Monthly Archives: October 2016


Pencil Pot Of The Month – October 2016

Welcome to the second year of the Pencil Pot of the Month series – last month’s high-tech pencil pot completed the first twelve pencil pots.

ToBE Story Cat with three feet pencil pot

Description: A laser cut pencil pot for self assembly.

Price: I’m not sure whether it was being sold commercially – if it was sold, then probably only in South Korea. I got it from Arnie Kim of Banditapple fame and Eun Suk Bang, the designer behind ToBe Story.

Material: Wood

unassembled

unassembled

Further information: The laser cut pencil pot is from ToBe Story. It doesn’t come with instructions, but assembly is very intuitive. The latch (probably the wrong word) at the top of each wall is always higher on one side than on the other, so putting the four walls of the pot together is straight forward. One rubber band fits between the high and low latch at the top of the pencil pot. The other rubber band fits in the notches at the bottom of the pencil pot, holding it together neatly. There is also a divider you can insert diagonally, to create two different chambers in the pencil pot.

The cat with three feet design is from Eun Suk Bang’s German friend Fayssal Loussaief.

ToBE Story Cat with three feet pencil pot


You can see all Pencil Pots of the Month by checking the PPOTM category.


More Staedtler at Insights X 2016 9

As mentioned in the previous blog post about the updated Mars technico 780C I want to show a few of the other new Staedtler products. This is the second of two blog posts about Staedtler at Insights X 2016.

Metal sharpeners

The well-known metal sharpeners 510 10 and 510 20 (double hole) are now also available in a range of metallic colours. You can read about the golden anniversary edition in this blog post and about the change to the Wopex friendly version in this blog post.

Some of the new metallic colours

Some of the new metallic colours

I think these sharpeners should be available any day now. I am not sure about the price but assume it won’t be very different to the existing 510 sharpeners.

 

Mess free pencil case sharpeners

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Zipped pencil cases, like the leather one shown here or the very affordable one shown here, are very common in continental Europe. The problem though is that the sharpeners that fit in these cases tend to make a mess as they don’t have a container.

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You obviously don’t sharpen over your pencil case, but a bit of graphite will still stick to the sharpener and ‘pollute’ the pencil case over time.

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The new plastic sharpeners aim at solving this problem by also closing the holes of the sharpeners while trying to keep the size to a minimum so that it still fits into these pencil cases.

...in my Eberhard Faber pencil case

…in my Eberhard Faber pencil case

This new sharpener, 512 60C, should be available from January 2017 for €1.80 (~$1.95; £1.60).

 

‘Geometric compasses’

I previously mentioned there is also new set of compasses that

  • convey the idea of geometry through basic geometric forms and that
  • convey the idea of colour through a special paint.

Well, unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of these compasses when I was at the Staedtler stand. Sorry.

 

Rulers and set squares for right and left handed use

I was only able to take a photo of the 30cm rulers for right and left handed use, article number 562 300 PB, but there is also a set of two 15cm rulers and a geometry set (set square, ..) for right and left handed use. The rulers will sell for €1 (~$1.10; 90p), the geometry set for €2 (~$2.20; £1.80).

Ruler 562 300 PB

Ruler 562 300 PB

The Noris eco in 2H, H, HB, B and 2B

Well, of course, I saved the best till last. We’re finally getting some pencils made from Wopex material in different grades!

You might remember that, despite being a fan of the Wopex, for example, because it doesn’t exhibit graphite transfer issues like other pencils, I was quite disappointed with the previous 2B and 2H Wopex – just because there was virtually no difference between the different grades.

The Noris eco in five grades

The Noris eco in five grades

The good news is that the new version of the Noris eco, available in five grades, seems to have solved this issue. I believe that they are still working on improving the ‘lead recipe’ even further, but the new grades will be available early next year.


Staedtler at Insights X 2016 6

Welcome to the first of two articles about Staedtler at the Insights X 2016. This one is looking at one of the great minds working at Staedtler: Helmut Hufnagl.

Helmut Hufnagl

Helmut Hufnagl

Helmut Hufnagl loves to solve problems.

Wopex pencils have a different material, so sharpeners don’t work well with them?

No problem, Mr Hufnagl comes up with a Wopex optimised handheld sharpener as well as the crank sharpener 501 180.

Normal rulers are created for right-handed people, so left handed people might struggle with them?

No problem, Mr Hufnagl comes up with new rulers that are equally suited for right and left handed users.

Sharpeners make a mess in the pencil case?

No problem, Mr Hufnagl comes up with a sharpener that won’t leave bits of wood and graphite all over the pencil case anymore.

For 2017 he also came up with a new set of compasses that convey the idea of geometry through basic geometric forms and that convey the idea of colour through a special paint and a new set of metallic coloured sharpeners.

..but the best one is yet to come and it reminds me of a story I read many years ago about Adi Dassler, the boss of a German sports shoes and clothing manufacturer, who is also from the Nuremberg area. Not only did he equip Jesse Owens who went on to win four gold medals, he once watched the Olympic Games on his telly from his home in Bavaria and noticed that one of the athletes at the Olympic Games in Montreal 1976 was running unevenly. He advised over the phone how to adjust the shoes and Alberto Juantorena, the athlete we saw on telly, went on to win two medals.

Well, Mr Hufnagl’s story is quite similar. He spotted a problem in another part of the world when he was reading an article in Wall Street Journal about his favourite designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, the man who designed the original VW Golf, the DeLorean (Back to the Future), the Lotus Esprit (James Bond – The Spy Who Loved me) and many many more.

In the article in WSJ Mr Giugiaro wrote:

I can’t live without my blue Staedtler pencils. I use the pencils with the hardest lead when I have to draw the most precise contours, and softer leads for drawing shadows or for 3-D effects. When I draw one-to-one scale figurines, I prefer charcoal pencils and chalks.

Mr Giugiaro's lead holder

Mr Giugiaro’s lead holder (Image © Wall Street Journal)

The article also features a photo of Mr Giugiaro’s Staedtler ‘pencil’ – it has a beige mark, presumably to indicate which type of lead is in the lead holder. This is where Mr Hufnagl realised that it is easy to help Mr Giugiaro and others by introducing a lead hardness indicator. This was the birth of a classic with a new twist, the Mars technico 780C with a lead hardness indicator that can bet set to 4H, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B, 4B, red and blue by twisting the clip. I find it amazing how a simple idea can improve a tool that has been around for decades. The special black edition of this lead holder, pictured here, is being released at the same time as the traditional blue version gets the lead grade indicator update.

Staedtler Mars technico

Staedtler Mars technico

The new lead hardness or lead grade indicator is probably especially useful if you don’t use Staedtler leads. If you buy the original leads each different grade is supplied with a different colour replacement push button (they are however only push buttons, the lead holder comes with a more useful push button that doubles as a pointer/sharpener). This is not being mentioned on the Staedtler web site, but you can find this information in the comments on Dave’s Mechanical Pencils, on the Cult Pens web site or in Pen Paper Pencil’s review of the lead holder.

Staedtler Mars technico

Staedtler Mars technico

Mr Hufnagl is changing his role within Staedtler, he stopped working as a Product Manager in the area of sharpeners and technical drawing and has started his new role as Head of Trade Marketing. I hope he will still have an opportunity to develop new products in his new role.

Staedtler Mars technico

Staedtler Mars technico


Google also lists a patent with his name on.

I believe that showing the image from the Wall Street Journal in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


SiVO / Hindustan Pencils at Insights X 2016 6

I first mentioned Nataraj pencils in 2009 in my blog post about another Indian pencil, the Reynolds. Well, as mentioned recently Hindustan Pencils, the company behind the Nataraj and other pencils, was at the Insights X so I had a chance to look at their stand.

Vikrant R. Pathak, Hindustan Pencils' International Business Manager

Vikrant R. Pathak, Hindustan Pencils’ International Business Manager

Hindustan Pencils’ International Business Manager told me that they are trying to enter the European market and are currently looking for a distributor. In Europe they are not using Nataraj and Apsara, well established brand names in India. Instead they are using SiVO as their main brand name in Europe.

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A lot of the pencils at their stand were colour pencils, but luckily there were some graphite pencils, too. Some had patterns printed on them and looked like they were clearly aimed at teenagers and school children.

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Others looked like very affordable pencils (the ‘yelo’, shown on the right in the photo below – open in a new tab for a high res version of the image) or pencils that try to distinguish themselves with their looks (fluorescent or metallic body).
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Most interesting to me was the ‘absolute’, available in a hexagonal and a triangular shape. It’s box is labelled ‘premium black lead pencil’, so I assume this is their best pencil. Its plain look makes me think it is supposed to compete with high quality pencils like the Mars Lumograph and the Castell 9000.
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If there is any interest I’ll be happily having a closer look at the sample I brought home.


Interlead 3

Just a quick Interlude (or should that be Interlead) before I continue with the blog posts about the Insights X 2016.

The first edition of the James Bond novel “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” from 1963 features a hand sharpened Mars Lumograph.

( Image from www.raptisrarebooks.com )

(Image from www.raptisrarebooks.com)

For comparison: here’s a similarly sharpened Mars Lumograph.

Hand sharpened Mars Lumograph

Hand sharpened Mars Lumograph


The photo of the James Bond book has been taken from the article about James Bond First Editions from Raptis Rare Books. I believe that showing the picture of the book in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.