Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

Palomino Blackwing Original

I bought my first Palomino Blackwing pencils at a Renegade Craft market a few years ago. I wasn’t particularly thinking about how soft the lead was I was more interested in the fact they looked SO GOOD! A reason I have for purchasing a lot of stationery to be honest!

Turned out the Blackwing original and the 602 were as different as Brie is to Parmesan (I may compare all things to different cheeses from now on) The Original has a nice soft lead which I like for drawing and sketching, comparable to a 4B I’ve read. That’s a bit of a surprise as I tend to like a 2B which is more like the hardness of the 602. It’s not about numbers though is it? It’s about feelings.

Palomino Blackwing 602

Later on I purchased a Pearl, out of curiosity, which is niiiice and somewhere between the Original and the 602 in terms of hardness but I was still in love with my trusty black Original for my sketching needs.

Palomino Blackwing Pearl

Most recently I bought a Jade 205 and a Lake Tahoe 73 both from editions known as “Volumes”. Palomino bring these out a few times a year and you can usually only buy them in boxes of 12 but Papersmiths were selling them individually which I was very happy about. I love these special editions as they are themed and honour cultural icons and events.

The number 205 references the molecular weight of Jadeite and celebrates the Silk Road and the belief that Jade protects its owner and encourages creativity and mental agility.

Palomino Blackwing 205 Green Jade

The Lake Tahoe 73 pencil commemorates the creative influence the lake has had on artists, writers and musicians and its signature blue colour. So that explains the colour of the pencil, the raised lines reflect the topography of the lake and the 73 is its most recent Secchi number which indicates the lake’s clarity which affects its colour.

In terms of my thoughts on their hardness I would say the Jade is similar to the Pearl and the Lake Tahoe is softer again. Both are softer than the 602 which is good news for me!

Palomino Blackwing 73 Lake Tahoe

When it comes down to it these are some good looking pencils, but style isn’t the only thing these pencils have going for them. They are a comfortable weight, they have an eraser that actually works and you can refill them (the eraser not the pencil, that would be innovative!).

 They sharpen beautifully and they dont snap and even when you’ve given them the sharpest point known to man it does not break as you draw.

Yes they are more expensive than a Staedtler Noris or a Derwent sketching pencil (each about £1.50) but you will get what you pay for. These will serve you well AND you will enjoy using them.

Pencil caps

To protect those beautifully sharpened points I have these nifty little metal point protectors I bought from CW Pencil Enterprise but if you’re not in the USA go to trusty Cult Pens. They have a slit down the side and come with strips of sticky paper. They’re like labels but I don’t know what you would label, so I think they are to tighten the protector thingys so they fit the pencil better. They’re Japanese so I can’t read the packaging. Anyway, I use Washi tape as it looks nicer and easy to replace.

I would say, go and try a couple, they are such a pleasure to use you won’t regret it.

Review: Brush Pens Pt 2


Welcome to Part Two of my brush pen review. Next up are the last 3 pens from this stash I bought.

Platinum Souhitsu Fude Brush Pen CFSW-300 is the next contender. These guys all have similar names so make sure you follow the links to make life easier! This one is double ended, one black nib and one grey. I love that. Again it is a simple black plastic pen but this one has a sparkly barrel as well as the gold brush script. No pen clip on this one though!

Now I really like this one. It’s another felt tip but it has a really good point on it meaning you can get a lovely fine line, that also means that the difference between the finest line and the thickest line this pen offers is satisfyingly great despite the nib being small and short. Good flow of ink really smooth on the paper. On the right paper (a post about that coming up)

This pen, the Platinum Souhitsu Fude Brush Pen CFS-200 is very similar to the Zebra Fude Pen I mentioned in the first part of this review. It has a felt tip that is quite chunky as you can see from the picture above. It has a reasonable amount of flex but not as much as the double ended pen above so you get less definition between thin and think lines. The ink on this one does flow as smoothly as the Zebra Fude and so it drags a bit like it is drying out which isn’t ideal. If you like this chunky style tip I’d go for the Zebra Fude over this one and the difference in price is only pence.

Last in the pack is the Uni POSCA Marker Pen PCF-350 Brush. I really wanted to be able to do brush lettering on surfaces other than paper, mainly on top of Washi tape so I thought I’d try one of these pens. I’ve had lots of POSCA pens with felt nibs and fine nibs so I know I like the way the ink flows but this pen has a brush nib. Actual bristles, which none of the other pens here have. What that does mean is that it takes some practice to get used to the long brush and the way that moves. You have to take the time to get used to how you apply pressure to get the thick and thin brush strokes because the variety of widths you can get is huge but can be hard to master. It does exactly what I want it to and gives you the option of writing on basically any surface!

And that is it for this brush pen review. I have added links straight to the pens on the Cult Pens website now.

‘Thanks for reading!

Review: Brush Pens Pt1

Every now and again I buy a pen that surprises me, I wish it happened more often but I’m a fickle being. The greatest thing about buying (most) pens is that they don’t cost the Earth so if they aren’t perfect you aren’t too much out of pocket. I do LOVE stationery shops where you can test them first though. The fabulous CW Enterprise has a drawer full of well used pencils so you can try each one before you buy (more on that in another post).

This little pile of brush pens came from Cult Pens and came to less than £20. They are a bit more per pen than maybe a biro or a fine liner but you would expect that to be honest and you’ll notice several of them are Japanese so I imagine there’s an import cost included.

On to the pens!

First up is the Zebra Fude Brush Pen. A simple black plastic body with some gold script on the barrel.

Zebra Fude Brush Pen

The nib is a felt tip and it feels very much like a felt tip pen that you would use for colouring in. I don’t like the feel of it much. The nib is quite stiff and doesn’t have much give in it and the ink is a little dry. It doesn’t come out very black either. I wasn’t a fan of this one at all.

Platinum Fude Brush Pen

Next is the Platinum Fude Brush Pen. It’s a plastic disposable pen with no real weight to it. The barrel has beautiful gold Cherry Blossom branches on it as well as some Japanese script which does add to it even though it’s just a plastic pen. Also the lid has a clear and gold glitter pen clip. Nice!

The nib is a felt tip, loaded with ink, which I really like. I can’t stand it when the ink is a bit dry and it’s hard work to draw your loops and it drags across the paper. The nib has a good amount of flexibility as you can see from the video and pics but it took a little bit of getting used to in terms of pressure. It’s a nice little pen but the felt tip will wear quickly if you use it on the wrong paper.

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen Soft Nib

Next in line is the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen Soft Nib. This is my second one of these so that’s a good review already! The nib is a short felt tip with a lot of give but because it’s quite short it’s not too difficult to control like a long brush tip can sometimes be. Good flow of ink from this pen and it’s great for small work. I have written many a certificate with this pen.

Stay tuned for Part 2, I had so much to say I’ve split it into two posts.

Papersmiths Purchases

Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting Papersmiths at Boxpark. We had tickets for the World Championship Athletics at the Olympic stadium and had just enough time to nip down to Boxpark before we needed to make our way over to the Olympic Park. I’m super glad we did!

It’s a lovely pink tiled space with shelves on both sides. The look and feel of it is exactly as you see on their Instagram and markets their brand SO well. I just love consistency of design, it is so joyful.

I bought a blue Nähe general purpose case for carrying around a small drawing kit whilst “on the go”. I wouldn’t say I’m an “on the go” type of person to be honest more “piddle about a bit” but that doesn’t sound as good.

Two limited edition Blackwing pencils, the Lake Tahoe and the Green Jade ones and a Pearl to replace the one I STUPIDLY lent to a student. I should know better.

A green Artline fineliner. Just to see what it’s like.

And a dark pink Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Progresso pencil which is woodless. Yep. You read that right, woodless! No wood, at all. They were all lined up in jars of the same colour and they looked so good. Also I picked it up and the weight of it was lovely. Do you do that? Pick up a pen or a pencil and the weight of it just feels so good in your hand and you have an instant reaction? An audible “ooh!”. I love that!

I treat Blackwings like a collectors item. I just have to try them and line them all up together. I’m such a sucker for well designed objects. I do like these though, both are a good hardness for me. I particularly like the Lake Tahoe one, it’s slight ridges feel nice when you hold it.

The fine liner is good but nothing overly special as fine liners go. Sorry Artline fine liner, I feel bad! It looks good though.

And finally the Progresso pencil… Now, I like soft soft colouring pencils that give a great variance of opacity from dark and opaque to light and slightly transparent. This one is exactly that! I definitely recommend this lovely if you dig colouring with pencils. I like graphic markers but i’m going to experiment a bit more and use these.

I was pretty restrained to be honest. There was so much more in there I could have bought.

Have you been to Papersmiths? What did you buy?

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