Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN

Is That a Pencil in Your Pocket?

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There’s been a lot of attention paid in the media to the pushback against digital tablets in favor of, well, tablets.  It seems that more and more folks are discovering (or rediscovering) the appeal of making marks on paper.  And while you hear a lot about all the different kinds of notebooks out there, the tools that are doing the actual writing and drawing are sometimes less recognized.  What better way to “fix” that (pun intended and explained below) than to cast a discerning and appreciative eye on our old friend, the humble pencil?

IMG_6447For many people, a pencil has a wooden, yellow barrel with a pink eraser on top.  That describes Dixon’s Ticonderoga, amongst others, and we’ve got ‘em at Wet Paint.  We’ve also got lots of pencils specifically made for drawing.  Artist-grade pencils are like the fancy cousins of the “yellow pencil”…they’re related, in that they have lead encased in a wooden barrel.  The big difference is the very high quality lead they contain and the fact that this lead comes in a bunch of different hardnesses (see the guide below), allowing the artist to make a range of marks from smudgy dark to scratchy light.  Caran d’Ache produces a remarkable artists’ graphite pencil called Grafwood – 15 hardnesses of the nicest graphite you’ve ever used.  Czech company Koh-I-Noor is credited with the creation of the graphite pencil we know today…Wet Paint stocks their Toison D’or line of artists’ pencils.  We also carry high quality pencils from German Faber Castell, Austrian Cretacolor and English Derwent.

Koh-I-Noor-Pencil-Point-of-Purchase-Sign

Sometimes a pencil is that thing that clicks when you push down on the eraser and lead comes out.  Those are known as mechanical pencils and we’ve got tons of those, too.  Modern mechanical pencils are available in four standard lead sizes – .3mm, .5mm, .7mm and .9mm – and a variety of lead hardnesses (though not as many as artists’ pencils).  Pentel’s new Orenz actually comes in a teeny tiny .2mm, but it’s the exception!  One of our favorite new mechanical pencils is the OHTO SHARP .5mm wooden mechanical pencil.  It looks like a small, regular pencil, but it clicks!  Available in three appealing colors…I think everybody on staff owns at least one of them!

IMG_6448

The architects and engineers reading this may have their hands in the air at this point, because there are also mechanical style pencils that hold larger lead sizes than the four I mentioned above.  Lead holders, as these are called, accept lead sizes from 2mm to 5.6mm.  This heartier lead is perfect for the demands placed on it by makers…of buildings and art.  One of our most popular lead holders is the Fixpencil (remember my pun?) from Caran d’Ache.  Available in several lead sizes, color accents, and surfaces, the Fixpencil combines workman-like durability with sleek Swiss design…they are very handsome tools.

Back to the basic yellow pencil.  Some of our favorite writing tools are essentially “regular” pencils, just more stylish.  The Blackwing pencil, for instance, only comes in a few different hardnesses, but in a multitude of limited edition finishes and colored barrels.  The unique square ferrules and replaceable erasers make them stand out from the crowd.  Speaking of standing out, my favorite #2 pencils of all time have to be the Viarco Vintage series pencils.  Both pencils and packaging are faithful reproductions of Viarco products from the 1940s to the 1970s. These boxes are so authentic, a slip of paper had to be added to accommodate a bar code! These six unique 12-pencil boxes are designed in Portugal using long-established production methods, and the quality you’ve come to expect from Viarco.  They are almost too fantastic to use.

Oh, and we’ve got notebooks, too….

Author: DarinRinne

After working at Wet Paint for over 25 years, Darin assumed the role of co-owner in 2017. He looks forward to continuing the commitment to service and support of the community that has defined Wet Paint since 1976.

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