sharpener. To be honest, I’ve eyed this up for years, though I assumed it was smaller in person. It’s actually got a nice reservoir for shavings, and it’s easy to open.
Inside is a KUM “Narrow Wedge” in black plastic. Both the wedge itself and the blade are replaceable, meaning this this spooky little fellow could grace your Halloween pencil adventures for years to come.
This is also the first pencil sharpener I own that glows in the dark. They must have improved this substance since I was a kid in the 80s because it definitely glows more brightly than the toys I had.*
*Or is it the CFL bulbs we didn’t have back then?
I know that we write about the USA series from Write Dudes a lot. We reviewed the Golds and even reviewed the USA Silver. I love these pencils, and they keep getting better all of the time. I found a bizarre…error today, though, which worked out in my favor.
I was in a different part of town and wound up at a strange Walmart. I went to the pencil aisle immediately, and it smelled like cedar. I saw some 4-dozen packs of USA Silver pencils. I noticed that it said “premium wood,” and I sniffed the open part of the box.
I pulled open a box, and what I found inside delighted me: USA Gold pencils, with the plain silver USA Silver ferrule — and they were $5.99. That’s a buck and half per dozen. And they look amazing.
It’s not often that you find a genuine surprise, let alone an American made one. Anyone else notice an up-tick in Write Dudes’ pencil quality in the last season or two?
Remember when we used digital cameras and uploaded the photos to Flickr? We had to plug them in or use a card reader. Remember when you didn’t have the entire Internet in your pocket all of the time? I remember when we had to write down blog posts on paper if we were away from a computer. Now I can just literally talk to an app, and it will post for me (I never do that though).
At any rate, you might enjoy the Pencil Revolution Flickr group, founded in 2005 and still going strong. It is almost entirely pencil art these days, and some of it is really excellent work.
I miss using Flickr, though I supposed Instagram is the new Flickr?
This was a few weeks ago. I took advantage of the house being empty for an hour or two and watched Hemingway & Gellhorn. It wasn’t great.
It is an unexpected delight to be asked to write about my hand sharpening of wooden pencils. I have been reaching for a blade over regular sharpeners for more than two decades. My method is now automatic, and I admit that I spend a little bit more time getting the point I need than most other people I know. This is mostly due to my training in art. Almost every artist who has had a hand in my education has encouraged the use of a blade in sharpening. I clearly remember being told to throw away my sharpener by one of the better artists I have had the privilege to be intimidated by. There is no better way to shape a pencil point into a mark-making tool than with the blade of a super sharp knife. Most of my pencils are the shape they are to accomplish particular tasks. The point is for working in detail, and the length is for shading techniques. Many artists will have a variety of pencils that have been sharpened differently for set tasks. However I have been able to use the one style of point for all purposes. I do not like to swap pencils as I work.
For many years I used a click utility knife as they were cheap and easy to buy, but I was disappointed with them in the end. This was for two reasons. The first was how quickly the blades became blunt. I found this could be as little as a few days. The ones I used were the snap-off variety which were designed to be disposable. I do not like generating needless waste, so the click utility knife was not ideal. Secondly, the plastic handles would break, or the plastic end that assisted with snapping off the blade would go missing. I wanted a better option. I tried a number of cheap folding blade pocket knives, but found them to not be sufficiently sharp. I attempted to hone them but I never got this quite right. Many times it felt as though I was trying to sharpen pencils with a butter knife. Quite a few pencils looked as though they had been chewed by some small animal.
After much trial and error I came across the French Opinel Carbon Steel knife. This is a wonderful tool! The Opinel is not a fancy knife, and comes in a range of sizes. My pick is the No 6, which only costs $12AU. It has a very basic twist lock and a rounded raw wooden handle. Most importantly, it is very, very sharp. It cuts into cedar with ease and it can be sharpened easily with a small diamond hone (these are common in most hardware stores). This knife has yet to fail me, and it is a must on my list. It lives permanently in my pocket.
I really do not think there is much to the way I sharpen. It is but a matter of practice. I use both thumbs to push assist on the back of the blade. I also tend to move the pencil back and forth, not the blade. A short video I have taken (see below) will show this clearly. Unlike Mr. Rees, I cut the wood and the graphite at the same time. I think that this works better, as the wood and graphite become a more uniform shape. I work by turning the pencil in a circle, as is the usual method. The graphite receives its final shape by being scraped with the blade lightly whilst turning the pencil. I will then fuss a bit with the shape of the wood, cutting very small slithers off. This is just for aesthetics. The result I want is a very long point that tapers to a very sharp point. It seems that the longer the taper is, the less likely it will break in use. A metal cap will be needed to carry the pencil around though. I have put holes in clothing and fingers in the past.
(This is my technique, please excuse the painters’ hands. Years of solvents have taken their toll.)
Pencils have become more of an interest over the past few years, and as most who read this blog, I have collected some fine specimens both modern and vintage. But my hand sharpening has been with me for a very long time. This may be the result of all the nasty plastic novelty sharpeners that have eaten pencils in my childhood. I admit that there are days I will use my baby blue Carl Angel-5 hand crank sharpener, but a machine will always produce a machine-like result that is devoid of personality. At this point I am tempted to get poetic and talk about working with the texture of the wood and allowing the natural wood grain to dictate the stroke of the knife, but that would be an over embellishment. I do believe a little of this, but not enough to make a point out of it (no pun intended). I draw almost every day, and 95% of the time I will draw in graphite. I will not use the eraser for anything other than adding light to reflective surfaces of drawings. Hand sharpening is part of my preparation and helps me focus on what I am about to use a pencil for.
Writing about the ‘Hows’ and ‘Whys’ has been fun as I usually just ‘do’. If you have never pointed your pencil with a blade, I personally would recommend it. You may create your own favorite point and possibly even work on your skill to the stage where your sharpeners become pretty decorations collecting dust on a shelf.
(Many thanks to Luke, whose technique I am practicing presently!_
Prompted by both a thread on the Field Nuts group and a great post on The Finer Point, here are my pocket notebooks from late 2010 to the present, not counting the ones I am still using. Pictured above, 114 Full Field Notes. Below, other branded books, including the number/alphabet books that might be too large/thick to qualify for this category.
I have been meaning to do something like this for a while. But:
1) It feels like bragging.
2) It feels like confessing to a problem.
3) I am lazy.
I have a small stash of empty Field Notes and assorted other pocket notebooks around, but they will soon move to the full pile. I keep them in a Sam Adams box that is literally splitting because I am a creature of habit and have stuffed way more into that space than really fit.
Well, sharpening of pencils, by knives. In case you missed it, we were lucky enough to have David Rees on Erasable last week. In preparation, I had been trying my hand[s] at sharpening pencils with knives. I am getting pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. Excuse the shoddy Instagram shots, but here are some from right around the time of our recording last week.
All of my fellow Paper Fiends now know about the latest offering from Field Notes: Unexposed. I will admit that I was less than excited when I learned that I would not get all six, even as a subscriber. I ordered two more packs from [upcominggreatstorefront] before I saw my subscription packs. So I was not completely undone when I got two sets of doubles — only four of the six. Two more packs were on the way, and odds were on my side.
But I checked out my two packs, nonetheless, even as An Incomplete Set. Look at this cool sleeve! It’s very well-executed, with the FN logo inside. I imagine that coating this in heavy packing tape could produce a pretty durable cover/case for carrying Field Notes.
Out of the sleeve, these books kind of smell like chemicals. I imagine it will go away, however. Being packed into a Secret Box would probably make me stink a little, too. The texture feels like the Drink Local edition from last fall, which is a good thing. I like when my Field Notes get cracked and show wear, and I mean that. However, unlike the Drink Local, I would have rather seen these colors in the summer. Even if you don’t like beer, the Drink Local colors were sweetly autumnal. And imagine how great Arts and Sciences would have been for back-to-school!
The inside covers feature contrasting ink — they are the Color Shadow of the outside covers. The paper is the usual, which is friendly to everything it makes sense for a pocket notebook to be friendly to. It has the reticle grid; I was not crazy about this pattern in the Night Sky edition. It was dark enough to really distract me from graphite, especially since it did not “disappear” the way that lines or a grid might. My one pack of NS that I used is in my Big Box of Used Field Notes, and I can’t compare them just now. These do not *look* as dark. But everything is a little Chromatically Crazy after looking at these books for a while.
I had to get four packs to get all six. I was terrifically…irked by this before I actually had my set of six, to be sure. Of course, when I had them all in hand Monday, I sung like a — I don’t know, a happy guy? We talked a lot about what this might mean to collectors in our Erasable Facebook Group. All four of my packs are open. The only sealed Field Notes in my possession are not really mine; they are my kids’ Birth Notes (Spring 2010 and Summer 2013). The folks at Field Notes print so many books of each edition now that I can’t imagine that the Stationery Trend is going to last long enough in its current zeal for these huge-run recent editions to be very valuable. But I certainly don’t want to start a fight. I am too busy filling my Field Notes.
Now, being a Good Comrade, how could I not pair these up with the Neon Wopexen??
(I bought these myself. Ain’t not messin with my opinions, man.)