Favorites | Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils

In The Studio

Colored pencils. One’s as good as the next, right? Eh, not exactly. And with the rising popularity of coloring books for grown ups, the humble colored pencil is also getting a bit more attention.

I’ve seen a lot of questions in Facebook groups about best or favorite colored pencils and the answer is almost unanimous that Prismacolor is the pencil to use. And I have nothing against Prismacolor, I have a set of their colored pencils and their art sticks, they are readily available in arts & crafts stores and even Office Depot.

Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils – Set of 24 (affiliate link)

It was at Office Depot, wandering the pencil and pen aisles, that I came across a pack of Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils. They were on clearance so I gave them a try, and they’ve been my go-to pencils ever since.

Why do I love them so much? Oh, let’s count the ways:

  1. All colored core, no wood.Whereas most colored pencils are made up of a narrow pigmented core surrounded by a wooden barrel, these pencils are all color. That means you don’t have to worry about sharpening them only to have the point break (or the core to fall out in a chunk, like can happen with cheaper pencils) and repeating the process over and over until you’re left with a nub. I’ve used the pencils mostly at conventions for sketching and have never had the points break on me.
  2. Heavier than traditional colored pencils.The colored core is heavier than the wood that would usually take up the bulk of the pencil, so these woodless colored pencils have a really nice heft to them and feel really good in my hands. Traditional colored pencils feel positively flimsy compared to the Koh-I-Noor pencils
  3. Brilliant color that goes on super-smooth, even on copy paper.Of course, the most beautifully made pencil in the world isn’t much good if the color sucks. What you’re coloring on makes a difference in how your pencils are going to perform, but the Koh-I-Noor pencils do great on regular printer paper as well as thicker, textured papers meant for watercolors, etc. This comes in handy for me, since I used them on the dedication pages of my book. That paper is very similar to what most of the adult coloring books are printed on, making it a really good choice for this sort of use.

Now, Prismacolor Art Stix share the all-core, no wood property and have brilliant color, but they also tend to rub off on hands or wherever you set them that’s not their tray. The Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils have a thin coating on the barrel that keeps the color from rubbing off on me or anything other than when I mean them to. Prismacolor is supposed to be erasable but I have not had good experiences getting that to work,even on light marks. Amusingly enough, the Prismacolor white vinyl eraser works fabulously on the Koh-I-Noor pencils. Go figure.

My contact over at Oriental Trading let me know that there’s a coloring contest going on over there with 3 free coloring pages available. So go to http://www.orientaltrading.com/s3-otlovestocolor.fltr, pick your favorite page, color it, share a picture on Instagram using #OTLovesToColor #contest AND @orientaltrading. A grand prize winner and 5 runner’s up will be announced on February 15.

I had trouble picking a favorite page until after they were colored, and I used a different set of pencils on each.


Follow your arrow is colored with Prismacolor…


Dream without fear is colored with Koh-I-Noor…


And Love is patient is colored with the Lowel-Cornell watercolor pencils from the Portable Plein Air Creative Mischief Kit. I thought the watercolor look would work well for the floral bouquet.

Doesn’t come as much of a surprise, the Koh-I-Noor colored dreamcatcher was my favorite, and the one I shared on Instagram.

And while I’m on the subject, if you discover that you really enjoy working with colored pencils, you might be interested in checking out The New Colored Pencil by Kristy Ann Kutch.

The New Colored Pencil by Kristy Ann Kutch (affiliate link)

Not only does The New Colored Pencil go into how colored pencils are made and reviews many different pencils on the market, it has sections dedicated to techniques for wax-based colored pencils (what most people think of when colored pencils come up), water-soluble colored pencils (like the ones in the Creative Mischief Kit, above), and wax pastels and hybrid art creation. This book will take you beyond mere coloring pages and into creating your own art with the very versatile pencils. I was sent a copy for review and I flip through it often for inspiration alone–lots of awesome artsy eye-candy!



Tuesday Reviews-Day: A Trio of Holiday Reviews

Tuesday Revews-Day

No Wine Left Behind

It’s been a little while since we’ve done a good, old-fashioned product review around here, but today I have not one, not two, but three things that could be useful to you this season.


First off, this is the CapaBunga Wine Storage & Service Kit and I think it’d make a fabulous hostess gift. Now, I reviewed the original Capabunga wine caps a few years back and we’ve been using them pretty much constantly over the last couple of years. I even tried to use on a champagne bottle with mixed results.

While it was a bit of a stretch to get the CapaBunga over the mouth of the champagne bottle, the pressure that built up inside was often too much for it and we’d hear a soft “pop” from the fridge when it’d just get too much. So when I heard they’d come out with the CapaBubbles cap I was over the moon! Obviously we were not the only ones who didn’t always finish the bottle of champers in one go.


The CapaBubbles top is a 2-piece cap with a plastic collar that fits just under the mount of the bottle and the cap which screws onto the threads of the aforementioned collar. Instant screw-top champagne! We opened a bottle of the Barefoot champagne you see above on Thanksgiving morning for mimosas and I am happy to report that the remaining bubbly is still bubbly a week and a half later. Cheers!

In addition to two of the original CapaBunga wine savers and the CapaBubbles champagne stopper, the service set also comes with a set six GlassWhere glass markers–silicone collars meant to rest on the base of your stemware to designate whose is whose. They have party-appropriate sayings on them, like “Most likely to break a glass” for the resident klutz (which would be me… though it’s been a while since I’ve actually committed such a party foul).

The CapaBunga gift set is $29.95

On-Trend Stocking Stuffer

Everyone’s pretty much on board with the grown-up coloring book trend, right? I mean, sure, I’ve been touting the benefits of busting out the crayons and coloring books as foil to creative blocks for ages; it’s nice that the rest of the world is catching on!

What I’ve noticed, though, about the more modern coloring books is that the designs are incredibly involved, a fact that is not calming to me, at all. The tiny illustrations and pattern fills are lovely to look at, don’t get me wrong! I love some good line art and repeating patterns (more power to the folks that made Zentangles a marketable thing in the mid-00s but I was doodling that stuff in my notebook margins back in the late 80s), but it wasn’t for coloring.

Still, when our friends at Oriental Trading asked if I wanted to take a look at the coloring books from their sister company, MindWare, I thought it was at least worth giving them a shot.


I received 3 Mindware coloring books: Fantastical Styles Flowers, Celtic Flowers, and Fantastical Styles Ocean. They do include busily-patterned images, but like the conch shell, above, many have a single, large “container” for the patterns. That was a little easier to wrap my head around.

One thing I definitely like about the current coloring book trend is that these books are printed on nice, bright white paper that has a little heft to it. And most are printed on one side so you can use markers and not worry as much about bleed-through. I decided to use my watercolor pencils and water brush to work on the conch shell and once I gave myself permission to leave some of the spaces white (negative space is your friend, folks) I had a pretty good time!

Another nice thing about these particular books is that many of the designs repeat within the same book. So if your perfectionist side comes out a bit, you’ve likely got another chance at the design. Or you could share, you know, whatever floats your boat.

Each of the Mindware adult coloring books is 6.95

Catering to Your Gluten-Free Guests

Finally I had the chance to try these Free for All gluten-free crackers. You want to be a good hostess and make sure you’ve got everyone covered as far as snacks go, but finding good gluten-free crackers can sometimes be difficult. And what if it’s not just wheat you have to watch for, but corn, rice, and soy, too?!

unnamed (1)

Free for All crackers are made from a blend of cassava flour and five ancient grains (amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, and teff). They come in three flavors: Olive Oil and Sea Salt, Roasted Garlic and Rosemary, and Olive Oil and Herb. We put these out for our Halloween party as well as with the appetizers at Thanksgiving.


Now, at first glance, I admit: the crackers look like chipboard. But they are surprisingly light and not the heavy or dense as some gluten-free products can be. So don’t let the looks dissuade you!

I don’t know about you, but I heavily dislike dry food, so I’m not going to just eat plain crackers, I’m going to have something with them! The Olive Oil and Sea Salt cracker, above, is spread with blueberry-vanilla goat cheese and was a very tasty part of breakfast one morning. I also think these crackers would be great crumbled and used as cracker-meal in a topping for a casserole or the crust of a savory pie.

Free for All Crackers are produced by Partners and can be found at many grocery stores as well as by the case on Amazon (I see they have brownie thins, now, too! Wouldn’t those be awesome in s’mores?!)

Thank you to CapaBunga, Oriental Trading Company, and Partners for sending me these products to try out and share with all of you!