Staff Picks – Field Notes Carpenter Pencils

Kate’s Choice

field notes

Today I am starting off my Staff Pick with a little bit of science. Biology to be more specific. How interesting, I hear you say. And why have I chosen to do so? Well, when I was deciding which product to review, my mind wandered off on a bit of a tangent and I ended up thinking about my childhood. There are so many things that can prompt a trip down memory lane and take you back to a particular time in your life, it might be a song, a film, a food or most likely a smell. So here comes the science…

When you first smell a new scent, you link it to an event, a person, an object or even a moment. The brain forges a link between the smell and a memory, when you encounter that particular scent again the link is already in place, ready to elicit a memory or a mood almost instantaneously. This is because the primary olfactory cortex, which received information about smells from nerves in the nose, and links to the limbic system in the brain, more specifically the amygdala which controls expression and experience of emotion, and the hippocampus which controls the consolidation of memories. Memories that are evoked by scent can seem clearer and more intense than other memories because they appear to be more emotional than those triggered by visual, audio and other types of cues. According to research, apparently even studying information in the presence of a certain smell can actually increase the vividness and intensity of the remembered information when you smell the scent again.

Fascinating stuff eh? But what does this have to do with stationery? To be honest, it doesn’t really. But as you know, we moved offices and have completely redecorated, including taking up the carpet and sanding the unvarnished floorboards. As a result, the whole office smells of wood (to me anyway) which is a constant and glorious reminder of my childhood. My lovely Dad (here he is again) had a carpentry workshop and would come home from there covered in sawdust. To me, there is nothing that provokes a stronger memory of being young than this smell and I love it. Which is why I decided to review the Field Notes Carpenter Pencils (I got there in the end).

Field Notes are an unusual brand and have quickly developed a bona fide cult following over here. Apparently inspired by the ‘vanishing subgenre of agricultural memo books, ornate pocket ledgers and the simple, unassuming beauty of a well-crafted grocery list’ their products are truly charming to look at and very collectable.

Carpenter pencils are not that widely available but Field Notes have done a lovely job with these. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, a carpenter’s pencil has at least two essential characteristics to distinguish it from run of the mill pencils. The shape is usually rectangular or elliptical to prevent it from rolling, and the lead must be strong enough to make a heavy mark on coarse surfaces. The leads are flat and wide, so make an accurate straight line which is easy to follow with a saw.

The Field Notes Carpenter Pencils come in a pack of three and are finished in Black with the Field Notes brand stamped in White, with brilliant touches such as ‘Measure twice ‘ and ‘Cut once’ just in case you were about to have some sort of carpentry related mishap….

My favourite thing about them though, is that they cannot be sharpened with traditional sharpeners because of their shape, so they have to pared down with a knife. My Dad still does this with his pencils and I love how they look, with the leads much longer than on an ordinary pencil. Maybe a bit annoying for those of you who don’t have a Stanley knife to hand but for those who do, it’s an incredibly satisfying task. But just be careful, I don’t want to be responsible for a spate of injuries. All jokes aside, if anything rustic, hand finished or dare I say this word ‘vintage’ in style appeals, these pencils are perfect. The simplicity of them is really pleasing,  and even if you never do any carpentry they are worth having.

Reader Comments

    1. Very interesting and unusual – I will pass this on to Jo to look at when she gets back from her holiday. Thanks for the tip.

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