News,The Ampad Gold Fibre Retro Writing Pad, and the Papermate Precision…

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And, we’re back! At least for a while… As you guys know, I took a bit of a sabbatical, and also let the domain pensnpaper.com die. This was partially due to some disinterest on my part, but also because I didn’t want to pay the $20 per year domain name and mapping fee from WordPress. So, I purchased the domain of http://www.pensnpaper.net/ from my own  webhost and plan on using it instead. So, as I said, we’re back!

Up for review today is the Gold Fibre Retro Writing Pad from Ampad. This 5 x 8 pad is spiral bound at the top and contains 80 pages of perforated, 20 lb., medium ruled, ivory vintage paper. The design harkens back to the steno pads from several decades ago, and to be honest, it’s actually very aesthetically pleasing. The brown vinyl-coated cover is much sturdier than that of regular notebooks, and feels like it would hold up to much more stress.

As for the quality of the paper, it’s decent. The 20 lb. is not quite heavy enough for my liking, since all of my fountain pens either bled through or feathered. It also didn’t handle the rollerball I had with me very well. However, it’s excellent for gel pens, ballpoints, and pencils. The gel pens were especially smooth on this paper, seeming to roll ink onto the paper of their own volition with no scratchiness at all.

Next up, we have the Papermate Precision 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil. This pencil is interesting in that it’s “Precision engineered to enhance writing quality”, and I must admit that it somewhat lives up to its claim.

This pencil features a grey and white color scheme with a comfortable rubber grip. The 4mm metal sleeve gives you extra room in order to draw templates or trace around the edges of a stencil easily. The round body flattens out toward the plunger end, and I must admit, it’s also very pleasing to the eye. Easy on the hands, easy on the eyes… What’s not to like?

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Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen and Zebra Mini Ballpoint

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Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news… The good news is that I have some new stuff to review (Yay!). The bad news, is that I’ve decided to take a hiatus from Pens’n’Paper (Boo!)… I know, I can already hear the hissing and “buts” on people’s lips as I write this, but there are several valid reasons for my putting a pause on my blogging endeavours. Firstly, cost… In today’s economy, with me being a poor college student working a part-time job, I am already experiencing mental angst when paying out for a tank of gasoline. It’s been over a month since I’ve bought a pen or a notebook, because I simply look at the price and can’t justify purchasing it. I have over 300 barely used pens and 100 notebooks lying around in nice orderly boxes at house, and even my obsession for pens can’t overrule my super-thin wallet… Secondly, I’m short on time… Between, church, work, girlfriend, school, and the million other things I have to do, blogging just hasn’t been a priority lately, and for that I apologize. So, after I complete two more reviews, I will be taking a sabbatical. No, Pens’n’Paper won’t be shut down. I still plan on paying for the domain name and leaving it up as a resource, and perhaps even returning to it someday.

But anyhoo, enough of my pity partying, let’s get on to today’s review…

 Up for a look today are two tiny pens which were sent to me by the amazing Andrew from over at MyMaido.com. The Pilot Birdie Switch Combo and Zebra Mini Ballpoint both are extremely small and would easily slip into the pine of your favorite high-end notebook or clip onto the rings of your spiral wound.

The Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen is interesting in that it’s a self-contained multi-pen with a pencil on one end and a ballpoint pen on the other. In order to switch from pencil to pen or vice-versa, you simply remove the cap (similar to most old-fashioned mechanical pencils) and place it on the opposite end. The Birdie features a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil and a 0.5mm black ballpoint and also comes with a black refill for the ballpoint.

This combo pen/pencil is a decent offering from Pilot. The mechanical pencil is mechanically sound and the supplied lead is smooth. The ballpoint is a bit scratchy, but that’s something I’ve come to expect from fine-tipped ball points, so I won’t harp on it too much. My main qualm about this combo is the fact that there’s no eraser… Having a mechanical pencil is kind of pointless if there’s no eraser available, but I guess it was sacrificed due to size.

Next up, we have the Zebra Mini 0.5mm Ballpoint. This small pen features a clip retracting mechanism, so in order to retract the tip, you have to push down on the clip, releasing the spring. The ballpoint writes relatively smooth, again a little scratchy because of the fine point, and the sleek barrel is an attention-getter. This pen also came with a refill, so that when you run out of ink you can replace it and continue on.

Both of these pens feature stainless construction and are very small (see the picture where they are compared with a dime), and would not be out-of-place on any person’s notebook. Thanks again Andrew for the awesome opportunity to review these two items from MyMaido.com!

Staples (postscript) 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

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Today, we have an affordable mechanical pencil option from Staples. At $5.49, they would make a great pencil to just have around for those times when you just need to jot down a quick note. And to be honest, even though they’re cheap, they work pretty well…

The (postscript) mechanical pencil features a slight non-slip grip on the entire barrel, a metal tip (that retract all the way into the plastic barrel, thereby lessening the chance of unintentional pokes or stabs), a decent latex eraser which erases well but leaves behind faint graphite marks, and smooth lead. As I mentioned, it’s actually a good mechanical pencil for the price and I could easily recommend them as a quick note jotter.

Pencils from Pencils.com

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Up for a look today are several items I received in a sampler pack from Andy at Pencils.com. Pencils.com is the web store of the California Cedar Products Company, which produces well-known brands such as Palomino, Generals, and Kum. Thanks to Andy’s generosity, I have a Spangle “Mini Jumbo”, Forest Choice, Prospector HB, Golden Bear Triangular HB, Palomino HB, and a Palomino Blackwing to try out today!

First off, we have the very blue Spangle “Mini Jumbo”. It’s a beginner’s pencil, manufactured specifically for little hands with its thick body and lead. It is larger than the normal sized pencil sharpener (I had to sharpen it with a razor knife which happened to be laying beside me on my leather table), but after sharpening wrote very well (although it did smear a bit).

Secondly, we have the ForestChoice pencil. Made from FSC-certified Incense cedar with a natural finish, which sharpens beautifully and smells amazing (unless, of course, you’re allergic to real cedar like my mother-in-law-to-be, which sucks, lol), this pencil is sure to a favorite. The #2 HB lead writes amazing well, with very little smearing.

Next up, we have the Prospector, CalCedar’s cheapest pencil. At less than $.15 each ($.13 to be exact), these pencils offer excellent quality while not breaking your budget. These green coated pencils (which also come in green triangular form and a natural finish) sharpen well and write very smoothly, especially for a budget pencil.

Fourthly, we have the Golden Bear. CalCedar claims this pencil to be “equivalent to, perhaps, a Dixon Ticonderoga”, and I can definitely agree! With a beautiful orange finish with gold foil lettering, this triangular pencil really stands out in a crowd. While the sample I was sent is triangular, it’s also available in regular orange and regular blue forms.

Next, is the Palomino HB. Termed “the pencil that started it all” by CalCedar, this pencil is definitely a piece of work. With a glossy, lacquered, Incense cedar barrel surrounding a deliciously smooth graphite core, you can expect a beautiful, dark line with very little effort and a tip that stays sharp for longer than the average pencil.

Lastly, we have the crème de la crème, the recreation of a pencil long sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike, the Palomino Blackwing! Based on the original design of the Eberhard-Faber Blackwing 602, the Palomino Blackwing’s frictionless, buttery lead lays down a dost, smooth, dark line. The unique eraser ferrule and eraser allow you to extend it for longer use, and the matte black body with gold accents makes this an instant conversation piece. Want to add prestige to even the most mundane Post-it? Grab a Blackwing. Want to add class to a quick note to a friend? Grab a Blackwing. Got the picture yet? Get some Blackwings! They truly are beautiful pencils (albeit a little costly), but they are definitely worth the price!

Pencil Test Sheet

Note: I am not an employee nor and I am in any way affiliated with Pencils.com or the California Cedar Products Company. This review is in no way affected by the fact that this item was a free sample from Pencils.com or the California Cedar Products Company.

The Zebra MLP2 – Guest Blogger

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The first thing I noticed as I was handed extraordinary pencil, was that it was flat. Almost as flat a carpenter’s pencil, but a little rounder. And then looking closer, I noticed that the lead too was rectangular and flat. I could see already by the package that this was no ordinary pencil. No this was a Zebra MLP2 (Mechanical Lead Pencil) test taking pencil. I paused while looking at the package to ask my favoritest Pens’n’Paper expert, “What in the world is a test taking pencil?” He smiled and told me to look it up and write about it and he would give it to me to keep… Or if I wanted it I could just have it anyways (spoiled huh?) So, I looked it up, and I found that it’s number one use is for filling in answer bubbles on tests and quizzes, making your answers heavy and dark without making a hole in the paper. I also found that some people like to draw and sketch with the MLP2 as it works well for shading and has an interesting 3D effect when turned sideways. So, Anyways it was very handy to have around while studying for my GED…until I lost it. Having found it recently I shall describe it in further detail.
The Zebra MLP2 is little heavier than an ordinary mechanical pencil but very sturdy and well assembled. It would be close at hand if you really need something to chew on if you were in a jam (although I wouldn’t advise it). It fits nicely in the hand and doesn’t slide out too much. I find it would be so much better if it were to have some kind of grip to keep your hold and give added comfort, but, oh well.
The lead is kinda smudgy, but I suppose it’s supposed to be a little smudgy so that it will entirely fill up the answer bubble? The MLP2 comes with a container of lead refills and two extra erasers. The eraser works well, but the heavier you mark the harder it is to erase. And the more you erase the harder it is for you to remove the eraser and refill your pencil with new lead. All in all I really did like it and still use it often.

Chris: So there you have another review from Sarah. Hope you guys enjoyed it! 🙂

Papermate Berol Mirado Triangular Grade 2 Pencil

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Papermate Berol Mirado Triangular Grade 2 Pencil

As I was going through my local Big Lots the other day (a great place to find oddball and out-of-the-way pens and such, btw), I noticed some more “Mirado” pencils… Not only that, but they were Berol Mirado pencils. And not only that, they were triangular in shape. Add to those facts that the packaging was in Spanish and they were only $1.00, and you have what sounds like a winner to me. So, I grabbed a pack, and promptly forgot about them…

So, this morning, I was cleaning out my work desk drawer, and imagine my surprise when I found these again. So, I pulled them out, opened them up, and began to test one out.

The triangular barrel is not really a foreign concept to me, and to be totally honest, I don’t really like most of them. For some reason, they seem to conflict with left-handed writing style. These were no exception to the rule and I had a bit of writer’s cramp by the time I finished the review.

These pencils sharpened pretty well, a little grainy feeling, but the triangular shape did disagree with my pencil sharpener a bit until it had honed the wood down to its circular normalcy. I’m not sure what type of wood these are made out of, but it does seem to be sub-par. Both slats are slightly different colors and it seems to sharpen against the grain.

So, how does it write? Meh… Yup, you read that right… “Meh…” This pencil is not really fabulous in any respect. I could easily compare it to any dollar store pencil I’ve ever grabbed. Add to that the fact that eraser is small compared to your normal average pencil, and yeah… You get “Meh…”. If I remember correctly, Berol used to be a well-respected name in the pencil world, but this failed to wow me in any respect. Maybe due to the fact that it was quickly manufactured in bulk in Mexico…

Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils

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Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils

I know, I know… This wasn’t on my list of things that I said I was going to review, but I actually have this huge backlog of stuff that I never got around to, so… Yeah… Anyhoo, before you we have the Koh-I-Noor  Hardtmuth  Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils. Woodless you say? Yes, tell me more…

 The Progresso Woodless Pencils feature a graphite core which is coated in what I’m assuming is paint, which represents the pencil color. These came packaged in a nice little carton of twenty-four, and I grabbed them at Michael’s a while back with one of my 40% off coupons.

As I mentioned before, when you sharpen these, there truly is no wood residue… Period… In fact, I usually even save the sharpenings to use as blender/shader (applied by taking a pinch in between my fingers and carefully rubbing into the area I’m working on) since it’s pure color, other than the slight coat of paint which easily goes away after you’re finished blending. I actually enjoy using these, although the slick paint can be a little slippery if your hands sweat at all.

Now, a little bit of info about the following pictures. I only took a picture of one pencil (my favorite color, btw, and one of the best pencils in the bunch) in order to show the label and the texture of the graphite tip. Also attached are photos of my ink/lead catalog that I just started in order to keep track of the different colors of ink, lead, and other mediums I’ve experienced. The numbers beside the color names refer to the number stamped on the corresponding pencil by Koh-I-Noor…

“Chinese Still Life” – Five Minute Doodle while waiting for my lunch… 🙂

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