Posts tagged Pencils
Experiment 19: Prisms, Archers, and a Giveaway!
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Today marks the release of Baron Fig's second limited edition pencil- the Prismatic Archer Pencil. A play on the prism, this pencil brings all three of the primacy colors to the original archer. After a few differences between the original Archer and the first limited edition, I was anxious to test the second edition. Spoiler alert: I wasn't disappointed.

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The packaging is the same minimal pencil tube as the other editions, this time in deep purple and decorated with a variety of colorful 3D cylinders, cubes, and rectangles. It's a nostalgic-grade-school-science-class-vibe, and I definitely dig it. My only small gripe with the packaging is that with the pencils in the tube, it doesn't seem to want to close all the way. In the picture above, the tube is empty- but if pencils were added there would be a small gap between the bottom and top halves of the tube. Definitely not a big deal, but something that I noticed compared to the previous packaging. This is still the pencil packaging I would be most likely to display on my desk or in my office. 

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The dozen pencils are split over three colors and each of the pencils has a gorgeous deep purple end dip. The end dip may very well be my favorite aesthetic detail of the pencil.

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Instead of one small simple logo on each pencil as we have seen with the other editions, these pencils have their respective logos all the way down one side of the hexagonal barrel. It still maintains the minimalistic Baron Fig look, but I appreciate the extra details and extra colors of this edition.

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I could tell by simply looking at the pencils that the quality control was back up to the Baron Fig standard that I have come to expect- the cores were centered, the cedar was fragrant, and the finishes looked great. Still, the real moment of truth was sharpening these up in my Classroom Friendly sharpener. I sharpened one of each color, and as I did- I couldn't help but smile. None of the issues I saw with my Snakes and Archers remained- they each sharpened to a long point beautifully. 

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The writing experience is a replication of exactly what I love about the original Archer pencil. The combination of the light weight barrel, matte finish, and a bit of good "scratchy" feedback on the page make the Archer the perfect long-form writing pencil for me. The point retention is excellent, and the pencil is truly the perfect match for Baron Fig paper. There are other pencils that I have come to love for different reasons- smooth, rich, dark, buttery cores that are both fun to write with and perfect for drawing, sketching, and shading. But for writing- I still prefer a firmer core and better point retention. Because my first love will always be micro gel pens, I'm naturally drawn to the crisp lines this type of pencil can produce. 

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I put the original Archer side-by-side with the first and second limited editions. Even visually (see below), it is clear how much closer this edition is to the original. Partnering with an oversees manufacturer has it's challenges, especially on a short time frame, and I think we saw some of those difficulties play out in the previous edition. But as we have seen recently with other companies, partnering with US manufacturers for pencils has it's own set of challenges. Overall, I think this is a case where we will see better quality pencils in the long run with an overseas manufacturer. It's great to see this edition get right back on track with quality and maintain the trend of good-looking aesthetics and great packaging. 

Don't just take my word for it. You can also check out two other great review from my friends at Leadfast and the Weekly Pencil.

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After the first two editions, I can definitely say that I look forward to seeing what Baron Fig comes up with for the Archer in the future. The pictures below speak for themselves. And finally, a chance to win your own pack of Prismatics! Baron Fig provided me with a dozen of these pencils for review, and because I already subscribe to the Archer- I am passing along to the love to you. To enter, just leave a comment below. Unfortunately, this giveaway will have to be limited to the CONUS. Check back next Tuesday, July 4th when the winner will be announced here on the blog.

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Experiment 18: The Pencil Box(es) by CW Pencils
Depicted Above: Curated Contents of Pencil Boxes 1 and 2

Depicted Above: Curated Contents of Pencil Boxes 1 and 2

Several months back, CW pencils announced the launch of their new quarterly subscription: The Pencil Box.  The boxes were to be created by the pencils ladies of CW, and we were told that each box would include at least 3 pencils, 1 pencil accessory, 1 wild card item, and exclusive ephemera. I didn't know exactly what I would be getting myself into, but based on the belief that curating is more about the "who" than the "what," I knew that CW would create something that I wanted to be a part of.

Fast forward to June, and the ladies have now successfully delivered two pencil boxes. I thought it would be fun to take a look at everything the subscribers have received over the first half of year one, and discuss my take on what has been included. First, lets break down the first two boxes strictly by the numbers: 

I loved both boxes from the moment I opened them, but as I collected the items together like this I appreciated them even more. A little of everything is included from classic to novelty, graphite to colored pencils, 2H to 8B. Surprisingly (especially based on the number of times I have ordered directly from CW), I didn't own any of the exact items from either box so far. I owned a few similar items, but certainly nothing I didn't mind owning more of in a different color or variation. Even more impressively, there were also several items that I likely could not obtain (or at least not obtain easily) had they not been included in the box (e.g. Japan store-exclusive pencils). 

Pencil Accessories

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Favorite item in this category: Tombow Mono zero eraser

Most utilized item: Faber-Castell 9000 Sharpener (mostly for its ability to sharpen larger diameter pencils on the go)

Most unique item: Doppel-Laufer Universal 0440 Rubber Eraser

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Paper Goods

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Favorite item in this category: Washi Dots (I think this was the item I was most surprised by across both boxes)

Most utilized item: You can see my first use of the Washi Dots above, but I am officially putting these in my planner for more regular use starting tomorrow

Most unique item: Reporter's Notebook- vintage in the best way possible

Paper Products

Paper Products

The Pencils

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Favorite item in this category: Ito-ya Helvectica Pencil

Most utilized item: General Semi-Hex #1

Most unique item: Japan Gekkoso Pencil

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One-by-one:

Papermate Mongol- No getting around it. This is a cheap pencil. Surprisingly though, mine isn't that bad. I haven't had any problems others have mentioned with a shattered core. And of all vintage/ classic pencils- the Mongol range is my favorite by far. I don't know any other way they could have included a Mongol, and for me it served it's purpose. I've been hunting down the vintage version every since. 

Japan Gekkoso- I am in love with this pencil. It's a mini-jumbo or jumbo natural hex with a perfect amount of thin clear lacquer and a swoon-worthy thick buttery core. This pencil is just plain fun to write and sketch with. The fact that it's a store-exclusive house-made in Japan adds even more to the appeal. 

General's Semi-hex #1- This is such a good basic classic pencil. I've used mine enough to completely destroy the eraser and chew up over half the entire pencil. It's probably about time for me to get a bullet pencil, what do you think pencil people? 

Tajima 2H Construction Pencil- Basically a Tombow Mono 2H, but a really cool unique variation. Don't let "construction pencil" fool you- this thing is crazy beautiful. An extra 10 points awarded for gold and black aesthetics. Let's go Purdue. 

Handy-Janken- They really nailed the choice of a novelty pencils here. I'm not that into novelty, but even I had to talk myself out of buying all three variations on my recent in-person trip to CW pencils (more on that soon)! Really though, I should have gotten the other two.

Mitsibishi 9852- Japan's classic yellow pencil sure beats America's big-box yellow pencil. My favorite part of this pencil is the purple tint of the ferrule. 

Magic Pencil- You just can't have enough of these things. 

Caran d'ache Technograph- This isn't my favorite Caran d'ache pencil of all time, but it was still my favorite pencil in the first box. I didn't know this pencil existed before I received the box, but when I get to the end of it, I will probably get another one. 

Ito-ya Helvetica- There isn't a single thing I don't like about this pencil. The eraser, the typeset, the texture, the writing experience, the color combination. In fact, I just found out it comes in four colors- so I might be in trouble. 

Testing all the pencils... a Tombow Mono 2H also snuck in the picture

Testing all the pencils... a Tombow Mono 2H also snuck in the picture

I'm not sure what expectations I had for my pencil box subscription, but I have enjoyed the pencils, accessories, and paper goods even more than I thought I would. The amount of consideration put into the curation of the goods is easily worth the price of the admission, and that doesn't even include my very favorite thing about the boxes.

The hand-written descriptions of each box and each item and the hand-drawn postcards truly take these boxes to the next level. The insert could pass for being literally individually hand-written for each individual box. They look that good. I don't know how long I have stared at them, but I am very curious about the copying process they utilize. The post cards could be art in their own right- I would gladly purchase these separately and would love to see these prints be utilized for other items and products in the future. 

I look forward to the future boxes, and highly recommend this subscription if you are into that sort of thing. If you're not up for the full subscription, they often post some of the items to their online shop after the boxes have shipped. For example, the Japan-exclusive Gekkoso pencil that I am googly eyed for is up for sale now. 

Long Overdue Experiment 14 Update: APRIL Analog Madness and Giveaway Winner Announcement!

March (...and half of April!) got away from me between a new job, a cross-country trip, and illness! So many things to catch up on, and so much coming down the pike here at Inkpothesis. Before I get ahead of myself, first things first...I'm sure everyone has been waiting with baited breath to find out about the results of the Analog Madness bracket. Even more importantly, the top four contenders will help determine a portion of the first ever Inkpothesis prize package.

Two champions in one post? See...it's all been worth the wait after all. 

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How did the 16 make it to this point you ask?

The Pencil Side (The Side of Chaos) 

Viking 400- The Viking pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament by upsetting the  #1 ranked Swiss Wood pencil. How you ask? Precise execution of aesthetics, consistent performance, and the element of surprise. Plus it doesn't smell like soy sauce, so there's that.

Palomino HBThis pencil so outperforms its 12th seed, it's ridiculous. It wasn't even close- it sailed through the first two rounds.

Aspara AbsoluteThe closest game of the tournament (a triple overtime thriller!) was the match-up between this pencil and the CWPE Blackwood pencil. A rematch of that game on a different day may have ended with an opposite outcome. But after it overcame the Blackwood... it was untouchable. The point is ridiculously strong on the pencil while still being dark and relatively soft... what more could you want? 

Grafwood- Caran d'Ache was bound to get at least one pencil through. Their pencils are just too good, and this one is no exception. It's just slightly heftier than a regular pencil, and for me that makes it nearly perfect in-hand. 

Casemate Premium- This pencil is like the classic Hoosiers underdog of the whole tourney due to its humble place of origin: your local Wal-mart shelves. Turns out, this Indian made 16 seed pencil was more like a 3 or 4 seed in disguise, and it easily overcame a number 1 seed and number 9 seed to push though to the top 16. 

Generals Semi-HexIf it's good enough to get into a Caroline Weaver curated Pencil Box, what else do you need to know?

Palomino Golden BearIt's totally unfair to everyone else that this pencil was an 11 seed. This pencil is exceptional. Good looking, solid performer- this could easily be a desert-island pencil for many.

Made for Retail HexNext time you go to Target- you better make a bee-line to the dollar section and pick up a pack of these for $1. Make sure they are hex shaped and not the wrapped round variety. Seriously you will not be disappointed. The rosy-gold ferrules, variety of color offerings, and fun foil stamped sayings make this pencil hard to beat in my book. Well worth the $0.17, I assure you. Just ask the two pencils it beat out to get here. 

The Pen Side

Zebra Sarasa ClipDecent upset here as well with the #8 seed beating the #1 seed in the second round. The #1 Juice Up is a great pen, and may have taken it all in a different color offering... but in this match-up the features of the Sarasa Clip were just too much to overcome. That clip though. It's so good. 

Hi-Tec-CLuckily for the Hi-Tec-C it had two stellar performances in a row with no stuttering or skipping starts. And as we know, when it's going well for the HI-Tec-C- it's going great. Those fine lines are droll worthy. 

Signo RTThe sleek looks and practical retractable qualities give this pen a killer instinct- especially in the blue-black offering. This one is hard to beat, I'm warning you now.

Ink Joy GelI was late to this party, and apparently so were this pen's opponents. Don't underestimate this big-box available pen. It's a legit contender. 

Copic Multiliner- The #1 seed is well-earned here. It's expensive, but it's also amazing. There's no other writing experience quite like it in my opinion. Sturdy, reliable, refillable, replaceable tips... I'm really not quite sure what else you would want in a pen. 

Signo UM 151This pen is as good as the Pen Addict says it is. Maybe better. It could easily win the whole thing. 

EnergelThe darkness of the ink is ultimately what propelled this widely available pen into the third round.

Papermate FlairDoes this one really need an explanation? It's a classic for a reason. If you've never used this pen for some crazy reason, you better stop reading this and correct that immediately. 

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On the Pencil Side: One classic Indian pencil, one classic Danish pencil, one classic American Pencil, and one...Target Pencil??

On the Pen Side: Two fine lined pros vs two-felt tipped pros. Interesting match-ups!

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Parity continued on the pencil side of the bracket... with a 14 seed and a 15 seed making it to the final four. The pen side was a little less surprising, with a Signo 6 seed, and a 1 seed filling out the final two slots. 

And the final two? 

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So much of the analog tournament result was based on match-ups. I wasn't sure how it would turn out! But interestingly, I have to admit that the the final contenders are writing utensils I reach for repeatedly and carry with me a majority of the time. These are two quality, reliable writing instruments that really out-perform expectations in terms of their cost in my opinion.

What do you think? What's the biggest surprise? Are the finalists worthy of their top-spots?

That brings us to the most contentious match-up of all. Pencil vs. Pen. One year ago, this would have been no contest. But that's before I was introduced to a quality pencil, and before I started expanding my utility of analog writing instruments. For me, it honestly all comes down to context- and I think that might be a post for another day. For now, I'm happy to carry both in my daily arsenal. I don't remember the day that I didn't use at least one pencil and at least one pen. So there you have it. 

Let's wrap things up by selecting our giveaway winner! 

There were 10 unique commenters... and we will let a random number generator select our lucky contestant. 

Comment #5 is the winner! 

Comment #5 is the winner! 

Heidi Bushnell is the first ever giveaway winner at Inkpothesis!

Heidi Bushnell is the first ever giveaway winner at Inkpothesis!

Heidi, be on the lookout for some goodies headed your way! Everyone else, be on the lookout for a Fransisco Stationery Haul post, a Col-o-ring test, and a CW Pencil Exclusive Round-up!