Plumbago, Volume II.

If you don’t listen to the Erasable Podcast and are not a member of our ever-growing Facebook group, maybe you missed the first issue of Plumbago, the zine edited by Comrade Andy Welfle. You’re in luck. Issue II is about to drop:

At long last, Plumbago is back! At 36 pages long, this zine will be chock-full of writing and illustration. We’re celebrating the spirit of the hackwing; what we call a pencil modded from its original design to suit the user’s style and usage preferences. You’re buying a pre-order to help fund the printing and distribution of this zine.

Just a few features you’ll find here:

– “What I’ve Learned from Field Notes”: A piece by urban sketcher Tina Koyama
– “Rabbinic Musings in Graphite”: about how pencils aid in the intense study environs of rabbi school by Mordechai Lightstone
– “How to Keep Score at a Baseball Game Using a Pencil”: A piece by Gregory Dresser
– “Are You *Too* Obsessed with Stationery:” A quiz to help you measure your sickness
– A comic by the Mad Penciler
– An editorial by Dr. J. Frank, encouraging you to lovingly destroy your pencils
– And lots, lots more.

Pre-order the upcoming second issue, and you will get a PDF of the first issue and maybe another little surprise too. Hurry, and click here to get  your copy, while they last!

Pencil Sharpener Give-Away!


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.

Dudek Divide.

In front of that bastion of kids' organization, Ikea's Trofast.
In front of that bastion of kids’ organization, Ikea’s Trofast.

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.

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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.

Add this...
Add this…
....to this...
….to this…

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.

United, organized, and attractive.
United, organized, and attractive.

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.

 

 

Two Great New Blogs.

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.

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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.

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Write Analog, by Mark Tucker, who has been a social media friend of we Erasable hosts for some time. Check out Mark’s MANIFESTO, which I might print and hang in my house.

Erasable #15 and Knife Sharpening.

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.

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Erasable, Episode Ten.

If this is half as fun to listen to as it was to record, you’re going to enjoy it ==> Erasable, Episode Ten:
The Graphites of Wrath
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What’s the Point of Pencils?

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If you are enjoying our Erasable, you might also enjoy a listen to this program which features some fine Comrades of Pencildom.
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Also, have you heard episode 8 of Erasable yet? There’s information about a nice giveaway at the end. We present the first round of Pencil Heroes. I picked Hemingway, of course.

Finally, do join our new Erasable Podcast Pencil Community group for the growing discussion of All Things Pencil.

Review of Monteverde One Touch Stylus Tool Mechanical Pencil.

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Ron from Pen Chalet contacted we Erasable guys about picking a cool mechanical pencil to review. I think we all picked the same pencil, in the same color: the Monteverde One Touch Stylus Tool Mechanical Pencil. My only previous review of a mechanical pencil was the blue knock-free pencil that I enjoyed. I find that I prefer mechanical pencils (and pens) that echo the shape of a hexagonal wooden pencil. So this heavy yellow pencil was a natural choice. Bear with me if my terms are terrible or if my understanding of mechanical pencils is less than basic.
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This pencil is heavy, metal and features various measuring standards along the yellow lacquered barrel. The point is exposed by twisting the gnarled metal at the business end. The lead is 9mm. There is a stylus on the end where you’d expect to find an eraser, and there are screwdrivers hidden underneath of it.
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I’m going to start with the non-pencil attributes of this pencil. First, the screwdrivers. This might be a bit…confessional. But I really (!) like to have a small philips screwdriver with whatever pencil kit I might be carrying to the coffeeshop, while traveling, etc. Why? That little screw on manual/blade pencil sharpeners! I do not know why this is so important to me. But that little purpose justifies not finding an eraser where I thought I would. The bit is two-sided, with a flathead screwdriver on the flipside. This is useful for prying staples and stuck pencil box lids.
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The stylus works very well. It’s soft and really flows with the design of the pencil. I’ve seen many such styli that put me in mind of a giant Santa Claus in a stickpen. This is a sort of Stealth Stylus, and it works very well on my Android-powered phone. A Comrade visiting HQ when the package arrived marvelled at this feature as much as the impressive heft of the entire instrument.
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What I like best about the stylus is that one is not stuck using it with the pencil held upsidedown, with the clip in your way. I stared at the threading around the point of the pencil for a while before I figured out that the stylus screws onto there. Then you are in business to comfortably play touchscreen games to your rubber-tipped content. You an also attach in there while using the screwdriver to replace your aging KUM brass wedge so as not to misplace it.
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Speaking of the point, it comes off. I admit that I only found this out after looking at a website which explained how to access the green eraser. This is a simple friction fit.
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The eraser works well in removing graphite from paper. But its flexibility and its concealment would have me reaching for an External Eraser, truth be told. Removing the eraser reveals the extra leads also.
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Now, the point. I really like the feed mechanism, which merely involves turning the gnarled portion of the point until the amount of lead you prefer is exposed. Gone is the guesswork involved in the click mechanism:

Three clicks are too many;
Two are too few.
I don’t want my point to break;
What’s a guy to do?

The leads are 9mm, which are pretty thick. I prefer 7mm and 9mm to thinner leads for several reasons, not the least of which is that using a lead that thick often involves The Turn (turning the point for a better/sharper surface), as I am accustomed to having to perform in using wooden pencils. The provided leads are soft and smooth, running at least near a B or even a 2B. In testing this pencil out, I joyfully ran off several sheets worth of Morning Pages, and I enjoyed the feel of this lead very much. While I still have a particular fondness for cheap Bic mechanical pencils, the leads in this tool might make a mechanical pencil snob* out of me yet. There is some odd play which acts as a sort of cushion for the lead that took a while to get used to. But I probably wore down half of the first lead trying this out, and I never broke a point. So whatever that cushioning is, it works.
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This pencil is certainly heavy — perhaps doubly so if you are used to the weight of a wooden pencil. However, even with an old hand injury** acting up, I did not find using this pencil to be uncomfortable at all. In fact, the hexagonal shape and wide barrel were a natural fit in my ailing right hand. I was skeptical with myself regarding whether I could intelligently review such a fine pencil, or whether I could even appreciate it. But this is certainly the most fun I’ve had reviewing a mechanical pencil, and it has become a Jewel of my toolbox. In fact, not owning a “real” Blackwing myself, this is the most valuable pencil I own. Still, it is currently on sale for a mere $32.00. If you want an exquisite tool that solves several problems related to writing, this is a must-have.

I hope this review does justice to Ron’s generosity and to the really cool design of this pencil. Check out Andy’s review for better pictures (and a GIF!) and some seriously detailed Reviewsmanship. Many thanks to Ron, especially for his patience with a pencil that got lost in the mail.

* Certainly, I use that term here purely in jest.
** From cycling. You should see what my gloves looked like!

Erasable #6: The First One About Sharpeners.

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We take on listener questions about sharpeners, talk about some of our favorites, and have a hell of a good time doing it. Give it a listen, and join in on the fun.

(Image, Andy.)