Faber Castell don’t know this, but they have a lot to answer for in my life. When I was a child growing up in South Africa, Faber Castell were considered expensive pencils. They weren’t your back to school variety, they belonged to artists. What I loved most about them were the tins, which had a beautiful castle snow scene on them – the stuff of dreams. My childhood memories may be mildly skewed, but if memory serves, the tins they came in used to be adorned with images of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, and my flights of fancy about that castle may have a lot to do with my love of travel!
But back to Faber Castell.
We were sent two sets of Faber Castell pencils for review, the Faber-Castell Colour GRIP Pencil Case Gift Set and the Jumbo GRIP Colour & Painting Set, and it has taken us forever to get the review written, largely because I won’t let the kids use them when we’re not sitting down somewhere together. I guess my old feelings of Faber Castell being real pencils are still with me, and I don’t want the kids sharpening them because they like to see the sharpener fill up with shavings, or using them as drum sticks, or – my biggest irritation with pencils – dropping them, causing the lead inside to break into a million pieces.
The thing is, they are really lovely!
Each pencil has place for a name to be written on the pencil! which is perfect if you’re using them in group settings or sending them off to school, since they won’t get lost as easily. Each pencil also has little studs on it so it’s perfect for holding without having to grip too hard. I love that about them.
They are almost squarish in shape, but fit perfectly in a normal round pencil sharpener, and they sharpen easily, without getting stuck or pulling chunks out the wood – though I suspect that may be down to the pencil sharpener too.
I’ve sat colouring with these pencils – with the children, of course – and they are soft, with bright, rich colours. You don’t have to press hard to get good coverage (is that the right word? I’m not too up on my arty lingo!), and in fact pressing hard isn’t good as I think the lead is quite soft, so these are perfect for my six year old, but my three year old needs a bit of guidance – she’s just out of the fist-hold phase of penmanship, so she’s getting there. (Faber Castell also do a range of crayons which she has been using effectively.)
The Jumbo GRIP Colour & Painting Set makes a wonderful gift set for a budding creative. The set comes with 18 colouring pencils, which you can use to colour as per usual, but then it also comes with a paint brush and watercup. Use these to brush over the coloured areas to turn your colouring to water colour paintings! It’s a little bit magic and the kids really love it! For the image I was working on, with small intricate bits, I didn’t really think it added anything to the picture as it just made the colours go over the lines – probably more down to my painting skills than the materials.
This set comes in a tin box in two layers, with a carry handle and a clasp so it can all be secured and
hidden away kept safe and tidy when not in use. This set has an RRP of £24.95.
The Faber-Castell Jumbo Grip Gift Set comes in a soft metal zipped case with a clear front, and included are 16 vibrant shades, a GRIP 2001 graphite pencil and a sharpener. This set is slightly cheaper at £19.50, and is also a fantastic present for adult or child who loves to draw or colour.
As with most things, the proof is in the pudding, and in this case, the pudding is colouring. Whether that’s a kids colouring book or an adult mandala, these produce beautiful results.
You may ask why you would spend so much money on pencils when you could pick up a cheaper pencil elsewhere.
I always think that if you’re using good materials, you’re more inclined to care more about the end result. I thought I was alone in my thinking, but I found this post by Project Based Homeschooling which said exactly what I felt:
Giving children high-quality materials sends a message. It’s not enough to say, “I think your work is important.” If I give my children cheap paper and paint, what can they produce? Muddy-colored paintings that dry and flake off cheap, thin paper that tears easily. My words are saying “Your work is important” but the materials are saying “Your work is not important.”
She goes on to say: It’s true that you can’t just hand children a pile of expensive paper and a basket of high-quality markers and walk away without a backward glance. You need to convey your respect for the materials and show children how to use them properly and put them away so they’ll be good for next time.
So, see, I’m not such a mean mama! By keeping these pencils specially for special projects that we can do together, I’m teaching them a valuable lesson! (I should mention that they do have a container of random pencils and pens, crayons and chalks that they have free an unfettered access to.)
PBHS summarises that:
• High-quality materials convey to children that their work is important.
• High-quality materials inspire children to work more slowly and carefully.
• Children’s important work deserves high-quality materials.
So we use these two sets of Faber Castell pencils for making cards, decorating our letters, doing our projects, and spending time together creating our masterpieces.