13 May 2011

Sharpening A Pencil with A Knife

Dear Lissy,
A deliciously warm day, and you've spent hours looking inside flowers with a magnifying glass and making dandelion curls. I'm planning to go on a geocache for our afternoon exercise, but I need to find a few baubles to leave behind in place of the ones we take.  It's the time of year I love to sketch all the beautiful little details God has hidden.  I find it much more practical to sharpen drawing pencils with a knife than with a sharpener, a skill that's simple to master to keep your pencils in good nick.

If a pencil point is sharpened in a pencil sharpener the ultra-sharp lead makes grooves or pierces the paper, which makes erasure difficult.  The lead also has a tendency to break off.  Sharpening with a knife on the other hand allows you to customize the tip.  I don't often sharpen regular school pencils this way, but it certainly will do in a pinch!

The key is using your thumb to guide the blade at a shallow angle that produces curls of wood.  Be sure your knife is very sharp. Many artists prefer a razor knife because they can dispose of dull blades.  I'm putting a video into this post, but if it's not still here, I'm sure you'll be able to find another easily.
My favorite YouTube video, "How to Sharpen a Pencil by Dennis Clark of the Paint Basket" isn't available for embedding.  He explains what he's doing as he goes along which I found very helpful.

And that beautiful vintage illustration at the top?  That's how your Daddy sharpens every pencil he uses.  You probably have memories of him standing at the waste bin sharpening his pencils before work in the morning.

Stay Sharp!

1 comment:

  1. I smiled as I read this. It's so simple. I can see her reading this years from now - and better yet - I can see her teaching it to her kids, and grand kids. I just kind of felt - as simple as it was - it's just the tip of the iceberg of gifts you are giving your baby. Thank you for this today – I hearted it lots – and God Bless and keep you and all of yours Rebecca.