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Arts and Crafts

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pencil Art II

It is believed that somewhere around the 1500's graphite was first used. A large mine containing pure graphite was found near Borrowdale parish in Cumbria, England and the deposit was used to mark sheep with.

Graphite is rather soft and even though it was sawed in sticks, it turned out early that it needed some sort of casing or holder. People used to wrap it in string or in sheepskin for stability and the first pencil was born.
It apparently were the Italians, who thought of encasing the graphite in wood.

Graphite often has to be broken down to remove all the impurities, which leaves nothing but powder. In 1662, the first graphite sticks were manufactured in Germany by compressing the powder in to sticks.

In 1795 a french officer mixed the powder with clay, molded it in to rods and fired them in a kiln. By in- or decreasing the amount of graphite, the gradation of the stick could be altered.

In 1812 America produced their first pencils. The production was a rather slow process and a neighboring pencil mill owner decided to automate the process and also came up with the hexagon- and octagon-shaped wooden casings which we are still using today.

Colored pencils have wax-like cores with pigment and other fillers and come in every kind of color. As you can see, there are some great artists out there who make good use of all these pencils.

I don't think they mind being called 'Pencil pushers'. :-)

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