Pencil

Review: Pentel Multi 8’s

IMG_0008During the time I was scanning the internets for interesting bits of stationery (still do it but not as extensive as last year), I remembered that somebody offered me a LAMY “tri pen” a long time ago and I almost forgot I had it. So I went looking for it in my storage (I’m really organised, but the chaotic type..) and was pretty happy to find it still as I remembered it although I remembered also that I’d like to have a multi-pen with more functions. So I searched the sites for some interesting multi-pens.

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And it was then that I first saw the Multi 8s. It was like a teenager wet-dream (nerd/geek wet-dream), a pen with 8 different things in it. And not one of those bulky multis you can get from BIC or HEMA. No, a real sleek pen with 8 mostly different functions. Wow! At the time when I tried to get them, they were somehow really difficult to get a hold of, but I managed to get some directly from Japan. They weren’t cheap, but you get the pens PLUS recharges for everything that is already in the pen. There are two different models the “MULTI8 PH802 for checking use” and the “SUPER MULTI PH803 multi writing function”. They are functionally totally the same, but have different fillings and hence the writings on them changes.

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The 802 is intended for proof-reading and includes some non-copy colours: the classic non-copy blue and a lesser known (to me at least) bordeaux non-copy lead. Then you also have red, blue, brown, orange, yellow and green, so the most basic colours for doodling purposes. Mind you the quality of those leads is not bad at all, they are quite soft for mechanical pencil leads, but you’ll use them up real quick (they’re rather on the short side) if you use them for more than scarce colouring of doodles. It surely is a nice pen to have. I use both of them daily. They are stored in my custom “Destination Zero” Memo Deluxe. The 802 is a real beast, hence the “SUPER”. It boasts 3 different ball-point lead (blue, black and red) a non-copy, fluorescent pink and yellow leads, a red and HB graphite lead, mostly about everything you’ll ever need on a daily note-taking basis.

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They are all plastic and you can use them as maracas… yep, it’s rattling a lot. The mechanism is pretty easy to use: just choose the desired lead with the rotating clip and then push the button. The lead is released from its compartment and falls… out of the pen if you don’t stop it. So it basically is the same thing as a simple lead-holder only a little (sarcasm) more sophisticated. The ball-points don’t fall out. I think the leads aren’t supposed to fall out (there’s a metal piece on the end of each lead) but somehow mine tend to slide right through or it is me pushing too hard?

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They are not particularly nice to look at, functional yes, but not sexy… nope. There’s another thing that confuses me: the rotating clip sometimes is misaligned and the Japanese description has me puzzled. So leads can be stuck, and you have to rotate and push, or push and shake or whatever… I’m not sure bit they still work nicely. So it is a clear recommendation if you “need” something like the MULTI 8s.

EDIT: I just checked jetpens.com if the MULTI 8s are available, which they are, but more importantly they show what I was doing wrong with the falling leads…

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Review: Caran D’Ache Swiss Wood HB

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It was kind of difficult to find a store that had the Swiss Wood, when you try to find it in a physical shop that is. I found it in a really nice little shop in Cologne called Papier Pop-Up. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough in the past, but they had the Black Wood on display so I asked if they were also carrying the Swiss Wood. The pencil is really a beautiful one. A bit larger than average, with natural wood finish with some sort of transparent lacquer. The white lettering, the FSC logo and the red tip with the white swiss cross; it’s a surprisingly light pencil compared to its size and the dark wood color really convey a sense of uniqueness.

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Then that smell! Some might find it unpleasant, I’m not yet sure what to think of it. Some describe it like the smell of smoked ham or grime. I think it smells a bit like soy sauce. Glovelier Beech seems to be a special breed of beech found in the Swiss, hence the “Swiss Wood” moniker.

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I heard a lot of good things about the pencil, before I had one in my own hands, so my expectations were pretty high. That said, I must say that these expectations were way too high. The graphite that is based on clay (!) is not really pleasant. It writes  easily, but with a very light gray tone. It’s lightly sticky, moderately smooth, but too firm for a HB. I was expecting something darker, heftier as the size suggests, but the lead is disappointing from my viewpoint, though still above average. Caran D’Ache has a special place in my heart as they are promoting the pencil in an exclusive and almost luxurious way with their limited editions, especially the Maison series. I’m feeling a bit bad of giving the “Swiss Wood” a less enthusiastic review than I expected, but that is what it is, despite its unique looks and the peculiar fragrance the utility of the pencil is above average.

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Pencil Buyers Beginner’s “guide” (Part 3: Update)

Following my recent posts about where to buy pencils some readers have suggested other places on the net for the pencil buying customer. So to make this series complete I’ll post these suggestions here. These are not “tested” by me, but I trust my geeky readership!

Pedro suggested Pencils.com in the States. Now this is a brilliant suggestion, because that site is not only very dedicated in all things “pencils”, but also sports very interesting infos about pencils and they have an interesting blog too. As opposed to what I wrote it seems Pedro hadn’t as much chance with import taxes as I had. It seems that maybe some countries are fiercer in getting their taxes…

johnthemonkey and Sapphire suggested pencils4artists.co.uk. If you are looking for european brands, this seems to be an excellent shop. They also have MONO100’s.

johnthemonkey suggested additional british shops:

fredaldous.co.uk/art-shop/ has a nice selection of pencils. The Derwent Watersoluble Sketching Pencils caught my eye.. (*Shopping*)

A limited, but fine selection can be found at http://www.whsmith.co.uk/.

And another selection can be found at http://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/.

But as was also suggested: support your local dealers!

Pencil Buyers Beginners “guide” (Part 2: Europe)

Continuing the series I’ll give you here some links to European online pencil shops.

http://www.cultpens.com/

Well if you haven’t heard of Cultpens, you never shopped for pencils or pens on the internet. Cultpens has a enormous selection of everything that writes, sketches and draws. The selection is so huge that they offer thematic guides by color, themes or target group. The packages are always very well packaged. Their new sections called “Geek Picks” and “Rarities” are especially recommended! Highly recommended.

http://www.thejournalshop.com/

This one’s another favorite of mine. As they have a good selection of Midori and Iconic stationery articles. Their pencil section is a bit limited, but all the rest is so much fun to explore and buy, I had to add this one to the list. Recommended!

http://www.pedlars.co.uk

Pedlars is rather limited pencil wise, but they have all sorts of Palomino pencils, like the Blackwings, the gift-sets and some nice stationary goodies. Recommended.

That sums it already up on the European side. If you know about other fine pencil shops, feel free to share!

New Arrival: Bunch of pencils

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My latest haul from cwpencils.com. And yes, I had to buy another Midori Brass Bullet Pencil, because I lost the first one. Another interesting find in this arrival is the “Pencils” book a pencil exhibition catalog with beautiful images of different pencils. The written part of the book is aimed more at “normal” people, as opposed to pencil nerds… 😉 You’ll certainly find the one or other of these reviewed here in the coming months years.

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.

New arrival: Lego Pencil Holder

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It is a geek’s dream! Behold my wife’s present for this year’s winter celebrations! The awesome LEGO pencil holder in all its glory standing now on my desk and holding my weapons of choice I use most at the moment. The LEGO pencils are a nice addition, but I am no fan of branded, advertising or novelty pencils. Either way the little guy will be in my company for a long time!