Wednesday, December 1, 2021

I’m on a Roll


Plenty of loops to spare, but I'm sticking with a limited palette!

As much as I want to be, I’m not a pencil roll type of gal, yet I have coveted many lovely, handcrafted pencil rolls made of fabric or leather. (One I have drooled over repeatedly is the Peg and Awl Sendak Mini Artist Roll.) Each evokes fantasies of sitting at a sidewalk table in a Venetian or Parisian café, sipping my espresso as I sketch, my colored pencil roll – charmingly patinaed with years of travel – casually opened next to my sketchbook.  

A slim sandwich, not a bulky burrito.

I have come close to putting rolls into my shopping cart, but each time I have managed to talk myself out of it. The fact is, rolls simply do not fit with my sketching style. Sketching on the sidewalk, I prefer to stand, so I have no place to spread out a roll. My Tran Portfolio Pencil Case that enables all my pencils to stand upright, constantly accessible in my bag, suits me perfectly 100 percent of the time. And yet fantasies die hard.

Just as I was about to temporarily pull all my usual Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils out of the Tran Portfolio to make room for the Luminance pencils that I’ll be using for color temperature experiments, I started thinking about how I sketch during the wet-and-cold-weather months: usually through the windshield of my mobile studio or at a coffee shop table. In both cases, I could easily use a pencil roll! This color experiment could allow me to indulge in the fantasy, at least temporarily (OK, OK, so Zoka Coffee is not the same as a Parisian café, but a girl can pretend, right?).

I wouldn’t even need to buy a roll (though, believe me, I was tempted) because I already have one that I really like: the Tombow Irojiten case that I reviewed for the Well-Appointed Desk last year. Although I’ve admired others that look prettier (and darker – this off-white canvas is going to show coffee stains immediately, and that doesn’t count as charming patina), the Tombow has an elegant, practical design that appeals to me on many levels. It has no excess pockets, flaps, snaps, Velcro or zippers that I’m unlikely to use, and the simple elastic band that secures it meets my needs much better than the belts, buckles or ties that most rolls have. Best of all, it folds like a sandwich, not a rolled burrito, which reduces bulk. It’s an ideal design for me.

I’m ready for winter sketching!

Slender profile, lightweight canvas fabric (though I wish it were darker).


  1. I'm glad you found a way to justify a pencil roll. lol I hope you get the opportunity to sit at a Venetian or Parisian cafe' and sketch in the near future.

  2. Not to be dismissive but... coffee tables in parisian cafes are awfully small. You could barely have your sketchbook on it, let alone a pencil roll. Did that help mitigate your urge to get one?

    1. Oh, I know! Barely enough room for the tiny espresso cup with tiny cookie! But fantasies die hard. ;-)

  3. Tina, same here... I really can't justify a pen roll... But I have been eying this one which also can fold back to expose the ends:

    1. That's cool! Like a portable pen cup! I have a Sun-Star Delde Slide pouch that is supposed to operate the same way, but I have not used it as a stand-up cup, only as a pouch inside a bag.


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