Review by Tina Koyama
Once I grabbed onto the Caran d’Ache Klein Blue Maxi pencil, the slope became slippery. I had already had my eye on the Klein Blue Fixpencil ($52), which I had resisted for a while . . . until I realized that it came with Klein Blue leads! And the leads are water-soluble! I could resist no longer.
The limited edition 2mm Fixpencil comes in a metal gift box in the expected “infinite ultramarine blue” that Klein is known for. The lid is emblazoned with the Caran d’Ache logo and the artist’s signature.
Inside the box is the Fixpencil and a tube containing one graphite lead and three Klein Blue leads.
If you read my review of the “junior” Caran d’Ache Fixpencil 884, all my remarks there hold true for the Klein Blue version. The body has the same sleek, comfortable design. The only differences I can see are that the luscious Klein Blue finish is matte instead of glossy, and the grip is without the subtle texture of the standard 884. And of course, Klein’s signature graces one facet of the pencil.
The graphite lead is also the same as the one that came with my standard Fixpencil. An HB grade, it is pleasantly smooth graphite that I enjoy writing and drawing with. But – let’s get to the main attraction (for me): I immediately plopped one of the Klein Blue leads in and got out a Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook (which has paper that would adequately enable me to see the lead’s water-soluble properties) and a waterbrush.
After being dazzled by the pencil’s body and even the box, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the pigment’s intensity. I had to work pretty hard to get the degree of color you see in the sketch above. Even as I was sketching, I was thinking of Caran d’Ache’s standard 2mm colored leads, which are very soft and highly pigmented for clutch leads. When compared to the standard blue lead below (swatches made in Col-o-Ring Oversize), Klein Blue is a bit pale.
Still, I’m thrilled by the limited-edition Fixpencil itself, which seems to be growing scarcer by the minute. I’m glad I grabbed one when I did.