Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tran Portfolio Pencil Case: An Elegant Solution

The Tran Portfolio Pencil Case, sans "portfolio."

Ever since my trip to Japan a year and a half ago, I’ve been happily using my Kutsuwa Dr. Ion organizer to keep my everyday-carry Rickshaw Zero Messenger Bag tidy and functional. (I’m sorry that I don’t have a shopping link for the Dr. Ion – sadly, it has been discontinued.) I’ve been so happy with it, in fact, that it landed on my 2016 Top 10 list.

Kutsuwa Dr. Ion bag organizer
My colored pencils stand upright in the organizer’s largest compartment, which is a requirement for any implement in my bag – I must be able to reach it easily without unzipping, unsnapping and especially un-Velcroing flaps or tabs. The only thing that has bothered me about this arrangement is that as my pencils get shorter, they fall to the bottom of the compartment or just disappear from view. I’ve been searching for a solution – some kind of vertical-standing pencil holder with elastic loops – but everything I’ve found has been contained within a bulky case or too large for my bag.

Then last week when I was cruising my Instagram feed, my eyes popped open: Intrepid sketcher and long-time blog reader Wendi showed her sketch kit, which included a strip of loops holding her colored pencils – but no bulk around it. I immediately messaged her for details. The Tran Portfolio Pencil Case comes with a transparent zip pouch to protect the pencils, but Wendi pulled out the working part and placed it directly into her bag – which is exactly what caught my eye. It seemed like a streamlined, elegant solution to my issue!

The 25-pencil case fits perfectly across the width of the Rickshaw and secures
with Velcro.
Much to my joy, it is exactly that! It fits perfectly across the width of my Rickshaw bag. What’s more, the U.S.-made Tran case has some Velcro “hook” strips on its reverse side, and guess what? All Rickshaw bags come with “loop” strips on the inside for attaching optional accessory pouches. The Tran case securely attaches – as if it were custom-made for my Rickshaw! Although the Velcro wouldn’t be necessary to keep the case in place in the bag, the pencil loops are very tight, so I think the case would tend to pull up whenever I remove a pencil if not for the Velcro.

Now each fully accessible and visible colored pencil has its own elastic loop holding it upright, no matter how short it gets. And since all the pencils stand flat against the side of the bag instead of bunched together, they are less bulky. (The Tran can also be folded into a triangular-shaped self-standing holder for use on a desk; see the Amazon page for an image or Wendi’s Instagram for an even better image.) It holds 25 pencils, which is a few more than I typically carry, so there’s room for the location-specific colors I like to take when I travel. On the other hand, 25 is a strict limit, so I won’t be tempted to carry more than I need.


Here's my view when I'm carrying the bag -- everything fully accessible.
I took the new Tran out for its first spin to the Friday sketch outing, and it works perfectly! If there’s one thing I love almost as much as sketching, it’s finding just the right solution to a sketch kit issue. Many thanks for the inspiration, Wendi!


An elegant solution!

11 comments:

  1. What a great solution. I carry very few things that don't have a pocket clip, principally because those few things rarely get used because I have to dig for them.

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    1. It's like natural selection of sketch materials! ;-)

      - Tina

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  2. You're very welcome, Tina!! I'm so happy the Tran Pencil Portfolio worked so well for you! It really is a clever and elegant solution!!

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    1. I don't know how I sketched without it! :-)

      - Tina

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  3. Looks like a perfect setup for you to hold your pencils. I never thought about what would happen as the pencils got shorter, and I can see that that would be an annoying problem.

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    Replies
    1. Plus the pencils look so great, right?! ;-)

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  4. Don't you just love all these great ideas from urban sketchers, Tina? Just like now I'm looking for a bag organiser after reading your article! Or should I book a ticket to Tokyo again?? Bahhahahaha

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    Replies
    1. Oh, definitely go to Tokyo! Shopping is way better there than online! ;-)

      - Tina

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  5. This is very cool. And it wouldn't be hard to just make.

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    Replies
    1. Now that I look at the Amazon link, for $7 just easier to buy than make!

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    2. That was my thought, too! When I bought it last week, it was even less expensive!

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