The humble pencil…

30 12 2013

Back in early November, I happened across a tweet from Viviane Schwarz mentioning Blackwing pencils. Being of an easily intrigued persuasion, I looked them up on a Popular Internet Search thingy, read all about them, and immediately thought “PHWOOOOOR!” which I realise may sound a little odd to those of you to whom a pencil is… just… well, a pencil.

Any pencil that – once discontinued – subsequently starts changing hands on a certain Popular Internet Auction Site for up to $40 must be good, right? That’s $40 for ONE PENCIL.

And then someone starts making them again, and artists all over the place swear by ’em – a pencil that’s given resounding praise by such brilliant illustrators as folk like Viviane… well, it has to be tried.

They’re still rather hard to get hold of in the UK though, with only a few select places stocking them. I put in an order, was contacted a few days later to be told they’d run out and were expecting more in after a few weeks, waited (im)patiently for three weeks, then was told they wouldn’t be in stock again until next year.

“Bugger,” thought I.

But… guess what? Santa found a boxfull! Or it might have been my other half…

And I can now give you my opinion of the elusive Blackwing:


It really does glide over your paper. It’s subtle and light, and at the same time it’s almost as black as India ink.

And it’s sexy. Look:


It has a perfectly shaped rubber in a little holder that you can pull out further as you use it:


And I get why they sell them by the boxload – it’s because they make you draw more. So you get through them rather quickly. It’s wonderful to be able to sketch lightly, colour in, then define lines without smudging, without changing from 3B to 6B to HB, without digging out an inkpen for those black outlines because normal pencils just give you grey and shiny… Look, here are some doodled cats – not a drop of ink in sight, no graphite smudgeyness, and look how black those outlines are!


And just to demonstrate now light they are too, here’s a roughly scribbled robo-cat:


They’re such a delight to use I couldn’t help doodling more cats:


And some unexpected birdies:


The only disadvantage I’ve found so far is this:


Yep, they’re slightly too long to fit in my pencil case.

But that’s only going to be an issue for the first inch or so, and I think I can live with that.