The Pencil: Not Drawn to Scale

As I began drawing my impressions of our first lecture on the pencil, I knew I wanted to capture the continuity between the vastly different scales of examination that we touched upon. I was particularly struck by the juxtaposition of a simple layer of graphene on a molecular level compared to the tens of thousands of trees lost to deforestation each year in pencil production. On top of that, the hundreds of thousands of pencils that can be made from one tree alone connected the environmental significance of widespread deforestation and carbon emissions for transportation of pencils to the singular pencil in my hand as I was drawing. 

It seems nearly impossible to even conceive of the molecular impression versus the large-scale environmental impression of a pencil through the same lens. However, as I drew, I wanted to come as close to capturing that dichotomy as possible. While I was drawing the trees, I tried to visualize the carbon structure of my lines, playing with how hard I pressed down on the pencil so that I could really grasp the difference between a single graphene layer and a thicker impression/trail of graphite.

My greatest emotional impression as I created this graphic was the cognitive limitation of my own mind to grasp the scale of how a pencil can come to be and create something new. I was left with the lingering feeling that an incapacity to draw or conceptualize the true scale of environmental threats or molecular structure that go into the pencil, does not justify an indifference about why these things should matter and that, while I may only have one pencil in my hand, the way that it got there and allowed me to create what I created is more involved and on a larger scale than I have ever appreciated.