March 30th celebrates the pencil… and in today’s post, I bring you 13 ways to celebrate the pencil: pointed and perfect and so very useful. There are a few 13s within the 13 here, so settle down (mind any sharp points as you sit down), and sharpen your brains with facts, and pencil-ly skills too!
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13 Ways to Celebrate the Pencil: Pointed and Perfect
Starting with words and phrases that celebrate the pencil one way or another, this list includes a few lists of 13 too, from books and quotes to fun facts about the pencil.. Read on …it is a pointy road indeed…
1. Words and Phrases: 13 to Celebrate the Pencil
- pencil: The word pencil comes from the latin, penicillum, the name for a small, fine-tipped brush used for writing, which in turn is a diminutive form of the latin word for brush, peniculus, which in turn is a diminutive form of the Latin word penis, which means “tail.”
- graphite: comes from German Graphit –> from Greek graphein meaning “write”
- lead: as you might know, there is no lead in pencils, so why do we say lead pencils? Blame it on history! In ancient Roman times, the stylus used for writing was made of lead.
- HB: These initials on pencils mean “hard” and “black”, and refer to the degree of hardness in pencils. There are 16 levels of hardness, and each one can be used for different purposes. Read more about it here.
- ferrule: that small often-serrated metal band that connects the pencil to the eraser.
- not the sharpest pencil in the cup: not intelligent; dim-witted, prone to stupidity.
- Pencil pusher: meaning office-worker, was derogatory slang from 1881
- Take a blue pencil to: If a person goes over a piece of writing with a blue pencil, they remove or change some of the words to improve it or make it acceptable.
- pencil-neck: used to refer (idiomatically) to a particularly weak, meek, or unimpressive person
- pencil whip: an idiom that means to approve a document without actually knowing or reviewing what it is that is being approved; to blindly sign something…
- pencil in: To pencil (something) in means to add something tentatively to a schedule.
- pencil out: to create a rough idea of something (maybe a story, a drawing, or even a budget)
- tell me your favorite pencil word or phrase!
2. Pencil Points: Part 1
- On average, a pencil can be sharpened 17 times (but make a note of it as you use it; don’t waste).
- Apparently, a pencil can draw a 35 miles long line and write around 45,000 words. You can start counting the words the next time you start using a new pencil for I am sure you are not going to draw a line and check it out.
- The average size tree (Cedar) can produce around 300,000 pencils
- Pencils are made of just wood, graphite, and clay. Of course, I am not talking about mechanical pencils here.
- On average, 14 billion pencils are produced in the world annually.
- Sandpaper and blades were used to sharpen pencils before the sharpener made its existence. When we could not find our sharpener, I recall my dad sharpening the pencil for me with a blade or knife, and the point was often sharper than using sharpeners!
- Before the invention of erasers, bread crumbs were used to rub out pencil marks
- Pencil shavings are excellent moth repellent!
- The most expensive pencil in the world is a limited edition of the Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil. It’s crafted from 240-year-old olive wood and 18-karat white gold and costs $12,800
- The world’s largest pencil, which weighs 98.43 tonnes and measures 76 feet 2.75 inches, is located at the City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri
- Pencils can write in zero gravity, and were used on space missions by American and Russian astronauts. Until they were deemed unsafe and stopped being used in space (fire hazard – the graphite more than the wood)
- We can also use them underwater!
- And upside down, and inside out…
4. 13 Pencil Proprietors
Just 13 of the myriad pencil brands around the world..
- Staedtler: A pencil I pick up for art projects every once in a while
- Faber Castell: I have used these pencils, mostly the color pencil sets, for my art projects.
- Palomino : I need to get the Blackwing pencils from Palomino!
- Mont Marte: Another brand I am yet to try but hope to at some point.
- Apsara: A brand from India, one I grew up using.
- Natraj: Another Indian brand, also one I grew up using. The ad for this is now playing in my head
- Ticonderoga: A standard pencil for school use here!
- Sprout Pencils: Once you have used the pencil, plant it, and watch it sprout!
- Three Leaf Pencils: Another cool, green pencil brand
- Smencils: A great favorite when it goes into gift bags for class parties..
- Prismacolor: Like with #s 1 and 2, I use this for coloring/art often.
- Pentel: I recall buying this years ago and then never did, but not because I didn’t like it.. no idea why.
- Mitsubishi: A Japanese brand of pencils I am yet to try, but have heard a lot about.
5. Pencil Practitioners, that is Artists
There are way too many amazing and talented artists who work with pencil all around the world. When I see their hyperrealist creations, they simply wow me. And of course, it is not just hyperrealism, there are other cool artists too who draw and sketch and produce stunning results with the seemingly simple medium of the pencil.
6. The Many Pencil Practices
Pencils are so versatile, and you are apt to find that pencil over the earlobe of people in so many professions. Beyond the obvious use of writing, drawing, coloring, and note taking, we can use pencils in so many projects; painting walls, carpentry, sewing, and even makeup (eyebrow pencils, lipliners, anyone?).
7. Pencil Points to Ponder
- “A pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.” – Joyce A. Myers
- “Don’t waste time looking for a better pencil: learn to write better”. – Seth Godin
- “We need to sharpen our focus & live to the point just like a pencil.” – Robin S
- If you can’t be a pencil to write anyone’s happiness, then try to be a nice eraser to remove their sadness. – Unknown
- “I believe that the combination of pencil and memory creates a kind of practical magic, and magic is dangerous.” – Stephen King
- Isn’t it amazing what a pencil can have inside? – Quino
- Success is a worn down pencil. – Robert Rauschenberg
- When your pencil is dull, sharpen it. And when your pencil is sharp, use it until it is dull again. – Mary Ruefle
- Let us pick up our books and pencils. They are our most powerful weapon. – Malala Yousafzai
- You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead. – Stan Laurel
- Map out your future – but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip. – Jon Bon Jovi
- No one is perfect, that is why pencils have erasers. – unknown
- To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you’re overdoing it. – Josh Jenkins
(I know, I know – those last two…!)
8. Mission Pencils
Just like missing socks, I am sure all of us also frequently find pencils (and pens too) missing at our homes. So make it your mission to find those missing pencils today!
9. Bake a Cake and Celebrate the Pencil
Bake yourself a pencil cake, and eat it too!
10. Cool Art Projects With Pencils – Off-tangent
Create art with pencil shavings. I used to spend time making flowers with shavings and then drawing scenes around them to complete a drawing. And now I am inspired by these life-like portraits made out of pencil shavings by Kyle Bean (who is a multi-talented artist!)
Or, if you love micro-art, then try your hand at pencil lead sculptures, like these by artist Fidai (mymodernmet)
11. Spread Pencil Power
Donate pencils and other school supplies to those who need them.
12. Pencil Points: Part 2
- On March 30th, 1858, Hymen L. Lipman (US) received the patent for a pencil with an eraser attached to the end! (Now, the 30th being Pencil Day makes sense, right?!)
- John Steinbeck used as many as 60 pencils a day to write his novels.
- Ernest Hemingway on pencils: “If you write with a pencil you get three different sights at it to see if the reader is getting what you want him to. First when you read it over; then when it is typed you get another chance to improve it and again in the proof. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it.”
- During the Civil War, pencils were a part of basic equipment for Union soldiers.
- Henry David Thoreau used pencils to write his famous work, Walden. His father owned a pencil-making business near Boston, and Henry allegedly designed his own pencils there.
- Emilio Arenas, a man from Uruguay has the largest collection of lead pencils in the world. He has 24,026 pencils from all over the world as of 2020, and holds a Guinness Record.
- The year 2008 saw a surge in demand for pencils in London. The reason? Sudoku!
- Why are pencils yellow? Apparently, it was to show a mark of superiority. Read more about the Yellow Pencil in this College Board article
- Thomas Edison used specially made pencils (made by Eagle Pencil) that were thicker than standard pencils, were three inches long, and had softer graphite than typically available.
- Vladimir Nabokov rewrote everything he ever published, several times, by pencil.
- If you watched the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was hosting it, you might have noticed that he regularly played with pencils at his desk. These pencils were specially made with erasers at both ends to avoid on-set accidents.
- Roald Dahl began each day with six sharpened pencils and only when all six became unusable did he resharpen them.
- During World War II, Cumberland Pencil Company in England produced pencils that were hollowed at the center with graphite on either end. The makers stowed maps and a miniature compass in the hollow space, and used the RAF to drop them off to POW camps so they could help captured military personnel escape to freedom.
13. Pencil Printings aka Books that Celebrate the Pencil
Last, but not the least, a few books to celebrate pencils!
- Zen Pencils: Cartoon Quotes from Inspirational Folks by Gavin Aung Than. I reviewed another of Than’s books in this series here.
- Fun With A Pencil: How Everybody Can Easily Learn to Draw by Andrew Loomis
- How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students by Catherine V Holmes. Check my review of this book here.
- Drawing Is for Everyone: Simple Lessons to Make Your Creative Practice a Daily Habit – Explore Infinite Creative Possibilities in Graphite, Colored Pencil, and Ink (Art is for Everyone) by Kateri Ewing
- Kawaii Doodle Cuties: Sketching Super-Cute Stuff from around the World by Zainab Khan. Doodling can be done using pencils and pens too. My review is in this post.
- The Art of Doodle Words: Turn Your Everyday Doodles into Cute Hand Lettering! by Sarah Alberto. My review is in this post.
- A Kid’s Guide to Drawing Cartoon Animals by Vicki Whiting (Author), Jeff Schinkel (Illustrator). I wrote about this book here.
- Start with a Scribble: Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Sir Quentin Blake and John Cassidy. I talk about it here.
- Anywhere, Anytime Art: Colored Pencil: A playful guide to drawing with colored pencil on the go! by Cara Hanley. A Netgalley read, this was a fun and detailed instructional guide to drawing, and I hope to get my own copy soon.
- Light and Shade in Charcoal, Pencil and Brush Drawing (Dover Art Instruction). I used a similar book years ago to learn more about shading, and while I cannot find that one, this is pretty close.
- The New Colored Pencil: Create Luminous Works with Innovative Materials and Techniques by Kristy Ann Kutch.
- Not a drawing book, but definitely a book that is inspired by the humble pencil. The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun. I read about Braun and how a request for a pencil led to so much more, and that article led me to this amazing book.
- How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants by David Rees and introduction by John Hodgman. I am reading this delightful read now (discovered as a result of researching this post!). (and also Pencils You Should Know by Caroline Weaver)
sources for word-origins, facts and quotes: various, including pencils.com, wikipedia, nationaltoday, goodreads, brainyquote, etymnonline
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, what did you enjoy the most about this post? Any points that stand out? How do you celebrate pencils in your life, or rather, use them?
This post goes towards Thursday 13 where each week bloggers get together to post 13 anythings they wish to! Join in on the fun with us.