The Woodclinched Pencil Vector Pack

My friend Tony Headrick is a super talented designer. His studio, Neno Design, has won design awards and he’s created some of the coolest logos and websites around Fort Wayne (including my blog’s logo!).

We decided we wanted to work on something together. Trouble is, I’m not a designer, and he’s not a writer. Luckily, we figured it out.

Presenting: the Woodclinched Pencil Vector Pack!

Woodclinched Vector Pencil Pack

It contains 14 pencils from my collection, some vintage, and some new. I tried to include a variety — including an old bullet pencil and a fancy antique mechanical pencil — in addition to straight-up wood cased pencils.

Roughly, here’s what real-life pencils the designs were inspired by, from left to right:

  • Faber Castell Grip 2001
  • Yikes! triangular color pencil
  • Field Notes pencil
  • Goldfish Special Drawing 5002
  • iTO Premium
  • Golden Bear
  • Eagle Flash 66
  • Orange Palomino (the old-style — the announcement of the redesign was announced while Tony was designing!)
  • Antique brass mechanical pencil
  • Eberhard Faber Blackwing
  • Antique bullet pencil
  • Yikes! Gripz
  • Blue eraser-tipped Palomino
  • Draplin Design Company carpenter pencil

It was fun hearing Tony talk about creating these:

To me, pencils are one of the most accessible and basic art tools. Working with Andy Welfle, a professional pencil collector, made the experience so worthwhile. Andy provided some of his favorite pencils, the history behind the design and it was a real privilege to be trusted with such unique, vintage and storied pencils. It was a real challenge to try and keep the design minimal. The colors, materials and textures were what really stood out.

Just look at the detail between various lengths o points, and of the sharpening of the barrel between round and hex pencils.

Just look at the detail between various lengths o points, and of the sharpening of the barrel between round and hex pencils.

He did an amazing job, too. As someone who doesn’t normally spend a good portion of his day thinking about wooden pencils, he caught a lot of detail: how a hex pencil differs from a round pencil where the tip meets the paint; how the shape and tip of a carpenter pencil differs from, say, a regular round pencil; the shine pattern on a ferrule or a tipped end. From a design perspective, I love how he managed to keep the design pretty flat and basic, but was able to incorporate a lot of detail, still, like the woodgrain and that shine on the barrel.

What is a “Vector Pack”?

What does one do with a vector pack, all you non-designers may want to know? If you’re a designer, or find yourself in a situation where you may want to use a pencil like this in a design, then this might appeal to you. Rather than a raster like a JPEG or a PNG, a vector file allows you to scale an image up or down infinitely, keeping its shape and integrity all the while. Plus, you can easily change color, add text, or otherwise manipulate your image to fit the needs of your project.

This pack exists in a few different forms:

Free Vector Pack

Sample pencil pack on Dribbble.

Sample pencil pack on Dribbble. Click the image to view

Check out Tony’s Dribbble page for a sampler of six pencil vectors. Some of my favorites aren’t in this package, but if you want those, check out the…

Full Vector Pack

Click the image to go see the full vector pack at The Creative Market, and purchase for only $5!

Click the image to go see the full vector pack at The Creative Market, and purchase for only $5!

This includes all 14 pencils and is for sale for $5 on the Creative Market!

T-Shirt

Woodclinched Pencil Vector Pack on a t-shirtThis is coming soon. I’ll definitely have more information when we get this up and going. We’re going to submit it to The Cotton Bureau to crowd fund the printing of these t-shirts.

Bullet pencils: Pocket-friendly utensils from a bygone era

Agricultural bullet pencilsFor reasons I can’t explain, I usually only talk about half of my pencil collection on here. I talk about new products, mostly — pencils available to most everyone that is for sale now.

But I also have a lot of advertising and souvenir pencils. Probably ten cigar boxes worth. They’re not particularly known for being good quality pencils, but they appeal to me in their uniqueness. Many of them are decades old; and I can only imagine that there are not many left in the world.

One subset of that collection are several agricultural bullet pencils. A good friend of mine gave them to me a few years ago after her grandmother died and my friend was in charge of cleaning out her farmhouse in Illinois. There was a drawer full of these old pencils — given to her by salesmen from seed supplier, feed yards, stockyards, and more.

I love these things, but they're pretty old.

I love these things, but they’re pretty decrepit.

I treasure them, though I never use them, mostly because they’re so old. The erasers have petrified and often, the pencil barrel has run down to no more than a nub . And I don’t have dozens and dozens like Aaron Draplin, perhaps known best among this community as the designer of Field Notes. Pencil Revolution interviewed Draplin back in 2011 about this very subject. Draplin loves these little guys. And for good reason:

First off, it’s the compact quality. I love having a tight little drawing tool in the front pocket at all times, and I’m here to tell ya, these little sonofabitches have saved my butt many a time…on airplanes, in meetings, in a pinch, wherever. I always keep one in the front, left pocket of my 501s.

What I love about them the most, is how banal they were back in the day. Simple, cheap advertising tools given away at local businesses. Feed-n-seed joints, car lots, insurance agents, what have you. Just crappy little promo items that packed a real wallop. I’ve got a couple old salesman sample sets. Old and beat up, and a look into what it was like to have a guy sit down and say, “Here’s what we can do for your company.” So good.

(See his entire interview on Pencil Revolution, in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2)

They are indeed so good. One of my few issues with wooden pencils is that when they’re new, they don’t fit easily into a pocket — they’re too long! If I need to easily carry around a pencil in a shirt pocket or pants pocket, and I don’t have a pencil halfway through its life, I’ll turn to the Zebra #2 mechanical or even — gasp — a Fisher bullet pen (though I can’t find mine as of late! I think it fell into the depths of the couch).

From a utilitarian perspective, bullet pencils are great. They’re really no more than 4 or 5 inches long when sheathed, but they extend out to full pencil length when in writing mode.

The trouble is, I don’t think you can get them anymore. (Pencil Talk doesn’t think so. Neither does Field Notes.) A friend of mine who owns a company that makes promotional products says that she was looking for those a couple of years ago, and came up dry.

From JetPens.com. Click image to follow the link.

From JetPens.com. Click image to follow the link.

JetPens.com has something similar, the Midori Brass Bullet Pencil, but to me, it doesn’t count. It’s $21, and made of brass. This isn’t the vintage, plastic cheapie thing that is given away free. (On the other hand, though, the description says that the brass develops a patina after multiple uses, which is pretty cool. And you can buy replacement pencils and erasers to go with it)

If the promotional bullet pencil is just a relic of the past, so be it. While they’re far from the main course of my pencil collection, they’re a delicious, delightful appetizer. Whenever I see one, I’m thrilled to run across it. And if they are becoming more and more rare, I have all the more reason to treasure the few that I have.

Rad and Hungry: For all you former Pencil-of-the-Month subscribers out there

Colombian pencils offered by Rad & Hungry

One of the great things about running a specialty blog like this is that if someone is interested enough in something to Google it, chances are they’ll see your site. Big, venerable pencil blogs like Pencil Revolution, Pencil Talk, and others are certainly going to come up before a young upstart like mine, but if a Googler really wants to read about pencils, chances are, they’ll see me (hi, guys!). There just aren’t that many of us out there, compared to, say, Apple blogs or life-hacking blogs.

That’s why I was super excited when I got an email from Hen Chung the other day. She is a traveler, a scribomechanist (lover of writing/office supplies), and entrepreneur. And she has a new business called Rad & Hungry. Continue reading