Nataraj Neon vs. Casemate Neon

Back to School season always gets me excited.  As a college student, I feel justified in purchasing extra notebooks, pencils, and erasers.  I peruse the aisles of the local Walmart or Target to see what’s new and have found myself gravitating to the Ticonderogas or USA Golds.  There has been a lot of discussion recently in the Erasable Facebook group about Walmart’s awesome deal on pencils from the Casemate line (97 cents for a dozen pencils and a sharpener).  A lot think that the canister of pencils is manufactured by Hindustan Pencil Company and are pretty much Nataraj pencils without the branding.  Even the sharpener that comes with the pencils says Nataraj. Now that back to school season is in full swing, I have seen the Casemate Neon pencils start to crop up.  There are two versions; the ones that are hexagonal and made in India and the ones that have a round barrel that are made in the Philippines.  DO NOT buy the round ones.  They are horrible and not worth your time.  What follows is a comparison of the Casemate (made in India) Neons and the Nataraj Neons.

Upon opening the Casemate pencils, I immediately noticed that the production quality was not that great.  Chipped pencils and sloppy finish were on quite a few of the pencils.  The graphite cores seemed to be a tiny bit off center, but nothing drastic:

Hand sharpening was quite easy, but I noticed something interesting in the shavings– the neon finish was separating from the wood of the pencil.  I do not have pictures, but the Nataraj pencils do not do this at all, so again I am left wondering if these are factory seconds or a few steps have been skipped in the manufacturing process to cut costs.

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Both pencils are almost identical save for the few production errors I have found in the Casemate brand.  The neon color on the Nataraj pencils is a bit more vibrant, but from a quick glance one would not be able to see much difference.  The ferrules on both pencils are the same black aluminum, but the Nataraj pencil has a cleaner look to it (Nataraj pencil is on the right in all of the pics below):

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Aesthetics aside, when it comes to writing, there is a noticeable difference.  I found that the Casemate pencil wrote a lot smoother than the Nataraj but laid down slightly lighter marks.  This observation does not seem to fit the experience, but I prefer this– some may not.  I wonder if this is due to the fact that there might be some additives to the graphite in the Casemate pencil to cheapen the cost.  Both pencils were a delight to write with, but I found myself preferring the Casemate.

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As you can see from the bottom of the writing sample, both pencils have HORRIBLE erasers.  Do not use them.  You can, but don’t expect good results.  They shading erased beautifully, but trying to erase text is an exercise in futility.  At 97 cents a 12 pack, the Casemate pencils are a steal, but remember HEXAGONAL only.  If you are interested in Nataraj Neons, head over to Caroline where one can pick up a dozen for about three and a half dollars.

It’s just pencils! Or is it?

After much thought and great discussion over on the Erasable Facebook group, I felt compelled to make a blog posting about the issue of Blackwing Volumes and their seemingly white, male-dominated lineup.  Before I get to the meat of the issue, I am in no way knocking Palomino– they have done great things with the brand and provide awesome customer service and I am positive there was no intent to have a lack of diversity in the Blackwing Volumes line.  But that’s just it.  The seemingly accidental overlooking of amazing people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, and other marginalized folks is not so.  Leaving out those groups is not intentional, but it is so deeply seated and natural for the majority to do so, that they do not see that they marginalize.  The only way for the world to change is to have companies or individuals use their power to bring light to these issues and take a stance– a stance that should be the norm.  When inclusiveness is the norm, things might just be a bit better for the world (and for sales!).  Here are some ideas I have for future Blackwing Volumes:

George Washington Carver – 44  George Washington Carver was known as the “Peanut Man” and is known for his research into alternative crops to cotton such as peanuts and sweet potatoes.  His angle was that poor farmers could grow alternative crops to provide food for their families and develop other products to improve quality of life.  Carver also promoted environmentalism and released 44 practical bulletins for farmers with information on recipes for peanuts and peanut products.  From Wikipedia: “In 1921 peanut farmers and industry representatives planned to appear at Congressional hearings to ask for a tariff. Based on the quality of Carver’s presentation at their convention, they asked the African-American professor to testify on the tariff issue before the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives. Due to segregation, it was highly unusual for an African American to appear as an expert witness at Congress representing European-American industry and farmers.”

A Blackwing Volumes edition for Carver would feature crimson colored pencil with a gold ferrule and tan eraser.  Crimson and gold are Tuskegee’s college colors and tan would be representative of peanuts.  It would be stamped with the number 44 as a nod to the 44 bulletins he released for farmers to promote the use of peanuts on their farms.

Susan B. Anthony – 19  Susan B. Anthony was a feminist who was deeply involved in the women’s suffrage movement.  At the age of 17, she collected anti-slavery petitions and in 1856, she became the New York agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.  Anthony also played a critical role in creating the International Council of Women.  One hundred years after her birth, women finally were granted the right to vote on August 18, 1920.

This pencil could be either green with a purple eraser or purple with a green eraser.  Both would have a white painted ferrule.  This is a nod to the symbolic suffrage colors of purple, white, and green used on banners and pins promoting the cause.  The number 19 would be used to represent the 19th amendment to the constitution allowing women to vote.

Stonewall – 1969  The Stonewall riots were a series of demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969.  In the 1950s and 60s, gay Americans faced a very anti-gay legal system and as such, not many establishments welcomed openly gay people.  The Stonewall Inn catered to an assortment of individuals and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth.  A year later, in 1970, the first Gay Pride would take place in NYC.  The Stonewall National Monument was established a month ago by President Obama and it includes Christoper Park and the Stonewall Inn.

This Volumes edition would be a no brainer– RAINBOWS!

I hope that those of you who have read this have been inspired.  Those that feel uncomfortable regarding this blog post– good.  That’s what its supposed to do to some.  It’s high time we start having those uncomfortable conversations and unpacking difficult topics.  After all, it’s just not about pencils.

 

Mail and Other Musings

So this blog has evolved into a non-weekly endeavor and is not really fulfilling its “weekly pencil” duties.  At the very beginning of this idea a year ago, I had dove into the hobby of collecting and using pencils of all sorts.  I was excited and wanted to share that with the world.  As I made new friends in the Erasable group, I was encouraged to post more and every week I used one pencil and then wrote about my thoughts on said pencil.  The idea seemed simple enough, but what I didn’t take into account was the fact that life happens and even the most loved hobbies can fall victim of disinterest and immense obligation.  Let me explain.  I still love pencils.  I will always love pencils, but keeping up with the blog on a weekly basis became a burden when life got in the way.  I became resentful in my new role as “pencil blogger/reviewer” and my posts every Sunday became this awful “thing” I had to do.  My need to stay current began to tarnish my love of pencils and the community that surrounded me.  That is why I took a step back.  I have received comments along the lines of “when are you posting again?  This isn’t the weekly pencil anymore?”  I appreciate followers, but I wish some would realize that this is 100 percent funded by myself both monetarily and emotionally.  Besides two items I have reviewed, I have paid for every item out of my own pocket.  I am not complaining about spending money here either.  Hell, I’d be buying pencils anyway, but I wish some would realize that this is not my job.  *Important note here– I am not calling any individual out here, I just am making broad statements of my general experience with this blog*  I love all of you followers and get super excited when other are enthusiastic in this niche hobby.  Just know that this blog will evolve a bit and include ALL of my passions (pencils, stationery, games, etc.).  I will keep the same URL for now, but the site design and title may change in the future.  Now onto the fun stuff!  MAIL  FROM CW PENCIL ENTERPRISE!!!!

Nothing is finer than when you expect a pencil package and you hear the subtle beep of the mail person’s scanner and a solid *thunk* on your porch.  I raced downstairs immediately and there it was– a package from Caroline and her crew:

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I always enjoy pencil-related mail, but getting a package from CW Pencil Enterprise is something really special.  From their packaging to their unique and personal attention to detail with every order, you really feel like you are something special.  This was my note:

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Not only did I get this adorable note from Caitlin, but there is something about the way they individually wrap everything.  Knowing that Caitlin herself walked around the shop and personally packaged my pencils makes me warm and fuzzy inside.  For at least a few minutes I had a personal pencil shopper.  How much better can pencil buying get?!

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Even though I already knew what was inside these lovely yellow wrapped packages I was excited to discover their contents.  I think that pictures will speak for themselves, but if you are interested, here are links to all I ordered: Blackwing Volumes, Camel Pastel HB, Nataraj Joi 2B, and Milan Graphite and Highlighter Pencil.  Now onto my pics:

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I plan on doing reviews on all of these products at some point, but I am really itching to try out the Graphite/Highlighter pencil.  Stay tuned for that review sometime in the near future!

 

 

Viking 029 Skoleblyanten

Hello pencil pals!  I am back from about a month long hiatus.  Life– mainly school, work, and moving to a new place got in the way of my ability to post regular updates.  I apologize for not keeping the blog updated, but going forward I should be back on track.  After all, I have quite the backlog of pencils and projects to post about!  OK.  Now onto this week’s pencil, the Viking 029 Skoleblyanten (Skoleblyanten translates to school pencil in Danish).  Viking is a pencil company based out of Denmark and has a 100 year history of making pencils ever since a Danish matchstick company started making pencils.  For a deeper write-up on the history of Viking, head to Bleistift where you will find some great reviews and details about the brand.

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Appearance wise, the Viking 029 is more than just an ordinary yellow school pencil.  From the classic yellow lacquer of a school pencil, to the black stamping of a Viking ship on the hexagonal barrel, and the ferruleless dipped end, the Viking 029 is quite nice to look at.  The Viking 029 not only excels in form, but in function too.  While the pencil is classified as an HB grade, I felt as though it wrote a bit softer and darker than HB grade pencils I am used to.  The graphite is nice a smooth on paper and erases cleanly and easily.  The weight of the Viking 029 is nice.  I usually don’t like the lightweight feel to ferruleless pencils, but the Viking 029 has just enough heft to it to feel comfortable.

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I have spent the past few weeks writing with this pencil and I can honestly say that while it writes a little bit darker than a standard HB, its point retention is great.  Breakage was non-existent and no grittiness was felt while writing at any point.  The graphite had almost a soft waxy feel to it, but it didn’t crumble like most waxy feeling graphite pencils do.  I can easily say that this pencil will make it into my school year rotation in the Fall.  The Viking 029 can be found at CW Pencil Enterprise for $1.25 a pencil and it is well worth throwing a few in your cart next time you shop.  For more information on Viking’s other products check out their beautiful page.

 

 

Kita-boshi 9500 Super Drawing Pencil

Some may think that adding a bunch of numbers and the word “Super” to the title of a product is a bit ostentatious, but the Kita-boshi 9500 Super Drawing Pencil earns every title it has been given.  Kita-boshi Pencil Company is located in Katsushika, Japan and started out as a lumber company.  When one of its customers, Tsukiboshi Pencil Company filed bankruptcy, what is now known as Kita-boshi shouldered the debt and got into the pencil making business.  Even though demand for the wooden pencil is down (not by the looks of it to me), Kita-boshi still prides itself on creating quality products.  This week, I take a look at the 9500 Super Drawing Pencil in graphite grade B.

The 9500 is quite unassuming with its lack of eraser and jet black lacquer, this seemed to be just another drawing pencil to me.  Stamped in gold on one side is “Super Drawing Kita-Boshi 9500” and on the other is “For Retouching and Special Drawing.” Since the graphite grade was a B, I wasn’t looking forward to wrapping up my semester with a smudgy mess, but I sharpened her up anyway and got to writing.  As always, I used The Masterpiece to sharpen and I did not have any difficulty getting the 9500 to a long point.

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When I put pencil to paper, I was pleasantly surprised– the 9500 was smoother than I had expected.  The best way to describe it is if a Tombow MONO and a Golden Bear had a child, this is how it would write.  Not too scratchy, but not smooth enough to declare it “buttery.”  My writing experiences this week were on regular copy paper, graph paper, and a Field Notes Shenandoah. I noticed the most smudging with the graph paper, but I was expecting that.  As far as erasing is concerned, I struggled a bit– I used the Pink Pearl and really did not have tremendous luck with lifting all reminders of what once was on the paper.  I wouldn’t recommend using this pencil for every day writing, but for art or sketching it’s quite amazing.

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Finally, the 9500 did extremely well with point retention.  I used this pencil over the course of two weeks for about 10 out of the 14 days in those weeks.  I am just about ready to put my nub in my bullet pencil, so I’d say for the $1.00 you spend per pencil, you get your money’s worth.  While the Kita-boshi 9500 Super Drawing pencil will not take up residency in my regular pencil roll, I still think it is worth a try.

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Palomino Prospector

After a grueling finals week at school, I am back in action with my reviews!  I decided to go budget this week and choose the Prospector.  I love the bright green color and the hexagonal barrel– no semi-hex here.  Have I hit gold with a nice-looking budget pencil or have I missed the gold rush?  Let’s take a look:

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Aesthetically speaking, the Prospector looks damn great for a pencil that sells for $2.25 a dozen (that’s about 19 cents per pencil).  I enjoy the gold foil stamping as it makes me feel as though it was a nod to the fact that the pencil is called the Prospector.  The pencil itself is made of basswood and its graphite core is HB.  Speaking of the graphite core, this pencil sharpens up beautifully and I had no point breakage while sharpening (I exclusively used the Masterpiece).  The darkness is on par for a number 2 pencil and while it certainly does not write nice and smooth, the Prospector is not too scratchy either.  There were a few times that I notice a bit of scratchiness in the graphite, but that cleared up with a few scribbles to wear down the rough patch.  Point retention is great and I am just about at the Steinbeck stage after using it for two weeks.  I did a lot of transcribing by hand (6 to 7 whole pages) and found myself having to sharpen every two pages or so.

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The eraser on the Prospector is what you would expect for a pencil that sells for under a quarter.  It’s good in a pinch, but definitely bring your own eraser to the party.  I can really see this pencil entering into my rotation as it is cheap and performs well.  Honestly, I think teachers should either be using the Prospector or Ticonderoga in the classroom.  You cannot beat the price and value that comes from this pencil.

Product Review: Tom Bihn Cafe Bag

It’s been about two weeks since I have last posted a pencil review (or any review for that matter), but I am back.  This time it’s with a bag review.  A  lot of us pencil nerds are either students, professors, teachers, tech professionals or office workers that are always on the search of a perfect EDC bag.  You know– something not too big, but not too small, has ample storage and looks good to boot.  After taking an informal poll via the Erasable Facebook Page (find it and like it!), I decided that Tom Bihn Bags would suit my needs.  The bags had a nice clean design and came in great colors.  This week I will be reviewing the Medium Cafe Bag, but this style of bag comes in three sizes: small, medium, and large.  Now, on to the review!

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The minute I got this bag, I was truly skeptical of its ability to fit everything I needed to carry with me on a daily basis.  This opinion soon changed when I began to load the bag and realized that even after I put everything inside, I still had room left.  I was able to fit a 13-inch Chromebook, a 10-inch tablet, 24-count colored pencil case, a Swell water bottle, a 10×10-inch coloring book, and 2 pencil rolls.  I still had room after all of that stuff!

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Storage space aside, this bag is well made.  Constructed of 1000 denier Cordura® exterior/420d HT nylon Classic Parapack lining, this bag will last a long time.  I have used this bag for a solid month and it looks brand new with no scuffs or frays anywhere in the fabric.  The shoulder strap is plenty long and is made of thick nylon webbing.  There is also a nylon handle stitched to the back of the bag in case you want to carry it briefcase style.  There is a back pocket on the bag and a front zippered pocket that resides under the flap of the bag.  Both pockets are nice and roomy and can fit up to a 10 inch tablet or e-reader.  Inside the bag the main compartment is nice and roomy and there is a small organizer stitched into the inside that can accommodate some pencils, sharpeners, erasers, and a Field Notes-sized notebook.

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I have carried this bag around and while the shoulder strap is nice and long, it can become a bit uncomfortable.  I’d suggest purchasing the Ultrasuede shoulder strap; it seems that that strap would offer a bit more comfort.  The clasp is made of a hard, sturdy plastic and makes a satisfying “snap” sound when closing.  The Cafe Bag also has three “O-rings” inside that allow you to clip on keys or a variety of cases they sell in their store.  Everything about this bag screams quality.  With the minor upgrade of a new strap, this bag is perfect.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I was provided the bag for free in exchange for a review of the product.  The fact that the bag was free did not impact my opinions in any way whatsoever.)

Palomino Blackwing 24

The Blackwing 24 is the fourth installment of Palomino’s limited edition pencil line.  Four times a year, you can have a dozen (plus one archival pencil) limited edition Blackwings delivered to your door along with additional goodies that correspond with that quarter’s edition.  If you are not a subscriber, you may buy a box of the pencils for $24.95, but you do not get any of the collectibles that you receive with the subscription.  Usually, the featured pencil uses one of Palomino’s three Blackwing cores (Pearl, 602, Blackwing/MMX).  The 24 on the other hand, uses a brand new graphite core that is “slightly firmer than the 602 without sacrificing the darkness.”  The entire story behind the Blackwing 24 can be found here.

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Image Courtesy of Palomino Brands/Blackwing 602.com

 

The moment I opened my first box the the 24, I was enamored.  The super glossy finish, black ferrule, black eraser, and blacked out stamping won me over instantly.  I am so glad that Palomino did not decide to dye the wood as well since my experience with dyed wood pencils has been a bit meh.  Plus, the natural cedar makes the black gloss pop even more.  Speaking of the black gloss finish, I found it made the pencil super comfortable to hold albeit a bit slippery when my hand got sweaty.  This is not an inherent flaw, I think it is just my intense grip and sweaty hands that made the slippage happen.  Normal, non-Hulk gripped individuals should not face the same fate.

The 24 sharpens up nicely and has a perfectly centered core.  As always, I enjoy the rich fragrant smell of cedar that Palomino uses and have to admit I am a bit spoiled by it.  I expect the best and consistently receive the best with every Blackwing pencil I use.  I just have one bone– or should I say eraser– to pick.  The eraser sucks.  Now an eraser does not make the pencil and in fact, half the pencils I use do not come with an eraser, but I guess I expected a bit more from my favorite brand.  This is by no means ever going to change my view of the Blackwing, and in fact, I’d much rather Palomino put money into developing cooler designs and different graphite formulations.  I just am disappointed.  The best way to sum up the eraser performance is this: NO.  Stick with your Boxy or Sakura eraser.

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Writing with the 24 all week has been great.  I had a lot of continuous writing in a psychology class I am taking (involves client/helper observation) and the 24 lived up to its promises.  I was writing on standard copy paper and I sharpened the pencil once in a 50-minute class.  With my gorilla grip that is amazing performance.  The darkness of the 24 is just right and the graphite glides smoothly across the paper with little effort.  I have compared the 24 to another one of my favorite pencils for writing, the Semi-Hex.  As you can see from the (poorly lit photo) writing sample, the darkness of each pencil is about the same and the differences are negligible.  Where the 24 wins out is its smoothness.  The Semi-Hex is a lot scratchier, but it is not as smudgy as the 24.  You can see in the photo below that the the first “Sara” that was written with the 24 is a bit smudged.  Smudging is by no means a deal-breaker for me, but its definitely something to note.  Especially for lefties.

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BW 24 on top/Semi-Hex on bottom on Mt. Tom 6×4

All in all, the Blackwing 24 is a great addition to the Blackwing Subscription and I suspect these will sell out pretty quickly.  Head over to blackwing602.com to subscribe or grab a box.

 

Eraser Round Up

This week has been a bit different.  A lot of times, people always ask me what the best eraser is for everyday use.  I usually answer “Mitsubishi Boxy”, but after the nth time of recommending that glorious little black rectangular eraser I began to wonder.  What about the other ones?  Just like pencils, there are dozens of different types of erasers made of different materials that appeal to and equal amount of individuals.  I did not want to merely review erasers– reviewing items is a subjective matter and what I may like may be completely horrible to someone else.  What follows are twelve different impressions on erasers– some quite common and well known and some you may not have heard of.  Note: A Blackwing 602 was used on a Field Notes Shenandoah with 60# paper.

Papermate Pink Pearl

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The Pink Pearl is perhaps the most well known eraser on this list.  I am sure all of us have fond memories of using this rubbery pink parallelogram during math classes.  We also probably remember how gritty it was and how it left horrible tears or pink smudges on the paper.  Well, this is not your 80’s Pink Pearl.  I will readily admit that I expected that Pink Pearl of yesteryear; gritty, barely usable, and endlessly frustrating.  Papermate has a tendency to take good products and butcher them and the Pink Pearl– I figured– was no exception.  Boy was I surprised when I used the Pink Pearl for the first time in 25 years.  No grit, no smear; just buttery smooth effectiveness.  The Pink Pearl performed well beyond my expectations and has become my new favorite EDC eraser.  There is something about the nostalgia of carrying a Pink Pearl with me everywhere.  I like it.

Seed Radar  

Radar

The Radar came recommended from one of my favorite Erasables, Less (check out their page!).  It comes in a variety of subtle colors, but I gravitated towards blue.  I am kinda bummed the eraser itself is not quite blue enough, but where it lacks in vibrancy, it make up in performance.  Not only does this plastic eraser remove most traces of graphite, but its dust rolls up nicely into little bunches for easy clean up.  The Radar has a useful cardboard sheath that prevents the eraser from breaking.

Tombow MONO

Mono

I am a huge fan of Tombow products.  I have a current affair with their Brush Pens and the MONO 100 was my favorite pencil before I found the Erasable Podcast group.  I expect nothing but the best from Tombow and while the eraser does a good job with line drawing and regular handwriting, it struggled with the shading portion of the test.  At first, it smeared a bit and then managed to get the job done.  Like most plastic erasers, the dust clumps neatly together and does not leave a mess.  The MONO is affordable and worth giving a shot.

Caran D’Ache Technik

Technik

I expected a lot from the Technik for two reasons: its price and the fact that it is made by Caran D’Ache.  I was most let down by the eraser’s ability to erase cleanly.  It performed OK with line drawings, but with the shading it had excessive smearing and took a lot of effort to get the most graphite cleared.  The Technik is a very hard eraser and it leaves neat rolls of eraser dust.  I posit that the hardness of the plastic has to do with its crummy erasing performance.  I know I said I wouldn’t review erasers here, but I can’t resist with this one.  I’d pass on purchasing and instead get 3 Pink Pearls (or really 3 of anything).

Pentel Ain

Ain

The Pentel Ain erases well, but is a bit dusty.  It showed some smearing on the shading part of the erasing test, but with some effort it came through and got the job done.  Not much to say here, because it was solidly mediocre.

Koh-I-Noor Magic

Magic

The Magic is an eraser that I have been wanting to get my hands on for some time.  I love how each eraser is different with varying colors and swirls.  As a rubber eraser, the Magic is clearly very dusty.  I’d liken the dustiness to a standard pink pencil eraser (think Ticonderoga/General’s).  It has a nice pungent rubbery smell and does fantastically on regular light handwriting and lines.  It is a smeary mess on the darker lines and shading parts and actually reminds me of the Pink Pearl from years ago.  The Magic is a cool eraser nonetheless and is a nice pocket carry, but at $2.50 you are definitely paying for the novelty.

Staedtler Mars Plastic

Mars

I was quite unimpressed by the Mars plastic; it was dusty, took a lot of effort to erase things, and smeared a heck of a lot.  I expected more from Staedtler, but was left with a less than average eraser.  I do like the size of the Mars as it makes for easy erasing, but the effort you put forth getting the job done negates the bonus of a larger eraser.

Hinodewashi Matomaru-kun

Hino

The Hinodewashi came highly recommended from pretty much anyone that has used it, so I was excited to use this delightfully bright white block of plastic.  It performed beautifully with very little effort.  The dust rolled up nicely and did not smear any of what was erased.  These are hard to come by in the US, but Caroline has a few at CW Pencil Enterprise if you are interested.

Craft Design Technology No. 14

CDT

The minimalist design of CDT products always draw me in.  I enjoy a product that lets its product do all the talking and not the packaging.  Well, the CDT left a lot to be desired.  First, when opening the eraser I could not help but notice the smell.  I can’t even tell you what it smelled like, but it was a chemical-like smell with a hint of plastic.  In fact, it was so pungent I could smell it without putting it up to my nose.  Once I got past the smell, the CDT was meh.  Yes, it erases, but is dustier than I had expected and it took a lot of effort to erase the samples and even then, you can see a shadow of what was once there.

Koh-I-Noor Thermoplastic

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I want to start off by saying this eraser was my absolute favorite design wise.  I love the hexagonal shape (which I believe is a nod to the pencil) and the recessed center that allows for a very comfortable grip.  The six corners allow for maximum control and precision.  The Thermoplastic erases OK, but does leave a shadow on both samples.  I would say that this eraser is best for light writers out there that do not press that hard or use H grade graphite.  I know this eraser says its plastic, but it was the dustiest of the plastic erasers I have tested.  The Thermoplastic comes in a myriad of colors and if not used as an every day eraser, its still a cool pocket carry (its almost reminiscent of those worry stones one would carry in their pocket).

Faber-Castell Dust Free Art Eraser

FaberCastell

Another recommendation from Less, the FC Dust Free never ceased to amaze me as I explored its qualities.  First, I love the dark green color– it does a good job of hiding any graphite marks that may transfer to the eraser.  Second, while subtle, is the contoured edges that make for comfortable holding.  I really didn’t think that this would make a difference, but it did and has a really good hand feel when erasing bigger projects.  Finally, it lives up to its name: Dust Free.  This eraser was perhaps the most effective when keeping its waste materials rolled up in tiny little bunches.  The FC Dust Free also erases beautifully.  Not the top performer in the “clean erase” field, but it definitely holds its own.

Sakura Foam

Sakura

The Sakura Foam is one of the few erasers on this list that I have used before.  I really like the way its shavings ball up together– this makes for a quick and easy cleanup.  The Sakura does an amazing job erasing any kind of line drawing or handwriting.  Where its lacks is its ability to erase large areas of shading.  I’m not an artist, so this is not a deal breaker for me, but something to keep in mind.  Another downfall of this eraser is that it wears down pretty quickly.  That worn down edge you see in the picture is just from the two tests I did (line drawing, sentence erasing, and shading).  The Sakura definitely lives up to its “High Quality” designation, but if you make a lot of mistakes, you will blow through these pretty quickly.  With that being said, it continues to be one of my favorites for every day erasing.

 

 

 

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2B

I have reviewed very few German pencils on this blog, so this week I grabbed a pencil from the jar that would fit that bill.  The Staedtler Mars Lumograph is perhaps one of the most accessible higher quality pencils to the non-pencil enthusiast.  Found in Staples and most arts and crafts stores, the Lumograph usually comes in a multi-pack with a few different graphite grades.  The Lumograph is mainly used for pencil drawing and sketching, but performs very well during everyday use.  Subtle yet striking, the Staedtler Mars Lumograph is a bright blue hexagonal pencil with a ferrule-less black tip.  The stamping on the barrel is a silver/grey and while pretty, it rubs off quite easily with use.20160308_161957

 

The Mars Lumograph sharpens beautifully and the point does not suffer from any breakage or crumbling.  Writing with this pencil is also a joy.  It has a nice, smooth lay down and while it smears a bit, it is forgivable since the darkness of the 2B graphite is just right.  Erasing the Mars Lumograph is a breeze and my Boxy made quick work of all marks on all kinds of paper (notebook paper, copy paper, Field Notes Shenandoah).  The smoothness of this pencil really helped with differential equations notes this week (FYI: I am not that smart, I am a paid note taker.  Psych major right here.).  I cannot recommend this pencil enough and with the ability to head out to most major office supply/art stores and pick a few up, there is no reason one should pass this one by.

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