graphite


Graphite vs Ink 4

I was just getting rid of some old documents from my office when I came across three sheets of paper I had written on in 2010 – one with pencil, one with rollerball and one with fountain pen.


All three documents were not exposed to direct sunlight.

The squared paper in the middle shows the rollerball. I am not sure which rollerball this was, but seven years later the text is hardly legible. The once red rollerball is now just a light shade of yellow.

On the right you see the writing from the fountain pen. I am not sure which ink was used, but the writing is much lighter than any ink I would have used at the time. I assume this must be either because of the ink’s properties or the paper or both. The fading can’t just be down to age. I have school notebooks from the early 1980s (ink: Pelikan Royal Blue) that still look great.

On the left you see text written with a pencil. Still as good as on the first day. OK, graphite isn’t darker than black ink, but look how light the ink has gotten in seven years. Maybe in another seven it will be hardly legible while the graphite will still stay dark.

 


Traces of graphite – Carl Barks 4

My most valuable graphite-related possession, by many measures, must be a signature of Carl Barks. I don’t think I own any other graphite-related article that has such an extreme graphite-to-impressiveness ratio as his signature. A few micrograms1 of graphite can be so fantastic!

Signed by Carl Barks in spring 1997 in his home in Grants Pass (Oregon)

Carl Barks, born in 1901 in Oregon, invented Duckburg, Scrooge McDuck and many other characters from the Duck-universe. Disney comics don’t seem to be very popular in North America any more, where they have been replaced by superhero comics long ago. Unfortunately, Disney comics are not popular in the UK either, but in Continental Europe it’s an entirely different story. More or less every adult is familiar with the characters invented by Carl Barks. In Finland the Mickey Mouse Magazine is2 the best selling weekly publication – and in the Scandinavian countries and in Germany Donaldists research all things Barks-related. His stories are timeless and fantastic treasures.

  1. This is a pure guess. If you know how many milli-, micro- or nanograms of graphite are in a line of graphite of a certain width and length on paper, please let me know. []
  2. …or at least was, this might have changed since I read this a few years ago… []

Graphite transfer and the Wopex 5

Today: another blog post about one of the items I have received from Office Hero, the Staedtler Wopex. You might remember my previous two blog posts about the Wopex, one was looking at the Wopex 2B and 2H and one was comparing different eco pencils. Office Hero sent me a pack of twelve Wopex as a free sample. Their normal price is £4.01 (~ $6.35; €4.60) plus VAT.

Why another blog post about the Wopex? The Wopex has one property I really like, even though there are actually also a few things wrong with the Wopex. Back to the characteristic I like, which is why I pick this pencil more and more often when making entries in my diary. The reason is simple and has been mentioned by Koralatov in a recent comment: there’s hardly any graphite transfer between different pages when writing on the reverse. I use my diary to keep track of appointments and to record things that need doing. Graphite from soft pencils will transfer easily after something has been written on the reverse or on the next page, which will in then look very unsightly. Even though you can get graphite from the Wopex to transfer to another page if you want to, as seen on the photos, this transfer is usually not happing under normal circumstance and is therefore not a problem.

Graphite comparison in a Castelli Academic Diary

 

I think the Wopex has great potential, but it also has a few flaws which I want to mention.

  • The “fibre Wopex material” is too hard, so I use dedicated sharpeners in my office and at home, just for the Wopex. The “fibre Wopex material” is also too hard for rotary blade sharpeners.
  • If you sharpen the Wopex to a very fine point the point will break easily.
  • Small bits of the “fibre Wopex material”, close to the lead, can crumble off when sharpening.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a difference between the Wopex 2B, HB and 2H.

There are quite a few other issues, but mentioning them all would distract from the main issue I want to address here: Wopex‘s great lead that is a very good choice for diaries.

Top-bottom: Mars Lumograph HB, F, Castell 9000 HB, 2B, Technograph B, Wopex HB, Mono HB, Ticonderoga HB

Let’s look at the results from my (unrepresentative) graphite transfer test, conducted by writing on one page, putting the next page on top and applying pressure to the reverse of the next page1. Harder and lighter leads do better than softer and darker leads – no surprise here. The best pencil in my comparison was the Staedtler Wopex HB, followed by the Caran d’Ache Technograph 777 B, which has previously been reviewed by penciltalk. The worst pencils in this test were the Tombow Mono 100 HB and the Amos Dixon Ticonderoga HB. This was obviously due to their softness which does however bring other advantages, e.g. better pressure/darkness ratio – I do however prefer a tidy diary and do tend to use the Tombow and Dixon only when smearing, smudging and graphite transfer don’t matter.

 


Price and exchange rates: October 2011.

I would like to thank

The comparison has been conducted in a Castelli Academic Diary my wife got from her employer. I use a no name  academic diary from my employer, which has very different paper. My initial impressions are that graphite-transer-wise good pencils behave better in my diary, but bad pencils behave worse.

  1. The effects can be stronger when applying pressure directly to the reverse of the page you wrote on. []

Graphite from the moon

Graphite has already been used 6000 years ago. Back then it was used to paint pottery. Then there was of course the famous deposit of graphite in Cumbria, discovered in the 16th century…

…but did you know that there is graphite on the moon?

Some of the samples brought back from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 contained graphite!

The Moon festival is just over. Good to know that Chang’e and YuTu, her rabbit, won’t get bored up there. They can build themselves a pencil and doodle.


I found this information while trying to find out more about the Apollo L mechanical pencil.