Monday, 21 June 2010

Sanford NoBlot Ink Pencil 705 by Quinn McDonald

 Licking the Pencil

It’s not a stub, so this can’t be a stub story. The pencil still shows the entire name, and I’m being frugal with it. The Sanford 705 is kind of hard to find.  It’s my second one, the first one belonged to someone else whose desk I inherited when I was still working for other people. I found it in a drawer and almost threw it away.

 The 705 wasn’t designed for artists; it was designed for bookkeepers.  If you like old movies, you’ll remember a scene in which the bookkeeper, one with a green eye shade and sleeve garters, licked his pencil and wrote in a ledger.

No one knew why bookkeepers licked the pencil, but they did. Careful movie watchers might have wondered why ledgers—the company’s financial records—would have been kept in pencil.  The answer is the Sanford NoBlot Ink Pencil 705. It writes in gray, just like a graphite pencil. But get it wet and it leaves a great turquoise mark that can’t be erased. You can erase they gray part if you are careful, but once the writing gets wet and turns turquoise, forget it, it’s permanent.

The pencil contains and aniline dye—turquoise in color—and while it can be activated by licking, I don’t recommend it. If you are keeping a journal, I’d advise to do your writing in pencil, then go over the line with a damp brush. Or, as in the photograph, simply create a wash of the color. It’s great for sketching or adding a bit of color to a journal page. You can also write on damp paper for immediate turquoise results. 

To finish the story—how did I find out that the pencil I found in a desk turned turquoise when wet? This was in the days before computers, so Googling wasn’t a verb yet. I found out the old fashioned way. I was using it as a pencil and drinking ice tea when a drop of condensation fell on the paper and turned my writing bright turquoise.  I often claim that it was the beginning of my raw art journaling  fascination, and I’m sticking to it. 

--Quinn McDonald is a writer and workshop leader. Her book on raw art journaling will be published in 2011 by North Light Books. She can be reached at

Palimpsest says: See also Quinn's post "Pencil-Perfect" on the love of pencils.