New writing instruments of the Asian persuasion

The postman has been nice to me. Last week he delivered some weird Japanese pencils I ordered off of Amazon, and some weird Chinese pencils I ordered off of AliExpress. I also realized that I haven’t written up a review of one of my favorite pencils — the Tombow 8900 — of which I’ve got a handful just kind of laying around. And then I took my kids to Blaine’s Art Supply this weekend and you bet your ass I can’t walk out of that place without buying something, so I grabbed some Tombow Mono pencils to add to my workload. I guess if you like Asian pencils, the coming weeks will be full of fun reads around here. Of course I still have a bunch from my Thailand trip, and some miscellaneous buys.

I’m afraid that if I don’t pace myself I’ll run out of pencils to blog about eventually, but with the backlog I’ve got to review and more coming in so often, I doubt that will happen any time soon.


Pencil Review: Chung Hwa 101 2B

Some pencil snobs might bristle at the notion of ordering pencils off of AliExpress. But what can I say, I like to live on the freshly-sharpened edge. I’m also always in search of a good deal. And, finally, I began to think about how remarkable it is that the People’s Republic of China has so many pencil factories that are making products specifically for export to other countries, but even in the world of pencil snobs we seldom hear about their domestic products. Surely people in China write with pencils. What kind of pencils do they use? How do they compare to the ones they’re exporting, and the ones the rest of the world makes?

Those are the things that motivated me to order ten Chung Hwa 101 grade 2B pencils. I had never heard of Chung Hwa pencils before — in fact I just ordered them on a whim from AliExpress without having any clue what to expect — but a little research indicated that they are made by the Shanghai-based China First Pencil Co. The 101 is positioned as Chung Hwa’s “drawing” pencil, and as such as available in a full spectrum of grades; its sibling, the 6151, is better known for writing purposes. Nonetheless, it seems that the 101 gets regular use as a writer in China, where both product lines are fairly prolific — in fact, in 2008 a Chung Hwa pencil was launched into space with the crew of China’s Shenzhou 7.

And on that note, let’s launch into our review…

Continue reading