Yearly Archives: 2012


Double fine pencils 5

The Castell 9000 in action (Image © 2 Player Productions)

Even if you are not interested in video and computer games you might have heard about Double Fine Adventure, a game that raised more than $3 million on Kickstarter this February – an amount of money unheard of in crowd funding until the Pebble watch came along.

Scott Campbell using a Castell 9000 (Image © 2 Player Productions)

One of the artists working on the artwork for the new game is Scott Campbell.

Scott Campbell using a Castell 9000 again (Image © 2 Player Productions)

In the Double Fine Adventure documentary by 2 Player Productions he can be seen using a Faber-Castell Castell 9000 for his sketches.

Scott Campbell still using a Castell 9000 (Image © 2 Player Productions)

 


The images in this blog post have been taken from Episode 4: “Walking Around in Our Drawings” of the Double Fine Adventure documentary by 2 Player Productions. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Sharpening a Wopex 11

You might have already noticed that the Wopex is one of my favourite pencils. It is the pencil I use most often when writing on paper where ghosting/graphite transfer might be a problem. There is however one problem that makes using a Wopex an experience less exciting than it could be: sharpening this pencil.

Wopex, presharpened

Desktop sharpeners are not good at sharpening pencils with such a hard casing. They won’t stop automatically, too, which means that you might shorten the pencil too much when using a desktop sharpener and you’ll got a less than exciting finish where the blade cylinder stopped.

Wopex, prism sharpener sharpened

Click to enlarge

A normal prism sharpener does a better job when it comes to sharpening a Wopex, but the lead tends to look rather porous after sharpening and the fine point created will break much easier on a Wopex than on a pencil with a traditional lead.The special Wopex sharpeners don’t seem to do a better job than any other prism sharpeners. At least they don’t do for me, maybe I don’t use them the way they should be used. One example is shown here, but the point doesn’t always look that bad. A better looking point, made using a prism sharpener, has been shown in a previous blog post.

Wopex, knife sharpened

The presharpened Wopexes1 are looking and performing best. They are sharpened on an abrasive surface, something that is not necessarily practical for home use because of the time and dust involved. Searching for an alternative, better than a normal prism sharpener, I thought of using a knife to achieve a point similar to the one of presharpened Wopexes.

Unlike most other sharpening techniques, in which blades engage the pencil’s wood (and later, graphite) at an angle more or less parallel to the shaft, the pocketknife’s blade is applied perpendicular to the pencil’s shaft.” (Rees 2012, p.46)2

There is a special pencil knife for sharpening and erasing, but I used a normal knife. In this case one with a high carbon steel blade, but stainless steel blades work just as well. The results are good, better than what I get from a prism sharpener, including the Wopex sharpener, but are slightly worse when compared to a presharpened Wopex.

 


I would like to thank

  1. Wopeges, Wopeces? or whatever the plural may be []
  2. Rees, D., 2012. How to sharpen pencils. Brooklyn, New York: Melville House. []

350 years pencil making craft 1

Right hand side: Dr. Konstantin Czeschka (Image © Bayerischer Rundfunk)

To celebrate 350 years of Bleiweißsteftmacherhandwerk1 the Franconian and Bavarian regional news reported live from Staedtler’s factory on 25 September 2012. The reports were only a few minutes long.

Leads (Image © Bayerischer Rundfunk)

Dr. Konstantin Czeschka, Chief Technology & Production Officer, and Axel Marx, Managing Director, talked about the history of the pencil and included these interesting details:

 

  • The graphite used for pencil leads is ground to particles whose size is in the range of a micrometer, one millionth of a metre.
  • In 1900 there where 23 companies manufacturing pencils in Nuremberg. They employed 10,000 employees.
  • One machine, shown on TV, can produce 1000 leads per minute.
  • The pencil leads are heated to 1000°C
  • The leads seem to be made in Nuremberg, but the pencils seem to be assembled in their factory in Neumarkt.
    I thought Staedtler’s mechanical pencils are made there, but didn’t expect their pencils to be made there, too. I mentioned Neumarkt in a previous blog post when I wrote about the ONLINE All Wood Marone. ONLINE is based in Neumarkt, too, as is e+m Holzprodukte.
  • Producing a pencil is a fairly automated process. You only need about 1-2 seconds of human labour time. 100 years ago about one minute was needed, 200 years ago it was about an hour.
  • The price of graphite is expected to rise. One of the reasons is that it is needed for manufacturing batteries for electric cars.

The Noris being painted (Image © Bayerischer Rundfunk)


You can find reviews of products from e+m Holzprodukte at Lexikaliker and Lung Sketching Scrolls.

The images in this blog post have been taken from Frankenschau and Abendschau. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

 

  1. the craft of making pencils – Bleiweißsteft is what the Bleistift (German for pencil) was called during the 17th century []