As pencil ladies, we spend a lot of time using different pencils. At work, I'll use whatever is lying around the pencil desk or packing table, and at home I get distracted by the newest pencil in my collection, or stick to old favorites. But sometimes it takes longer than a grocery list to really get to know a pencil. So for the past week, Caroline, Caitlin, and I each picked a pencil we didn't know very well, and swore to use only that pencil for the whole week (thanks to Jenny at The Finer Point for the inspiration!). Here are the results.
Caroline: Viarco Desenho H
Caroline is well-known around the pencil office for preferring softer pencils, so she decided to go with a harder pencil for this experiment.
The Pencil: "I'm this pencil's biggest fan after using it for a week! It sharpens really well. I had no issues with splintering or with poor centering. For an H, it is surprisingly dark and is completely smudgeless! It'll be my new go-to recommendation for lefties. My favorite thing about the Desenho H is the faint noise it makes when writing with it--it's not necessarily scratchy, but just sounds like a pencil should."
The Challenge: "I actually really enjoyed writing with only one pencil for a week. It forced me to get to know it intimately and to keep track of it (I'm a chronic loser of things). I finished approximately 1 1/6th pencil and feel pretty accomplished about it."
Caitlin: Nataraj Marble HB
Here's a bit of Pencil Lady trivia: The Nataraj Marble was the first pencil Caitlin ever bought from her future place of employ. However, she never got around to using it.
The Pencil: Here's how she described it: The wood sharpens very well, but the graphite is a bit more fragile than other pencils I've worked with. That being said, it does stand up to a Masterpiece very well. The pencil is a lot smoother than I expected, with very little grittiness in the graphite. I found I really, really enjoyed writing with it! When freshly sharpened, the precision of the line it creates is very nice. Even when dull, I found that I could still write very neatly with it, but I did find that I wanted to sharpen it often so the point retention is not quiiiiiite where I normally like it to be. Bonus: it erases incredibly well!"
Verdict: five out of five stars, would buy again.
The Challenge: "I found it not terribly difficult or eye-opening to use just one pencil for a week, since I'm currently in the habit of working through a whole pencil before I started a new one. I did, however, find the challenge of using ONLY the pencil (and no pens) really focused my consideration of the pencil, and therefore made me that much more happy that it was a really great pencil to write with."
Alyx: General's Goddess
For some reason, I've never been that attracted to the classic, American, yellow pencils. Give me a highly-lacquered, artist-grade Japanese pencil, any day (the MONO100 F is, as I'm sure I've gushed to many of you in the shop, my all-time favorite pencil). So for this challenge, I picked this yellow round pencil.
The Pencil: I liked this pencil a lot more than I thought I would. It lays down a nice, crisp line with a little bit of friction, a quality that I actually quite like--it makes me feel like I'm really accomplishing something while I write. The Goddess writes darker than I was anticipating, but it doesn't have terribly great point retention. Right after sharpening, it writes very well, but after about a sentence-worth of writing, you can feel the point disappearing. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Goddess was the quality of the eraser. I was prepared for a hard, smeary eraser, but was pleasantly surprised.
The Challenge: Unlike Caroline, I did manage to lose my pencil halfway through the week. It leapt from the inside cover of my book (it was even CLIPPED) somewhere between my subway station and my apartment. I found it kind of difficult to use just this pencil all week; normally I use a wide variety of instruments, including gel pens, fountain pens, and colored pencils. The challenge did make me really evaluate the pros and cons of this pencil though, and I don't think I'd have such a favorable impression of the Goddess unless I'd spent so much quality time with it.