Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Fude of Pencils

2/13/19 An unattractive corner of our backyard sketched with a vintage
Derwent carpenter's pencil. All of these varying line widths and marks came from
its two ends sharpened with different points.
When I reviewed some vintage Rexel Cumberland Derwent Drawing Pencils, I wrote about how much I enjoy using them at life drawing sessions, especially the flat carpenter pencil-shaped ones. The soft, thick, colored cores are the same as those found in their round contemporary counterparts, but the rectangular cores in the carpenter pencils can be cut in different ways to provide a variety of line widths and marks. I’ve only just begun experimenting, and I’m still learning how to whittle the points at different angles.

A few days ago, a YouTube video about carpenter’s pencils was brought to my attention. Intended for actual carpenters, not sketchers, the video explains why carpenter’s pencils are flat, how their standard dimensions are useful in carpentry, and other fascinating information. Watching it being sharpened was especially informative to a novice knife sharpener like me.

Carpenter's pencils sharpened Darth Maul style!
Most exciting of all was when the video pointed out the very obvious (duh!) fact that a carpenter pencil can be sharpened on both ends! Eureka! I immediately sharpened the second end of each of my pencils with a different shaped point so that I could expand the range of line widths even more. (I had so much fun sharpening that I gave myself a small blister! That’s what made me realize I need to work on my knife skills.)

A couple of year ago I discovered a Uni Mitsubishi graphite pencil with a 10B core called a fude enpitsu (“brush pencil”). Sharpened to a chisel point, it can make a wide range of line widths, just like the fude fountain pen nibs that have been my favorite for years. But now that I’ve been using these carpenter-style drawing pencils, I’d have to say that the vintage Derwents are the true fude of pencils.

Pointy on one end. . . 

. . . blunt on the other.

I had so much fun that I gave myself a blister.
Here's the chisel point on one end of the pencil I used for this sketch.

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