Sunday, 6 February 2011

Ok Ok...I am a pencil addict!

After realising my distinct lack of non-soluble pencils, and hearing about the blend-a-bility and general wonderfulness of soft core pencils such as Sanford Prismacolors, Derwent Coloursofts and Faber Castell Polychromos from my online arty friends... I realised it was time for me to branch out from my water-soluble pencils and invest in a decent set!

Now I am an avid Derwent fan... for a couple of reasons:-

1. In my opinion, they make the best watercolour pencils.
A long time ago when the world was young and the barrel of Derwent Watercolour pencils was grey (that's before the light blue and new dark blue livery!), I bought a set of 12 Derwent (then Rexel Derwent) Watercolour pencils to use in general crafting... and I liked them... I was happy. I used to demonstrate them in my cardmaking classes and recommend them.

But then as I became more "arty" and my focus turned more to watercolouring rather than crafting, I heard good reports about Caran d'Ache pencils (particularly the Prismalo and Supracolor ranges). So I indulged my intrigue and bought an 18 set of each and I started making charts. I did different charts for laying down the colour and blending it out with a wet brush and taking the colour direct from the tip... and the more I experimented, the more I realised I still preferred my old Derwents....they just seemed to blend better with the water.

I then happened upon an artist called Charles Evans after buying his book about Watercolouring with Pencils and I noticed, in the book, he used Daler Rowney Pencils ... how could I not? The complete range was only 36 colours... and so I bought yet another set of watercolour pencils. I think, at this point, even my husband said, "haven't you got enough pencils?" - well we all know the answer to that right? - You never have enough!

More charts were made, again comparing them with the Derwents, as the Caran d'Ache pencils had fallen by the wayside... and I still found that the Derwent pencils washed out better, gave a more painterly effect. (I must note here that Charles Evans now recommends Derwent watercolour pencils too!)

And then the Derwent Graphitint and Inktense pencils arrived on the scene and I was in enamoured! I knew that my heart was with Derwent and their exceptional products. I replaced my old grey 12 set with a new, shiny, tin of 36, which I have slowly been adding to.

2. They are made in the UK
Yes, rare as it seems these days, Derwent Pencils are manufactured here in the UK, in the heart of Cumbria (the Lake District) since the 1800s. Being a Great British subject myself, I feel it's pretty cool to be able to 'Buy British', especially as I find the quality so comparatively good with other manufacturers.

Soooo... back to the non-soluble pencils... I needed to replace my pack of Crayola's with some artist quality pencils, but this time I was going to do some reading up before I splashed out on a variety of pencils... read reviews, watch videos... and then buy once, buy right! The choice was between the Sanford Prismacolors, the Derwent Coloursofts and the Faber Castell Polychromos.

First the Faber Castell Polychromos Pencils... and I kinda wrote these off quite quickly as I read that the Polychromos are a medium-soft pencil and not as easily blendable as Prismacolor or Coloursoft... that didn't sound inviting to me as I wanted good 'blend-a-bility'

As a lot of my arty friends are over the pond in USA and Canada, they presented a big case for Sanford Prismacolor Pencils. Not so easy to buy here in the UK, but if they are the best... I'd invest! I read as many unbiased reviews as possible, there were many both for and against, and one thing kept coming up over and over again, the fact that the Prismacolor cores broke easily... not something I would be particularly keen to experience. I also read about concerns regarding Sanford moving their manufacturing plant to Mexico and the quality of 'blend-a-bililty' seemingly (reportedly) being reduced as a result. Hmmm.

Then, more by luck than anything else, I was digging through an old pencil case and I found that I *actually* owned 5-6 Prismacolor pencils! RESULT! (I had bought a pencil case from a local charity shop at the tail end of last year and there was a whole mish-mash of pencils and crayons in there!) I had a play. They seemed ok. They were certainly 100% better than my Crayola set... but... well maybe it was my inexperience with non-solubles but I wasn't overly wowed.

That left the Derwent Coloursoft Pencils. With the positive reviews I had read, the ease of purchase in the UK and (although I had been trying to push it to one side) my love of all things Derwent, I bit the bullet... well in fact my husband did (oh yeah, he of the "too many pencil" comment! - Valentines pressie he said!) and got the set of 48 Coloursoft Pencils in the Wooden Box.

...and I *love* them. They are soft and creamy, they blend amazingly well and the wooden box is to die for! I've never had a Derwent wooden box of pencils before and was carrying it around like a baby before I realised just how clever that box is! The drawers are magnetised, so they don't slide out if you tip the box up (simple but ingenious!) and the pencils holders/separators are flocked and hold the pencils tight... so no slip-sliding here!

So, if you are in UK or not, and are in the market for some non-soluble, easily blendable, artist quality pencils, I certainly suggest giving the Coloursofts a try!

(This post was not sponsored by anyone, all views and opinions expressed are my own!)

1 comment:

  1. Oh you are another coloursoft fan! Aren't they great? I have a set on order but not that really cool wooden box you got! That is sweet. I will be getting the set of 24 in a metal tin. But I will be thrilled with them. I too think they are superior to the Prismacolors.