Get out of my head! Heather Rivard from the Art Supply Posse Podcast on school supply shopping

“School supply shopping was an emotional experience for me. School supplies represent the part of life that made sense to me, like doing homework and what I was told. School clothes shopping represented the things that didn’t make sense, like social hierarchy and how to fit in and how to feel like an acceptable human being. School supplies! That is a source of so much warmth and comfort and excitement.”

That’s what Heather Rivard, co-host of the Art Supply Posse Podcast, said as to why she loved school supply shopping when she was a kid. She verbalized perfectly how I feel about it. I think the biggest difference is that I wore a uniform at Catholic school, so mostly it was “dress-down day” that caused my anxiety. Sometimes, I remember, I wore my uniform anyway and just said that I forgot to wear street clothes.

At the risk of psychoanalyzing myself, this could very well be the reason I fell in love with stationery in the first place. My post about Yikes! pencils is by far the most popular post on this blog, so I know we’re not alone.

I love Art Supply Posse! Heather, and my friend and long-time stationery blogger Ana Reinert from The Well-Appointed Desk, host it together, and although they go WAY deeper into art supplies than I can follow, they’re such interesting people. And it’s nice to see a niche of the stationery world get a well-deserved podcast.

Two stationery products that bring me joy

If you’ve ever seen photos from my home office, you will probably know that I’m a pretty cluttered person. I just like acquiring physical objects, and I form emotional attachments to them pretty easily. That may be a reason why I like writing about stationery — it gives me an excuse to amass more stationery.

I blame it on my mother, although that’s probably unfair.

1468451123.jpegThere’s a great book that’s gained popularity in the last year or two, called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It’s a bit painful to read, mostly because it usually tells me things I don’t want to hear about consuming, mindfulness and time-management . One chapter that really stood out to me, though, is when Kondo lays out criteria of what possessions you should keep, and which you should get rid of — often, she says, we look at it wrong:

Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.

She continues writing to say that when deciding what to keep, you should hold it in your hand (if that’s possible), reflect on it, and if it sparks joy in your mind, keep it. It happens with more rarity than you might think.

(If you’re interested in learning more about this book, listen to this episode of Covered, a podcast by my friend Harry Marks. He discusses books, and reviewed this one in particular.)

All this is to say that while I do love pencils, notebooks, index cards and yes, even pens, not all of them bring me joy.

There are a few lately that do, however.

Nataraj Pop Pencil

Nataraj Pop pencil

I picked up a couple of these beauties last November when I went to CW Pencils. I didn’t expect much of them — I’ve heard of Nataraj before, but I’ve never really used their products.

Nataraj pencils are made by the Hindustan Pencils company, founded in 1958, they’re the largest pencil manufacturer in India. Hindustan also makes Apsara, another fantastic brand rare in the US.

Closeup of Nataraj Pop pencil writing in a Write Notepads Kindred Spirit Edition pocket notebook

They originally attracted me for their “extra dark” graphite — 2B, in fact, which I prefer over the regular HB (or #2 in America-talk). They write dark and smooth, and seem to retain a point a bit longer than other 2Bs, which I appreciate.

After a while, though, I realized I liked it more for aesthetic reasons. Each side of the hex alternates in a bright, candy color, and the capped end is dipped in an accent color. My favorite scheme, for example, has yellow and blue-grey sides, and a bright, green-apple-green cap. It matches my Baron Fig Three-Legged Juggler Confidante perfectly.

Write Notepads Kindred Spirit Edition Notebooks

Write Notepads Co. Kindred Spirit edition notepad with a Nataraj Pop pencil

Although I don’t think I’ve written about them here, which is a shame, I’m a huge fan of Write Notepads & Co, a Baltimore-based notepad company. Johnny Gamber, my friend and colleague from Pencil Revolution, and also a Baltimorean, gets to hang out at the WNP shop on the regs and I’m completely jealous.

Chris Rothe, the guy who runs WNP, recently started a pocket notebook membership service. Unlike the subscription service that Field Notes COLORS or Blackwing Volumes runs, his is a membership subscription that not only gets you those quarterly runs, but also makes extras available to you for purchase.

The second-ever edition, “Kindred Spirit” is magnificent, and definitely brings joy for me. It’s a bit wider and bit thicker than a Field Note cahier, and its perfect-bound spine looks more rugged, though I suspect it takes longer to break it in than a saddle-stitched binding like Field Notes.

The package is mind-blowingly gorgeous — while other pocket notebook page are bound austerely in a belly band, these three-packs come in a little box with an ornate illustrated pressed into it.

Once I’m past the box, I really love the cover — Chris used French Paper’s Dur-O-Tone Butcher Orange, pretty famous among paper nuts for being the first of Field Note’s COLORS edition.

(As perhaps a nod or a tribute to Field Notes, Chris threw in 25 Butcher Blue-covered notebooks, used for the second FN edition, and just as rare and coveted.)

Lining of the Write Notepads & Co Kindred Spirit pocket notebook, seen here with a Nataraj Pop pencil.

What’s particularly joyful to me, though, are the insides. The pages are lined with a bright orange ink, that looks like it matches the cover, and there’s a couple of vertical lines a centimeter or two in from the left, making it perfect for to-do lists, and is unobtrusive if you want to ignore it.

What are the similarities here?

Well, for one thing, they’re both bright and colorful in a pretty unique way, and they’re both pretty simple in execution. Neither are top-shelf, yet are far from the bottom. They’re a joy to hold, to behold and to use.

That’s an interesting thing to think about — I never realized that these commonalities are something I’ve found particularly joyful. But it makes sense. I’m also a huge fan of the Three-Legged Juggler Baron Fig Confidante, European Bic Crystals that are orangish instead of clear and I keep buying those damn Staedtler Wopex pencils in bright colors, even though I’m not a huge fan of how it performs.

What kind of stationery brings you joy? Are there any common traits that run among them?

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.