Pencils


American Vietnamese Monos 4

Even more Vietnamese Monos – this time the Mono without the 100.

Please don’t misunderstand what this blog post is about. It is not a complaint that Tombow’s Monos are now made in Vietnam. It is more of a complaint that Tombow seems to be misleading their customers.

The pack of three Monos from Tombow USA is labelled ‘Made in Japan’, even though the pencils are made in Vietnam.

I assume this is just an oversight, i.e. they forgot to change the print on the back of the cardboard, rather than a planned deception of their customers – but that still doesn’t seem right.


uni star in F

The uni☆star in F

My thanks go to Yumiko for sending me these.


Traces of graphite – Oriana Fenwick

Today: a very special traces of graphite post that has been in the making since April. I won’t introduce the artist – if you don’t recognise the name you will soon find out where you might have seen her work.

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?

Oriana Fenwick:

Hi there. My name is Oriana Fenwick, I am a freelance illustrator from Zimbabwe currently living and working in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. My illustrations are done to 99% using pencil, sometimes I go wild and create the other 1% with colour pencils. I have mainly worked for magazines and newspapers in the past. My clients include Die Zeit, football magazine 11 Freunde, Air Canada, DWELL and publishing house Rowohlt. One recent project I was particularly happy to be involved in was the book “The Pencil Perfect” for Gestalten Books.

Bleistift Blog:

How long does it take to draw an illustration of the size and complexity found in “The Pencil Perfect” and is there an illustration in this book that you are especially proud of?

Oriana Fenwick:

The time I need per illustration can vary immensely. The more simple drawings with straight forward lines and subtle contrasting I could complete in about two hours. The longest I needed for an illustration in this book was about two days. It gets especially tricky when I have to reproduce typo, taking into consideration all the other details that usually go along with that.

I think there are two drawings I had most fun completing in “The Pencil Perfect” and of which I especially liked the outcome. The one is of a series of pencil stubs and the other an image of Walt Disney drawing Mickey Mouse in his studio.

Walt Disney (image © Oriana Fenwick / Gestalten)

Bleistift Blog:

Are there specific techniques you use when drawing and are there any favourite tools / pencils you like to use?

Oriana Fenwick:

My drawing technique is pretty straightforward. I usually go about the main structure of the image using HB pencils, I never use anything harder than that. All of the shading and contrasting is then done afterwards using any grade as of 3B up to 6B. In order to get a surface to look especially smooth I criss-cross the lines until I can’t see the individual strokes anymore. My favourite brand is Faber-Castell1 – I seldom use anything else. And yes: I do rub out sometimes!

If I know that the original drawing is going to be used then I tend to spray the picture after completing it. When I do drawings for digital purposes then I make sure to put them in protective covers once I’ve finished drawing, scanning etc, so I don’t necessarily spray them in that case.

Bleistift Blog:

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions and for giving us a glimpse into the world of a famous illustrator.

Pencil Stubs (image © Oriana Fenwick / Gestalten)


I would like to thank Ms Fenwick for patiently answering my questions. You can find her web site at oriana-fenwick.com.

If you are interested in similar blog posts have a look at the Traces of graphite category.

As usual: please open the images in a new tab to see them in high resolution.

If you are interested in a comparison: Below you will find the photo that was used as a basis for one of the illustrations in the Pencil Perfect book. The photo of Walt Disney is used under the same conditions as the images in Duckipedia, as discussed with Egmon Ehapa.

Walt Disney (image © Disney)

  1. The Castell 9000 specifically. []

More Vietnamese Monos

The bottom of the box

This is just a quick follow up, linked to my previous blog post about Lexikaliker’s investigation into the Vietnamese Mono 100s1.

The familiar box…

The Vietnamese Mono…

If the Mono 100 is now made in Vietnam then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Mono (without the 100) is now made in Vietnam, too.

You can see the Made in Vietnam blind stamp against the light (open in a new tab to see clearly)

..and the Dong-A Fable

I would have liked to compare the Japanese and Vietnamese Mono, but everywhere where I thought I’ve seen a non-100 Mono in our house it turned out to be the similarly looking Dong-A Fable2, a pencil that has made a few appearances on this blog since 2009.

The Tombow Mono and the Dong-A Fable

Mono’s history

Well, 1963 is not only the year Terry Farrell, Jadzia Dax in Deep Space Nine3, was born. It is also the year the Mono was released. It was ‘kind of’ a successor to the Homo, which was released in 1952, but wasn’t liked by Tombow anymore, or should I rather say: they didn’t like the name anymore, after the

‘diparaging slang-term “homo” became well-known in Japan’ (Tombow Pencil 100 Year History Project Committee, 2013:p.38).

Mono display from the 1960s. ¥60, seen on the display, was the original price, later lowered to ¥50. (Picture from Tombow)

In 1967, for Tombow’s 55th anniversary, the Mono 100 followed ..and two years later there was a Mono eraser, too. I don’t want to bore you with more details, but if you’re really interested, let me know in the comments and I’ll write up more when I have time.

Mono box from the 1960s (Picture from Tombow)

References

Tombow Pencil 100 Year History Project Committee. (2013) The 100 Year History of Tombow Pencil. Tokyo, Tombow Pencil Cp., Ltd.


I bought this dozen straight from Japan and paid just under £9, I think.

Unless otherwise stated pictures in my blog are taken by me. Well, this is one of those ‘otherwise stated’ occasions. The pictures marked as such are from Tombow’s book “The 100 Year History of Tombow Pencil”. In January 2015 Tombow Europe granted me permission to use them in blog posts.

  1. English translation here. []
  2. To me the Fable is more common than the Mono. A fate I probably share with very few people outside Korea. []
  3. I just had to add a Star Trek fact. []

Mysterious Mono 100s 8

Sean and Gunther are the detectives of the pencil world. While Sean has specialised in solving cold cases Gunther is investigating up-to-date issues.

In Gunther’s latest blog post (in German / automated English translation from Google here, from Bing here) he is having a closer look at the new Vietnamese made Tombow Mono 100s.

Mystery solved – thank you, Lexikaliker.

I support his hypothesis that the blind code on the pencils is in the format YYMM. I bought most of my Mono 100s in 2009 and the blind codes of my Monos start with 08 and 09.

In case you wonder about my photo: After some of the original occupants of my Mono 100 case moved out the remaining Monos invited the two Faber brothers to move in.