While there are quite a few companies marketing branch pencils, this set of 8 is the brainchild of eco-lifestyle expert Danny Seo, whose blog is filled with eco-friendly crafts and green living tips. I’m not one for nature or the outdoors. I don’t mind appreciating it from the safe, climate controlled confines of a tour bus or someone’s instagram feed.
Branch pencils are probably as much nature as I can stand. When I spied these at a discount retailer I was intrigued by their attractive packaging and the concept. Lead infused tree branches are probably exactly what old timey settlers and crunchy tree huggers used to draft their grocery lists and personal correspondence.
The pencils are housed in a nifty wooden box, whose top I immediately repurposed for my index card stash. Each pencil has a unique shape, which I totally found charming. That said, the pencils in the set that curved too much I found difficult to actually use. While the pencils present endless attractive, rustic decor possibilities, the writing performance and experience might leave some people feeling frustrated.
Personally, I noticed writing with these pencils for more than a couple of minutes resulted in some of the branchy goodness to crumble onto my hands. Handling the pencils can also result in a crumbly mess all over your hands. Some people might not find that annoying, but I did. It was an unpleasant tactile experience causing me to consider wearing gloves when using them.
Okay, I did mention I’m not super into nature type things! The pencils are approximately 7″ and the barrel is significantly thicker than the average pencil. Even a shade thicker than children’s “my first pencils”.
The other curious thing I discovered was the graphite does not extend the entirety of the pencils, despite the top of the pencil giving the appearance the graphite goes all the way up. And, of course, let’s not even mention the whittling? Are you into whittling? Well, if you’d like to sharpen these pencils you better get into whittling. Fortunately, my partner has graciously agreed to whittle my points if the need should ever arise.
cute, rustic pencils make a perfect gift for a writer or artist
eco-goodness at an attractive price point: the set 8 of runs about $6.99
a little, crumbly and at times messy to use
not much graphite housed in the twig body
probably need to up your whittle game unless you want to completely destroy these pencils. (Trust me. I did the legwork)
writing performance decent but not amazing.
Well there’s not a literal connection…
My neon moment show no signs of ending and since there are only so many surfaces to duct tape neon, I’ve had to look elsewhere to get my florescent fix. Enter: index cards. Now me and index cards go way back. I carried on a pretty tight relationship with grid ruled, particularly for my all-consuming obsession with making lists.
My consumption of index cards to make lists sprang out of an ill fated experience with the “scraps” method. The scraps method involved the use of fancy cut scissors, pretty paper and writing each item on one scrap. The idea was to discard the scraps as you performed a task – all well and good – except I like to archive my lists (that’s a nice way of saying I’m sort of a paper packrat, albeit very organized) . Another bad sign: I actually enjoyed creating the scraps more than I enjoyed executing the tasks they described. I abandoned the scraps method quickly.
It didn’t cross my mind again until I was switching purses and discovered a lone scrap, “Call that dude about that thing.” I’m sure this meant something to me at the time. I also pondered writing a memoir titled, “I just do what the scraps tell me to do.” But that vanished the same time the scraps method did.
I’m not picky about what kind of index cards I use; it’s whatever I find at big office supply box retailers (hey, they’re not paying me to be specific). Neon’s been trickier to track down, unless you’re into purchasing a medley of colors (I am not). I prefer purchasing single color packs. This is to ensure I never get stuck with whatever ashy, unsatisfying shade they’re attempting to pass off as neon orange. I have let go of the bitterness over the quality of the cards. I seem to remember a time when the cards were actually, well, cards and not so flimsy.
I put legitimate list items such as “go to the gym” and ridiculous ones like, “mindchoke deathstar contractors” I’m not sure what this says about me. The cards themselves are probably what prevent me to being totally committed to a single planner each year, though I usually stuff the cards into whatever planner I’m currently using. In this case, a Moleskine mini planner, that I snagged for 75% earlier this year.
Okay after reading this and browsing this flickr stream I probably need to step up my game. I was actually dazzled by the organization and dedication. Though I’m not sure how much time I would have left to devote to other things like sleeping and snarking on people who eat pizza with a knife and fork.
-ultra bright, with pink and yellow being the stand out colors. The blue, orange and purple could use some help.
-3×5 blank on one side, lined on the other
-lined side on some of the cards looks a little crooked (I’m not into lines so it’s not a bother to me)
-pack of 100 cards retails for $1.50 – $2.79 depending on the retailer
-cards are a little more substantial than the white and pastel varieties, but still nowhere near as thick as index cards used to be or how spendy index cards are now.
A little Cut Copy from one their release Bright Like Neon Love (one of my absolute faves.) Always reminds me of spring.
Digging through the archives is as easy as clicking on these titles
“Unless I want to feel badly about myself I avoid perusing the directions accompanying any Ikea product. Instead preferring to view the product fully assembled in the showroom and commit its perfect assembly to memory, which I then refer to as I’m putting the scraps of particleboard I’ve been convinced will magically transform themselves into attractive storage and seating solutions. And frankly, I find Ikea instructions a tad judgey and shaming. Mostly because I can often be observed engaged in the behaviors the instructions have marked through with X’s”
“I spend a lot of time browsing shelter blogs while sipping hateraid in a tacky plastic tumbler. You know the kind I’m talking about: stackable, cheesy and usually 4/$1. Perhaps being more craft aspirational than crafty has made me resent the well styled, impeccably edited spaces I view day after day. Or maybe I’m just tired of feeling marginalized because I don’t worship at the church of mid-century modern (because the mid-century was so great for my people).”
“Every time I peruse the aisles of big box craft stores I encounter Koh-I-noor Hardtmuth Magic Pencils, usually housed with all the legitimate artistic pencils. Since for the most part I don’t have much use for pencils, I would pass them over, even though they looked fun and are quite cheap. But once in awhile I’d pick one up, fall in love with the weird mix of colors, then remember I’d need to score a fat sharpener, feel overwhelmed and bitter about how high maintenance the cheap pencils were and put them back.”
“Once the unit is all powered up, you have to find some place dark. I don’t mean Teddy Pendergrass dark; all the way dark. Thus you probably need to make your peace with your higher power as you climb into the trunk of your car or seal yourself off in a panic room or closet. Then you wait. Based on my experience with the product about two or three minutes of sitting in burnt up skillet darkness should get you there. Then you use the magical sheets and begin crafting your masterpiece. Now the product is not really designed with the ambivalent in mind; you only have a couple of minutes before your creation disappears before your eyes, which happened to me twice I as tried to neatly pen, “does this light pen write?”. And forget trying to photograph it. Between the car trunk, the darkness and disappearing drawings there’s no time to be taking snaps.”
Most days I have the decency not to tear open a highly anticipated package right there in the street, but today was not one of those days! My Neon Lamy Safari from CULT PENS (which was a dream to purchase from: speedy processing, careful packaging and fast shipping) arrived and I am in love.
Here it is in all of its neon glory. When I first found out the 2013 Safari would be highlighter yellow, I was thrilled. Though I was probably the only person. Seems like this is bound to be a polarizing color choice, but trust me, this pen is gorgeous.
Grumblings around the pen world seemed reserved at best and disappointed at worst. Lots of calls for navy, purple and I think I even saw someone asking for brown? Well, I’m sorry, but conservative banker colors were just not going to work for me. Not for the Lamy Safari anyway.
As with all Lamy Safaris the pen is a constructed of sturdy ABS plastic, blah blah blah and yeah, everyone knows all the words to that song.
I wanted to compare the pen to an actual cheapo highlighter, but oddly enough, I don’t actually own ANY. Here’s a comparison to the yellow Lamy. Definitely brighter and less orangey.
Compared to last year’s Safari green the pen looks closer to green than yellow, but it’s probably just my pictures, because, honey, this pen is DEFINITELY highlighter yellow.
Because you’ve waited your whole life for two pics of me wearing neon yellow magic stretch gloves while holding the neon Lamy…
and the writing sample. Same perfect black Lamy ink.
Digging through the archives is as easy as clicking on the titles of these posts…
“I did chuckle at the the “executive” label and the ad copy, which states, “Perfect for the executive who’s still a child at heart” and honestly, in light of recent press over executive shenanigans, I think we’ve had enough of executives acting like greedy children.”
“In these journals were some the most egregious acts of X-files geekiness committed to archival quality paper! We’re talking detailed episode guides, episode lists with legends! Character flow charts, hand drawn maps of various locations depicted in the show, list after bloody list of rants/raves and lawd, help me – some slash and poetry.”
“Once I got the Livescribe Echo a writing, I was more in love with the feeling – smooth and faintly James Bondian (in my case Timothy Dalton) – of writing on the page than excitement of being able to upload my scribblings to the computer. I even stopped a couple of times to test drive the recording feature. Mostly to squeal, “OMG, I’m writing with and talking into a pen from a Discolicious Neon Lit Tron Future!!!” which, probably was not the quality of recorded information the product was designed for.”
“In researching the demise of the Inc. version of the pen it seems there is host of unsubstantiated rumors and tawdry doings as to how Wally World suddenly began selling a pen that looked exactly like one they no longer carry! If anyone knows the real story – actually if there is a rivalry between Peachtree Playthings and Inc/Megabrand that would make for a riveting episode of This American Life – chime in!”
I am all about collecting these pens. and while my collection isn’t as impressive as this one I’d like to think it’s pretty respectable. This brings me up to 6 Lamy Safaris, in case you’re keeping count. There are two more on the way (charcoal and the 2013 Neon Yellow).
People who aren’t really pen folk often ask why I’m so smitten with this particular pen. I really couldn’t say. I just do.
A couple of times a week I play a game I call “What if I was the sort of person who…”. It’s more of a mental exercise, but since it often yields prizes it feels like a game. As a writer, the exercise has a practical application and rewards, though often not apparent in the short run. Nevertheless, it’s probably a lot more productive than other mental exercises such as the ever popular, “What’s that weird noise coming from the basement?” or “Why can’t people stop doing…”. On one such day I found myself being the sort of person who listens to enthusiastic sales associates pitching the merits of “Smash” book accessories (without scoffing) and walked away with a Hello Kitty Double Sided Marker.
I’ve been on the fence regarding the whole Smash phenomena as it seemed like clever marketing, designed to tell folks they can be scrapbookers without having to be identified as people who scrapbook. It’s hip. It’s edgy! It’s not like that stuff soccer moms and cat ladies do! Or whatever. In any event, smash marketing seemed a bit too twee and precious for its own good. But then Hello Kitty got into the game and all bets were off! The double sided marker, which I snagged at Michael’s, breaks no new double sided marker ground. It had a fine point and a chiseled point. The fine end reminds me of the Sharpie Pen except the ink is a little ashy and the line isn’t as consistent. The chiseled tip reminds me of what happens to broadline markers when you punish the tips by pressing them on the paper too hard. The chisel tip here seemed a bit worn and got little ink holidays on the paper.The barrel design is nice, caps provide a tight fit and post quite securely. The pen’s material, however, could stand to be a little more substantial. Considering the price point – $2.99 – the pen feels a bit cheap.
Comparing the Hello Kitty double sided marker to EK Success’s Smash Stick, some of the former’s deficits become vividly apparent. Because the Hello Kitty marker is a part of the brand’s own “smash” line, I’m afraid comparisons are unavoidable. The latter comes with a glue stick at the end which tends to make it a more useful product. The smash stick is also more substantial. I like the shape of the smash stick more, which shouldn’t take away from Hello Kitty. It’s just a personal preference. One thing that’s difficult to argue is price. Both the Hello Kitty double sided marker and the Smash Stick are comparably priced – at around three bucks – which makes the Smash Stick a better value in my opinion. But then again, if you’re like me and you love anything Hello Kitty what are you gonna do??? You’ll buy this pen. That’s what you’ll do.