Dixon Ticonderoga Antimicrobial Pencils

Dixon Ticonderoga Antimicrobial Pencil

On a recent trip to a department store, I found an unusual pencil offering – “Ticonderoga Antimicrobial Pencils with Microban antimicrobial product protection.” The package additionally says “Microban protection inhibits the growth of odor and stain causing bacteria.”

The colour is hard for me to describe, but a hospital influenced muted grey seems roughly correct. It is certainly a pencil colour I’ve never seen before. Not too appealing, I would say.

The pencils are simply marked “Dixon Ticonderoga 2 HB”. The package reveals that the pencils are made in Mexico.

A quick search reveals that Microban is a chemical treatment that will prohibit microbial growth. The health and safety benefits of antimicrobial products have been regularly questioned, and I note that Dixon was quite restrained in claiming any safety benefits on the package. Still, I think there is an unambiguous implicit message in such products: keep safe from those nasty germs!

I’m usually happy to find a new pencil, but learning of this product doesn’t produce any sort of joy for me.

Will this be a popular back-to-school pencil with worried parents? Do you welcome the antimicrobial Ticonderoga? Would you buy it yourself?

Replacement Pencil Sharpener Blades

Replacement Pencil Sharpener Blades

Pencil sharpeners are an essential pencil accessory. They keep the pencil pointed and usable. Yet they are frequently a frustration to use, splintering, chopping, and breaking pencils. Sometimes this is the fault of a cheap pencil. And sometimes it is the fault of the sharpener.

The weak aspect of most portable sharpeners is the blade. The blade may be made very cheaply and be just barely usable a few times, or even if better quality, have become dulled over time. Rust and oxidation may also have had a role.

Yet, in years of frequenting art and office supply stores, I have never seen a replacement blade for sale. Art supply store staff tend to agree that this would be a good idea, but they have no place to order them.

What this means is that portable sharpeners are being sold as de facto disposable items – even fairly expensive ones with glass and metal housings.

I suspect that even a single sharpening dulls many blades, and that the working lifespan of a typical handheld sharpener blade in tip-top condition may be less than that of a single pencil. So there are a lot of blunt sharpeners out there in the world.

Laurentien, a colouring pencil brand that will be known to Canadians (now part of Sanford), states here:

We no longer recommend hand-held sharpeners for any of our colouring pencil lines. These sharpeners usually dull quickly and will chip at the wood instead of shaving the wood.

In the photo are some replacement blades (the KUM Standard 530S) that I ordered from the highly efficient Cult Pens in the U.K. Yikes – replacement blades from overseas. It is a shame that I couldn’t buy them locally. But I ordered them as part of a larger shipment, and now wish I had ordered more. It was the only realistic way I could see to keep some favorite sharpeners, like a DUX inkwell, usable over time.

Now some sharpeners truly are disposable – with no ability to replace the blade – but many are attached with a tiny screw, and will take this replacement blade.

Why aren’t replacement blades commonly available?

Viarco ArtGraf

Viarco ArtGraf

ArtGraf is a tablet of watersoluble graphite in a tin.

While there are a few watersoluble graphite pencils and crayons on the market, this is the first larger format offering aimed at brush users that I’m aware of.

Viarco ArtGraf

Viarco, a small Portuguese pencil company that we’ve mentioned once before, introduced ArtGraf last year.

Viarco ArtGraf

The product extends watersoluble graphite possibilities, and truly allows painting in graphite. A wet brush is applied to the tablet. Varying the brush wetness and tablet contact result in varying graphite densities.

Viarco ArtGraf

I truly think this is a great product.

Further reading:

Reuters article on ArtGraf

Official product page (in Portuguese)

Faber-Castell Perfection 7056 eraser pencil

Faber-Castell Perfection 7056 eraser pencil

Wow, perfection! Or, maybe not…

The Perfection 7056 is a woodcase pencil format eraser from Faber-Castell.

Unusual looking by pencil standards, it is a very lightly hued/pale (almost ash) woodcase pencil with a light pink eraser core. It walks and talks like a pencil – but acts like an eraser.

Faber-Castell Perfection 7056 eraser pencil

The format provides convenience and a familiar grip – if you can hold a pencil, you can hold this eraser. It also provides an always “clean” eraser surface for those who prefer or require this – just sharpen, and the eraser is like new.

As to the eraser itself – I am a bit confused. The photo shows marks from a Staedtler Ergosoft in HB on a Rhodia pad. The right side was erased by the Perfection, and for comparison, the left side was erased by a Staedler mars plastic eraser.

Faber-Castell Perfection 7056 eraser pencil

Faber-Castell Perfection 7056 eraser pencil

What a difference. The Perfection has several pluses, but as an eraser, it seems quite sub-standard compared to typical format quality rectangular erasers. One note: it did seem very gentle on paper – perhaps the forte is in a specialty area.

Do you use this eraser? What do you use it for?