Pencil review - Ten KM Pencil

Sometimes gimmicks turn me off a product before it even has a chance.  Sometimes an especially cute gimmick can get me to try a product that I would otherwise pass over.  This is the case with the Ten KM Pencil.


Visual appeal is where this pencil wins.  It is a comfortable semi-hex painted a cheerful, lemony yellow that does not immediately make me feel childish (as is often the case with yellow pencils).  The finish is smooth but not glossy and carries a bit more "rustic" feel compared to many other pencils.  But what I love the most are the little tick marks along the barrel that supposedly mark off each kilometer worth of writing you do.  This painting is very crisp and only along one side, so nothing feels overdone.  On the opposite side is the branding, with "THE TEN KM PENCIL" on the dip end and "MADE IN ENGLAND" on the point end.


I am pretty sure that this is billed as an HB pencil, and that seems like a fair grading.  I typically prefer a softer core in pencils, but will use an HB if I want better point retention.  Sadly, I don't feel like this pencil holds a point for an especially long time either.  The core is also scratchy, which I don't enjoy when writing more than a few words.  On the plus side, I don't find it to be especially smeary and it does erase easily with a quality eraser.

Writing experience

Besides the sub-par core, this pencil is pleasant to use.  It is very light, due to the fact that it does not have an eraser.  I will sometimes put on an eraser cap if I expect to do a lot of erasing but the balance is definitely improved when left naked.


At $1.50 each, this pencil's price surpasses its quality.  It is nice, but I don't reach for it "just because" and I will probably not use it extensively now that the review is done.  It will probably live on the workbench in my office, which is seems perfectly suited for based on the ruler theme.

This pencil was purchased with my own money.  If you want one for yourself, you can get it here (no affiliation).  

Ink Review - Califolio Ohlanga

I am very picky when it comes to teal/turquoise inks.  Often I find that they are too dark, or lean to far in the blue or green direction and don't strike a harmonious balance.  The one that I have liked the most so far is Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku, but even that one would not get enough use to justify the purchase of a full bottle.  This particular sample was part of an order from Vanness Pens a while ago that I have recently gotten around to trying out.

This ink was fine in the performance department, behaving pretty well on the wide range of paper types I encountered while grading.  The color is okay, but I prefer the more saturated version that I got on cheaper paper versus the somewhat pale appearance on Tomoe River (what you see above).  I would ask for more shading and water resistance, but that's a personal preference.

Overall, this ink is nice but not great.  The one thing that I will give it is that the lack of extreme shading means that you could probably get away with it in an office environment but the color was different enough from the royal blue that most pens use to also allow me to use it for grading.  I also am not sure that it's sold anywhere other than Vanness Pens, so if you want it you are at the mercy of whether they can stock it.  My recommendation is to go with Ku-Jaku because it's so much more widely available and I think it's a superior teal.

Ink Review - Iroshizuku Yama-Budo

I have been excited to try this ink for quite a while.  Depending on the batch you get, Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses can be a near twin for Yama-Budo.  And, since my bottle of BSiAR did not manage to make the trip with us to Virginia, this sample (courtesy of my friend Paul, thank you sir) is the only immediate access I have to such a lovely color.

I have mostly been using Yama-Budo for grading over the past week, which means lots of writing on cheap copy paper and in various grades of composition books.  Overall, it's very well behaved and only shows a bit of line fuzziness on the worst of papers.  I actually might like it a bit better on cheaper stock, as more ink gets soaked into the page and results in a more saturated color that leans towards purple.  It's hard to see in the scan above (which was done on Tomoe River), but the ink seemed a bit dull once it dried.

Overall, I have a hard time saying anything bad about Yama-Budo.  At the same time, I won't be purchasing a full bottle any time soon.  Yes, I like the color, but obviously I did not like it enough to bring my bottle of BSiAR with me because I just don't reach for it that much.  It's not very professional, but I do think it can find a happy place on an ink shelf if you are looking for a fun ink to use for correspondence or you want an ink to grade in that isn't red.