Pencils


A bestselling Noris 4

Certainly well deserved: when visiting a WHSmith1 store recently I noticed that their Noris pencils got a little sign, indicating that they are the bestselling pencils.


As you might know I am partial to Staedtler’s Noris, so couldn’t resist adding this to my stream of Noris blog posts. Here’s a small selection of Noris blog posts to pick and choose: A digital NorisA broken Clarks NorisA different kind of Noris in the wildNeil Gaiman’s Noris pencilsNoris & CoShaun the Sheep’s NorisUpcycling with a NorisA Noris at the CricketA Finnish Noris…A French Noris…A Franken NorisA Franconian Noris,
Noris in the wildNoris shavingsNoris of the WoodsUncle Noris, and The Noris, then and now.

By the way, since we are on the topic of Staedtler anyway: they have a nice online Mandala creator on their website. The choice of patterns from different artists is amazing. 

  1. A British high street chain with a big stationery selection. []

A digital Noris 2

Staedtler’s Noris the pencil I have written about most in this blog1. No wonder, it is my favourite after all.

A Noris picture from a previous blog post to liven up this blog post

That’s why I am especially happy to hear that there will be a high-tech, digital Noris, the Noris digital stylus for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, as reported today on several web pages  (Sam Mobile, The Verge, AnandTech). I won’t be getting one, as I had some less than stellar experience with Samsung in the past, but I am nevertheless happy that the Noris gets the attention it deserves by being adopted and adapted by one of the big players in the mobile industry.

Noris Digital (Image © Staedtler)

Noris Digital (Image © Staedtler)

The Noris digital will be available in classic Noris yellow and in Noris eco green. The exciting bit is that the Noris digital is made from Wopex material, just like the Noris eco.

The Noris eco in five grades – an image from an old blog post to make this one less boring

To look at the pencil being used in mainstream media over time have a look at the Noris in the Wild page.

The analogue Noris in comparison (an image from an old blog post to make this one less boring)

The name Noris is linked to the city of Nuremberg, where Staedtler is based. Staedtler has used the name Noris as a trademark since 1901, but the black and yellow striped look has only been used since the 1950s. Recently Staedtler has started rebranding their Wopex pencils as the Noris eco, with black and green stripes, similar to the original Noris. Looks like the latest addition to the series is the digital Noris. You can find out more about the Noris in this Stationery Wiki.

Please don’t sharpen the digital Noris with the Staedtler 501 180 sharpener you can see below, it’s only for the Noris eco (Wopex material).

  1. Have a quick search here for Noris to see some of the blog posts about this pencil. []

Traces of graphite – Paul Kidby

It’s time for another Traces of Graphite blog post. All the previous blog posts in this series were Disney themed (Barks, Rosa and Fecchi), but this time the blog post is Discworld themed.

Paul Kidby‘s very impressive pencil point from my previous blog post made me want to find out more about the pencils he is using to create his drawings.

Paul Kidby’s pencil (image © BBC Scotland)

Luckily Paul was kind enough to answer my questions. Here is a little insight into his pencil use.

Bleistift Blog:

Thank you very much for agreeing to answer these questions.

Could you please introduce yourself and your work and tell us where people might have seen your work?

Paul Kidby:

Hello, my name is Paul Kidby and I am an illustrator based in the UK. I am best known for being the writer Terry Pratchett’s artist of choice to illustrate his best selling Discworld series.

Drawings for Discworld books (© Paul Kidby 2017, all rights reserved. http://www.paulkidby.com )

Bleistift Blog:

In the Terry Pratchett documentary, you can be seen with a hand-sharpened Castell 9000 with an impressive pencil point. Could you tell us which pencils and lead grades you use and how you use them? What other tools do you use to create your incredibly detailed work?

Paul Kidby:

When I draw I use Faber Castell 9000 series in lead grades 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H 2H, 3H, 4H. My favourite is F & H. I don’t use 3B & 2B & B very often because it can make my work go smudgy – so I save them for areas where it needs to be very dark.

I also use Derwent stumps for blending and Faber Castell perfection 7056 pencil erasers which I can sharpen to take out accurate highlights in my drawing. I sharpen my pencils with a Swann-Morton DS2902 scalpel with 10A surgical blades, I then sand the pencil point using a Derwent sanding block.

Paul’s pencil drawer, including his scalpel (© Paul Kidby 2017, all rights reserved. http://www.paulkidby.com )

I draw on a white smooth surface – eitherSchoellershammer illustration board or Bristol Board.

Bleistift Blog:

That is great. Thank you very much! Could you please explain to non-artists why you sharpen the pencil to such a long point? Is it so that you have more control over the pencil, or does it help to see the drawing better, e.g. the pencil doesn’t cover the view of the image so much?

Paul Kidby:

I sharpen to a long point because it gives me better control.

© Paul Kidby 2017, all rights reserved. http://www.paulkidby.com

I would like to thank Paul Kidby for answering my questions.

With the colouring book craze of recent years going on his Discworld colouring book seems like a great idea (Paul Kidby’s shop (signed artist’s edition), Amazon US, AmazonUK).

One last bit of information : Paul Kidby also told me that he is inspired by the delicate pencil work of Ingres from the early 1800’s.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: Mme Victor Baltard and Her Daughter, Paule, 1836

 

 


A broken Clarks Noris 5

If you don’t like gory pictures look away, we have a broken Staedtler Noris coming up.

Today: a Noris I came across in a Clarks store. Clarks is a British shoe shop chain. My guess is that they are the biggest shoe shop chain in the UK, but I could be wrong.

The Noris, which can be seen on the poster and which seems to be used by a worker in the shoe factory is broken, the end bit is partly split off – yes, I know, you just walk into a shoe store, don’t expect anything bad and then you are confronted with a broken Noris ..without warning!

The EAN code seems to indicate that this poor butchered Staedtler Noris has a B lead.

Close up

 


Tree Top Path & Linden Pencils 2

I was still writing blog posts about my trip to Germany when Insights X and other things happened, so I never finished the blog posts about my time in Germany. Here’s my conclusion with a short post about pencils made from linden (lime) wood:

I had a great time – and it’s all Gunther’s ‘fault’: I never heard of tree top paths until I read about them on his blog. Well, recently a tree top path opened near my old home town and remembering Gunther’s blog post I couldn’t resist and visited.

A panorama shot from my phone. Excuse the panorama stitching mistakes.

A panorama shot from my phone. Excuse the panorama stitching mistakes.

Unlike the tree top path Gunther visited, this one, the Baumwipfelpfad Steigerwald, opens up towards the top, so it looks a bit like a tornado. When I was there the weather was great (nearly 30°C (>85°F)) and everyone liked it. After the walk (which took quite a while) I had a look in the little souvenir shop and was more than excited to see the linden wood (lime wood) pencils from the Bavarian State Forestry that Gunther mentioned in a blog post.

WoodAverage Dried WeightJanka Hardness
Incense Cedar385 kg/m32090 N
Jelutong450 kg/m31740 N
Basswood415 kg/m31824 N
European Lime535 kg/m33100 N

As you can see in this table with information the Wood Database European linden wood is quite a bit harder than other wood used for making pencils (Brasswood is American linden wood), so I am not surprised that this isn’t a common wood for pencils. At least not anymore. As described in Gunther’s blog post it was common in the 17th century. The average dried weight of European linden wood is a bit higher than other wood as is the Janka Hardness1. I assume you could treat the wood to change the hardness, but my assumption is that trying to influence the hardness too much wouldn’t be economical.

These pencils were made by Staedtler. As far as I know they use Bavarian graphite, but the clay is from another German state. With the wood being from Lower Franconia this is a nearly 100% Bavarian pencil.

Bavarian Linden Pencils

Here’s a video from the Bavarian State Forestry (in German) showing how these are made – from cutting the tree to the finished pencil. Interesting fact: in the video a Staedtler employee explains that they can get 2,000 – 10,000 pencils out of one tree.

Well, they made 100,000 pencils like this. Now there are a few less left as I couldn’t resist and bought a handful in the tree top path’s souvenir shop.


You can read more about the company where the wood is cut into slats in another blog post from Gunther.

 

  1. The amount of pounds-force (lbf) or newtons (N) required to imbed a .444″ (11.28 mm) diameter steel ball into the wood to half the ball’s diameter – see http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/janka-hardness/ []