We Spoke to the Author of Our Book The Pencil Perfect
The perfect pencil is a highly-personal preference that begins in childhood. Between the beautiful wood casing and the smooth graphite core, a perfect balance matches ease of writing with aesthetic appeal. There’s much to love about the world's favorite writing utensil. With this in mind, Caroline Weaver opened a CW Pencil Enterprise in Manhattan in 2014, and later penned our recent release The Pencil Perfect about the untold story of the cultural icon. We spoke with the young author about her lifelong passion and what makes the perfect pencil.
Where and when did your love story with the pencil begin?
My love of pencils has only grown with age, especially as I learn more about them. I can’t exactly pinpoint when my love story began, but pencils were a big part of my childhood. I grew up in a creative family with parents who both had a strong appreciation for office supplies. I was lucky to have been exposed to great writing instruments at a young age.
When did you decide to open your own pencil store?
I’d been thinking about this shop and planning it in my mind for years. It is my idea of an ideal job, but i wasn't sure the shop could ever exist. After I finished university I moved to New York simply because it’s the only city I’d ever imagined myself living in. After about a year here I wasn't terribly thrilled with the way things were working out. I truly just woke up one day and decided I was going to go for it. I was 23 and figured if I were to ever take a crazy risk that was the right time.
What makes a great pencil great?
I think a great pencil is one that has a story, or something interesting about its history. Functionally, it has to be made precisely—a perfectly-centered, smooth core cased in high-quality wood. The finish doesn’t have to be complicated or flashy but it should be well executed. This is something Japanese pencils do very well. At the base level, it needs to serve its purpose effectively and also provide some level of pleasure to the user.
Do you have a favorite pencil?
My “gateway” pencil as I like to call it was an early 2000s matte black Dixon Ticonderoga, which is totally different from the ones made today. I have a secret stash that I use sparingly. In addition to the nostalgia of using that particular pencil, I love writing with vintage Blaisdell Ben Franklins. I think they're the finest of the yellow, American #2s, and I also really love pencils made by Camel in Japan and Caran d'Ache in Switzerland for everyday use. I don't really have a favorite—love them all for different reasons.
What is your favorite thing about a good pencil?
I love the smell of a good, cedar-cased pencil. To me it’s aromatherapy—it calms me down and helps me focus.
What was the most exciting part about working on The Pencil Perfect?
Working on this book gave me an opportunity to revisit all of the knowledge I've collected about pencils, as well as the chance to dive deeper and not only discover the origins of all these stories, families, and products but also how the pencil’s function has changed over the years. Political, social, and economic contexts have played an enormous role in the evolution of the pencil—that’s something that was really fun to learn more about.