Saturday, 24 December 2011

O Pencil Tree

Palimpsest wishes Happy Holidays to all

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The MUJI Pencil Making Kit

Far from Palimpsest to resist a pencil making kit, especially when it comes in the very affordable price of £3.99. The pencil kit in question is on sale in MUJI, the well-know Japanese chain which offers anything from erasers to beds. It comes in the characteristic MUJI cardboard box with an English label "Sawdust Clay - Make Your Own Pencil Set Kit Creator" and 17 bullet-point instructions at the back in... Japanese. Those not able to read have to make do with six (6) pictures.

Inside the box are three blobs of clay wrapped in plastic and six pencil leads in a cardboard tube. Palimpsest is disappointed to discover that by "pencil making" MUJI actually means encasing ready-made graphite leads in clay. Palimpsest was actually naive in believing that she would actually get to make the pencil leads. Well. Moving on, moving on.

Palimpsest takes out the blob of clay which is slightly moist...

According to the pictorial instruction, the blob has to be rolled out and flattened with a roller. How thin? Who knows. Written instructions are in Japanese, remember? So I roll out the clay using the cardboard tube that contained the pencil leads. 

 Next, I cut out a rectangular piece out of it (as per instructions)... 

and place the graphite lead inside so both ends stick out...  

and proceed to wrap my clay piece around it...

And then I repeat previous steps all over again because I find the clay is too thick and thus pencil turns out to be an unwieldy piece of... well, clay. 

After a couple of attempts I end up with the above piece. 

According to my pictorial instructions I have to mould a circular piece on top of my pencil (not sure why). I do that and end up with what I can only describe as a weird fish. 

Next I sharpen the graphite with a sharp blade and try to shape the end part of the pencil to make it look like, erm, a pencil. 

 The finished product is very soft. Am I supposed to cook it? I decide to wait assuming that this is a kind of clay that hardens with air exposure. Sure enough after two (2) days, the pencil is hard enough to hold (but not really rock-hard). It writes like a cheap pencil and there is plenty of clay to make a set of 12. Xmas stocking filler? Hmm. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Eagle Pencil Company London

According to Grace’s Guide, the Eagle Pencil company, which had been founded in New York by German immigrant Heinrich Berolzheimer in 1859, opened its London office in 1864. In October 1894 a London office, Warehouse and Showroom, opened in the City of London at 14 Fore Street, where today stands the Barbican Centre, and the 1897 catalogue already referred to prize medals awarded to Eagle pencils. This is all according to Berol’s website where one learns that Eagle’s Turquoise (or “Turquois”) pencils were first produced in 1901 together with innumerable coloured pencils and “anti-nervous pen holders.”

The Eagle Pencil Co. started operating in Tottenham in north London in 1907. The History of the County of Middlesex, vol. 5 (1976) mentions that by 1920 “a few more firms, including the Eagle Pencil Co., had opened north of Ferry Lane, in wartime buildings along Ashley Road.”

In 1922 the Eagle Pencil Company advertises itself in the British Industries Fair as the largest manufacturer of its kind in the world producing black lead, copying ink, coloured, carpenters’ and diary pencils. They were also contractors to Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, Colonial, and Foreign Governments and Schools.

Pencil manufacture, which had stopped during the Second World War, resumed in 1946 first with plain unbranded pencils and later with the traditional pencil ranges of Turquoise, Verithin and Mirado. A presentation pencil set of coloured and lead pencils from the above ranges is included in the Exploring 20th Century London website. I’d love to find out more about the changing fortunes of this company and its pencils.

A selection of Eagle pencils from Australia, Canada, England, Mexico and the USA in Brand Name Pencils.

Object in the Inklinks shop today: Vintage Eagle pencil box set from Eagle Pencil Co. London. Includes a pen holder too (don’t know if it’s “anti-nervous”).