I probably tried my first woodless graphite pencil somewhere around 12 years ago. It had a very different feel in my hand than traditional pencils. It was pure graphite encased in a very thin plastic liner. The woodless pencil had a very smooth natural feel in my hand. It was also slightly heavier in weight. With no wood the usable tip of the pencil was exposed and more variety in stroke was also possible. They also came as soft as pencils come, 9B. I really liked them.
Over the years I have fallen in love with these pencils. I have learned that using a 9B with just the right pressure I can get the lightest or the darkest of strokes with 1 pencil. I have learned that the subtle difference in weight and the velvet like texture of the pencil make it my perfect dance partner. At times starting slowly and building to an intense feverish frenzy as we move across the paper like lovers across a ballroom floor. Other times just a gentle slow dance moving slowly to the soft sounds of Patti Page or Jane Russel. There are times we playfully hop and skip singing along, times we move along intently, times we tango and times we waltz. Tori Amos, George Winston, Miles Davis, African drums, techno and many others we dance to. My fondest moments are spent with these pencils hand in hand dancing late into the nights.
There are subtle differences between the few manufacturers that make these slim graphite beauties. Some use more of, or a different bonding agent in the graphite. Some are thicker, some lighter, some have a different plastic sheath. My favorites are usually softer, slightly thicker and heavier. The best I have used was the M. Grumbacher. In 2006 when the company was acquired by Chartpak they stopped making them. I was forced to use Creatacolor brand woodless pencils. They were thinner, not as soft and lighter. I was devastated. Shortly after I was able to obtain woodless graphite pencils made by Faber-Castel. They are my current favorites.
Make no mistake there is a high cost to pay for such beauty, they generally run around $2 a piece and I can run through them very fast. I have found buying them in bulk helps bring down the cost some. They also tend to wear and tear pencil sharpeners because of the plastic sheath. I have gone through quite a few. Most pencil modern sharpeners don’t work well with them. They are cheaply made. I currently use an older Boston electric. Its made sturdy.
Our dances and our love affair continues…