Thursday, December 27, 2007

"An Implement For Writing" (14th Century)

Also known as a pencil.

I have before me my current favorite. It has a solid piece of graphite inside which sharpens easily and without any problem, thanks to a good shank of wood. The paint is of good quality and the eraser is well-bonded to the body. It feels good in the hand.

There is an art to sharpening a pencil. An art? Or is it a science? I will go with a science that, at the end, turns into an art.

First, start cranking the pencil sharpener. Yes, cranking; you do not use one of those horrible electric things that just chomp away. Sharpening is, as I said, an art; a fine art. First you get the blades going properly and then you insert the pencil until you feel the shaving begin.

At this point, you start revolving the pencil into the action of the blades, pushing it slightly into the sharpener. When you can feel that it’s done, remove the pencil and then stop cranking the handle.

Blow the residue off the pencil point. The pencil is not officially and completely sharpened until you have blown a puff of air at the point to remove any leftover wood or graphite shavings. I prefer two short puffs, one to loosen and the other to actually blow the residue away. Do what you feel is best for you.


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