My mother always told me never to judge a book by its cover. This week's pencil, the Viarco ECO HB, would prove that you should always listen to your mother. I was admittedly excited to use a the Viarco ECO; it had a nice natural look it it and it was from one of the oldest pencil companies in Europe. While it has a clear lacquer over the natural wood (I prefer no lacquer on my natural pencils), the ECO was still a beauty. Its green imprint on the ferrule-less barrel coupled with the simple, yet elegant script of "Viarco" had me excited to get sharpening.
My first experience with the Viarco was a fair one, a bit scratchy, but decent darkness for an HB. As I progressed throughout the week, my disappointment would set it. I had to sharpen this pencil a lot. So much so that it was a hindrance to my note taking. I am not quite sure why that is since it felt as though it was on the harder, scratchier side, but this thing dulled quick if I wasn't mindful enough to rotate while writing. On about my fourth or fifth sharpening, problems started to surface. First, the tip would always break, or should I say crumble, off. I tried using my Masterpiece, KUM Wedge, and the Classroom Friendly all with the same results. There also was an interesting issue with the barrel of the pencil about halfway through as it started to split as I sharpened. See pictures below:
I am not sure what wood is used in the ECO, but it was a strange texture. When sharpening with the Masterpiece, the shavings were very dusty and had little to no odor to them. Erasing the Viarco was a breeze and my Mitsubishi Boxy took care of any evidence of graphite markings. At 75 cents a pencil, I guess I expected more. Overall 5/10