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Women in Cedar

CalCedar women leaders attended the Advancing Women’s Leadership Conference at University of the Pacific here in Stockton which included speaking appearances by Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook as Keynote Speaker, as well as Bank of America – California President Janet Lamkin and classical music “maverick” Jade Simmons sharing their inspirational stories.

Centennial Pencil Display

During the research phase for the writing of our company history “The Story of CalCedar: 100 Years of Pencil Supply History” one of the interesting documents unearthed in our company and family archives was a 1905 patent awarded to Philip Berolzheimer for a series of creative geometrical shaped pencil displays.

CalCedar kicks off it’s Centennial Celebration Week

About a week back we passed through the half way point of our Centennial year here at California Cedar Products Company.  We’ve been pretty quiet about all this on the Timberlines blog so far, but there has been lots of activity behind the scenes prepping a number of projects and events in celebration of achieving this milestone later this year on December 14th.

This all starts this week with a multi-day Centennial Celebration here in California which includes many of out top slat customers and pencil brands from the world attending to visit our facilities, participate in a sawmill and forestry tour and to join us in a final Gala dinner and show at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Thursday June 29th.  Representatives from company’s such as Schwan Cosmetics, Schwan Stabilo,  Mistubishi Pencil Co., Caran d’Ache,  General Pencil Co., A.W. Faber-Castell, Musgrave Pencil Co., Cumberland Pencil (Derwent), Tombow and more will be in attendance in addition to a number of our wood suppliers and other special guests.  The final dinner show event, “An Evening of Magic, Music and Memories” will be a fun event featuring some of our Blackwing musicians and some new faces.  We are excited to have the chance to thank our customers, suppliers, employees and other collaborative partners for their long and positive relationships and support in reaching this milestone.  In a sense we’re the youngster in this group as each of the companies I listed above have achieved the centennial mark and more, which is an interesting statement on the longevity of a number of the most famous companies and brands in the world’s pencil industry.  We are proud to be associated with these industry partners and to be respected as a long term reliable supplier of Genuine Incense-cedar and other species pencil slats.

Our longtime friend and slat customer Masanobu Sakamoto at Sakamoto & Company, couldn’t attend, though sent us this decorated chocolate set shown a gift to help us celebrate our 100th year.  Deco Choco is a new venture by Sakamoto branching out into customized chocolates, candies and snacks as an outgrowth of their decorated stationery, pens and pencils.  They even have a bricks and mortar location in the Ginza area of Tokyo.

On the new product front our recent Blackwing Volume 73 release is a tribute to Lake Tahoe and was timed to coordinate with this event. Though not an official Centennial product it seemed a fitting choice and we’re happy to have teamed up with the League to Save Lake Tahoe to Keep Tahoe Blue, by donating $2 in the name of each Volumes subscriber.  So if you’re not a subscriber already here’s an added chance to participate and help out with these by subscribing here.

A final project to give you a head up about is that I’ve been busy over the past year writing a history of the company “The Story of CalCedar: 100 Years of Pencil Supply History“.  Just yesterday we received the first 100 copies in time to use as gifts for participants at this week’s Gala event, but the balance will be arriving soon and we may be making some available on Pencils.com for those interested once we get a handle.  More to come on this project, and other centennial related items as we get through the busy but exciting week ahead.

 

Celebrating the Japanese Pencil Industry

Sometime next week, tentatively on November 2nd, we’ll be introducing a few select items from two Japanese brands on Pencils.com; Kitaboshi Pencil Company and Tombow. The selection includes several great items for the holiday gift giving season. You can learn more about those specific items in an upcoming Studio 602 story early next week. This expansion of brands at Pencils.com is a part of our continuing effort to introduce more of the products of our pencil slat customers’ from around the world. This allows us to increase the breadth of great high quality pencil offerings on Pencils.com, some of which are not readily available or well known in the U.S. Market. It also helps increase awareness and appreciation of some great pencils and of the wood-cased pencil in general. Given our close relations as a wood slat supplier to many producers around the world, we hope to continue growing our offering mix quite a bit over the next year. This week also marks my annual visit to Tokyo to visit a number of our pencil slat customers and to work with our Palomino and Blackwing producer about production planning and product development for new pencil items we expect to introduce in 2012. Most notably a Palomino quality, private label pencil program, though we’ll share more about this in the coming months as that program moves closer to launch. The Japanese Pencil industry is probably one of the most interesting domestic pencil industries in the world. Relatively young by comparison to its European and US counterparts with several brands dating back 100+ years, most Japanese production and development of wood-cased pencils began in the post World War II era. Over the past 20 years the industry has been subject to many of the globalization pressures faced by other developed western markets it also faces an extra challenge of demographic trends; a declining and aging population which means the consumption of pencils in Japan is actually declining year to year and has been for some time. Japan is the highest cost pencil production market in the world which is reflected in their prices. As a result very little exportation of Japanese wood-cased pencils is occurring, so the local market dictates overall production trends domestically. (In fact Pencils.com with our Palomino and Blackwing products and more Japanese pencils coming may be one of the largest volume export distributors to North America already.) Despite these trends the Japanese production supply chain remains relatively intact and traditional without the degree of radical makeovers of mergers, acquisitions, or the extent of off-shoring production that the industry has witnessed in North America and Europe. Yes, there are certainly fewer producers over time, with several dropping out over the pat few years, but the basic structure has been relatively static. Also taken in context of relative market size vs. Europe and North America there are actually proportionately more Japanese companies actively involved in the production of pencils and pencil components in Japan today than in these other regions. Why is this? Several factors contribute. First, Japan is a high quality and brand loyal market with consumers who understand the difference between good and bad pencils and are willing to pay the difference. The 100 yen pencil is quite common and Beyond the major brands, Mitsubishi with its Hi-Uni and Tombow with it’s Mono, there has long been a unique demand for specialty pencils that also give a collectibles status such as “Character Pencils”, popular Disney, Pokemon and Anime characters licensed to either a pencil producer or a marketing company that contracts a local producer to produce their pencils. “Game Pencils” which treat the 6 sides of the pencil as a sort of die which children can roll against one another and win each other’s pencils. And a whole range of designer theme pencils. Such innovations were first made popular in the Japan before being adopted by some US companies focusing on the school pencil market as they attempted. Even if a marketing company has the rights to a character they most generally still use a Japanese sub-contractor for quality reasons and there have been a few lessons learned about the expectations of the Japanese consumer when the quality of an imported character pencil was not up to par. In the US, more and more of such license or designer theme pencils are imported by marketers from lower cost manufacturing, with just a couple companies actively producing such pencils in the US today. In Japan all the companies are involved in this segment of the market. Second, the unique structure of the Japanese industry involves a variety of specialist subcontractors, some who only specialize in one or two parts of the manufacturing process, such as wood-working, lacquering and finishing, graphite & color core production or packaging. Larger companies such as Mitsubishi and Tombow and mid tier producers such as Sakamoto and Kitaboshi use these often more nimble or uniquely skilled sub-contractors to meet special processing needs, smaller production run sizes and do quicker turnaround on orders. The character pencil marketing companies as well as some branded pens producers such as Pentel rely entirely on sub-contractors for their wood cased pencil needs. Such a structure helps to shorten the supply chain vs. imported pencils in the changing specialty, novelty pencil market. All of these sub-contractors are small family owned companies operating essentially in a building that co-locates production with their own homes. They are more like traditional artisan workshops than what the average person would picture as a factory. The owners of these businesses are highly skilled and knowledgeable about their business. The extreme care and detail they speak with in discussing the technical aspects of doing this or that operation in the manufacturing process can be a truly amazing experience. Generally their home and factory debt has long been paid off and though their equipment is old and slow they are the best at what they do. Still this industry structure faces several threats which are a factor of both the demographic and competitive globalization trends over time. As the overall market shrinks and largest producers feel pressure from lower cost pencils they tend to keep more production in house to retain their economies of scale, thus slowly squeezing some of the subcontractors out. Mainly, focused on non-pencil products such as pens, markers, correction tape, etc. these companies still feel their pencil business is important and need remain the most efficient volume producers. Some have set up off-shore production of certain pencil components or assembly operations for some products in Vietnam or China, similar to western producers who have gone multi-national in their operations. Over time the mid-tier companies have adapted by focusing on introducing new products to diversify their business away from pencils into complementary novelty items, by broadening their sales distribution channels or dropping certain manufacturing functions to use subcontractors, etc. Finally, as the business owners’ age in the sub-contractor segment, often the 2nd or 3rd generation family members are not interested in continuing with the same passion as their parents, so these businesses also tend to shake out due to lack of management succession or natural selection of a sort. As a wood supplier to the Japanese Pencil Industry for three generations, our company is always conscious of these challenges. We value the close relationships we’ve built with many of these companies and families and salute their commitment to producing the highest quality wood-cased pencils. Adding and promoting more pencils produced in Japan to our Pencils.com offerings is just one small way of supporting these friends in the industry. They produce some of the most unique and interesting novelty pencils in the world and in time we hope to make this collectable segment a larger part of our offering in addition to some of the branded items we’ll be introducing in the coming weeks and months. We hope you’ll help you’ll join us in our Japanese Pencil Celebration event in November at Pencils.com.

Reviving the Blackwing: One Year In

Saturday October 1st will mark the first anniversary of the “rebirth” of the Blackwing pencil brand with our Palomino Blackwing pencil. This was followed in June by our introduction of the Palomino Blackwing 602 model, which more closely replicated the look, feel and performance of the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencil. We’ve been fortunate to see early success with these efforts and a growing following of happy and dedicated customers on Pencils.com, and increasing interest from dealers and retail trade to stock Blackwings as well. Certainly, we cannot yet claim a big commercial and financial success and any accumulating sales margins are being reinvested in further development of the business. However, the progress is encouraging and we are continuing to push forward in our day by day efforts towards these goals.Naturally at such symbolic occasions as an anniversary or birthday one tends to contemplate various events that lead to the current conditions or state of mind we find ourselves in; be those events and circumstances positive, negative, fortuitous, unlucky, results of poor decisions or just hard earned. So I thought I’d share a number of my key thoughts on this topic as we look back at what brought us to this point.Much of the history and our motivation for re-launching the Blackwing Brand I covered in this early post and others in my “Reviving the Blackwing” series last year. There is much I could add to this going back through some of the history of the development of our first Pencils.com e-commerce shop and our original Palomino pencil range which were essential early steps. Having the old platform of the Incense Cedar Institute Pencil Pages on the pencils.com URL of course gave us a good start at getting our products seen by quite a few visitors reviewing our early Story of Pencils educational content. However, in essence, it was really listening to the frequent suggestions of our customers requesting our Palomino pencil with the replaceable eraser with the ferrule assembly design of the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 that we determined to move forward.As we prepared to launch our new pencil we initially intended to call it the “Palomino Pegasus”. I even had written some early marketing material expounding on the legend of Pegasus landing upon Mt. Helicon and loosening the rock from which sprung forth the Hippocrene spring. This spring is where the Muses gathered and was believed to be the source of their poetic inspiration. Thus by association our new Palomino Pegasus pencils would be a catalyst of artistic expression. However, we then learned that Newell (Sanford) had allowed the Blackwing trademark to lapse and so through good fortune and quick action we filed for and claimed the rights and instead launched our pencil as the Palomino Blackwing. It’s often been erroneously reported over the past year that we purchased the Blackwing trademark. However this has been the result of a mistaken assumption by a few who misunderstood the meaning of the phrase “acquired the trademark” where the word acquire is not specific as to the means of coming into possession of something.Perhaps the most important aspect of our success to date however is the strong support of our customers and sharing of the Blackwing story. Certainly we’ve worked hard to cultivate and promote the story of the original Blackwing and have benefited greatly by some wonderful PR exposure from Boston Globe, Boing Boing, a host of pencil bloggers, Fortune Magazine, NewYorker.com and many other websites and blogs that just like to share cool stuff. So we are greatly appreciative of all the support, feedback and in some cases even criticism that we’ve received from our customers and others over the past year. One of my key aspirations for all our efforts has been to spur a re-engagement of as many people as possible with the wood-cased pencil and an appreciation for what a true quality pencil is. In a sense to make pencils more cool and fun. In our continuing efforts to listen and respond to your feedback we didn’t stop with the initial version. We redesigned a new Palomino Blackwing 602 model to satisfy those customers looking for a pencil with both design and functional writing performance of the original Eberhard Faber version. The response to our 602 model has been even greater and we are seeing and hearing more from those of you who are rediscovering the joy of writing with a real high quality smooth graphite pencil whether it’s a Blackwing or another of your favorite models.Through the telling of the Blackwing story and our new Studio 602 content we continue to focus on bringing light to a range of creative expression and to provide inspiration for you to use the Blackwing to initiate the process of executing your creative ideas whatever they may be. Ultimately, despite the name change from Pegasus to Blackwing we still hope our pencils and other new products can be that catalyst for executing on your creative expression and thus view the developing Palomino Blackwing range as “More than a Pencil”.Finally, as we approach the 1st Birthday of the Palomino Blackwing we are celebrating by launching on Pencils.com today our new range of Blackwing folio, notebooks and sketchbooks. This is a natural next step in the evolution of the Blackwing brand into a broader creative experience. The expanding Blackwing range is accompanied also with new notebook and sketchbook offerings in our Palomino and ForestChoice ranges as well. We are truly excited about these new items and hope that you will be as well. We look forward to your future feedback and participation as we strive to build the Blackwing into a truly creative and fun. Thanks so much for your past and continuing support.

Palomino Blackwing Setting Design Trends

Recently we’ve received a few great examples of how some forward thinking customers have been using our Palomino Blackwing pencils as an integral part of their promotional efforts in their own businesses. As you’ll see our Blackwings can make a great design and quality statement as a corporate gift in combination with a unique story or gift.

The first item is a “Trend Alert” sent out recently by one of our pencil slat customers Schwan-Stabilo Cosmetics, who is the largest supplier of cosmetic pencils to major brands worldwide. Schwan’s Trend Alerts are sent out monthly to over 800 of buyers and decision makers in the fashion and cosmetics industry. The card includes two pencils and has very nice copy section entitled OBJECTS OF DESIRE which briefly introduces the story of the new Palomino Blackwing and CalCedar’s renewal of this graphite pencil with it’s exceptionally dark line. It goes on to introduces a brand new formulation eyeliner pencil they’ve created stating:

We are pairing it [Palomino Blackwing] with the new generation in our wood-clenched eyeliner-pencil formulas. The absolute must have for the eye make-up aficionados. Schwan’s BLACKWING has a never-before-felt satiny, extremely soft and gliding application, laying down an exceptionally intense line that doesn’t smear and lasts all day (and all night).

This idea developed during a meeting I had with Schwan management this past winter in Germany when I was describing to them the launch of our Blackwing pencil. A very nice job particularly of integrating the drawing of the eyes along with the language highlighting the extremely dark and soft drawing performance of our graphite with the story of their new formulation with complementary performance characteristics as an eyeliner. These eyeliner pencils with the Schwan Cosmetics logo and Blackwing imprint are simply design and product samples and are not available for sale under the Schwan brand as their customers purchase products customized with their own brands. The pencil does leave a very dark luxurious mark and I hope it will be a big winner for them this season.

The Second example is from Elixir Design, a San Francisco based Brand Strategy firm who’s approach is deeply linked to great design. Last fall they purchased our Blackwing pencils after the launch to be used as part of this creative premium gift to their clients. The elegantly designed gift box holds a single pencil and is embossed with the quote “Luck Favors the Prepared” 2011 and a simple card internally with quote attribution to Louis Pasteur and a simple note of Best Wishes from all of us at Elixir”. Another interesting touch is the inclusion of a small wax paper envelope which contains shavings from the pencil being sharpened.

Ode to Blackwing

This post is in celebration of the launch of the new Palomino Blackwing 602 we release for sale at midnight tonight and as a fun way to share my own poetic creativity this month given our contest themes. Thus I’ve written my own “Ode to Blackwing” shared here below. Not a great literary effort, but I had fun writing it anyway. A more detailed account of this pencil’s history can be found here or here. Anyway I hope it will inspire you to check out and participate in our Drawing and Writing Contests this month to win free Palomino Blackwing and Palomino Blackwing 602 pencils.

Ode to Blackwing
Written by Charles “WoodChuck” Berolzheimer

There once was a pencil, it was really the thing.
Went by the name of Eberhard-Faber Blackwing
Produced a graphite line so smooth and clean
No pencil could rival it’s metallic lacquer sheen.

It felt like butter as it slid across the page
had an extendable flat eraser, though that tended to age.
They called it the 602, said it wrote with half the pressure, twice the speed
Some really thought this pencil fit their special need.

Was favored by writers, musicians, artists and more.
From whom creative juices would never cease to pour
Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe and the poet MacLeish
Their creative energies were really unleashed.

Musical numbers from Overton, Sondheim and Riddle
To them other pencils were just second fiddle.
Animations galore from Chuck Jones and his ilk,
with flowing lines that went down smooth as silk.

The old Faber factory sold to one, then another
That special graphite formula maybe lost forever
When the corporation saw no profit in fixin’ a machine
The Blackwing days were bound to get a little lean

The Boston Athenaeum, it’s scholars and librarian
Bought up the old stock and started a hoardin’
Selling Blackwings by the pencil for 20, 30, 40 bucks a pop!
And a legend began to grow, the 602 was headed over the top

Then along came the Palomino with it’s deep, rich graphite feel
The bloggers all said that for a buck a pencil that’s quite a deal
The mighty orange pony kept a trotting slow and steady
Building up a stable of riders until the time was a ready

And one by one the old Blackwing fans kept asking
Won’t you please bring back that extending eraser thing
Our 602s are getting scarce and even more costly
To be used only when the muses strike us hotly

So Woodchuck toiled and tinkered, thinking how can it be done?
There’s just not enough volume, it’ll cost a ton.
But he finally got the nerve up to take the big risk
Ordered the eraser tooling and prayed business would be brisk

He designed the new pencils to be dark, soft and smooth
With a black lacquer finish he thought would really groove
He worried some small gold flecks were a bit too profuse
So sought feedback from bloggers, and all hell broke loose.

Where’s that gray, metallic finish? What about my pink eraser?
No 602? And why did you drop that slogan, Half the Pressure?
Yes, it’s super smooth and darker than the Eberhard Faber
But boy we sharpen so often, it really takes some labor.

Still they came, they bought and the Palomino Blackwing was born
Better than an iPad? asked the Globe as they tooted the horn
So Pegasus came down on Mt. Helicon from the heavens
Thus creating the spring, where gathered the muses, seven

So writers, artists, musicians and pencil fans
Were pleased to have Blackwings back in their hands
Their pencil creativity unleashed once again
Putting pencil to paper, smooth as gel pen

But, upon Woodchuck his mind still did nag
That he did not yet have success in the bag
So back to the drawing board to work on version two
To refine this pencil for those he wished still to woo.

A new formulation of graphite so firm and smooth
It lasts one-third longer and that is the truth
Back came the slogan Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed
As his customer’s notions he wished to heed

A shiny new finish to match the old Faber
With polished brilliance of a brand new sabre
So sure to cure those long and weary blues
Of those who mourn Eberhard-Faber 602s

I’ve got the Blackwing Blues.
Sick of paying 30 bucks for my 602’s.
Can’t Draw! Can’t Write!
But everything’s gonna be alright
Cause the Palomino’s comin’ out tonight!

Reviving the Blacking: The All New Palomino Blackwing 602

Well folks I have some exciting things to share with you in this update. We’ve recently received the first small production batch of the new Palomino Blackwing 602 model. This is just 5000 pencils with the next 25,000 schedule for arrival early in June. But more about the availability of this pencil in just a bit, for now let me tell you about this new product.

First, we are very pleased with the new 602’s lacquer finish which reflects the traditional blue-grey grey finish of the Eberhard Faber product during its later years of production, but with an even more distinctive gunmetal grey brilliance. The earliest production of Eberhard Faber product dating to the 1930s actually sported a darker black finish more similar to our existing Palomino Blackwing product. In response to feedback of many 602 fans we have revived the famous slogan “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed” and finished off the design by topping our pencil with a black eraser giving the overall design a simple elegance. Understandably this is a departure from the pink eraser of the Eberhard Faber product that some would prefer, but we have provided this option among our eraser replacement pack options. Sorry I’ve not had time to get decent quality photos shot of the pencils before getting this post out.

Even more exciting is our specially formulated graphite core which has been developed to provide the Blackwing’s well known smooth glide while offering a significant improvement in wear rate vs. both or Palomino Blackwing and the Original Eberhard Faber product. One of the key concerns expressed by those customers doing extensive hand writing with our initial Palomino Blackwing pencil was that despite the extremely soft and smooth feel some customers would like to see an improvement in the wear rate to reduce sharpening frequency. The challenge has been to improve the hardness and reduce the wear rate without sacrificing much in smoothness and as little blackness as possible. We were looking for a firm and smooth formulation to complement the soft and creamy smooth performance of our existing product.

During our formulation and evaluation process with our Japanese graphite producer we performed a set of technical bench tests to develop objective measurements of the wear rates as determined by the length of line drawn per millimeter of wear under constant pressure. This is a mechanical testing device used routinely by our supplier to assure production batches meet established standards for each graphite grade. Our results indicated that the new PB 602 graphite core provided at least 25-35% more extended life vs. our existing Palomino Blackwing and approximately 15-25% greater line length than the original Eberhard Faber 602. So we have improved wear rate substantially versus both items. Of course we give up something in darkness by creating a harder, firmer lead, but the new product compares favorably with the original.

As indicated in my Timberlines post last Fall about graphite performance we’ve found no objective, scientific test that measures smoothness of lead. Each person has their own writing angles and forces reflecting their own writing and drawing style and posture. Based on the more subjective personal testing a number of us involved in the development of this pencil have completed it’s our assessment that the our new 602 model has only a slight loss of smoothness versus our existing Palomino Blackwing pencil and has comparable to slightly improved smoothness vs. the original Eberhard Faber 602. Clearly in the end you all will have to be your own judge on the smoothness characteristic as with your overall assessment of these pencils.

We’ll be officially introducing the new PB 602 model along with a fully redesigned lined of retail packaging for our entire range of Palomino and Palomino Blackwing pencil products the marketplace at the National Stationery Show in New York In just a few days. Our goal is to make our products more widely available by focusing on developing a retail dealer network that appreciates the fine quality and performance of our growing range of. If you have a favorite local stationery shop, artist supply store, bookstore or other gift or specialty retailer you think would be ideal for this product please let them know to drop by our Pencils.com booth if they happen to be visiting the show next week. At the show we’ll also be introducing a line of luxury notebooks and sketchbooks under the Palomino and Blackwing labels as well as FSC Certified notebooks under our ForestChoice brand. But more about these developments in a later post.

As to launching on Pencils.com and actual initial shipments we expect the final packaging production to be complete in the next week and will begin packing pencils as soon as we receive the packaging. This is a photos of our packaging production proofs just received this morning in time four use at the Stationery Show. We have not yet determined if we’ll drop the existing gift box or continue to offer that option on Pencils.com. We expect to initiate Pencils.com sales of the PB602 on or about June 1st providing all goes to current plan. To be notified about when the new Palomino Blackwing 602 goes on sale on Pencils.com make sure to register on our site here.

Finally, we are thrilled to see that our efforts at Reviving the Blackwing have now been covered in the latest issue of Fortune Magazine now on the newsstand. We’re hoping we’ll see increasing press coverage as a result of our launch at the Stationery show this next week.

Reviving the Blackwing: February Update

It’s been almost three full months since my November update so I thought it was about time to bring our fans up to date with a number of interesting and exciting developments with our Palomino Blackwing pencil as well as other Palomino and Pencils.com news.

We’ve made steady progress and have sold through a little under one-half of our initial production run of the Palomino Blackwing to date. One interesting statistic is that we’ve now had purchases from customers in at least 27 countries. We’re very encouraged by the many great responses that we get back from our customers about the smooth and dark writing and drawing performance. We’ve even had positive feedback from Eberhard (Tim) Faber IV who likes our pencil very much and stated that he was happy to learn of the revival of the Blackwing brand which he considered to be one of his favorite products in the entire Eberhard Faber range which he sold to Faber-Castell USA back in the mid to late 1980s.

We’ve been very fortunate to recieve continued publicity through various blog reviews and other print media, most recently a very nice post at Gear Patrol. This was suprisingly well timed with the launch of our current February Palomino Stampede Month Promotion. If you haven’t checked out our special Month long savings and our Weekly Just Because offers we’ve got some interesting deals on Palomino and Palomino Blackwing items this month, plus a drawing contest with a variety of great prizes.
Also we’ve now completed our planning process for our next production run. This included evaluation of what changes and further product range addditions we will be making for the Palomino and Palomino Blackwing products for 2011. Relative to potential changes in the Palomino Blackwing the most common feedback we’ve had to date has been that for those people who are doing more writing vs. sketching, drawing or music notation they would prefer a bit harder graphite grade than presently used. This is also a somewhat common response from fans of the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 product, a topic I covered in an earlier post.

Given lots of postive feedback also from those who really like the new Blackwing’s softer, richer core and stylish black finish, we’ve frankly been in a bit of a conundrum as to how to proceed. Given the added preference from traditional fans of old Eberhard Faber 602s for a finish and styling of the “original” design we’ve now come to a resolution we think will be a great solution for Blackwing fans old and new. The new Palomino Blackwing 602 Classic model!

The “602 Classic” will revive a replica styling of the original Blackwing graphite grey finish as shown above complete with the pink eraser and “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed” slogan. The new pencil will also feature a graphite core that will be closer to our Palomino HB performance providing for improved wear rates for those doing extensive writing. Of course, we will continue to offer the existing Palomino Blackwing with the same graphite core and finish characteristics and only a couple minor finish changes. Thus the dark matt black finish of the Palomino Blackwing will corresond to the rich, smooth and dark performance of the current pencil and the lighter grey finish of the “602 Classic” to a smooth writing somewhat lighter mark more closely matching the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602.

However, you’ll have to hold on to your Palominos here as with our lead times for production of our specialized ferrule and eraser set along with our need to work down our current stock a bit further it will be a few more months before the 602 Classic is available for sale. Beyond this new product extension we are also now working on completing retail packaging for these and other Palomino pencils in our range. Furthermore we expect to add a few more exciting complementary products for both brands later this year.

Finally, for those looking for even a darker, softer core than our existing Palomino Blackwing and Palomino 2B items we have just introduced our Palomino 4B and 6B pencils to extend the range. We also have announced plans for introducing Palomino Quality private label customized pencils (i.e. Japanese produced high quality). I’ll be sharing more on this exciting new project in a later post as we get further along the development path for this program.

Re-Creating a Lead Legend

Our hometown paper The Stockton Record published a front page article this morning titled Re-Creating a Lead Legend. The article includes an interview with me as well as comments from Doug Martin of the American Pencil Collectors Society and John Gamber of Pencil Revolution blog.