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I have been salivating over this brand of charcoal for a while now, thanks to the stylish Youtube videos uploaded by Nitram. You get see several artists creating flawless charcoal drawings of plaster busts using the Nitram products, and the setting is a beautifully outfitted atelier studio. Everyone has an easel and a leaning stick or "bridge", and there are plenty of the white plaster sculptures around to class up the scenery. Well, I cannot afford all of the trappings of a fine atelier, but at least I could buy one box of Nitram charcoal to see if it is better than other brands.
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Neither the package nor the Nitram website states whether the batons are vine, willow, natural, compressed, or whatever. When you look at the baton's cross-section, you do not see the hard little core that is in most of the willow sticks from other manufacturers, and there are seam lines on the sides that indicate a mold is used. I would never call this a compressed charcoal, however, as the texture is too porous. So Nitram's proprietary formula/process must be different from that of other brands.