Lead Story


A desperate husband needs assistance:

"I’m trying desperately to find a nice, compact set of colored pencils for my wife’s birthday. They need to draw nicely on a Moleskine sketch book (the one with thicker paper). They need to be small and easy to
bundle up and throw into a bag or purse. Any clues?"

Hysteria Lane

21 thoughts on “Lead Story

  1. Howdy,
    I would go for Prismacolor, since it’s great gear and not terrifically expensive. They also come in nice tins which can take even more of a beating than a Moleskine and fit nicely into a bag, purse or jacket pocket. And they write/draw wonderfully on said Moleskine sketchbook:)
    A nice 24-piece set might be a nice present. Less than $16 seems like a nice price for professional grade gear, too. Dick Blick carries a nice selection:
    Hope this is of some help!

  2. Hello – I would recommend Prismacolor pencils for use with the Moleskine sketchbook pages, I have had good luck with them. They also work well on the regular weight Moleskine pages. You can find them in most art supply stores, or online you can try http://www.jerrysartarama.com – their prices are usually very good. Jerry’s also has some very nice leather pencil cases – or you could saw these pencils in half to make them short to carry around easier too. Best of luck!

  3. I saw a small set of “short” colored pencils in kind of a gift type of box recently at my local Barnes and Noble.

  4. Hello. I’m an artist, and specifically use a lot of colored pencil.

    I have the set recommended by Il Postino, and I must warn that while the suede case was fantastic and of the highest quality, the pencils were not (think splintery wood and oft-breaking leads). I threw out the pencils and put in some of my own.

    Prismacolors are fantastic. So are Derwent’s — Derwents can be found in smaller metal cases, too. But both of these are full sized pencils and not necessarily what you want for quick sketches and daily carting around.

    If I understand what you’re looking for, the Carta set recommended by Ed looks like just the thing (and I may get it for myself).

    I am currently carrying a set of 12 half-sized Crayola colored pencils in a little mesh zippered pouch specifically for adding color to sketches in my Moleskine sketchbook. It was a cheap solution, but it works. Of course I also carry an eraser and pencil sharpener, so that Carta set is looking better and better.

  5. Wow! Thanks for all the advice and good links. They’re all great, but that Carta set looks perfect.

    Any suggestions for a small travel set of watercolors?

    Thanks so much! Go Irish.

  6. Before you buy those Cartas I must warn you they are VERY Small- so small that you cannot actually draw with them. Each pencil is only about an inch and a half long, they are impossible to hold… almost like trying to draw with something the size of a quarter…

  7. My experience with the Berol Prismacolors is that the pigment doesn’t stay on the page you use it on – it inevitably transfers to the opposite page. As a result, only half the pages in the sketchbook can be used, unless you like the “ghost” drawing effect when one drawing transfers onto another.

  8. Winsor & Newton make two small sets of watercolors in Artists’ grade. One has a built in water flask, the other is about the size of a credit card. I carry the larger in a neoprene zipper case made for holding a Palm keyboard. The watercolor set (12 half pans), a pencil cut short, a couple of tissues, two folding brushes (#4, #8) and a chunk of kneaded eraser all fit in the case which is the size, shape, and color of the pocket Moleskine sketchbook.

    The drawback is that the W&N set will cost you $100 US (or more) and it’s tough to find here in the U.S. It should be readily available in England, though.

  9. Zephyr, Marc, everyone,

    The difference in prices is because WN has two lines: artist quality/student quality. They recently discontinued the artist quality field box (retailing at ~$130). What remains is the same field box but with their “Cotman” line of student grade paints, for less $$$.

    I got lucky and found a brand new artist quality field box on eBay for $40 after spending literally years drooling over the $130 version. WN probably switched to making the Cotman field box because I wasn’t the only one drooling but never buying. At $50, the Cotman field box is a much more achievable lust-object.

  10. The two boxes I referred to (and I own both) are not offered by Winsor & Newton for export to the U.S. The larger one with the built-in flask is their #0190542. The smaller, known as their Bijou Box, is #0190555. The smaller one only comes with 8 half pans but does include a tiny travel brush. I added 4 more half pans in the space available.

    I think the references to alternatives at lower price are the plastic models; the travel box with water container, sponge, brush, etc. is especially nice but much thicker. It’s available with either Artist’s quality or Student quality and ASWExpress has a fantastic price for one during March 2005.

    If you want all those neat extras and don’t mind plastic, then Zig (Yasutomo, I think) has a smaller size travel box with all the W&N components plus a pencil and two nice sockets to hold the pencil and brush. Quality of materials seems just as good as W&N and you can always refill the half-pans with your choice of tube paints.

    But for quality complementary to the Moleskine (higher quality, higher price), choose either ‘heavyweight enamelled box’ from Winsor Newton.

  11. Oops, the box I prefer is #0190543, NOT the much larger 0190542.

    See http://www.winsornewton.com for photos but don’t choose the US catalogue, look at the English catalogue instead.

    Bruce MacEvoy has negative comments about these AND the larger plastic models, too. Check out http://www.handprint.com for his opinions. I agree with him about the Bijou version but not the 0190542. That more expensive version uses loose V-shape rails to hold the half pans in place. I used Blu-Tac to cement the half-pans in place in the Bijou Box (0190555) but so their security is uncertain.

    Regarding the Carta pencils, what Meaghan said is important. These things are really cute but nearly useless. I suppose if you had to smuggle supplies past a guard they would do, but I prefer to chop my Prismacolors and my Koh-I-Noor solids into two shorter pencils.

  12. I really came to the right place! You guys are great. I found the “$50 Cotman field box” for $38.55 so that was cool and should be perfect since she’s more of a hobbyist. I’ll take your advice on the little Cartas.

    Thanks again!

  13. Marc mentions a Zig travel watercolor set. My mother used to have one just like it, but can’t seem to find it and is wondering if there is any place to get a replacement. She most likely got it at Daniel Smith in Seattle, WA, but they don’t have it anymore. We can’t find it on the Kuretake/Zig site, either. Does anybody know where we could purchase another, either online or call/e-mail a store and see if we can order one?

    Any help is muchly appreciated…I just got her a watercolor Moleskine for Mother’s Day and now she needs that travel set!!

  14. I bought a set of the tiny Carta pencils from Vickery to use with my Moleskine book while traveling. I managed to open the case once —so I know it can be doone, but haven’t been able to repeat the feat. Anyone have any help to offer? Please. b

  15. I have these Carta Pencils, and have taken them, tucked in my small Moleskine book, all over Europe.Love them. Now I would like to buy some for a friend, and can’t find them anywhere – Vickery seems to be out. Any ideas

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