May 18, 2015

How Mr. Marsch Got the Right Pencil to the Dalai Lama

As any schoolchild knows, the Palomino Blackwing 602 is the pinnacle of pencil technology, a beautifully finished and performing instrument for writing and drawing. And this is the story of how Mr. Marsch's rise to meet my challenge of "never mind the watches, try to find the best pencil," has now apparently lead to 602 finding it's way into the balanced and cheerful hands of the Dalai Lama himself.

It was of course Mr. Marsch's diligent, exhaustive and months-long research into quality pencils that lead to the acclaim of the 602 (this story is told elsewhere.) It was not hard for me to become an enthusiast of this spectacular pencil, and I have recommended it to students for sometime, particularly those who are struggling to practice delicacy in their value studies.

As one student said, with all deliberation, "This pencil changed my life."

Over the years I have developed good relations with Seattle art stores, and it was my recommendations on the 602 that convinced Daniel Smith Art Supplies to now carry the full range- this has naturally generated superb sales; a large display is right next to the register, just like Archie comics are at the supermarket checkout line.

But when I walked into the store last Thursday to teach my open figure drawing class, I was astonished to see two very tall, very large men with gray hair and impeccable suits standing at the top of the entryway stairs, just viewable in this photo. I was further amazed to note that the store was packed with Buddhist monks.

Now in Seattle, a clutch of yellow and red clad monks is hardly worth commenting on, you see guys like this in Costco all the time.  But these fellows were buying everything in sight that was small and-as was mentioned to me-of the very highest quality. Sable brushes, moleskine notebooks, linen paper, etc.

And of course, pencils. They asked for the very best, the very finest pencils made. I had trained the staff well: to the monks, the staff recommended The Palomino Blackwing 602. They bought all but the lot.

Oblique inquires were made. The monks lived in Northern India, some from Bhutan, some from Tibet. They were buying everything small of high quality. They rolled up in two huge, late model black Cadillac Escalades. And it became clear, as the monks walked out with art supply treasures, that the guys in suits were high level security, waiting until the precise moment, and following their charges from behind with military precision.  But when do monks need security at an art supply store in Seattle, Washington?

When they are the Tibetan government in Exile.

It became clear where these gifts were going, why the monks would be so insistent on the objects being both modest and of the finest quality, and to whom in fact the lot of Blackwing 602s would be given, a man who has superb advice for not only a moral center, but exactly the best way to draw with the kind of pencil that exhausts all superlatives.


Blogger Laird of Madrona said...

All this posting lacks is a BW602 Photoshop'd into the picture of the DL.

May 18, 2015 at 5:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home