Story Supply Co.: the TOMS of the stationery world

Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Erasable community? Well, a lot, I’m sure. But this is something special. One of our group members, Vito Grippi, recently launched a (successful!) Kickstarter campaign for his new company, Story Supply Co.

In a nutshell, they source and give away “story supply kits,” for kids to learn the art of creative writing, storytelling and journaling. They’re partnering with 826, a series of fantastic arts nonprofits that help kids with many of the same goals.

Here’s the video from Vito’s Kickstarter campaign:

Did you notice the cameos from a Mitsubishi Hi Uni and a couple Palomino Blackwings? I sure did.

This is the kind of thing I love — admittedly a pocket notebook and a pencil aren’t the most original offerings ever, but they’re tools for creation! It’s not about creating specialized notebooks with one purpose and one layout. It’s about making a good quality notebook, a good quality writing utensil, for a great cause — helping give kids the same opportunity.

I also love that they’re partnering with 826. I have a couple posters from 826LA, and I’m not too far from the original, 826 Valencia, which is in the Mission district of San Francisco.

Full disclosure: I pledged already, and Vito sent me a pack of notebooks and a pencil early for review purposes. So while I haven’t really paid for them, I am already a backer of this campaign.

I’m a bit late to this review (Johnny talked about it over on the venerable Pencil Revolution, and Gary Varner’s very active new upstart paper blog Papernery has a great review,) but I will mention a few things.

The Notebook

I’m definitely loving the simple, navy blue cover with the Story Supply Co. logo on the front. It’s clean, and the navy-over-cream cover stock seems thick and rugged. The cover has a bit of tooth, as I noticed that there’s a subtle fiber interwoven in the paper, sort of like a dollar bill.


I’ll mention that the cover itself is pretty bad at closing completely once opened, and when it’s open, it wants to fold up pretty bad. It’s not dissimilar from Scout Books in that regard, though I know for sure that this is not a Scout Books product.

The inside is a creamy, thick graph paper. According to Gary, it’s a luxurious 70# weight, which is more than enough for the darkest of pencils, and perfect for all but perhaps the thirstiest of fountain pens.


The 5 millimeter grid is a great size, though it’s laid out strangely on the page. It doesn’t quite meet the top of the paper, though there isn’t enough space for a non-gridded headline, and there’s a slightly thicker line running a quarter of the way in from the outside of the page, and a quarter of the way up. See?


Maybe that was intentional? I have no idea.

Still, though. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but it’s a damn fine notebook, especially considering it was their first run. As the company matures, I’m sure it’ll get better and better.

The Pencil


Now, this is an interesting one. Vito was kind enough to include one of their later offerings, a round, natural-finish pencil! It bears the name, tagline, and some other information about the company, and on top of a golden ferrule, it has a navy blue eraser that matches the silkscreen on the barrel! Swoon.

While it physically resembles the Field Notes pencil, I’m convinced it’s better quality. The wood isn’t as splintery when I sharpened it (with my KUM Masterpiece!) and while the pencil itself isn’t as fragrant as the Field Notes pencil, the shavings are more so.


I’m not sure why that is, but I’m guessing that there’s an ever-so-thin layer of clear lacquer or sealant over the Story Supply Co. pencil. It’s thin enough to leave you feeling like you’re gripping a natural-finish pencil, but it’s not splintery at all, like I find the Field Notes pencil to be.

(It’s worth noting that this is a Musgrave-sourced pencil, so there’s a good chance it’s basswood, which seems to be confirmed when the shavings are next to the more pink Field Notes pencil. I also see a definite woodgrain, which makes it seem like the Story Supply Co. pencil isn’t processed wood.)

They leave very similar marks, but the Story Supply Co. pencil is noticeably smoother to write with than the scratchy Field Notes pencil.


In fact, the only things I think the Field Notes pencil has over this one is a) the typography is better (because, duh, Aaron Draplin) and the ferrule is more unique. Though maybe not as effective — a lot of people have told me the eraser comes out easily.

Story Supply Co.’s ferrule isn’t particularly special but it seems to do it’s job, which is what it’s all about, right?

The Kickstarter

The Story Supply Co. Kickstarter campaign successfully reached its $5,000 goal four days after launching, which is impressive and commendable. At the time of this writing, it’s at $7,167, which seems like it’s still got a lot of momentum in it.

For five dollars, you’ll get a sticker and a pencil, which is a pretty fantastic deal. For just double that, you can get a pack of notebooks in plain, ruled, or graph, and donate a kit to “a kid with a story to tell.”

I can’t wait to see Vito’s stretch goals!

This is the way to do it, folks. I’m loving Vito’s vision for the company, and his Kickstarter prowess.

Check out more about Story Supply Co. at their website, or go straight to their Kickstarter page.

Blackwing launches a pencil subscription service

It’s pretty fortiutious that I even saw this in a timely manner — I’m traveling — but, I ran across something pretty cool:

Volumes: a limited edition pencil series celebrating the iconic stories that define a creative culture

Though a bit overstated, once you dig into the meat of the page, you can see what they’re saying: They’re launching a quarterly subscription service!

Much like Field Notes, you get four editions a year for $100 (plus $12 for shipping). Each shipment includes a dozen pencils in fancy gift boxes, plus a pencil sealed for archival purposes, (which is a nice touch for us hoarders, er, collectors). And, to further appease collectors, each pencil will be numbered

In talking with a couple people on Twitter about this, the folks have a lot to do if they want to be profitable. They need to reinvent a unique, appealing, quality pencil every three months, and they need to meet the significant minimums manufactures are sure to require from them.

If anyone can do that, though, it’s Charles Berolzheimer and his gang over in Stockton.

And it’s good to see a Friend-of-Erasable, Wood & Graphite‘s own TJ Cosgove, get some work out of it! He made the video to accompany the announcement blog post:

It seems to me that the target demographic for a pencil subscription service is much smaller and more niche than the Field Notes crowd; and generally, pencil users are a bit more thrifty, too. $100 for 48 pencils is not a cheap price, even if it is for limited edition, fancy pencils.

Still, though — I’m excited about it, and I plan on subscribing soon. I look forward to seeing the makers of two of my top five favorite pencils do something like this. It should keep them creative, innovative and hopefully nimble, as they’ll quickly learn if the edition they release is a hit or not.

For those who think the subscription is a bit steep — fear not! It looks like they’ll be offering packs of the limited edition pencils a la carte, though probably in limited quantities. As it is, if you buy at least four dozen Blackwings a year, you’re probably just about paying this amount already.

Finally, it’s nice to see that a portion of the subscription payment is going torward music education for children! Charles is an advocate for the Arts and, through the Blackwing brand, has supported musicians and artists over the years.

Short break, right back.

Woodclinched has taken a short break for the holidays! It doesn’t have anything to do with spending more time with family, or reflecting on the year past or the year ahead. It’s almost entirely because, as of December 1, I started a job at Facebook as a content strategist. Although I’m not even three weeks in, it’s proven to be exciting, overwhelming, and really interesting so far.

It also means that I’ve been living in temporary housing 2300 miles away from home and my pencil and paper collection! Over the next three or four weeks, my stuff, my wife and my cats will be joining me out here, so until then, I won’t have a lot of time or, well, stuff to talk about. In the immortal and concise words of public radio talk show host Diane Rehm, short break, right back.

I have a few cool pencil-related photos to tide you over, though, from my last few weeks:


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Facebook, it seems, has a love affair with analog print. We have an Analog Research Lab, which is really cool, silkscreened and letterpressed posters all around campus and even vending machines that sell stickers! This one came out of one of those machines.

I got a chance to go to the Maido store at Westfield Mall in the SOMA district of San Francisco. It didn’t have a large selection of wooden pencils, but it had really good ones. So many Tombows. And Palomino Blackwing 602s and Pearls sold by the single!

One of those Tombows is an FSC-certified pencil they call Kimonogatari pencils. They’re natural, uncoated wood that’s untipped on the end. It’s super smooth with some stripes running down the side. I loved these so much I bought a dozen.

On the paper side, Facebook has so many cool little custom notebooks. There are a bunch of varieties of custom ScoutBooks, but this one was a custom Moleskine cahier. I got it during my design orientation. It looks really good with my Golden Bear.

So thanks for bearing with me, friends, and I will be back with more interesting stuff in the new year!

Dudek Modern Goods “Divide” Review

I’ve long been a fan of the pencil cup. At work, I have an old mug from my local public radio station from back in the early 80s — although I have lots of mugs from various pledge drives, this particular one was from the Goodwill — a really cool find by my mother.

At home I have two or three mugs hold pens, pencils, rulers and other various long, stick-like utensils that I want to store upright.

So I never really thought about any kind of decorative desk holder — until Mike Dudek came along.

Mike’s a stalwart in the pen community — his blog, The Clicky Post  is a great place to find pen, paper, and interesting product reviews for the analog-minded. His photos have always stood out to me; he’s a really talented photographer of small, round, long objects, which are, in my experience, pretty hard to photograph.

He sells a series of handmade wooden pen holders made out of solid blocks of walnut (I think) that he cuts, sands, polishes, stains, and drills holes into. They’re absolutely gorgeous, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Look at this beaut, the Display

He’s really been getting into pencils lately, which is awesome. In fact, Mike posted a philosophical discussion about woodcase pencils on his blog last week. My favorite part:

With the digital world consuming a lot of how people’s thoughts are recorded out of “convenience”, this is bad for even basic click pens, but imagine how this has to be for the wooden pencil!   Let me explain: To use a pencil not only do I have to carry around a seemingly fragile stick of wood but I also have to carry around an apparatus with a blade to actually make the stick usable.  And then, to continue writing with it I have to keep sharpening the stick.  And then, I have to find a place to dump the excess debris (shavings) to dispose of them.  Within this context the pencil doesn’t even stand a chance against the hardcore digi folks. But, the truth remains that the pencil is living on and they are being made by probably the millions every year.  We live in a digital age and yet we still produce tools to write with that could probably trace their lineage back to the cave drawings of the Paleolithic Era.  Usually with “antiquated” products, they end up on Etsy or specialty shops for high premiums being styled after vintage or retro.  Not the pencil.  You can still buy a dozen pretty good pencils for less than $5.  So, if you really want to get your retro on, pick up a pack and start sharpening.

Well said, sir!

He may have been thinking about pencils hard because of the new product he released two days later! It’s called the “Divide”, and is made especially for a wooden pencil user in mind:

About this product, Mike says:  

With The Divide, the pens and pencils on your desk can have a place to live in harmony being partitioned by a few pocket notebooks.  There seem to be graphite and ink camps in our community, so now people have no excuse but to let their writing instruments of all kinds play nicely together in an attractive, handmade walnut pen holder.

It’s based off a custom block Mike made for Tim Wasem from The Writing Arsenal (and my friend and Erasable co-host!). And, he was kind enough to send one to me!

It has six skinny holes on one side of the blog, perfect for a standard-width woodcase pencil. On the other side, there are three large holes, for Sharpies or fountain pens, and three medium-sized holes for regular pens. Each of the holes have a small point holder at the bottom, so a sharpened pencil, inserted point-down, will stand upright. Mike really thought about the details.

Here’s mine, right out of the box:

And here it is, filled with writing accoutrements:

This thing is so nice, it’s going to be around for a long, long time. Generations, even.

The Divide is $60, over at Mike’s blog. Check them out, here

Happy Fountain Pen Day, everyone!


I may be a pencil blogger, but I do love a good fountain pen. This is one of my favorites, a blue Esterbrook.

I meant to write a big, researched history of the Esterbrook Dollar Pen, because they’re fascinating to me, but then stuff happened. So, read Brad’s excellent review on Pen Addict instead!

A big, big congratulations to Cary from for all of his hard work and cool swag. Be sure to hit that link for a list of participating blogs and shops.

New Kickstarter: The Twist Bullet Pencil

It seems like just a year ago, the world hardly remembered bullet pencils. There’s been a lot of talk about them over the past 12 months, and we’ve seen our first-ever bullet pencil Kickstarter project, for the Bullet Pencil ST.

(Since the time I posted an article about it while the Kickstarter was going on to when it ended in late August, they’ve been fully funded, ended the campaign successfully, and are due to be produced and mailed to the funders by the end of this month.)

I’m here to tell you about another campaign that launched last week to build a bullet pencil! I’ve actually known about this one longer than I have about the ST — it’s for the Twist Bullet Pencil, a collaboration between Huckleberry Woodchuck, an artisan who restores old bullet pencils, and MetalShopCT, an independent machinist who makes cool things out of aluminum and steel.

Twist Bullet Pencil in base colors and tip styles. Photo from @MetalShopCT on Instagram.

Twist Bullet Pencil in base colors and tip styles. Photo from @MetalShopCT on Instagram.

Over the summer, Jay from Huckleberry Woodchuck (who we’ve mentioned on Erasable before) contacted Tim and asked if we’d be interested in field testing a special prototype bullet pencil that he’s been working on. Of course, Tim said yes, and between him, me and Johnny, we carried that thing to work, to the lake, to the airport, et cetera. It was a lot of fun, and we got to talk about it on the podcast.

From my Instagram in July, the prototype bullet pencil along with a Word. notebook.

From my Instagram in July, the prototype bullet pencil along with a Word. notebook.

All the while, Jay was in contact — what did we like about it? What didn’t we like? What sort of pencils did we use in it? What were our favorites? We gave him as much feedback as we could.

Well, last week, it all paid off! Jay and Jon Fontane from MetalShop CT launched the Twist Bullet Pencil, a beautiful, improved (from the prototype) machined aluminum sheath for a pencil. I’m happy to say that they made their goal in just three days, so it’s definitely going to be funded.

The pencil will be available, for sure, in silver and matte black, and there are two different tips (the part that attaches to the pencil inside) in two different styles available — an aluminum or a brass tip, available in either a blunt, rounded style, or a pointy, more bullet-like style.

Twist Bullet Pencil Varieties

With pledge levels starting at $28 (which buys you one Twist bullet pencil with one style of aluminum tip) and going to $300 (which buys you ten, each with any tip in any style), they have a wide variety of prices. They even sold the original prototype for $125. I joked that the prototype has been in the pants of Tim, Johnny and myself, so it should be worth a lot more.

What’s really exciting and where the drama resides is in the stretch goals. They want to offer a few anodized colors, too. Because the anodization shop (is what what you call it?) requires a minimum of 150 pieces, they have stretch goals all the way up to $14,000 in order to get to all three additional colors — a cherry red, a forest green and a royal blue.

The Twist Bullet Pencil by Huckleberry Woodchuck and MetalShopCT, now on Kickstarter.

My pledge was at the $55, which will get me two pencils with my choice of either tip. I’m not sure which variety I want yet, but if I have my choice of colors, I’m thinking black and blue, with a round brass tip and a pointed aluminum tip.

How does this differ from the Bullet Pencil ST?

What I love about both of these projects is that they’re so different from each other in so many ways, even though they’re both bullet pencils. Jeff Grant’s Bullet Pencil ST, with a pocket clip, a barrel with a uniform width, fancy mechanisms in the pencil to snap the tip to the barrel, and even the fact that it has a capacitative touch stylus, mean that it’s a very modern interpretation to a bullet pencil. It’s a nod to the modern — this is for making scribbles on your iPhone as well as in your Field Notes.

Jay and Jon’s Twist Bullet Pencil is more of a tribute to the old, original bullet pencil. Sure, there are plenty of modern innovations — it’s machined instead of stamped, out of a thin — it’s anodized instead of wrapped with a design. The vast majority of old bullet pencils were held in place by tension, not by screw threads. But the shape and the simplicity of it is much closer to the original.

Bullet Pencil ST and Twist Bullet Pencil Comparison

Bullet Pencil ST and Twist Bullet Pencil compared, to scale (with each other), in closed position. Photos from the respective Kickstarter pages.

Which is better? I can’t say. I like them both a lot. And I think, objectively, they each will appeal to different kinds of people. I haven’t had a chance to try out the Bullet Pencil ST yet, and there has been several improvements to the Twist since I tried the prototype over the summer.

But it’s like the difference between an automatic and a manual transmission vehicle, or shaving with an electric razor versus a safety. One design offers lots of features the other doesn’t, but the simplicity in design and the (presumed) fact that the latter does what it does really, really, well, still makes it a strong contender.

Welcome to the world, Twist Bullet Pencil. I’m overjoyed you’re here to help satisfy and grow the rising bullet pencil popularity.

Twist Bullet Pencil. Vintage Meets Modern with a Twist. | Kickstarter

Get your Erasable stickers!

The Erasable Podcast now has stickersUpdate 08/20/14: We are now sold out. Let me know with this form if you’d be interested in being notified when/if we stock more!

Besides customized pencils, this is the most requested piece of swag we’ve gotten, and it’s really cool. Celebrate your love of woodcase pencils:

The Erasable Podcast Sticker

Each sticker is 2.5″, (slightly bigger than, say, the Apple logo on the front of a MacBook), and features four pencils from the Woodclinched Vector Pack (although the yellow-and-green faux Ticonderoga was customized specifically for this sticker).

Slap it on your pencil case, your tabletop pencil sharpener, your car window, or heck, put it with the other stickers on the back of your laptop like me!

Erasable Sticker on Andy's Laptop

We’re selling them for $2 each, or $5 for three (plus $1 for shipping) over here.

If you live outside the US, you may notice that it doesn’t give an option to ship internationally, which I didn’t realize before I set up this shop. So, if you aren’t in the US of A, and you want to get ahold of some of these stickers, email me. We can bypass this whole thing and go straight to PayPal.