Reviving the Blackwing: Eraser Performance and Design
The Palomino Blackwing erasers are about 25% larger in total cubic volume and 15% wider than those of the original, providing improved eraser surface area. They are also produced with improved materials than the natural rubber/pumice composite materials used in the original Blackwing’s erasers. Here I’d like to add a technical note as there have been several comments on blogs referring to the Palomino Blackwing’s eraser as a vinyl eraser. This is not the case and is an inaccurate assumption on the part of those individuals. While vinyl based materials did become more prevalent for art and pencil top eraser use as a replacement for traditional natural rubber based composites, vinyl erasers are actually currently in declining use by the industry. Our erasers are produced using Thermoplastic elastomere (TPE). Thus they are more appropriately called polymer erasers vs. vinyl erasers which are produced using PVC material. The change to TPE from PVC was initiated by the industry to eliminate chloride from the production process and finished product. The vinyl erasers that are most commonly used today are larger hand held block eraser formats. Most pencil top erasers from major brand manufacturers and all those we use in our California Republic product ranges are polymer erasers, even if they are other colors such as more traditional red or pink. For an interesting history of the eraser and technical information about the different materials used over time Staedtler has a very useful resource guide, here.We did get some feedback that with our darker lead mark than the original Blackwing, erasing with our new eraser still leaves a slight trace of a smudge, or “ghosting”. This is another issue we are re-evaluating for future production and are now told by our supplier there is an opportunity to improve on this versus the current eraser we are using in the Palomino Blackwing. However, we have not had a chance to evaluate cost differences or do any actual testing. The current eraser is the same quality as that used on our Palomino HB pencils.Finally, some traditional fans do seem to prefer the old pink eraser color versus the white version which we selected. Others have suggested black would be very nice as well. Color of the eraser specifically is not really a factor in it’s performance though it seems to be a common misconception that a white eraser works better than a red or pink eraser. It all comes down to materials. Performance differences with the original Blackwing certainly have something also to do with the age of these older pencils and the effects of oxidation and exposure to light. At this point I cannot indicate if there will be an eraser color change down the road as this is dependent upon what future cosmetic design changes we might implement for the pencil overall as well.
Will we have an opportunity to buy replacement erasers? One of the nice things about the Blackwing is that one you use up the eraser, you can pop it out and put in a new one, and continue using the pencil!
And thanks for the clarification about the polymer vs. the vinyl. I will clarify that on my blog and in the APCS newsletter article.
I agree with Andy that replacement erasers should be available. Other pencils that have replaceable erasers (Graf von Faber-Castell) do also offer replacement erasers …but it would also be much more difficult if not impossible to create your own replacement eraser for these pencils, while for the Blackwing you can just cut another eraser (you favourite eraser) to shape.
We did originally consider the idea of offering two erasers per pencil, but scrapped that as too much cost and an added problem to address in packaging. Replacement erasers sold separately in packs of 10 or so is something we're planning to evaluate down the road. We did not ordered extra quantities to support this at this time.