Review by Tina Koyama
When Caran d’Ache recently brought out a limited-edition line of products honoring the French artist Yves Klein, the Fixpencil and standard-size graphite pencils were expected, but this item was a delightful surprise: the Klein Blue Maxi graphite pencil. (Unfortunately, it’s now out of stock at the Gentleman Stationer, but Joe’s blog post about his love for jumbo pencils includes beautiful photos much better than mine.)
The gorgeous ultramarine blue barrel has a lovely matte finish and semi-hex shape. According to the Museum of Modern Art, Klein “adopted this hue as a means of evoking the immateriality and boundlessness of his own particular utopian vision of the world.”
Like the Gentleman, I enjoy using jumbo, mini-jumbo and any slightly over-sized pencils (such as many of Caran d’Ache’s woodcased pencils, including my favorite Museum Aquarelle colored pencils). Although I have small hands, I find larger-barreled pencils to be more comfortable to hold for both writing and drawing, especially when doing either for a lengthy period. Instead of feeling like a child using a jumbo crayon, I feel a bit badass.
The Klein Blue Maxi’s HB core is a thick 5mm in diameter. I usually prefer a softer grade, but this graphite is silky smooth, so that makes up for its hardness. It’s probably at least partly because of its thickness, but it glides soundlessly on paper like a much softer Japanese core.
On the opposite end is a very nice detail: Capless, the otherwise unfinished end is ever-so-slightly conical.
Drawing with it is as comfortable as writing with it.
I don’t have a hand-crank sharpener that accommodates the 10mm Maxi, but the Gentleman recommends the Classroom Friendly Jumbo Sharpener. I just took my Opinel to it.
The Maxi is a fitting tribute to an artist who was larger than life.