Refreshed Palomino design at Pencils.com

I got an email last night that had some interesting and welcome news — the Palomino pencil got a brand refresh! At least the drawing pencils did. Just look at this:

Refreshed Palomino Drawing Pencil from Pencils.comThe “Palomino” brand has gotten a lot of play since the restarted Blackwings have been co-branded with the little California horse, and then later, a few other Pencils.com pencils shed their “California Republic” brand to join up under the Palomino name.

The actual Palomino pencil, however? Continue reading

The Palomino Blackwing Pearl — now, with an exclusive preview!

It’s been a very Palomino-focused spring around here at Woodclinched. I hope that soon I’ll have some more Yikes! stuff to show you, but in the meantime, there’s some news out of California Cedar Products that I can’t resist sharing.

Pencils.com and Palomino (I’ve never sure which brand is now the authoritative Blackwing spokes-entity) just announced this week the creation of the Palomino Blackwing Pearl, the third pencil in the Palomino Blackwing lineup.

It sounds like the performance is just right in the middle of the two existing Palomino Blackwings:

The Blackwing Pearl features a lustrous pearl white finish and black eraser, along with a balanced and smooth graphite core that is softer than the graphite found in the Palomino Blackwing 602, but firmer than the graphite found in the Palomino Blackwing.

I spoke with Pencils.com president Charles Berolzheimer, “WoodChuck“, last week about the new pencil. The phrase they’re using to describe it is “balanced and smooth.” I asked if they’re going to put that as the motto on the barrel, and he said no. Charles did, however,  tell me a little bit about the style of the new Pearl.

“It’s going to be pearly white, almost a pinkish, translucent hue,” Charles told me. “We talked a lot about introducing another eraser for it, but we’re going to stick with the black eraser. We’ll still have a series of replacement erasers so people can hack their pencil.”

Admittedly, I imagine a pink eraser would look really good with this pencil, but honestly, the black eraser on the white pencil with that gold ferrule? That’ll look really lovely.

The Blackwing Pearls will be released to the public on May 2, and will apparently be available both on Pencils.com and in retail stores, where the product line has really been become more and more prevalent. No word yet on their price, but I’m assuming they won’t cost more than their counterparts ($19.95 for a dozen, or $163.98 for a gross).

I am proud to announce, however, that Woodclinched has discovered some top secret images of the new pencil. Prepare yourself for the exclusive world premiere of this highly-anticipated pencil:

A fabulous Photoshop mockup of the new Palomino Blackwing Pearl

Just kidding. This is the product of my terrible, terrible Photoshop “skills”. I used to have a vector of the Palomino Blackwing logo, which I can’t seen to locate, so as you can see, I expertly re-created it.

I will, however, attempt to talk my way into a advance sample, so I can give it a good try, all in the service of my Dear Readers. And hopefully, the real-life thing will look much better than this abomination, above. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, check out the full press release here. And after May 2, check out Pencils.com to buy it!

Refreshed product lineup at Pencils.com

 

product_lineup

DISCLAIMER: Okay, so it’s been two years since I’ve worked at Pencils.com, so at some point, I should stop disclaiming myself. But, I worked there in early 2011. I am no longer paid or affiliated with Pencils.com in any official capacity. They sent me the products you see above for free, but they do not compensate me financially in any way.

There have been some seemingly subtle changes going on in the Pencils.com store recently. But they are important to note.

The lineup

First, they’ve eliminated the “California Republic Stationers” brand and rolled the Golden Bear and the Prospector into the “Palomino” brand. So, like the Palomino Blackwing, they now have the Palomino Golden Bear and the Palomino Prospector.

A Palomino Golden Bear next to the old California Republic Golden Bear

A Palomino Golden Bear next to the old California Republic Golden Bear. I appreciate that they don’t come factory sharpened now.

I think this was a wise choice. The California Republic brand for CalCedar’s pencils was pretty weak. No one really identified their pencils with that name. The Palomino, one of my favorite pencils in existence, is a much stronger brand, and made much stronger by the visibility of the new Blackwings being wrapped into their brand.

That, along with the new packaging, really showcases the brand of these pencils.

Secondly, no longer are these pencils made in Taiwan Thailand (Thanks, Charles!) — they’re manufactured right here in the US of A, at the Musgrave Pencil Company in Shelbyville, Tennessee. (Warning: their website is atrocious, in sort of an awesome way.) And even with this radical change in supply line and vendors, the price has not increased (or, admittedly, decreased)!

The biggest change — which is tragic to me — is that the triangular Golden Bears were discontinued. I love triangular pencils, and I really loved these. According to Charles Berolzheimer, the Pencils.com President and CEO, Musgrave just doesn’t have the tooling capability to make the triangular barrels.

I’m glad that I have a whole bunch of them left, though I usually give them out when I explain to someone about fancy pencils. I may have to be a bit more miserly about them now.

Charles also tells me the oft-overlooked child-focused Spangle will be discontinued, too, as they sell through their current stock. While I have a few of them, I haven’t used them enough to really form a coherent opinion on them.

Coming later this year, Pencils.com will have some changes in the orange tipped and untipped Palominos, too. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more about them when I get to try them!

Differences in appearance and experience

First, the new USA-produced Golden Bears and Prospectors are noticeably heavier than the old ones. I need to get my hands on a digital scale to tell you how much heavier they are, but it’s not a burdensome heaviness — it feels more substantial, like it’s a fancy hardwood in the barrel.

The ridges of the hex shape are ever so slightly sharper, too, so you can feel the hexagonal shape. They’re not so sharp that they’d hurt your finger while you grip it, but you can definitely pick out every plane of the barrel. They’re not rounded edges like the old-style pencil.

There are some subtle changes in labeling besides the brand change. Instead of a “HB” label indicating the more classic European graphite hardness scale, there’s a “2”. From a marketing perspective, I understand why they did this. If someone was buying pencils for a standardized test, which explicitly say to use “#2” pencils, a typical American may be wary of a pencil that says “HB”.

The blue Golden Bear (with orange eraser) changed in fairly subtle ways. Instead of a blue stripe on the ferrule, there’s a red stripe.

The Palomino Prospector Pencil, top, compared to the California Republic Stationer's Prospector, below. Both from Pencils.com. Apologies for the light wash in this image.

The Palomino Prospector Pencil, top, compared to the California Republic Stationer’s Prospector, below. Both from Pencils.com. Apologies for the light wash in this image.

Differences in performance

Both Golden Bears and the Prospectors pencils by Pencils.com were put through a performance test.

Both Golden Bears and the Prospectors pencils by Pencils.com were put through a performance test. Click to embiggen. (Also, please pretend that said THAILAND, not TAIWAN. That was a factual error on my part.

I alternated use of each pencil on-and-off for about a week. I can tell you that I noticed no difference in performance in the Golden Bears, good or bad. To me, that’s a good thing — I really like the way they write. (I’d compare them to a Dixon Ticonderoga, but with the tactile feel closer to a Palomino.)

I’ve never been a huge fan of the way the Prospectors write, but at $2.25 for a dozen, they’re definitely worth the price. Both Prospectors are a bit scratchier than a Golden Bear, though the new one was the TINIEST bit smoother.

The erasers, which look and feel identical on both Golden Bears, performs identically. (I didn’t have my red Golden Bears with blue erasers when doing this eraser test, so just the erasers on the blue Golden Bear and the Prospectors were used.)

The Prospector was a different story. The new erasers feel a bit more vinyl than the grainy Taiwan Thailand-made Prospector. It erased better, too, if you notice in the photo above.

And in conclusion…

Before, I used my Palomino Blackwing (602) and my Palomino Proper almost exclusively, though I had a few triangular Golden Bears at work for quick notes. I think I may need to add these new blue Golden Bears to my rotation, though — it’s just a gorgeous pencil, full of color and personality, and now it feels better in my hand. I’m excited that the Palomino line is going to be made in the US, and for the same price as before.

The linkage

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!

Review of the Pencils.com Palomino-branded hardcover notebook


About a month ago, Alex from Pencils.com was kind enough to send me a box of new paper products Pencils.com is selling — I wrote about them on this blog previously.

It’s been a month, and I’ve been using a few of those products pretty thoroughly. My very favorite is the hardcover Palomino Luxury Notebook, sized medium.

A contemporary of the Moleskine and its kin, I lament the passing of Black Cover, the blog in search of “the perfect little black notebook” that gained so much momentum in its fairly brief existence and its even briefer re-appearance early this year. Nick, the blogger, is a tremendous reviewer — I wonder if he ever got one to try!

In order to appreciate these little hardcover notebooks, you have to embrace the subtle differences. Relatively speaking, almost all of the $15-$20 5×8″ notebooks are generally the same quality, serve generally the same function, and are styled generally the same. I’ll try to highlight the differences here, as I see them:

Style and Features
The Palomino Notebook’s most obvious, and to me, the best difference between it and others is the orange stripe that runs along the spine. I love orange, and I especially love Palomino Orange (and Golden Bear orange). When I’m using one of those pencils, it makes a great match. When I’m not using one of those pencils, it still looks great on its own. What a difference a splash of color makes!

I love the orange spine on this notebook.

The little stitched pattern on the sides are nice, too — I’m not sure if it is a tribute to something, or is a style all its own, but it gives it the look of an old, hand-sewn Italian stitch.

Like a Moleskine it has a cover page spread where you can put your name and contact information in case you lose it. It’s on a really lovely heavyweight paper that just drinks in your ink (Yes, I used a pen to put my name on this page, since it should be permanent) and doesn’t bleed through.

Also like a Moleskine, it has a pocket in the back! It’s made out of what looks like folded-over tear-proof paper, so you can put some stuff back there (sometime I hoard cash in it, but don’t spread that around) without tear.

One feature lament: I really, really like gridded pages. I’d love to see a Palomino notebook sporting that option, besides the lined or plain pages currently offered.

Quality
It is of superb quality. It has more of a hardcover book-like binding the Moleskine, and though it’s a bit stiffer when I lay it out on a tabletop, it’s getting better, and I don’t feel like I’m pulling the paper out while doing it.

The paper itself is nice. In a discussion with John at PencilWrap.com, he mentioned that the paper was really smooth. Agreed. (Also, go check out his review of the “flex notebook” cahiers, because he took way better pictures than I did, and compared them side-by-side to the Moleskines!)

Though it’s very smooth, I felt like it had a bit of tooth, since it’s supposedly optimized for a pencil. A pleasure to write on, at least with a Palomino Blackwing 602, a Dixon Ticonderoga, and a Golden Bear, all three of which I’ve had with me this week.

I also think that the cover of the Palomino is better. It’s a bit more leathery, a bit more supple, and does not bubble up like some of my Moleskines have been known to do.

If, say, the Moleskine was the standard of which people use hardcover notebooks, and if we set that value at 10, I’d give the Palomino notebook a solid 13. It’s a great price, at $17.95, exactly the same as a Moleskine. Admittedly, Moleskine has a better variety of pages (they have formats for storyboarding, music composition, etc.), and currently offers a special Star Wars collection, which would clinch me right there if I was actively in the market for a notebook.

However, I love the California Republic brand, and the Palomino line, so I’m excited to have a notebook in this brand, too.

Coming soon(ish): Thoughts and photos of some of the other notebooks!

Disclaimer: As I’ve written before, I am formerly an employee of Pencils.com. I no longer work there or receive any money from them, so this review is not being funded by them. This product was sent to me free, however.

Gallery of Images
(Click to embiggen) 

Going Pro

I consider myelf someone with a wide variety of interests and passions. Some of my passions, in no particular order, include literature, the arts, technology, Apple computers, and, of course, pencils. And it is really exciting when, as a friend told me recently, you can go from “passion to paycheck.”

It is with that in mind that I make an exciting announcement: As of January 2011, I will be working for our friends at CalCedar as the Marketing and Promotions Coordinator for Pencils.com! This is a really exciting opportunity, and I’m honored that I was even considered for the position, let alone accepted for it. Continue reading