Saturday, August 07, 2010

It's the most dangerous time of the year

I'm an office supply junkie, totally, and it seems like you can't go *anywhere* these days without encountering large bins of such things at discount prices. Even the grocery store isn't safe: they've got piles o' paper and pencils even in the frozen foods aisles.

Thus far I've managed to restrict my purchases to a small stack of Wal-mart composition books (currently a quarter apiece) and a package of USA Gold wood-case pencils (last of the Made in the USA wood pencils, so far as I know!), for a grand total of about three fifty. But I somehow found myself at Staples today, wandering around with some fancy(ish) Pentel mechanical pencils in an 0.9 width, which I don't currently own, plus a packet of leads, and a couple Black Pearl erasers. I don't need them. I put them back. But it was a struggle.

I've kind of been in a graphite mood, if the above paragraph didn't convey that strongly enough. Some time back, Speculator of La Vie Graphite sent me a very generous sampler of all sorts of pencils, mostly wood-case. I played with them for a bit, and then they got shuffled aside during my move earlier this year. But in the last few weeks, they're all I've been using for journaling, and even for notes at work. The joy of pencils is a little more subtle than fancy pens, I suppose, which makes them all the more appealing. I'm really enjoying cycling through them over and over, noting the slight differences in feel (some are smoother, some have more "grit", which isn't necessarily a bad thing) and even within the same grade, some are darker or lighter than others. Some have that wonderful cedar aroma, some have cool colored wood. (Rhodia!) My current favorites are a few basic Pentel mechanical pencils (hence the near miss at Staples), Helix Oxfords, and yes, the cheap USA Golds, despite the fact that they're a little thinner than what I'm used to and do have a certain amount of that grit I just mentioned.

So...on that note, here's my first ever pencil cast, about--what else?--pencils, of course. I cheated: this is just a recent entry from my journal, scanned in (rather poorly, I might add). Yes, I yammer on about this stuff even to myself.





speculator said...

How wonderful, LFP !!

And, yes, those Helix Oxfords are perfectly velvety. General's pencils are U.S. made (and I think I sent you some), as well as the California Republic pencils. Have you been able to use the Clairefontaine notebooks?

Your handwriting really lends well to graphite writing, too. Way to go!

Little Flower Petals said...

General's pencils are U.S. made (and I think I sent you some), as well as the California Republic pencils.

Of course you're right. I should have thought of those! And yes, you did send some. I guess a more accurate statement regarding the USA Gold pencils is that they are the only "Made in the USA" pencils reliably available at the big box stores (Target and Wal-mart both carry them).

I have used the Clairefontaine notebooks! I did lose a few pages out of the smaller one: when my sister was here, she asked if she could have one of my blank notebooks for keeping track of some things, and I told her she could take whichever she wanted. And of course instead of the Wal-mart specials, she went for the Clairefontaine. Not that she understood what they are--she just thought it was pretty. It is! It got left behind when she left, though, and she'd only used a few pages, so it's all mine again. I will not gloat I will not gloat I will not gloat.

speculator said...

Gloating? Who's gloating? Nah!

All right, LFP, try one of these out:

A great American invention! Well worthwhile. Roger is a great guy, and his web site has a lot of depth.

Joe V said...

Hey! That Scripto mechanical pencil, in Speculator's supplied link, I recognize from my childhood, in the late 1960s. My grandmother used those plastic translucent-barreled ones, usually the blue/green color, on the Sunday crossword puzzle.

I'd thought about those once in a while, but didn't know the brand. Thanks for bringing back memories.


Duffy Moon said...

Wait, my old stand-by Dixon Ticonderoga's aren't US-made?! That's an outrage!

Little Flower Petals said...

My sister cracks me up. She doesn't know one way or another about fancy pens and paper and other such things, but in addition to selecting the Clairefontaine notebook, when she was scrounging around for a pencil to use for sudoku, out of a whole case full of all sorts of pencils woodcase and mechanical she ended up settling on the Helix Oxford. Her instincts are good, I guess!

Duffy, that's correct: they've just recently moved to overseas production. End of an era indeed! But I actually like the USA Golds better, though they don't have the history of the Ticonderogas.

I seem to recall at least *seeing* a yellow Scripto like the ones lower on the page Speculator linked to. We didn't have many mechanical pencils growing up. I don't know if it was a cost thing or that Mom didn't trust 'em. The only ones I truly recall are some flimsy Bics, late on--black with colored eraser ends--and the ones I really miss: chunky blue or red Zaner Bloser handwriting pencils with thickish leads and shaped grips. Anyone remember those? I loved mine. I have journal entries from way back then that are mostly me talking about that pencil. I haven't changed much, I suppose....

speculator said...

A Scripto is well worth the purchase. That rugged 1.1mm graphite would take some superhuman pressure to snap. They were very well-made, like so many US-made things.
As you can guess, I use these regularly, and have a blue refill in one of them for editing purposes.

Mike Speegle said...

Wait, my old stand-by Dixon Ticonderoga's aren't US-made?! That's an outrage! I too was spittin' mad when I found this out. Like the regal Chuck Taylor All-Star, these majestic pencils have suffered the miserable fate of outsourcing.

LFP, I must say that I shudder at the mere mention of those particle-pencils of yore. I despised them then and I abhor hem now. On the other hand, I too received a bounty of pencils from Spec, and have been enjoying them sporadically ever since.

Also, I couldn't agree more that a little grit is sometimes nice.