Week 1

Carbon: The Building Blocks of Life and the Pencil

From watching the lecture, I learned about the misconception of the pencil and the manufacturing process of the pencil. From using regular pencils since elementary school, I never really thought about how they were made or even thought about the amazing things it would allow me to do. The pencil is a very powerful tool as it allows people to depict their thoughts through words and images. It was though that pencils used lead to deposit pigment onto paper, however the substance is actually graphite, a form of carbon.

Deforestation and Stationery

My intention for this drawing exercise was to be somewhat meta—I sketched my own hand gripping a drawing of a pencil, which was in turn used to sketch a carbon allotrope on a drawing of a paper, all on a real paper. I also depicted tree branches stemming from the pencil drawing, the body of which functioned as a tree trunk; the tree-pencil-contraption-drawing signified deforestation in order to satisfy the market for pencils.

A Pencil's Intricacy

As embarrassing as it may sound, it took almost half an hour for me to actively locate a pencil within my household. It's been years since I've last incorporated a pencil in my toolbox, but it was interesting to reinvigorate a lost passion, being the art of drawing with something other than ink. Although my artistic prowess may lack, the pencil seemed easier to use, yet much more brittle than I remembered. After having actually utilized the utensil, it dawned on me how neglectful its process can be.

The Deception of a Pencil

My first thought while drawing and reflecting on this week's content was wow am I rusty with a pencil. Over the past decade or so, I've gone from primarily using pencils in day to day writing, to using mechanical pencils, to pens, to now relying predominantly on typing. I can't tell you the last time I used a classic wooden HB2 pencil to write anything down.

Week 1 - Graphite Structures

I decided to incorperate nature into this week's drawing with pencil. As mentioned in lecture, there are many instances of hexagons in nature, so I thought that I could incorperate the structure of graphite (technically there is only one layer in my drawing so it would be considered graphene) into a drawing of nature. The hexagons form the center of a sunflower, replacing the seeds. A bee also rests on the sunflower.


Parables of the Pencil

This sketch has a twofold purpose: illustrating the anatomy and the personal application of the pencil. I began by drawing a large pencil and focusing on how it is made from what I learned in lecture, beginning with the tree itself and moving on towards the wooden slats and insertion of graphite.

Ultimately, however, I wanted to go deeper than its anatomy and explore some lessons and inspirational meanings that something as simple and commonplace as a pencil could teach, so I searched and brainstormed the following sayings depicted in the image:

The Pencil Process

My drawing was my own interpretation of the process, both directly and indirectly, involved with producing pencils. It starts with the deforestation of trees. The wood from these trees is collected and shipped out on trucks to factories. In the factories the pencil is assembled in full through a series of processes. The ultimate product of course is a little sliver of cylindrical wood containing graphite that enables us to convey messages in writing. I included a dollar sign, representing the profit made by companies through this process.


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