Ever since I saw The Pencil Factory Nashville Pencil Set, I’ve wanted to pick it up but I never did it. My husband, sweetheart that he is, bought them for me for Christmas this year. In the box is an assortment of six different pencils and a small scratchpad of paper. The paper pad seems like a filler but I appreciate that they tried to make it feel like a little “kit”. What I was interested in was the pencils!
The packaging and branding is top-notch and everything suggests that the pencils are actually manufactured in the US, in Nashville, TN which, as a former resident of the state, is a bonus.
All the pencils are painted with a warm ivory enamel and stamped in gold with the pencil name and the “THE PENCIL FACTORY”. The ferrules and/or caps are a soft gold, not as shiny as they look in photos which give them a more refined appearance in person. The erasers, where present, are a bright raspberry pink and are a pleasing contrast in color to the warm ivory paint. Aesthetically, these are lovely pencils and the paint is smooth in the hand.
Because of the variety of sizes of pencils, I had to get a little creative when I sharpened them. The Sweetbriar was a standard width pencil and I could use my 2-step Palomino long point sharpener. The Bridge pencil, because it was so slender, I could use just the long point side of the 2-step sharpener and it sharpened beautifully. The Midtown, which is the hexagonal white wax pencil, was sharpened using my Prismacolor sharpener which is designed to sharpen softer leads. The jumbo-sized West End and Hester were sharpened using an old school wall-mount hand crank sharpener as it was the only thing I had with an opening large enough to accommodate these chubby, big-grip pencils. And finally, the carpenter pencil was ineffectually hand sharpened with an X-acto. Somewhere, I own a carpenter pencil sharpener but I could not find it.
The Midtown ended up being a pleasant surprise. I tested it on kraft paper and it was opaque enough to work just fine so this is a good pencil for marking on any stocks that are not white, I suspect. Fun with colored paper, for sure!
I was expecting something a bit chalky and hard but it turned out to be a surprisingly soft, waxy white crayon in pencil form. It was so soft, in fact, that I had to resharpen the tip to write the word “FUN” at the end of my sample as the tip had already gone soft as you can see in the word “lead”. The one thing I did notice is it is a very hexagonal pencil, so much so that it actually dug into my hands a bit. I guess a lot of manufacturers now soften those points giving most hex pencils a rounder, softer feel. The Midtown writes soft but feels a little sharp.
I tested the other pencils on standard Rhodia paper and started with the most traditional, the Sweetbriar. Normally, I don’t favor smooth round barrels as they tend to feel a little wide in my hand but overall the Sweetbriar wrote very smoothly. Then I picked up the Bridge pencil which is the same smooth barrel but in a much narrower width and I liked it much better. I don’t think I’ve ever really used bridge pencils much before nor do I know why they were designed more slender than standard pencils but I really like the size of the the Bridge and it has the same smooth lead as the Sweetbriar. Of the set, the Bridge is the pencil I set aside immediately as my favorite of the lot.
The West End and the Hester are both jumbo pencils. The West End is a smooth, round barrel and the Hester is a hexagonal barrel. I know there are a lot of folks who actually prefer the size of jumbo pencils in the hand but would rather they didn’t look like they were designed for children. If you fall into this camp, than the Pencil Factory jumbo pencils are made for you. Aesthetically, they are upscale and understated. They perform well too. Smooth, though I found the Hester to be softer than the West End even though all the graphite pencils are labelled No. 2. You’ll see I smudged around the Hester writing sample and how much darker the writing appears. Curious.
The Old Hickory is not your average carpenter pencil. It is a double-ended carpenter pencil with graphite on one end and red colored lead on the other. I love that the Pencil Factory created this unique carpenter pencil but I very seldom have need for this type of pencil. When actually marking wood, I have often just used a Prismacolor. Shhh, don’t tell. That said, its a clever design though the red lead is a little harder than I would have expected, especially after using the soft, white wax of the Midtown.
My last test was to see if the pink erasers were useful. They do an adequate job on everything except the red from the carpenter pencil thought I’m still inclined to recommend keeping a Mars Staedtler plastic eraser with you if you really want to erase something. Pink eraser are cute but not all that useful.
All in all, the Pencil Factory Nashville Pencil Set was a treat and I’m glad I got a chance to try these out. Keep in mind that if you purchase these, be prepared to figure out how to sharpen all the various widths. Otherwise, its a fun little set with fabulous design aesthetics.
I suspect I’ll be buying a dozen of the Bridge pencils soon. New obsession!