Caran d’Ache


The Rolls Royce of Pencil Sharpeners 4

I first heard about the ELM V-71 a few years ago. The person who told me about it has more knowledge about sharpeners than anyone else I know ..and he called the V-71 the Rolls Royce of sharpeners.

ELM V71 (Image from 东莞八束易之美五金塑胶制品有限公司)

It’s an electric burr/cylindrical sharpener. Not exactly a very cheap one either – if you want to get one in Europe it will set you back around $150, but you’d probably have to import it yourself as I haven’t seen it for sale in the West. If you are trying to get one: most pages where I’ve seen it being offered are from Singapore.

ELM V5 (Image from 东莞八束易之美五金塑胶制品有限公司)

ELM (Dongguan Yatsuka Yizhimei Metal & Plastic Co.) also offers cheaper, battery operated burr/cylindrical sharpeners – a very different class to the normal battery operated sharpeners you can get, but also more expensive. The ELM V-3 and the ELM V-5 are about $30 each. Maybe we’re lucky and one day someone will import them. I am very tempted to order one, but haven’t done so yet. Maybe writing this blog post can convince me to press the Buy button after all. I think it will.

In the West you might have come across products from this manufacturer under the ACCO brand (one of their electric staplers).

Why do I write about this?

It looks as if it will soon be much easier to get your hands on the V71.

 

Caran d’Ache electric sharpener (Image © lexikaliker.de)

At the Paper World Gunther saw a new Caran d’Ache sharpener that will be available from September for €100. When I saw the pictures I first didn’t notice it, I hadn’t looked at the V71 for many months, but when I saw the ELM V71 again online I noticed that it seems to be the same sharpener. The inside might be different of course, better or worse, but there’s a good chance that this is the Rolls Royce of sharpeners after all.

Caran d’Ache electric sharpener (Image © lexikaliker.de)


I would like to thank Gunther from Lexikaliker for allowing me to use his pictures.

The pictures of the ELM sharpeners have been taken from websites linked to Dongguan Yatsuka Yizhimei Metal & Plastic Co. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


The sliding sleeve and the Pilot Color Eno 4

Comparison of force needed with different sliding sleeve pencils

Comparison of force needed for different sliding sleeve pencils

Recently I ordered a set of seven Pilot Color Eno mechanical pencils. One reason why I bought them was that I wanted to try them for a long time: Last year I asked Fudepens to put one for me aside, so that I can get it when they get the Orenz again, but somehow they didn’t get more Orenz pens and postage-wise it wasn’t worth ordering the Color Eno by itself.

SevenColorEnos

Another reason was that they were very cheap. On eBay I paid $19.99 (~£12.80; €18.20) for seven Color Eno pencils and seven packs of coloured leads – including free postage. I ordered them on 25 July and already got them on 31 July, despite them having had to travel around the globe from Hong Kong to the UK.

Sliding sleeve and coloured leads

The reason why I wanted to try the Color Eno for a long time is its sliding sleeve, more about these in one of my previous blog posts ((I thought I found out about the Color Eno on Lexikaliker’s blog, but couldn’t find it when I looked again. )). I sometimes use coloured pencil leads at work. One of my dedicated pencils for coloured leads was a Faber-Castell Grip Matic (the auto advancing kind). If you know how to use it it was fine, but every time a colleague would grab it to write with it they would break the soft coloured leads and generally clog the Grip Matic up. An easy to handle mechanical pencil for coloured leads did therefore sound like a really good idea.

The five different sliding sleeve pencils I have compared

The five different sliding sleeve pencils I have compared

First impressions Color Eno

My first impressions of the Color Eno are not so positive. It is a nice pencil in itself, with such a close similarity to the Super Grip1 (both from Pilot), but the feature I wanted it for, the sliding sleeve, doesn’t work for me. It does work for me when I use the Super Grip, though2. The sleeve doesn’t slide back when I write. It might work for others, especially if you hold your pen in a vertical or near vertical position. My first idea was that this is because or a combination of force needed to push the sleeve back and sleeve thickness. After comparing the Color Eno to other sliding sleeve pencils I think the thickness of the Color Eno‘s sleeve doesn’t really matter that much.

The Color Eno's sleeve doesn't glide back so after a while you write on the sleeve. Not so with the Orenz.

The Color Eno’s sleeve doesn’t glide back so after a while you write on the sleeve. Not so with the Orenz.

 

A little warning regarding my chart: I have neither the training, nor experience, nor the equipment to take these measurements properly, so you better take these measurements with a pinch of salt, or even better with a whole lorryload full of salt.

Comparison of force needed for different sliding sleeve pencils

Comparison of force needed for different sliding sleeve pencils

The Pentel Orenz works with 0.2 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~0.6 mm. You need less than 1 cN to slide the sleeve. You might have read from Lexikaliker that the Orenz will be available in Germany from autumn 2015. The good news is that the Orenz will officially come to the UK, too. From January 2016 it will be available in 0.2 mm and 0.3 mm.

The Staedtler Microfix works with 0.5 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~1 mm. It is not being manufactured anymore. You need less than 5 cN to slide the sleeve.

The Pilot Super Grip works with 0.5 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~1 mm. You need less than 2 dN to slide the sleeve. My version was bought nearly 15 years ago, so I am not sure whether the current version needs the same force to slide the sleeve.

The Pilot Color Eno works with 0.7 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~1.1 mm. You need about 6 – 8 dN to slide the sleeve (different force needed on the different versions I have of this pencil).

The Caran d’Ache 844 works with 0.7 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~1.05 mm. You need about 1 N to slide the sleeve.


Price: July 2015

Exchange rates: August 2015

More about the Color Eno on Sola’s Blog.

 

  1. It didn’t realise this when I saw pictures of the Color Eno. I only noticed it now that I have it in my hands []
  2. The Super Grip must have been the first mechanical pencil I bought after I arrived in the UK in 2001. It has been available since the 1990s. The Super Grip Neon was released in 2014. []

The Snowman and The Snowdog 2

Pencils sorted by colour (© Rare Day)

Pencils sorted by colour (Image © Rare Day)

The Snowman

I know, Christmas is over, but the weather is still fairly wintery and it’s just starting to get warmer now, so you might forgive me if I wrote about snowmen. Since 1982 Channel 4 has been showing The Snowman every year for Christmas. It’s a 26-minute animation drawn using pencils.

A blue Prismacolor pencil at work (© Rare Day)

A blue Prismacolor pencil at work (Image © Rare Day)

I don’t think The Snowman is very well known outside the UK, but if you’re not on the British Isles you might know another animation from the author Raymond Briggs: When the Wind Blows.

Are these Caran d'Ache pencils? (© Rare Day)

Are these Caran d’Ache pencils? (Image © Rare Day)

According to the Cumberland Pencil Museum, where you can see a making of video, it has been drawn using Derwent Cumberland pencils.

A Mars Lumograph in the Lupus Films Studio (© Rare Day)

A Mars Lumograph in the Lupus Films Studio (Image © Rare Day)

The sequel

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the animation Channel 4 made a sequel: The Snowman and The Snowdog. When I first heard about the sequel I was sceptical and didn’t expect it to be hand drawn using pencils, but to my surprise it’s hand made using pencils. The sequel cost £2 million and according to a documentary about the making of the sequel 200 000 sheets of paper and 5000 pencils were used.

Prismacolor 20044 blue (© Rare Day)

Prismacolor 20044 blue (Image © Rare Day)

In a documentary, also shown on Channel 4, you can see all sorts of pencils being used in the studio in North London where the cells were hand drawn. I was surprised to see fairly few Derwent Cumberland pencils1. The pencils visible in the documentary don’t have to be representative of those used for the animation, but the pencils you get to see in the documentary are not from Derwent – they are mainly Prismacolor pencils. The 20044, an eraser-tipped blue pencil, seems to be particularly often used for outline animations2. I believe the reason blue is being used is because cameras or copiers will ignore this colour or shade of colour, so that sketch lines don’t need to be erased and the final black lines can just be drawn over the sketches3. You can also see some Caran d’Ache pencils, Staedtler’s Mars Lumograph and two mechanical pencils, which I think were both Pentels.

Some of the pencils in the home of Raymond Briggs (© Rare Day)

Some of the pencils in the home of Raymond Briggs (Image © Rare Day)

Some scenes were filmed in Raymond Briggs’ House where many Derwent Cumberland pencils were visible and where you can also see him using a Staedtler Mars Lumograph.

 

Composer Ilan Eshkeri is using a red and blue pencil during recording at Abbey Studios (© Rare Day)

Composer Ilan Eshkeri is using a red and blue pencil during recording at Abbey Studios (Image © Rare Day)


The images in this blog post have been taken from Rare Day‘s documentary How the Snowman Came Back to Life. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

The Snowman and The Snowdog (© Lupus Films, Rare Day)

The Snowman and The Snowdog (Image © Lupus Films, Rare Day)

  1. I would have thought that Derwent Cumberland would have an interest in sponsoring this movie – 5000 pencils wouldn’t have been a lot for them. []
  2. If that’s the right word. []
  3. I first read about this when I discovered Staedtler’s non-photo-blue pencils. []

E wie edelweiss 7

Today: a Swiss pencil, the Caran d’Ache edelweiss.

Caran d’Ache’s cheaper pens

The edelweiss ((Edelweiss is not only the English, but also the Swiss spelling of Edelweiß because the ß is not used in Switzerland.)) is, as far as I know, Caran d’Ache’s cheapest full-length pen1. Outside Switzerland the company is mainly known for their luxury writing instruments, but they also sell what I would call “office supply priced” stationery. I paid € 0.60 (~ $0.78; £0.48) each for the edelweiss pencils. Their other “office supply priced” stationery includes ballpoint pens which start at just under CHF 2 (~ $2.15; €1.65; £1.30).

 

Then and now

Caran d’Ache’s history goes back to 1915 when a pencil company was established that, nine years later, was bought by Arnold Schweitzer and became Caran d’Ache. The company name is linked to the Russian word for pencil – but I won’t go into more details: since you are reading pencil blogs you have probably heard this story before.

I tried to find out more about the history of the edelweiss pencil, but was unsuccessful as Caran d’Ache did not reply to my request for information. I do hope that it will be possible to find out more about the edelweiss and their other products in the future, as the company’s new boss Carole Hübscher is said to want to “communicate actively”, unlike her father who run the company before her and who only gave one interview in 30 years.

I hope Caran d’Ache will continue to make cheap stationery, but am not too optimistic about this in the long-term as their cheap products are, with a few exceptions, only available in Switzerland and even there it’s easy to find stationery shops that don’t stock Caran d’Ache pencils but those from other manufacturers. The future of Caran d’Ache and its 300 employees seems to be with high end writing instruments and boutiques like the one opened recently in Geneva.

 

The pencils

The edelweiss pencils are nice writers, but definitely less smooth than Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils of the same grade (F, HB, 3B). Ghosting/graphite transfer between pages is good, comparable to other European pencils, with the edelweiss HB maybe performing a little bit better than Mars Lumograph of the same grade, but the F and 3B edelweiss performing a bit worse than the Mars Lumographs of the same grade. Personally, I’m partial to F pencils as they tend to keep their point for a long time without their marks being too light on paper, so I like to use them for writing in situations when sharpening a pencil too often would be odd, or when I write in a book or diary2.

The paintwork and print are well done with only minor issues of chipped off paint near the unfinished cap. The current version has a black barcode printed on the pencil. The wood seems to be cedar and the pencils are easy to sharpen.

I couldn’t resist and had to put something stereotypical Swiss in the photo

 

Conclusion

The edelweiss provides very good value for money – if you can get your hands on this pencil that is rather rare outside Switzerland.

Sharpened with a Deli 0635. Pencils not rotated while writing…


I bought these pencils in November 2011 from Stilus BSA for € 0.60 each. The price has not changed since then (September 2012).

Price: November 2011/September 2012

Exchange rate: September 2012

 

You can find a review of the edelweiss at pencil talk and a blog post at Lung sketching Scrolls.

Brand name pencils has a photo of the old version of the edelweiss.

  1. The 1/2 length pencil 541.272 must be their cheapest pen. []
  2. When it comes to ghosting/graphite transfer the Wopex is even better than a grade F pencil. []

Graphite transfer and the Wopex 5

Today: another blog post about one of the items I have received from Office Hero, the Staedtler Wopex. You might remember my previous two blog posts about the Wopex, one was looking at the Wopex 2B and 2H and one was comparing different eco pencils. Office Hero sent me a pack of twelve Wopex as a free sample. Their normal price is £4.01 (~ $6.35; €4.60) plus VAT.

Why another blog post about the Wopex? The Wopex has one property I really like, even though there are actually also a few things wrong with the Wopex. Back to the characteristic I like, which is why I pick this pencil more and more often when making entries in my diary. The reason is simple and has been mentioned by Koralatov in a recent comment: there’s hardly any graphite transfer between different pages when writing on the reverse. I use my diary to keep track of appointments and to record things that need doing. Graphite from soft pencils will transfer easily after something has been written on the reverse or on the next page, which will in then look very unsightly. Even though you can get graphite from the Wopex to transfer to another page if you want to, as seen on the photos, this transfer is usually not happing under normal circumstance and is therefore not a problem.

Graphite comparison in a Castelli Academic Diary

 

I think the Wopex has great potential, but it also has a few flaws which I want to mention.

  • The “fibre Wopex material” is too hard, so I use dedicated sharpeners in my office and at home, just for the Wopex. The “fibre Wopex material” is also too hard for rotary blade sharpeners.
  • If you sharpen the Wopex to a very fine point the point will break easily.
  • Small bits of the “fibre Wopex material”, close to the lead, can crumble off when sharpening.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a difference between the Wopex 2B, HB and 2H.

There are quite a few other issues, but mentioning them all would distract from the main issue I want to address here: Wopex‘s great lead that is a very good choice for diaries.

Top-bottom: Mars Lumograph HB, F, Castell 9000 HB, 2B, Technograph B, Wopex HB, Mono HB, Ticonderoga HB

Let’s look at the results from my (unrepresentative) graphite transfer test, conducted by writing on one page, putting the next page on top and applying pressure to the reverse of the next page1. Harder and lighter leads do better than softer and darker leads – no surprise here. The best pencil in my comparison was the Staedtler Wopex HB, followed by the Caran d’Ache Technograph 777 B, which has previously been reviewed by penciltalk. The worst pencils in this test were the Tombow Mono 100 HB and the Amos Dixon Ticonderoga HB. This was obviously due to their softness which does however bring other advantages, e.g. better pressure/darkness ratio – I do however prefer a tidy diary and do tend to use the Tombow and Dixon only when smearing, smudging and graphite transfer don’t matter.

 


Price and exchange rates: October 2011.

I would like to thank

The comparison has been conducted in a Castelli Academic Diary my wife got from her employer. I use a no name  academic diary from my employer, which has very different paper. My initial impressions are that graphite-transer-wise good pencils behave better in my diary, but bad pencils behave worse.

  1. The effects can be stronger when applying pressure directly to the reverse of the page you wrote on. []