About the company
Lyra was a German company, that was established in 1806, headquartered in Nuremberg. They recently (2008) became owned by an Italian company-Italian FILA Fabbrica Italiana Lapis e Affini S.p.A. (FILA). FILA is a long established Italian company in the making of writing and drawing instruments. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor cores were formerally made by Faber-Castell (after all they were in the same city) in the early 1990's, but the pigments are no longer are made by Faber-Castell.
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolors and their color-matching water-soluble line, Lyra Rembrandt Aquarells both come in 72 colors.
Lyra is also the choice of colored pencils for Waldorf schools. Waldorf schools really try to bring out the creative genius in every child. And they don't skimp by giving them impossible to made decent art with (cheap, badly made) art supplies. Of course, Waldorf schools were founded in Germany, and Lyra was a German company, so they had about 2 choices. But they still made a good choice. Most US public schools use the most dreadful art supplies on the market.
Polycolors, while being oil-based, have a very waxy feel to them. They are in fact a delight to use. Their slim exterior is wonderful for smaller hands, and they go on the paper beautifully.
Our brand new set of Aquarells, however, while looking beautiful on the outside, and much the same as our old Polycolors, were extremely disappointing in performance while making our color charts. They managed to be both on the crumbly side under heavy pressure, and also on the scratchy and difficult to lay down color end of things. We generally just take a wet to damp brush and brush it across the water-soluble colors once, but these took several applications in some cases to get the colors to start to dissolve.
Lyra Polycolor Colored Pencil Review
Lyra Polycolors are simply a wonderful pencil to work with. They have a slim, natural exterior that is beautiful. Their core is large however, being 4 mm in diameter. They are close to having the buttery smooth laydown of color that we have come to expect from a wax pencil, however they are oil based. Their large sets come in tins, but they just have thin plastic trays, not a metal tray to support them like you get with Faber-Castell Polychromos or Caran d'Ache Pablos. However, they include one of their really good colorless blenders with a large set of 72. They are usually found open stock, at least online, as well as in several set sizes. One color that we tried, Aquamarine, was on the hard and scratchy side. While the color selection is not as large as Prismacolor, Faber-Castell, and Caran d'Ache, they have not 'padded' their sets with 50 shades of grey (ok, so Prismacolor really only has 19 shades of grey), or metallics (that nobody seems to really use). We found the matching aquarelle pencil to be problematic. While the lightfastness ratings are not on each pencil, they do have them easily available on the lid of the tin.
These pencils are so nice to use, that despite their limited number of colors, problematic aquarelle line (which is usually good for a fast undercoat of color), and lack of pigment information, they still get
Amazingly smooth and buttery for an oil-based pencil
Colors that they do have are gorgeous and transition together very nicely
Company makes a great colorless blender
Charts to download available HERE, both colored and blank.
You also get one of the wonderful Lyra Splender Blenders with the 72 color set.
Top has had water applied with a damp brush, the bottom of each sample has been left dry.