Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rhodia Pencils

I normally write with fountain pens, but today I am using a Rhodia Pencil.

I received 2 Rhodia pencils in a package I purchased last year. Being a conscientious teacher, I took them to school. I can honestly say that writing implements tend to walk away from my classroom. However, my 2 Rhodia pencils made it through last year and started this year in my desk drawer. They both survived most of the first semester until 1 disappeared! But my lovely Carla told me that it appeared in her classroom and that her students wait in line to use it!

So I decided to remedy the shortage of Rhodia pencils in my classroom. I ordered a box of 25 from the European Paper Company. EPC has turned into one of my favorite places to shop for the tools of my writing habit. They have fantastic service and always seem to ship what I order within 1 business day. A real bonus in my mind is that they are a Colorado company. It is nice to keep my business in my home state.

Now, regarding the pencils. I am not a pencil snob but I will admit that I enjoy writing with a good wooden pencil. The Rhodia pencils come individually wrapped in a cellophane sleeve within an orange and black box.

When I pulled one out of the box, I was struck by the rather distinctive orange and black colors.

Following further ogling of this pencil, I decided to focus on the triangular shape.

I'm no handwriting expert, but it seems to me that this triangular grip just calls for the writer to use a classic tripod grip when holding the pencil. If I had only had one of these bad boys in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade I likely would not have had the back of my hand smacked by Mrs. Kopine or Mrs. Magnino, the two meanest Italian school teachers in the history of La Veta elementary school. It was no secret that they were Catholics and I believe the nuns from the neighboring Catholic schools came to them to learn how to inflict bloodless damage with a ruler on the back of unsuspecting 6, 7 and 8 year old hands. But I digress...

I like a good wooden pencil. I like the smell of wood, the gray of the graphite, the sound it makes as you write out your thoughts. I like the opportunity to erase - not that I make any mistakes, ever, when I write ;) - and the ritual of sharpening the pencil. I must admit that I only use a knife to sharpen these pencils. The cost for each is nearly $2.00 each, so I only sharpen as much as I need. No rotating blades of wasteful sawdust for me. I also have taught my students to use a small strip of sandpaper to bring the lead to a sharp point without chewing away the entire pencil while grinding away and waggling their butts (yes, I have manual pencil sharpeners in my classroom)

If I could change one thing about these pencils, for my own use, I would give them just a touch harder grade of lead. The HB grade is only slightly harder than a #2 lead. If I were the emperor of the land of Rhodia, I would use a 2H lead or maybe a 4H lead for even longer life. But I'm not complaining. The ones I purchased last year are still over 4 inches long, yet sporting replacement eraser caps.

Are they worth it? I think so and so do my students. I highly recommend visiting European Paper Company and picking up a box today. (Full disclosure, I BOUGHT these pencils with my own money. I am not affiliated with EPC in any way other than as a satisfied customer)

Final note, that is not a dead fly in the pictures of the pencils. That is a leaf from the happy succulent that loves being in the kitchen during the winter.

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