Santa left an intriguing pencil crayon in my stocking called the Progresso woodless pencil by Koh-i-Noor. You may notice I called it a pencil crayon, not a coloured pencil because no matter what it says on the box, in the part of Canada I where I grew up this type of art supply is always called a pencil crayon and I am sticking with it.
The Progresso is all colour, no wood, and is a nice weight in the hand. Like all coloured leads, they are made of a mixture of pigment and binder but Progressos are also mixed with oils, not the wax or paraffin other pencil crayons are blended with. This makes for nice smooth marks with no waxy feel and you can use all of the 7.6 mm lead diameter to make fine or wide lines. The lead has a lacquer coating so the colour doesn’t rub off on your hands.
I haven’t really got on the adult colouring book bandwagon but I have tried out a few kinds of pencil crayons I thought I would compare to the Progresso. I know many people who believe Prismacolors are best, so I borrowed a Prismacolor Premier pencil crayon from my sister in law. It is a darker shade than the Progresso and left a smooth, rich colour.
Some of my personal favourite pencil crayons are the now defunct Laurentians that were the classroom standard of my childhood. Like so many pen and pencil companies, they underwent a few corporate takeovers over the years and were discontinued around 2012. Like the Prismacolor, it has a nice thick core and it seemed the Laurentian Navy Blue was a closer match in colour to the Progresso Paris Blue.
I was quite disappointed with both the Faber-Castell and the Staples pencil crayon by Staedtler. I know the Staples one came from an inexpensive student pack but I was surprised Staedtler would put their name on such a low-quality product. Like most student-grade pencil crayons, the lead is quite hard, leading to less breakage but less colour too. Likewise, the Faber-Castell pencil crayon I assume is student grade and not very impressive. It only goes to show you cannot always judge by brand name. Both of these pencil crayons had cores (2 mm diameter) half the size of the Laurentian or Prismacolor (4 mm).
If the Koh-I-Noor Progresso woodless pencil were a person they might seem a bit oily and smooth but there is no pretense about them. This progressive, colourful person is great to spend some time with and although they have a Portuguese name, they are from the Czech Republic.