“What’s up with your obsession with pencils?” – Classmate, Spring 2017
This is a question I have been asked many times over the last year. Yes, I acknowledge, an obsession with pencils is a little strange. I thought so too when I first heard about others that had this same obsession.
My journey into pencil obsession
In the Spring of 2016, I read a blog by Joe Thorn about wood pencils that he liked, which interested me. There are other kinds of pencils besides what I have? At that point, the only pencils I knew existed were these guys:
They didn’t write great, but they weren’t terrible either, and best of all, they were cheap. A few weeks after reading the blog post mentioned above, I was walking around a local bookstore, and found one of the pencils that were mentioned in that blog post; here would begin my obsession. The Palomino Blackwing. There were three “models”; I bought one of each, and at $2 a pencil, that wasn’t an easy purchase at first.
Even though they were a bit “spendy”, I was hooked. As a student, I spend a lot of time taking notes and writing. I am easily distracted, so taking notes in class on my laptop often leads to scrolling through Facebook rather than taking notes. So when I switched to taking notes by hand, I wanted to enjoy the experience, and the Blackwing caused great enjoyment in my note taking. They wrote so smoothly. They were beautiful to look at. They smelled great when they were sharpened. Also, I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, so this created a great hobby. I love being able to learn about the history of pencils (especially the Blackwing. More on that in the future), and the different types.
For the last year, I have basically just used these three pencils. However, over the last few months I have discovered many other types of high quality pencils. Pencils of different types of graphite, from different countries, with erasers and without, and many other different factors. I am still discovering new things about the pencil world, and I hope to share that through this blog as I learn.
So, why a pencil blog?
In America, we live in a culture where it is constantly “out with the old, and in with the new”. Our technology is out of date the day after we purchase it, or at least that is how it seems. However, I am not under the impression that newer is better. Our pencil doesn’t have to be this:
For many people, their work includes writing in some capacity. Why should we settle for mediocre when we can have a high quality instrument to do our work with? Technology is great, but there is something satisfying about using a piece of wood with graphite in the middle, sharpening it, and moving it across a page. For me, that aspect attaches me to what I am writing, because there is work involved. The pencil has been a trusted tool for many many years. It has stood the test of time, so let’s not throw it out.