Blackwing Volumes No. 1
It's been a while since I have reviewed any Blackwing products and I really wasn't going to do so this limited edition either, but something remarkable happened. I used a round pencil that I did not hate. Yes. You heard that correctly. I have always been a fan of hex or semi-hex pencils and prefer super sharp hex. There is a method to my madness-- I use the edge to rotate my pencil when I notice the point is wearing down at an angle. If I just rotate it ever so slightly to the next "side" it makes the point wear evenly. Needless to say, when I got the latest Volumes edition from Blackwing I first said "meh" and then was extra meh when I found out the pencils were round. As I heard others in the Erasable group talk about their own experiences with the latest edition, I heard a few people say that the finish on the barrel was unique and provided a distinct grip experience. I decided to take the plunge. I figured if I hated them I would just trade them for something else. Well I didn't. Here are my thoughts:
Let's start with aesthetics. I didn't like this pencil at first visually. I think it was because pictures online really do not capture the right color of the pencil. Same thing with the eraser. In person I will say that they look much better. The matte finish on the barrel is very thin which allows the wood grain of the pencil to show through a bit. It is very reminiscent of furniture that you can buy at IKEA or fancy hardwood flooring. The blue eraser is a nod to Guy Clarke's (the name of the person this pencil was made in tribute to) blue collar of his favorite shirt. The blue is very subtle and at a quick glance one would think that it is more of a grey/black.
Performance wise this Blackwing edition does not disappoint. The graphite is not scratchy and erases well. The graphite formula used for this edition is the "balanced" formula. This balanced formula is what can be found in the Pearl and Volume 725. I usually prefer to 602 core to the Pearl, but I kinda liked using it this time around. Perhaps it's because I have been solely using Neon Casemates and I am used to that softer, darker core. Not sure, but I'll take it. The eraser performs better than the old formulation but still not up to the standards I like. I have been spoiled by foam erasers and the eraser on the Blackwing is a bit dusty for me and takes way to much effort to erase things cleanly. It's no Hinodewashi but it is not as bad as a Musgrave eraser.
I am not sure I would say that I am in love with this pencil, but I like it. I purchased a dozen and will probably use half of that for trade fodder in the future. Volume 1 does its job, looks decent enough, and comes with the quality one would expect from Palomino. Seriously though, where is the estrogen in these releases? The day you devote a pencil to a woman (and not a woman that happened to use a photo process/style because that felt like an aside) is the day I become a subscriber.