Review of Baron Fig Askew.

This unapologetically blue notebook has been making the rounds for the last week on social media and The Stationery Blogosphere. Baron Fig was kind enough to send a review copy over; so I thought I’d weigh in. Let’s take a look at the Askew Edition.

First, what is it?

“A ruled notebook unlike any you’ve ever used.
Every line is hand drawn, and while some cooperate—others are downright unruly. This limited edition is designed to inspire thinkers to bend the rules and follow even their most meandering ideas.”

This is more than a Baron Fig Confidant in a different color. This notebook challenges the definition of blank/lined journal to some extent.

The cover is Blue Pen Blue and looks like someone painted the fabric with the ink from a Bic Cristal. The color caught my attention first when it came out. The box looks like someone tried to color it in with a Cristal, and the bookmark must be Red Pen Red. It’s a beautiful book. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the paper quality for pencil again. (Check out our take on Baron Fig paper here. tl;dr: it’s awesome.)

There are good number of folks who…don’t like this edition. If a subscriber expected to get a different Confidant each quarter that worked basically like a regular one (lined, dot, blank paper), I can certainly understand the frustration. They are not getting what they paid for under that set of expectations. But did Baron Fig actually promise four different versions of the same, or were they vague? (I have no idea.)

I think the question comes down to whether or not this book does what it’s supposed to do. Can you write in it? Most of the pages come with relatively parallel lines and could be used like a regular notebook for the most part. Some pages are nutso. I can imagine using these to doodle, to test pencils, or even to paste things onto. But they are also “lost” pages if you’re after lined paper on which to write.

But that’s asking if the Askew does what the Confidant does. Does the Askew do what the Askew is supposed to do?

Wait: What IS this notebook supposed to do? It’s supposed to get you to try something different. I don’t want to say “think out of the box” — but maybe write off of the line. And in this regard, I think it’s successful and a hell of a lot of fun.

This book got me to pull out some pens (Bic Cristal Bolds, sign pens, bold Uniball Airs) and go nuts because I write with pencil so much that it can be stifling. And writing mostly in pencil also has the effect of inviting me to over-analyze each piece of graphite I write with. Pens were a welcome change, and I wrote some…different stuff than I usually do so far in this book.

I think this is the Nice Stationery version of Wreck This Journal, a book I enjoyed enough to get the expanded edition when it came out. If nothing else, it is an invitation to have some colorful fun during this dim time of year. I can certainly get behind that.

(We received this notebook free for review purposes, but the opinions expressed do not reflect that we scored it gratis.)

A Pretty Spring Day.

This picture is by my optimistic daughter. With rain for the next 48 hours, it’s anything but pretty around Charm City this weekend. She did this entirely with Yoobi colored pencils and highlighter pencils. (We go to Target a lot.)

City of Industry Pencil Pin: Badge for the Revolution.

About two months ago, Sarah of City of Industry was kind enough to send us three pencil pins, with an eye to a giveaway. As usual, they disappeared already, and I think someone stole mindefrom my hoodie. These pins are totally adorable:

Enamel Pencil Pin

If you’re an illustrator, designer, or letter writer, you’re probably always looking for a pencil. Keep this one close at hand: It works just as well pinned to your shirt pocket as it does to your backpack.

Cloisonne pin with gold-plating, approximately 1.25 inch by .25 inch in size.

I wore mine long enough without a post about it going up that I fear Karma might have take my pin away. My better half runs a public school; she was an obvious suspect (and, in fact, took one). I got a lot of compliments and hopefully sold a few for CoI while I dallied about a blog post.
They sell a lot of other really cute stuff, including an airmail pin that I really want. This is a solo operation by Sarah, and I suspect pins like this would render those flimsy one-inch buttons a quaint little effort at coolness. Thanks, Sarah!

50 Dozen: The Pencil Chair.

So this is another “Your life would be better if you lived in Baltimore” post. With apologies for the bad photo pics, the newly-reopened wings of the Baltimore Museum of Art include a hunt for the BMA’s chairs, one of which is made of 50 dozen Dixon Ticonderoga pencils (from back when they were made in the USA, 2005, which was really at the end of domestic production). Some of the construction involves removing the erasers and sticking the pencils end-to-end into the ferrules. Artist Jeremy Alden made this chair using 600 pencils and glue (and awesomeness).

Charlotte liked enough to ask to be photographed next to it, in her insane Art Gallery Outfit.

The BMA currently prints a field guide to its chair collection, which is very nice for curious kids. Charlotte kept hers. More information about this chair that you really have to see in person can be found here.

Branding Homework Pencils.

Charlotte finished her homework this morning and could not resist branding this pencil as a My First Ticonderoga.

Thank You Art.


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.

Remember Flickr?

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?