A party for a pencil

Disclosure: As I try to do whenever I talk about CalCedar and any of their products, I want to mention that I am a former employee. So take what I say with a grain of salt.

California Cedar, the makers of the California Republic brand of wooden pencils and the Palomino Blackwing, their modern interpretation of the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602, is throwing a party they’re calling called the Blackwing Experience, in New York City on April 17, to celebrate the opening of a week-long exhibit running until April 20 at the Art Director’s Club.

I think this is a cool concept — as their tagline says, it’s “the party for the pencil”, and from what I understand, it’s not just the Palomino Blackwing or the EF Blackwing that’s being celebrated, it’s the usage and history of all wooden pencils.

I had a conversation with Charles Berolzheimer, president and CEO of California Cedar, who told me about the origins of this idea:

“We began to get serious about such an event when we started thinking about how to build upon influencer relationships we had established over prior years as well as to support building with the 602 new influencers who participated in our Klout Campaign (I wrote about it here -AW) launched last December. In working with our creative team in New York during the early planning stages we had a ton of great ideas and were looking for the right venues and the final partnership we created with the Art Directors Club we came up with seemed like a natural fit.”

Justin Oberman is an independent creative director who is working with CalCedar to organize this event. You may remember him from my post about his concept ad campaign for the Dixon Ticonderoga.

A mockup of the video "Ode to a Blackwing". Photo from http://blackwingexperience.tumblr.com/

“We have a 64-foot tall 60-foot wide infographic timeline of the pencil — entirely drawn with (Palomino) Blackwing pencils”, Justin told me. He also talked about creating “Ode to a Blackwing” a video produced for the show. He mentioned that it’s all done with Palomino Blackwings and original Eberhard Faber Blackwings, “except when drawing the logos of other pencil companies. Those are done with pencil brands represented by those logos.”

Some other interesting things going on at this event:

  • A panel discussion about creativity with Chuck Jones’ grandson who runs the Chuck Jones Experience.
  • A blank space where attendees can draw themselves in (with pencil, of course) using a camera lucida.
  • Several performances and demonstrations by up-and-coming artists, musicians and writers.

I really wish I could make it to the Big Apple on Monday to check this out! Unfortunately, I’m not in a position where I can do this unless I plan months ahead.

There’s been some supplemental media created for it:

Please note that there is a bit of controversy surrounding that event and CalCedar, which I’ll let you check out for yourself. I’m staying away from that dialog: not only because I formerly worked at CalCedar (but briefly), but also because of my tremendous respect for both Sean at Blackwing Pages and Charles at CalCedar. If you’re interested, you can read further and make your own determination (I won’t be hosting dialog about that in my comments here):

 

Pencils.com engages in a Klout perk *UPDATED*

Two of my favorite things, as many of you know, are pencils and social media. Much of the time, these two interests don’t often converge. Sometimes, however, I get lucky and realize that it’s not just me spreading the love of pencils to my network.

The social innovators at Pencils.com recently ran a Klout Perk. In order to promote the Palomino Blackwing and their new Blackwing-themed microsite, Blackwing Experience, they gave away a limited number of Blackwing sampler packs (three PBs and three PB 602s) mix of introductory items to Klout members who meet the following criteria:

  • Those with a Klout score 50 or more
  • Those who are influential in these topics: actor, business, or gadgets

Unfortunately, that means I don’t qualify! (*sniff, sniff*). It’s all right. I don’t need a Klout Perk to spread the joy. UPDATE: See the comment from WoodChuck below to learn more about the selection process.

A lot of people don't know that I'm actually a time lord.

I’m also not entirely sure where they came up with those topics — I can only conclude that this was recommended to them by Klout (who have mysterious methods in picking influencing topics for users — as of right now. mine are time travel, sweater, and nonprofit).

Unfortunately, it looks like the Perk is closed. Sorry to those who didn’t get in quickly! I wonder to how many they limited the perk.

I know a couple of the people who took advantage of the perk — I’ll try to publish something here when they have a chance to try them out!

Premium Palomino Blackwing-branded notebooks

Note of disclosure: I am no longer employed by California Cedar Products or Pencils.com — though I am still their biggest fan

If you follow Pencils.com on Twitter (@pencilscom), you may have seen this tweet hit the webbernets:
Although I’ve known this was coming for a while, I have no idea what they’re going to look like or when, exactly, they’ll be hitting the virtual stands. But I know I’ll be wanting one or a few with my last, dying breath.

The Gold Fibre Ampad writing pad with antique ivory pages. Great quality paper, lined front/checked back, and all around old-timey fun!

So that’s pretty exciting. I’m still loving my Palomino Blackwing 602s, and I’ve been wanting something nice upon which to write with it. My usual meeting note-taking paper tablet is this retro-rific Gold Fibre pad by Ampad (or its 8.5×11″ counterpart), but it’s not the most formal thing you’ll ever see, you know? And although I have several pad-folios, they take up a lot of room, room in my bag that competes for space with my laptop, charging cord, various pencil and pen wraps and other things that I’ve collected via my borderline hoarder tendencies.

Speaking of Palomino Blackwing branding, I love the new packaging for the Palomino and Blackwing brands, don’t you? Charles sent me this the romance shot the other day (click to embiggen the pencil geekery goodness):

The graphite drawings on the Palomino graphites are stunning, and I love the vivacity of the colored pencil line. (I assume this photo was taking by the very talented Sue Tallon, a still-life photographer who Pencils.com uses for stellar product shots.)

I’ll let you know when the notebooks are released, and I may even have a review up here!

Meanwhile, what pencils and paper products have you been using lately?

The Palomino Blackwing 602

Full disclosure: I do contract marketing work for CalCedar to promote Pencils.com and and the California Republic Stationers brand on social media. Though I am not being paid to write this post for Woodclinched (my personal blog), I’ll refrain from reviewing the performance of this pencil, past a few general statements about it.

So I was getting ready for work this morning; a dark gloomy day in Indiana, when my doorbell rang. It was the FedEx woman, she she was bringing me a package from Pencils.com! Suddenly, the sun came out, and the bird started singing!

Metaphorically, of course.

I opened it right up, and checked out the pencils. I didn’t have a lot of time to examine them, but I grabbed an original Eberhard Faber Blackwing from my desk drawer and one of the new Palomino Blackwing 602 pencils, and headed out the door.

Because Grant was kind enough to send me a pack of pink erasers, I popped one into the signature Blackwing ferrule, and took some side-by-side photos of the new 602 with the old.

So, without getting into details, it does indeed feel firmer than the Palomino Blackwing, but smooth and dark just the same. The real test will happen after Monday, when I’ll be in two or three meetings taking notes.

Here are a few pictures — as I’ve said many times, I’m not the best photographer out there, especially with something as hard to shoot as pencils.

Questions about the pencil? Leave ’em in the comments. Otherwise,  check out the product page on Pencils.com!