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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.

 

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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!

 

 

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Palomino Blackwing 211

This week has been the best pencil week ever!  I had been dying to get my hands on the limited edition Blackwing 211 since it sold out a week after release.  Thankfully, the pencil community came through and my pencil pal Andi sent me a few to review.  Andi has a blog as well and you should definitely check it out!  So now on to the 211:

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One can see the sheer beauty of the 211 as its natural wood-grain contrasts with its gold ferrule and brown eraser.  The barrel of the pencil is nice and smooth and the black stamping is perfect and precise.  I could not wait to sharpen this pencil!  I sharpened the 211 with my usual tool, the Palomino Long Point Sharpener.

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As you can see, I love how sharp the slats appear after sharpening– this pencil is really a beauty.  All aesthetics aside, let’s get to the writing portion of the review.  I had a lot of note-taking this week for my classes and the Blackwing 211 came through.  Point retention is amazing and the pencil writes so velvety smooth that I almost did not want to ever review another pencil again.  I had no trouble with point breakage in the sharpener and by the end of my busy week, I still had so much pencil left to use.  It could be surmised that this pencil would last one for two weeks with pretty consistent writing which makes the price of this pencil worth it.

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The above picture is the pencil length after 7 solid days of use.  Not only is the Blackwing 211 photogenic, but she’s useful too!  The only way you can come across this pencil is finding an odd retailer that still has some in stock or on Ebay.  Fret not though because I have been told that the graphite is the same as the Blackwing 602, a pencil that is always available.  No, you will not have this gorgeous wood-grain version, but to me a pencil’s utility is worth more than what it looks like.  Still, you can’t help but marvel in the 211’s glory. Overall 10/10!

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*For any of you wondering how you can get your hands on these awesome Blackwing limited edition pencils, you can sign up for a Volumes subscription here.