Saturday, March 6, 2010
Derwent Fortnight #1: Pencil Extenders!
My eagerly-awaited package of review supplies from Derwent just arrived today! Twelve color sets of Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils and the new formula Derwent Watercolour pencils, plus a six-color bubble pack each of new formula Derwent Pastel Pencils and Derwent Pastels, plus a pair of their new Pencil Extenders.
I've used Koh-I-Noor Pencil Extenders for years. A similar type of extender is made by Cretacolor with a marbled handle and by Creative Mark with a varnished wood handle. These all have a gripper with metal tabs and a sliding cuff that goes right up to the tip to hold the pencil in place.
Derwent's product is quite different. It's a hollow metal handle, burnished silver or matte black, with a knurled cuff that screws on tightly to hold the pencil in place. The silver one is sized for all the big round oversized Derwent pencils like Derwent Artist, Coloursoft, Tinted Charcoal Pencils, Graphitints and so on. The black one is designed for normal width and hexagonal pencils, they both have the same structure in different sizes.
I like the new grip. It's very tight and firm. I tested it with a Derwent Tinted Charcoal stub for the wide-grip extender and a 9B Cretacolor graphite pencil in the black narrow extender. I was able to sharpen the pencil stubs with a hand sharpener after the grip was tightened sufficiently.
"Knurled" just means that it's been grooved in a basketweave design to give a better grip to your fingers. It's attractive and functional. The grip holds very tightly.
The only problem I had with either of them was that the tiny 9B stub slid down all the way into the hollow handle, so I had to take the knurled grip off completely in order to shake the stub out. So be a little careful with stubs shorter than the handle, they can get lost inside unless you hold them in place while tightening the grip.
Once it was firmly seated, I had no trouble either sharpening the pencil or drawing with quite firm pressure using the extender. These are well worth the money they save in buying replacement pencils -- and the silver extra-wide extender can be used for all the pencils that don't fit in your Koh-I-Noor, Cretacolor or Creative Mark extenders if you already have some.
For convenience, I recommend having several, three or four, perhaps even half a dozen so that you can use multiple colors of stubs without stopping to change them out. If they're not carried at your local art store or favorite online supplier, ask them to stock or special order this useful, unique pencil accessory. It's well worth the wait and trouble even if you have to wait for a special order or pay extra shipping to a UK based mail order or online art supply company.
Your artist grade pencils deserve it -- and those little stubs can still give you great value.
For sharpening the extra wide round Derwent pencils (Artist, Coloursoft, etc.), I prefer the General's All-Art hand sharpener. The wide hole of any two-hole sharpener will do, but the little red All-Art sharpener is so inexpensive I can get two of them for the usual cost of a replacement blade. With soft lead pencils, whether they're colored pencils, high B grade graphite, charcoal or pastel pencils, a fresh blade is essential for keeping them sharpened.
Thus the cost of the General's All-Art does come into it -- it's well designed and I order those by the dozen when I'm down to the last few. Current price is 79 cents at Blick if you get a dozen of them at a time. I'm not sure on the price of the two-pack of pencil extenders, but I'll guess it's probably between five and ten dollars when it reaches USA markets.