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Liberty for Barnes & Noble Colored Pencils

10/14/2010

If I’m not mistaken, this will be my second review of a pencil! My previous pencil review was for Home Depot Carpenter pencils nearly nine months ago, so that should give you some idea of how much importance pencils play in my life. Since I was given the freedom to choose between pens and pencils in the fourth grade, I’ve always opted to use pens. Even for math homework. Once erasable pens made their way into my life, pencils were done for. I don’t even use the little half pencils offered at bowling alleys (back in the day) or libraries. It’s always pen or marker. This is to be expected, given the blog is not called, “Does this pencil write?”. I’m not even sure where to trace the genesis of my pencil dislike. I’m sure not possessing any artistic talent – for drawing – or the ability to draw straight lines might have something to do with it.

These soft lead pencils seem both in quality and writing performance to be on par with the colored pencils made by Crayola or Roseart. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about the way they lay down a line or faithfully render lollipop trees, “M” birds. cotton ball clouds or smiley face suns. These pencils strike me as something for children/budding artists rather than accomplished artists. The absence of a blending pencil or eraser seemed a strong indication to me. Again, I’m not an artist, but it seems like a blending tool would be a good item to have when using the fairly standard color palette included here. When I tried to blend the colors myself, it resulted in a waxy build up of pigmentation that nearly turned my smiley face sun into a frowny face sun.

Nevertheless, I can’t walk away for attractively packaged pencils, regardless of my own feelings towards using them. This attractively house set of 16 colored pencils, with their sleek, faux old timey styling and the packaging evoking generic brand food products was pretty difficult to ignore. Every time I go into Barnes & Noble I see sets of their pencils and every time I paw them before remembering I don’t actually use pencils nor wish to part with seven bucks because the packaging reminds me of the generic version of Apple Jacks, otherwise known as Apple Dapples. But one day, while hanging out with my bestie, I was feeling uninspired about pens and reviewing office supply products and he insisted on buying the set for me, mostly because he too had observed my ritual of pawing the product, deliberating for a couple of seconds then backing away with feigned indifference.

The Bottom Line:

  • 16 standard colors
  • pricey for a set of colored pencils on par with the vastly cheaper Crayola or RoseArt colored pencils. $6.95
  • no blending tool
  • attractive reusable case, which will survive grown up use, but probably not sturdy enough for children.
  • great gift for an artist you don’t know very well, but still want to give the appearance of being a decent gift giver.
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