Pencil Review: Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood

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Hey guys! Long time no talk!  I've admittedly neglected the blog recently, and to be perfectly honest...lots of cool video games came out, life got busy, and I'm planning my wedding that's coming up this October!  So, things have been a little hectic, but I'm kicking myself in gear and getting back to business here at The Desk of Lori!

I decided that to get back into the swing of things, I'd do my first PENCIL review!  During my hiatus, I started listening to the Erasable Podcast, and though I have never been a fan of wood-cased pencils, they ignited the stationery nut in me and I gave it a shot.  I now have some favies and a decent collection that I definitely want to share with you guys.  I wanted to start out with a pencil that has quite a reputation in the community, and (spoiler) is one of my absolute favorites: the Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood.

One of the first things you'll notice about this pencil is that it has a very unique fragrance.  From what I've seen on the Erasable Facebook group (check it out if you're not a member!), is that about 50% of people love it, and the other 50% of people absolutely hate it.  I'm part of the former group, and LOVE the smell of this pencil!  Most people that don't like it so much think it smells like soy sauce.  I think it has a very unique smell, kind of spicy/earthy and hard to describe.  I also don't eat Chinese food, so maybe that's why I just don't get the soy sauce fragrance.  I love having it in my Nock Co. Chimneytop because it makes it smell amazing!

Another thing you'll notice immediately is that the wood is very dark, unlike most pencils you see.  The Swiss Wood is made from Beech Wood from the Jura Rainforest, which is absolutely gorgeous.  The pencil appears to be a raw wood finish, but it does have a slight lacquer on it.  It's nice and subtle, though, so when I use it I feel like I'm using an non-lacquered pencil.  The pencil features a red dipped end with the Swiss cross on it, and I've found that I much prefer pencils with no ferrule and eraser on them.  The pencil is ever-so-slightly fatter than your standard pencils that you'll find at the store, so be cautioned that this one may not fit in all pencil sharpeners.  I use a Mobius & Ruppert Grenade sharpener and it works perfectly.

I may have borrowed Mr. Dudek's idea of putting shavings into a metal ashtray :)

The "lead" in this pencil is graded as HB, which is the same as #2 for the Americanized grading system.  An HB sits at the insection of darkness and hardness for pencils, so it's a perfect daily use grade.  What I will say about this pencil in particular, is that I find the HB for this one to be just *slighly* lighter than most other HBs that I have used.  As such, it also holds a point forever, which is another one of my favorite features of this pencil.  The graphite is nice and buttery smooth, and a pleasure to write with for long writing sessions.  The Swiss Wood is slightly heavier than most pencils, so you may notice more fatigue with this one than you do with some others.

As amazing as this pencil is, it does come at a steep price tag.  C.W. Pencils sells it for $4.50, and I've seen it other places online for up to $5.  I personally think it's completely worth it, but it may not be for everyone.  There are plenty of other pencils out there that write just as well for significantly less money, but if you like fancy & unique pencils, I urge you to give this one a try.  If you're anything like me, you'll be totally hooked!

The Swiss Wood holds up well in comparison with some of the darker pencils I have.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep an eye out on the blog - I plan on releasing some other pencil reviews, some more pen & paper reviews, and eventually some ink reviews as well.  If there's anything in particular you'd like to see, do let me know.  I love hearing from you guys!  If you'd like to be notified via email when I post, hit the Subscribe button and sign up.

In Memory of Susan Wirth

I wanted to take a moment to express my sadness on the loss of Susan Wirth.  For those of you who don't know, Susan was a mainstay of pen shows around the country - known as the "Queen of Ink," an enthusiastic collector and knowledge bank of pens, she captivated the heart of the pen community over the years.  I was not fortunate enough to know Susan, as I don't have a "local" pen show, but watching Brad Dowdy's YouTube video with her from a couple of years ago, I recall thinking, "this lady seems like she'd be a blast to hang out with!"  Her passion for fountain pens, and quest to help people find the perfect pen and nib for their writing style seemed so evident, even in just a short YouTube video.  The loss of one of our own is never easy, but I think it's fair to say that Susan's presence will always be felt in the community.  I truly wish I'd gotten to meet her, but fortunately the community has many memories to keep her spirit very much alive.

I encourage you to read Ana Reinert's Post on Susan as well.  She is putting together a book for the DC Pen show full of stories, anecdotes, and remembrances for Susan. If you'd like to share yours, you can reach out to Ana and submit those to her at chair [at] wellappointeddesk.com.  I'd love to hear your stories about Susan in the comments below as well.

Fountain Pen Day Giveaway - Winner!

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I am once again humbled for the turnout for this giveaway - almost 300 entries!  Thank you all so much for your readership, and I hope you had an awesome Fountain Pen Day!

The winner is.......

UPDATE:  Mary did not claim her prize, so I've drawn a new winner - Brian S!  Brian, keep an eye on your email - I'll be reaching out to you to notify you that you've won!

Congratulations Mary!  Mary spent Fountain Pen Day inking up her new Lamy 2000 (love that pen).  Keep an eye on your email for a message from me - get your address to me by next Friday!  Thanks so much to everyone else for participating - I'll do another giveaway soon!

Fountain Pen Day 2016 Giveaway!

Other ink bottles not listed below, and various desk accessories not included

Other ink bottles not listed below, and various desk accessories not included

The Desk has gotten cluttered once again! In honor of Fountain Pen Day, and as a thanks to all of my amazing readers, I'm doing another giveaway!

The winner will receive:

1) 1 bottle of (almost new) Noodler's Nightshade - I've taken maybe one filling out of the bottle.
2) Tons of ink samples in various volumes that I've reviewed on the blog - some may require syringing to fill a converter.
3) A Kaweco Skyline Sport in Grey w/ a Fine nib - this has been gently used a few times, and was reviewed on the blog.  It's been cleaned and will come with a Kaweco cartridge and the box (box says EF, but it's been fitted with a Fine nib).

Ink Samples List:
Faber-Castell Garnet Red
J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor
Platinum Pigmented Rose Red
Iroshizuku Ina-ho
Iroshizuku Chiku-rin
Sailor Kobe #3 Sepia
Platinum Mix-free Sunny Yellow
Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses
KWZI Green Gold
KWZI Iron Gall Green Gold
Diamine Bilberry
Private Reserve Avacado
Diamine Shimmertastic Magical Forest
De Atramentis Cucumber
Noodler's Squeteague
Noodler's Saguaro Wine
KWZI Foggy Green
De Atramentis Mint Turquoise

So what do you have to do?  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget above - the only requirement is that you answer the question "What are you doing to celebrate Fountain Pen Day?" If you would like an additional 2 entries, follow @thedeskoflori on Twitter, and for an additional 2 entries per day, tweet about the contest.

Fine Print: Contest will end Friday night/Saturday morning, November 5, 2016 at 12:00AM EST (midnight). Winner will be announced Saturday morning! Open to continental US Residents only - unfortunately shipping ink bottles outside the US is insanely expensive, and since this is out of my own pocket, it's not practical for me to ship overseas. My sincerest apologies for this!  The package will be shipped via USPS - I will not be responsible if the package is lost in shipping.  Please provide a valid email address for your entry so that I may contact you if you win - I assure you that your email address will not be sold, traded, given away or used in any way other than to notify you that you've won.  If I do not receive a response in 1 week from the close of the contest, I will draw a new winner.  I will validate your entries, and any invalid entries will be disqualified.  Thanks for entering!

This contest is not sponsored by any of the retailers/companies related to the products included - these are just products that I enjoy and that I've bought for review.  You should definitely go support these companies though, they make great products!