Episode 10 of Erasable: “The Graphites of Wrath”

Erasable: A podcast about wooden pencils

Click the image to visit Erasable’s episode 10 page. Or, subscribe on iTunes!

I’m not particularly good at podcasting. I like to talk, and I like to prep for these shows, and I even like the techy stuff, like recording, editing, compiling show-notes, converting them to HTML, et cetera. But I’m not good at it.

In spite of that, Episode 10 of Erasable turned out really, really well. Even though about halfway through, I realized I wasn’t recording. My fantastic co-hosts Johnny and Tim were game for a second round, as was our equally fantastic guest, Ana. And despite some further echoing problems, and Johnny’s drinking problem (no, no, he doesn’t need an intervention; I’m talking about the ice clinking in his glass), we had great fun, which I think is really what marks a good episode.

I learned a lot about indelible pencils. I had no idea that the Sanford Noblot pencil was so rare! It fetches up to $40 on eBay, similar to an original Blackwing (and at this point, even a little more).

We also announced that the next episode will be a pen crossover episode! Since Brad and Myke from the Pen Addict podcast are going on hiatus as Myke transitions away from 5by5, we figured their listeners might miss Brad’s lovely voice, so he’s coming on Erasable to talk ink! (In the meantime, you should listen to their last show on the 5by5 network.)

Episode 8 of Erasable: Heroes of Pencildom, Book the First

erasable_230We just recorded a great episode of Erasable last night! We’re on our eighth episode (and going strong!), and we discussed a lot of stuff: the new Field Notes, some reviews, et cetera. But I loved the main topic: Pencil Heroes. Johnny picked Earnest Hemingway and Tim picked John Steinbeck, both of whom are prolific pencil users and graphite advocates.

I took mine in a slightly different direction — while in the future I want to pick a hero from literature (either fictional or a creator), this time around I picked the first person — someone who I know personally — and who popped into my head when the topic was first broached: Don Bell.

In 2007, Don was the proprietor of PencilThings.com, the site from whence I bought my first sampler pack of pencils, and wrote a review on my personal blog. After sharing that with Don, he asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing products for him.

Of course I said yes.

After that, he called me and we spoke for an hour about creating a PencilThings blog. It was a grand initiative: we  kept it at a separate domain and ran it as a publication independent of the e-commerce site. I posted, basically, whatever I wanted (with occasional guidance by him), and we built an audience. Many of my pencil friends I established there I still keep in touch with today.

In 2010, Don sold the business to the current proprietors of PencilThings, and they took it in a different direction: Amazon and eBay sales. That’s what prompted me to strike out on my own, with this blog.

Don and I still kept in touch a bit, but I haven’t heard from him the last two or three years. I don’t know if he’s still got a finger in the pencil game, or indeed, if he’s still alive.

Any of you keep in touch with Don? Let him know I said hi.

Anyway, you’re going to want to listen to this episode. Stick around until the the end when we announce the giveaway. It’s pretty great.

Erasable Episode 6: The Brotherhood of the Traveling Sharpener

Reviewing materials for a podcast about pencils has never been so yellow!

Reviewing materials for a podcast about pencils has never been so yellow!

Tim, Johnny and I have been having a blast with the Erasable podcast so far. An absolute blast. Perhaps my favorite episode so far is the one that just came out today, Episode 6: The Brotherhood of the Traveling Sharpener.

Whenever we’ve asked Twitter for ideas on what our followers would like us to talk about, almost everyone wants to know about sharpeners. Trouble is, we’re just an hour(-ish) long podcast, and there are so many sharpeners out there!

We decided to just go through some questions people have asked, and then list our favorites and explain them, like the Classroom Friendly Sharpener and the much-debated KUM Long Point Sharpener. Invariably, the conversation came around to David Rees and his artisanal pencil sharpening, and, of course, his book.

Rees talks a lot about one of my sharpener obsessions; the El Casco, which I’ve blogged about before. It’s quite expensive, and Johnny proposed we all three pitch in to buy one and then share custody (like the pants from the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Hence the episode title).

Go take a listen — if you have any interest in pencils sharpeners at all (and why would you be here if you didn’t?), you’ll love it.

Erasable, Episode 2: A Ferrule to Arms

Last night, we just posted Episode 2 of Erasable, and it was a lot of fun. It was our glossary episode where we talked about the history of the modern wood pencil, and defines several terms that we use. Tim talked about the ferrule and eraser, I talked about the wooden barrel, and Johnny talked about the graphite core.

We learned a lot about Nicolas-Jacque Conté, a French inventor who pioneered the modern graphite core. With a satin eyepatch and AN ENORMOUS HEAD, he looks like a pretty badass pencil pirate:

Nicolas-Jacques-Conté, the inventor of the modern graphite mixture in varying hardnesses. Also, a pencil pirate.

Nicolas-Jacques-Conté, the inventor of the modern graphite mixture in varying hardnesses. Also, a pencil pirate.

We’re also having a giveaway! Between now and next Sunday, March 30, if you leave a comment on the episode post on Erasable.us, with a literary or movie pencil pun (for example,  “A Ferrule to Arms”), you’ll be entered to win one of 6 prizes: each of us co-hosts will be putting together two packs of some of our favorite pencils.

Because we want to use as many puns for episode titles as we can, we then get to use your pun for a future episode title. (With a credit to you, of course!)

Go check out the episode now, either on Erasable.us or iTunes!

Presenting: the Erasable podcast!

I’m a big, big fan of podcasts. Whether it’s the Pen Addict, any of the tech podcasts I listen to, or public radio shows presented in podcast format, I’m deeply entrenched in the medium.

I’ve been wanting the chance to do a podcast for a couple years now. Pencils seemed like a logical topic; trouble was, I didn’t think I could come up with enough content for a regular show. It’d hard enough keeping this blog up to date, and I didn’t want a podcast that was just an audio version. It should have something different.

Enter Tim Wasem of The Writing Arsenal. He’s a relatively new blogger of scribomechanica who jumped in head-first and is brimming with enthusiasm and ideas. So when he approached me about maybe collaborating on a pencil podcast, I was really excited.

We both knew that Johnny Gamber over at The Pencil Revolution needed to be involved, too, if he was willing. His experience and contacts in the pen and pencil community are unrivaled, and his mind and wit are sharper than a pencil fresh from a Classroom-Friendly Pencil Sharpener. Luckily, he was interested in joining us.

The trio was complete!

After some back-and-forth, and a trial run, we present: The Erasable Podcast!

erasable_temp_cover_largeWe’ve still got a lot to figure out, and as you can tell by the audio and the format, it’s still a little rough. But we’ve already caught the attention of a lot of listeners already (and the iTunes podcast directory hasn’t even approved our feed yet!

The description from this first episode:

So the audio’s a little rough, and we ramble about the philosophical implications of writing with wooden pencils, but Erasable is up and live with our inaugural episode! We’re starting off with some basics: our origin stories, why we started blogging about pencils, our top favorites, and the characteristics of a good pencil.

 

We’ll be back next time with a glossary episode: the terms we use when we talk about pencils.

 

Give us a listen, either by hitting up the website, or by subscribing directly to the feed with your favorite podcast-listening app. And we want to know what you think! Feel free to comment here, there, or via email if you have any questions or suggestions. Seriously, we’d love to hear from you.