Review – Swingline Personal Pencil Sharpener

Some people might not consider a pencil sharpener an art supply. But we’re using my definition of an art supply and if it in any way helps you with art it is now an art supply. Okay, maybe not exactly, but let’s just get into this Swingline Personal Pencil Sharpener.

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The sharpener itself is a chunky bubble of plastic with unappealing curves. It’s designed to be different rather than practical. It’s got a dust- and scratch-attracting polish on the front and a pleasing matte finish on the back. Also in the back are several fairly useless pencil holders. Back on the front is a dent that guides your pencil into the sharpener, or more likely just breaks your lead as you try. There is also a clear plastic shaving container that can be easily removed from the front.

The entire assembly is heavy and barely moves when one is sharpening. It feels solid and almost unbreakable. And with some nice rubber feet on the bottom it stays where you put it.

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The sharpening itself is alright. There is no swaying or destroying of the pencil. It sharpens fast and without any clogging problems. The point, however, is not as fine as it could be. It gets the job done and definitely counts as a sharpened pencil, but I generally prefer the finest of pencil tips for my work. These are simply sufficient for me.

Overall it’s a pencil sharpener, what do you expect nowadays? The build quality is nice if misguided, and the sharpening is good but lackluster. It’s sadly one of the better sharpeners on the market, beating the X-ACTO sharpeners you see in schools and offices. It doesn’t come close to a good Boston sharpener though and if you really want to get some sharpening done that’s what I’d recommend. This is only for people who just want a decent sharpener.

Review – Faber Castell 24 Colour Pencils

Colored pencils have been around for a long time. And now most of them are very cheap and often associated with kids or school. However, if one does want to look into the more expensive world of colored pencils there are plenty to choose from. Let’s take a look at the Faber-Castell box of 24 Colour pencils.

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The pencils come in a nice, if easily dent-able metal case. Inside the case the pencils are stored in a row on a plastic tray. The pencils themselves are thicker than most pencils and nicely circular. They will sharpen in standard pencil sharpeners but be wary of the lead. On the side is a hard-to-read but nice logo and color information section. They are not slick and have a very matte finish that holds well in the hand. The color of this finish matches the color of the lead fairly well if not exactly.

The lead itself is hard and brittle. The colors are not nearly as vibrant as those of Crayola or other such colored pencils, giving them a much more realistic tone. The full range of colors is wonderful, with some very subtly different colors and some nice earth tones. The lead comes off well on paper and is quite opaque as most colored pencils are; they do not want to bleed or mix which is another reason why the full compliment of colors is nice. When drawing, it is best to watch how hard you push, as too hard can easily break the lead and not enough will lead to unsatisfactory coverage.

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These colors are a huge upgrade from the standard “map colors” and such. Though they may be a bit pricy, they are great drawing implements. They seem to carry a certain prestige that transfers onto the paper (or other mediums). If you are will to spend the money I would certainly recommend these pencils. They are quite superb

Review – Moleskine Pocket Notebook Blank

As I may or may not have mentioned here before, I take a small pocket book everywhere I go. The brands and styles vary, but the idea for me really doesn’t. I generally don’t use lines, and I prefer hard backs because they are harder to damage etc. And one brand has quite a large hold on the market for such books, whether they are journals or pocketbooks. So today we’ll be seeing if the Moleskine notebooks are really as good as they’re cracked up to be.

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The one I’m looking at is a Moleskine blank pocket notebook in the classic black. It’s a standard notebook size in terms of width and height. It’s a little thinner than most due to the extremely thin paper inside. The binding is nice and solid. The cover is sturdy and wear resistant, though it can only take so much before the faux-leather starts to wear. The spine holds up, it doesn’t really break, it lies flat and rarely creases at the joints. There is also an elastic band attached to the back that wraps around and nicely seals the book together, but it does warp the cover eventually.

The pages are thin as previously noted. They are super smooth but not slick, making writing easy and stifling bleeding over the page or hand slipping. However their thinness and readiness to take ink causes easy bleed through, especially with a fountain pen or similar device. Most colored pens also bleed through so I would recommend pencils or ballpoint pens unless you only want to use every other page.

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There is a pocket in the back for keeping notes, it’s great but nothing terribly special or amazing. It holds what it needs to hold and doesn’t increase the thickness of the book too much.

So are Moleskines all they’re cracked up to be? No, not really. The binding is superb but the page quality is mediocre. All of the little things that were once innovations of the Moleskine are now present in other notebooks and possibly done better. It is really nothing special, but it is much better than the cheaper look-alikes. I continue to use Moleskines because I like the sturdy binding and I like the consistency within my notebooks. If you want the best you should look elsewhere, but if you want a nice, durable, consistent notebook, try Moleskine.

Review – Limn Quarter Size Notebooks

Well, Limn books have come out with a new products, let’s look at one of the new quarter-size pocket books. (Disclaimer – these books are made by my brother, although that doesn’t affect my judgement at all.)

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The cover is made of a light blue card stock. It’s tough and can take a beating. Inside are twenty-two thin paper sheets. Despite being thin, they too are tough. They are slick and resist ink. It takes it a moment for the ink to dry, but they rarely bleed through and only when one keeps applying ink to the same location over and over. Their slickness makes them wonderful to write on and they have just enough grit to be alright for sketching as well.

The book is bound by a nice hand-sewn single signature, and the spine is covered with a high quality binding strip like all the other Limn books. The binding is flexible and durable and can really take a beating. You could even tear a page out and it wouldn’t harm it too much (though I wouldn’t recommend that.)

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They’re about as tall as most pocket books, but a little wider. They do require a hard surface to write on. They fit well in larger pockets, and handbags, backpacks and such.

These books are great for taking everywhere to take notes on, write down ideas, or write lists on. They are just like the regular limn books only smaller. They have the same nice feel and are still incredibly sturdy. They do lend themselves more to writing than to drawing though, but is still an all around, versatile book.

Review – Toison D’or 1900 Pencil

This is another pencil review. So I’m gonna skip all the introduction and get right into talking about the Toison D’or 1900 2B pencil.

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It’s a nice pencil, about the size of a regular No.2 pencil. It’s black with gold, easy to read lettering. It has the mildly uncomfortable hexagonal body but with rounded corners.  The end is also rounded, making it a bit slippery. It sharpens well and is high-quality wood. It writes like a regular 2B but slips in the hand sometimes.

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It’s just a pencil. The only really deciding factor here is the black color and whether or not you mind a mildly slippery pencil. It is a remarkably average pencil in every other way.