drawing

Review: Maruman Mnemosyne A4

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This is something I wanted to do for some time now. Writing a review about my favorite notebook. But mind you I never use it as a notebook, but as a drawing/sketch-book. If you’d use it as a notebook alone there are some warnings to consider. The first one is that the paper is quite thin and things shine through, and I believe if you’d use the pages on both sides things would become quite messy. Another annoyance is that the paper easily creases and that can be quite frustrating. I often creased pages when erasing something and due to the smooth nature of the paper it literally slipped under my fingers. These negative points are just small caveats compared to when you start to write or draw on that paper.

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That paper… it is just fantastic paper, thin, light, smooth, precious, but can easily take a “beating”. I even wrote Maruman to ask if they didn’t have the paper in larger formats, but unfortunately the biggest format is the A4. The notebook itself lives through very clever design features. The first one is that it is a spiral notebook.

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The spiral is so cleverly designed that it never hinders the opening of the book, and another nifty detail, the first and last spiral are left out. This enables you to easily tear the micro-perforated pages out of the book.

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The back of the book is made of thick cardboard, that is just sturdy enough to use the book on the lap.

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Then there is the black plastic cover with gold lettering and the inspiring “Imagination / Unruled” quote.

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The first page is bright yellow with some note-taking tips in Japanese. The pages itself are not white, but a tone yellowish and have a box on the top for titles or whatever.

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Another great design detail is that the back and front are bigger on the large side of the pages and protect them from harm. I used the notebook with both Uni Pins and Pilot Drawing Pens. I largely prefer the first ones, but that is for another review sometimes this year. The paper is just sooo smooth, but with the right grip, not slippy, just fantastic. As said before the paper can take a “beating”, meaning that when you blacken an area repeatedly the paper doesn’t bloat and break (do I make sense here?).

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I use mainly a MONO100 H pencil for preparation sketches, which is absolutely perfect for the paper, although I do have sometimes some difficulties to erase some firmer pencil strokes with my kneading eraser, but my trusty electrical eraser comes in handy then. And no this paper does not whiten (become white?) when erasing on it, as it happens with the colored Moleskine paper. But as said before the paper is very unforgiving for creases. The Mnemosynes come in different sizes. If you ever fancy an unruled notebook, give them a try. I love it to death and will always prefer them to Moleskines or other drawing notebooks. I’ll use it to the last page.

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Join me on Facebook for more frequent updates!

On the right side you can find the little tab which brings you to my Facebook page, where I plan to post more drawings that are not especially pencil related, but just things I draw and show for fun. So by following me on Facebook you also get updates on new posts here on the blog. I’m in the midst of getting to know my new born son Jo, so there will be not a lot of pencil related posts for one or two weeks on here, but I’ll be drawing a lot. So head over to my Facebook page, check out the first few drawings and like and share, you know the social drill!

Review: Eberhard Faber MONGOL 482

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Life’s full of surprises. There are the ones you are planning for yourself and then there are those that simply happen. Most of these surprises in my life are of the second type, because I’m pretty bad at planning and bad at keeping deadlines. I organized most of what’s happening in my small cosmos around the fact that I’m sluggish most of the time. Writing a blog that asks for more than one action to be of interest is in every effect exhausting for a person like me. But my love for drawing, pencils and the internet keep me going and giving input and thoughts into the thriving pencils and pens community. On a side note, I have unfortunately more than one hobby (don’t like that word). My main interest (don’t be shocked) is music. Especially electronic music and more precisely my modular synth. Most of the last two months were spent wiggling (that’s the word that describes the action of making music with your modular). Another really interesting trait of mine is that I get easily bored, so here I’m back again to drawing and reviewing pencils.

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Did you want to hear all of this? Is that a good introduction to a pencil review? Yes, as it shows a glimpse of the person behind the drawing, the “pencil-wielder”. So what have I been using lately? The MONGOL. It first appeared on my radar as I was searching through some of those pencil databases. It struck me with its quite unique look: vintage, the kind of vintage you’d buy, as it is kind of timeless. So I got hold of two of the old boxes of “1”‘s and “2”‘s. The boxes alone are a beautiful sight. It’s the kind of graphics and typos you see copied on a lot of modern products that pretend to be vintage.

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The pencils I have are not of the very best condition: the lacquer has cracks, the erasers are hard and mostly unusable (but that is unavoidable with old pencils I think) and some (hopefully not more) of the leads are broken, so the pencils might have been dropped at some time. So beside these little problems, how well do they perform?

As I said it is a beautiful pencil. The yellow lacquer, the beautiful mix of black fonts, the bronze ferrule. It is advertised as a the “Business” pencil, so it does not pretend to be a drawing pencil, but is mainly aimed at a writing clientele. Then there is the “diamond star” that refers to the special lead used here. The #1 box says: “Woodclinched Complastic Lead”. This might refer to the use of a synthetic binder. But hey, I have strictly no idea, and am not that eager to dig into the technical part.

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It’s always a pleasure to draw with a pencil that has a history. The Mongol certainly is one of the most successful brands throughout the years. As this article (penciltalk) from 2007 suggests they are still being produced today. The ones I have are of the old kind. I’m not sure how old exactly, but as always this is not really interesting in my perspective of things. So my first attempts at sketching were not really conclusive. As a matter of fact I was not feeling creative.

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So I made another attempt (yes, another dragon) and I really began to feel the potential of the pencil. Surprisingly the Mongol is not a sketching pencil in my hands, but one of those I prefer using as a detailing pencil. As soon as I try to throw some crosshatching I literally lose the feel for the pencil. It really is a pencil that wants to be controlled, that performs extremely well with delicate handling. It’s not a very dark nor soft. The #2 really feels like a standard HB, but with more finesse. It is difficult to describe, as the word stickiness doesn’t really apply. The Mongol is really light and refuses to produce a too dark line. I have often problems with pencils that are too light as I compensate this lightness with a cramped wrist and that normally ends in pain… The Mongol doesn’t do that and that is another surprise. Somehow the lead has a hint of softness or stickiness that compensates the lightness.

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Another thing I have observed is that I have to sharpen it very often, but not because it dulls rapidly, but because I feel most comfortable drawing with it when it has a nice sharp point. It really is a surprising pencil. I was under the impression when I first saw it, that it would be a rude (in a good way), smudgy and prone for sketching pencil, perhaps due to its name or coloring, and it turns out to be a really delicate pencil that needs effort to appreciate. The more I use the Mongol, the more I appreciate its fine-tuning, and we are talking here about a mass produced pencil. Give it a try if you happen to come by a couple of these.

Review: A.W.Faber-Castell 2000

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“1” is a small number. But even small steps can make a big difference. In this case I’m referring to the “2001” the younger brother of the 2000 that I have reviewed some time ago. I didn’t really like the 2001, not especially bad, but really far from being any good. So I got my hands on some Faber-Castell 2000 HB/2. So it’s the exact same grade as the 2001 I have reviewed. But you have already guessed it: the “1” makes a big difference. The 2000 is a beautiful pencil, exactly like the 2001, but without the ferrule, which is in this case a good thing. The pencil is very light and sharpening it feels quite right.

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A recent comment on the 2001 made me realize that I am perhaps sometimes using the wrong words when talking about the softness of the lead. I was referring to it as smoothness occasionally. Well in this case the lead is really soft for an HB, but not too smooth, nicely gritty, which gives a whole different feeling to drawing with this pencil as opposed to the 2001. One big negative point with the 2000 is that despite it’s relative lack of blackness it smears easily. So when drawing with this pencil, you should really put a piece of paper under your palm if you tend to rest it on the paper. So the lead is not giving an especially black line, but the result is still enjoyable, but I feel that it is maybe a bit too soft and you have to sharpen more often than with higher quality pencils. I felt that this pencil could find its place as a sketching pencil for loose lines, relaxed doodling and quick drawings, but less as a dedicated drawing pencil.

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And I found it particularly pleasant to write with it. My writing is very loose and uneven, so a soft pencil like the 2000 is great for me. So as you can see I have a very different opinion on the 2000. The 2001 feels compared to the 2000 even less appreciable and cheap. This is a very biased opinion, but I hope that through this you can draw your own picture on the quality and usability of these pencils.