Pictured above are two pencil extenders (and a new pencil for comparison). They are devices that give a second career to pencils that might otherwise be approaching retirement. Pencils can last quite a while, so the ones that have been used until they turn into stubs are probably the really good ones – the ones we most often choose for our writing or drawing tasks. These extenders can allow a pencil to be used even when many sharpenings have made that pencil no longer comfortable or practical to be held in one’s hand.
Above are a No. 1098 N Koh-I-Noor, and a Cretacolor extender, with a new Cretacolor pencil for comparison.
I found them both at art stores. They are quite comfortable and simple to use. The pencil stub is placed in the opening, and a clamping ring moved to secure the pencil. With certain pencils being hard to replace or expensive (e.g. artist’s pencil crayons), one or two of these extenders could certainly be a good investment.
The Lamy ABC is a pen and pencil set aimed at children, though adults will have no difficulty enjoying these nicely made products.
The fountain pen is essentially a Lamy Vista in a pleasing wood and red plastic case. It takes Lamy cartridges or a converter. My version has a medium nib. It’s a tremendous value as fountain pens go – a great writer, smooth and highly reliable. The cap doesn’t post, which could be an issue for some, and has a space for a sticker with one’s name. It is really lightweight, even compared with a Vista, so it’s no trouble to transport around town.
Matching the pen is a mechanical pencil with a 3.15 mm lead. Unlike most clutch leadholders, which require pressing a button or cap and sliding the lead, this pencil has a really nice twist mechanism. Even Lamy’s more sophisticated looking (and expensive) Scribble 3.15 mm pencil doesn’t have this mechanism. There is also an included lead sharpener, which I love as it works with other 3.15 mm pencils, and is a pretty unusual sharpener.
The pencil is comfortable and writes very nicely. The lead is solid and doesn’t break. Though they ship with an HB lead by default, the pencils also take other hardnesses as well as colour leads from art supply stores.
It’s a mechanical pencil that offers great quality, as well as nice (though not traditional) styling.
A problem I have with many mechanical pencils is the scrawny lead. At five or seven tenths of a millimetre in diameter, many of these leads are prone to breaking. And when they break, they can go flying. This type of lead doesn’t allow much in the way of line variation either. As well, some of us like a more substantial feel than is typical of most mechanical pencils.
In 1999, Faber Castell addressed all of these issues with the E-Motion series, which was initially released as a wood and chrome finish pencil with a twist mechanism, as well as a ballpoint pen. The line has since been expanded with other finishes and a fountain pen.
This pencil is substantially different from others in having a 1.4 mm diameter. That’s right – a substantially larger lead than the norm. The mechanics are also innovative – the lead is advanced by a twisting cap, rather than the typical button push of mechanical pencils. This mechanism is great for both advancing and retreating the lead from the pencil in a finely controlled manner. And not untypical of Faber Castell’s great design, this method matches that of their ballpoint pen, which also extends the pen point by twisting the cap.
The cap is removable, and reveals a white plastic eraser (replaceable) when lifted. The foot of the pencil also has an innovation – two slots for extra leads.
The leads themselves are excellent – the claim of no breakage has been true in my experience. They come in a pleasing choice of B hardness, and draw solid smooth lines. With a 1.4 mm diameter, they also allow different types of line widths to be drawn by holding the pencil at different angles. They’re not wide enough to warrant a sharpener, but much more capable than their .5 and .7 mm mechanical pencil cousins.
The first offering had three wood finishes with matte chrome. This was followed by plastic solid colour finishes, maple and plastic, plastic animal print patterns, and many more. I have wood and rubberized variants, and they appear to be identical save the exterior.
The photo above includes an “Ars Antigua Writing Bloc”, a rather nice notepad.