Blackwing Volume 4 Pencils: The Mars Pencil

Happy new year! And what better way to start off a new year than with a fresh box of pencils.

Blackwing released their latest seasonal edition, Volume 4, just before the Christmas break, and I think it’s one of my favourite of their special editions. With four editions a year, I’m always excited for what’s going to come out, and I usually keep a box, sharing a pencil or two with Caleb, and this year I’m debating whether or not I need a spare.*

It’s inadvertently become a tradition, when the new shipment of pencils comes in, at the end of the day to bring a box upstairs, open it up with some oohing, bust out the big crank sharpener and sharpen up two brand new pencils. I admit to some lamenting at the imminent abandonment of a crisp new Blackwing under the couch/in the toy bin/wedged between books on the shelf, but I’ll still have 11. I’ll still have 11.

Volume 4 Blackwing Pencil

This Volumes edition is a tribute to Mars and NASA and future exploration and technology.

My favourite part of the pencil is probably the rust-coloured, sand-textured finish on the barrel. The pencil also has a bronze ferrule, and a cream eraser, which look great altogether, but I really just like the texture and the feel in the hand, along with the soft core. As a fountain pen user who likes their nibs with a hint of feedback, rather than super glassy smooth, sometimes a really nice pencil just hits the spot.

On a personal note, it was interesting timing when the pencil was released a month ago, because I had just finished reading The Martian, a book about an astronaut mistakenly stranded on Mars, later made into a movie, which I’ve not yet seen, featuring Matt Damon. Jon and I have been doing this thing where we read books together: we’ve each made a list of books, and then in one night of heated negotiations against chance, we randomly chose books off that list to make one master list. I read slightly faster than Jon, and while I squeeze in a few books between reading off the Jon-Liz-Book-List, Jon also occasionally skips a book to catch up. It drives me crazy when he skips a book that I’ve read, that was also his choice, like The Martian, but I suppose in this case, it was the universe’s way of telling me to keep my eyes open.

Volume 4 Blackwing Pencil Graphite Comparison
For a comparison of pencil leads: the Volume 4 is the soft graphite, the Pearl in the middle and the 602 is the firmest.
Volume 4 Blackwing Pencil Graphite Writing Sample
Volume 4 Blackwing Pencil

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So here we are, already into the new year. I feel like I haven’t really gotten to start anything new as of January 1st, resolutions or otherwise, because we’ve been so busy wrangling all of the things that come up when you have a “day off”: a broken furnace, a haircut for Caleb, various appointments and phone calls. Now that Caleb is back in school, I feel like I’m finally relishing the fresh start of a new year – only seven days behind.

For the shop, there’s lots ahead, although nothing as flashy as last year. Small changes, some bigger changes behind the scenes. Plans for just the next couple of weeks or months. Goals for the year, with numbers that seem to make sense, but that we’re only guessing at. A bit of course correcting after all the dust settles from the holidays and the big moves. Maybe a bit of traveling this summer, something we put off last year with the studio shop, and the year before with Naomi being born in the fall.

As Caleb gets older, smarter, smart-aleck-er, there are plans for him too. I don’t think I fully realized the ease of when Caleb was 1 and 2 and 3 and there weren’t quite as many expectations or decisions that would impact His Future Prospects: it was just about whether that spinach made it all the way in his mouth. There have been some quasi-serious discussions around the dinner table about knuckling down and really nailing those phonics, really kicking those legs at swimming lessons. Mmhmm, Mama. Vroom vroom. Can we play hide and seek after dinner?

And for our girl: we finally got Naomi some shoes. She began walking a few months ago, and we had been letting her go barefoot or in stocking feet in the shop, which hadn’t been the end of the world, but has attracted the odd raised eyebrow. In any case, new year, new shoes.

*The answer is, of course, no. And, also, yes.

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