Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Vessel(The Pencil)

Duchamp has always interested me. The concept of "readymades" may be controversial(or trite) - but they bend your brain around a little bit. We paint, but we do not make our own paints. We draw, but we do not make our own pencils. We see a wall of thousand and are drawn to one in particular. The energy of one. It is two forces creating a strong, unexplained nexus. We, as artist make art. We take paint, pen, pencil, paper, canvas, string, steel and transform it into something else. Art is often beautiful and often thought provoking - though very rarely (if ever) is the material acknowledged any more than "pen on paper" under the artists name. The artist, whose mind has taken the vessel TO someplace, must not abandon the very parter that helped him hop the fence. So, with that in mind, I will be starting a series dedicated to The Vessel. As a celebration to how miraculous they all are. We will learn the history, and also see how other artists are changing the way we see said object. Hopefully, a new found(deeper?) love for each will ensue. Hmm.

For part one, The Pencil!!!

I'll start with a line from Wiki "Pencils create marks via physical abrasion, leaving behind a residual trail of solid core material that adheres to a sheet of paper or other surface. They are noticeably distinct from pens, which dispense pigmented liquids or gels that absorb into paper."

Be still my heart. It all started in 1565, when a large amount of graphite was found in Grey Knotts. It quickly became useful to them for marking sheep! Being that it was so pure and strong, they cut it into sticks - thus the first "pencil." The Italians came along some time later to add the wooden casing. It is said that it was invented by a couple by the names of Simonio and Lyndiana Bernacotti(Where do people get this obscure info? I'm amazing and also curious to know how much is true?! Regardless, its fun to think we know). Their design was flat, oval and made from juniper wood. Later, because the graphite was impossible to be imported to French during the Napoleonic wars during a blockade, they came up with a new recipe - graphite powder mixed  clay, then formed into rods. Very nice. With that part mastered, in 1790 they discovered that by varying the ratio of graphite to clay, they could change the hardness of the rod. This method is still used today! White bread was said to be used as erasers until invented in 1770. On March 30th, 1858 by Hymen (HA! I know - I'm 12) Lipman created the device, know as the ferrule(or as we know it, the-metal-bit-that-attaches-the-eraser-to-the-pencil).  He later sold his patent for $100,000 to Joseph Reckendorfer although is was invalidated sometime later because it combined two products rather than invent a new one.

Phew. Well, thats enough of that. Here are a few artists who have take the pencil to another world!

George Hart. Who takes 72 pencils and intersects them at 45 degree angles.

Ghost Patrol shaves down the pencils, then uses ink and acrylic to paint on top of the newly smooth surface.

Glass pencil sharpener designed by Mac Funamizu. 

One of many beautiful sculptures from Jennifer Maestre.

And if you are still, begging for more. You can always, Do The Pencil?

Ta Ta for now.

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