Month: September 2013

Review: Hardtmuth 110

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I have worked with some pencils, big known brands, Tombow, Faber-Castell, Mitsu-Bishi, Staedler, Palomino, etc. The great thing about doing these reviews is that I “force” myself to sketch with pencils that seem interesting or that I have simply aquired on the Bay or elsewhere. I recently aquired a box of these Hardtmuth 110. A short and fruitless research, erm, typing the words into a search engine, I came up with no infos about these.

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The pencil is thick, way thicker than the normal thickness that we are used to. The edges of the hexagonal shape are sharp, the coating is unspectacular to say the least, despite the golden lettering perhaps. To say it shortly: pure understatement.

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As I started sketching it became quickly clear that this is an exceptional pencil, not due to its outer characteristics, but the lead, the weight, the thickness, all came together for a brilliant smooth, gliding, yet still a bit gritty experience. For a “2” pencil it is perhaps a bit too soft, but the lead delivers its graphite graciously without loosing the freshly sharpened point. It just feels great and very inspiring.

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This last sketch really shows the qualities of the 110. Easy shading, nice dark bold lines with some pressure, thin airy lines, all is possible and that with excellent erasing quality and still being decently smear-resistant. Its a great drawing and sketching pencil. It lacks a shiny outer shell and a flashy ferrule, but compensates that with outstanding drawing qualities. If you happen to come by some, don’t hesitate!

Geekery: Midori Multiple Ruler

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So as I said when I started this blog, I also want to talk about the things I find that I find particularly cool and interesting but always things that still belong to the realm of pencils. I’ll call these posts geekeries, because well that’s what they are.
Today I’ll show you the Midori Multiple Ruler. I wasn’t aware of these transformer rulers, but I think they are pretty usefull because they fit into a normal pencil-case but can be extended. The Midori looks closed like a very pretty black (they exist in silver) 15 cm ruler.

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But it can be unfolded to 30 cm. Isn’t that just brilliant! And it still looks gorgeous.

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As a little plus you can unfold it by certain degrees, but there’s no click or so, you just have to try to get the desired angle, neat trick, but not very accurate.

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As you can see there’s even an inch ruler hidden in the folded Midori and the first 5 cm also give guides for 0,5 mm. The unfolding feels really good, not too stiff, nor too loose, it exhales quality, although the ends of the rulers show the bare aluminium. Great geekery that already has its place in my oversized Dr.Ion.

Review: Sanford Eagle HB

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I got this pencil with a bunch of others in an Ebay auction. It immediately struck my eye, because of its strange plastic appearance. The paint on the pencil seems to be a plastic coating that gives the pencil a strange toy feeling. The lettering is… well, simple but functional and deep. The pencil is not made of wood, well it is wood but its what they call a wood-composite. This is done so that the pencil can be easily sharpened. The lead itself is pretty thick and very well bonded to the wood-composite so that breaking the lead becomes almost impossible. You guessed it, this is a pencil which was (is?) marketed for schools. But does that imply that the pencil must be bad for an artist? Most cheap pencils tend to be bad, because, well they are cheap, in this case the pencil is not only cheap, but of very bad quality. I know that US people might have fond memories of their Eagle, I saw lots of posts where people are trying to get their hands on some, because of some happy remembrance from past times.

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I sharpened the pencil with my new Bungo Ryodo. Strangely that didn’t go too well. I suppose the wood-composite is not well suited for the mechansim of desktop-sharpeners.

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The production standards are pretty apparent here. Badly put together and the eraser is of similar quality.

So I tried to sketch with that pencil. I really tried to give it a chance, but it didn’t succeed, it didn’t even try. It looks like a pencil, it pretends even to be a pencil, but it does not perform like a pencil. I really hated the feeling: smeary, but without delivering graphite. And writing isn’t pleasant.

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Compared to the earlier reviewed “Dessin 2001”, the Eagle is far worse. But nevertheless this was somehow fun, finding a pencil, you really don’t like. I thought there were no bad pencils, that pencils always try to attain a certain standard, well color me corrected.