My mother always told me never to judge a book by its cover. This week’s pencil, the Viarco ECO HB, would prove that you should always listen to your mother. I was admittedly excited to use a the Viarco ECO; it had a nice natural look it it and it was from one of the oldest pencil companies in Europe. While it has a clear lacquer over the natural wood (I prefer no lacquer on my natural pencils), the ECO was still a beauty. Its green imprint on the ferrule-less barrel coupled with the simple, yet elegant script of “Viarco” had me excited to get sharpening.
My first experience with the Viarco was a fair one, a bit scratchy, but decent darkness for an HB. As I progressed throughout the week, my disappointment would set it. I had to sharpen this pencil a lot. So much so that it was a hindrance to my note taking. I am not quite sure why that is since it felt as though it was on the harder, scratchier side, but this thing dulled quick if I wasn’t mindful enough to rotate while writing. On about my fourth or fifth sharpening, problems started to surface. First, the tip would always break, or should I say crumble, off. I tried using my Masterpiece, KUM Wedge, and the Classroom Friendly all with the same results. There also was an interesting issue with the barrel of the pencil about halfway through as it started to split as I sharpened. See pictures below:
I am not sure what wood is used in the ECO, but it was a strange texture. When sharpening with the Masterpiece, the shavings were very dusty and had little to no odor to them. Erasing the Viarco was a breeze and my Mitsubishi Boxy took care of any evidence of graphite markings. At 75 cents a pencil, I guess I expected more. Overall 5/10
I must say, with full disclosure, that Japanese-made pencils will always have a special spot in my pencil loving heart. It was the Tombow MONO that first piqued my interest and sent me down the rabbit hole of pencil using/collecting. There is something about Japanese pencils; the darkness and strength of their graphite, the beautiful finish and attention to detail that goes into each brand, and the overall consistency I am met with each time I pick up a new pencil to use. This week, I used the Mitsubishi 9000 HB and fell in love with its smooth lay-down and beautiful color scheme. First, the pencil itself is a sight to behold. It has a shiny green lacquer with a darker Kelly green stripe around the top where the lead grade is located. The gold foil stamping is precise and really shines with the green color. One one side (and perhaps one of my favorite imprints to date) it has “Made by elaborate process” stamped proudly and reassuringly. And see, that’s just it. I really feel as though so much went into the making of this pencil and that careful scrutiny accompanied it during its entire journey into my possession.
Sharpening the Mitsubishi 9000 was a joy and not once did a point prematurely break. AS with all of my pencils, the first sharpen is made by the Classroom Friendly and then I switch over to the KUM Masterpiece (which is now on US soil…see Caroline!). My entire week of writing with this pencil was a joy. With a heavy note-taking week behind me, I still have about half a pencil left. It erases effortlessly with the Mitsubishi Boxy and does not smudge or smear.
This pencil will definitely make it into my rotation and I recommend that everyone should try one at least once. They are moderately priced at $1.00 a pencil, but with its durable graphite, I feel as though this pencil will last you twice as long. If you are interested, as always, head to Caroline. Overall 9.5/10
I was particularly excited to try out the TRY-REX since it was “America’s first triangular pencil.” It is not three-sided like most triangular pencils we are used to, but instead has a unique design that still maintains a hexagonal shape with every other side of the hexagonal barrel being curved instead of straight. This leaves the user with a comfortable grip and a pencil that can be used for long periods of time without hand fatigue. The TRY-REX sharpens well enough, but I am not quite sure of the wood composition as it produces very dusty shavings (even with my Masterpiece) that crumble very easily. It’s fairly fragrant, but not a nice deep cedar smell that I love, but instead has a more like an earthy, body odor-like scent (if that makes sense).
The graphite hardness/darkness is a tad lighter than I like it to be, but it lays down smoothly and does not smudge that much. Point retention is fair and I am making personal progress with not pressing so damn hard. The eraser is crap– very dusty and gritty feeling and barely does an adequate job of erasing most marks. I actually prefer to used a seperate eraser anyway, but this is not a deal-breaker for me, but still frustrating nonetheless. They style of the pencil is simple: a bit between glossy and matte red finish with a white imprint. I think it is pretty nifty that they show a little “triangle” diagram on the barrel of the pencil to illustrate the barrel shape.
I do not have many complaints about this pencil and at sixty cents a piece from CW Pencil Enterprise, they are worth a pick up. Overall 8/10.
When I randomly selected the pencil for this week’s review I was admittedly grumpy with my resulting pick. I have a dislike for round barreled pencils. I tend to have a pretty strong grip and I just cannot get comfortable using anything other than a hexagonal or triangular pencil. The Musgrave Bugle itself is quite charming– it has a nice, deep white imprint of two bugles (duh) and Musgrave’s own branding. I usually do not like when there is a lot of information on a pencil, but this works. I love the contrast of white stamping against the glossy wood grain.
This pencil has no ferrule or eraser, so it is a bit light, but nothing a pencil cap eraser cannot fix. The Bugle sharpens perfectly with no point breakage or crumbling. This is a bonus for me since I spend a lot of time taking notes and do not have time to fuss with crumbly graphite. Point retention is average (I press a bit hard, so this is always a subjective viewpoint). It fares far better than last week’s pencil with it comes to smearing and transfer, yet it still has a dark enough lay down of graphite to be acceptable for my needs.
Another thing I was able to mitigate, but worth bringing up nonetheless was how light the pencil is without an eraser and ferrule. If you prefer heft to the non-writing end of your pencil, definitely use an eraser cap. I used a lovely little one I picked up from Caroline at CW Pencil Enterprise, the Blüm which erases well and comes in nifty neon colors (I love neon). Sadly, she does not seem to carry them anymore, but you can find more info here. At twenty five cents a pencil, it is definitely worth purchasing a few of the Musgrave Bugles for your supply. Caroline sells singles, so be sure to head there to pick a few up (plus, she’s awesome). Overall 8.0/10