Morning guys! I'll be heading downstairs to sketch here in a bit. But first, I thought I'd share a few of the tools that are hanging around the studio. There's actually a lot of little things in here. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell which tool will work best for you until it's used. You end up amassing a horde of supplies in search of that special one. As a result, artist usually have stuff laying about everywhere, most of it covered in pencil, ink, or paint markings.
Today I'd like to focus on sharpeners.
I've a few different ones that I've collected over the years. Not as many as other artists, I'm sure. I found my ideal sharpeners pretty quickly, so I lucked out there. I would like to apologize for the state of these. I didn't think to clean the reservoir of shavings or wipe down the sides before taking photos. So they're a little messy. Hey, they're well loved.
This first one gets the most use. It's an Alvin rotary lead pointer that I use for all my drawing leads.
I prefer to use leads and lead holders over regular pencils. I like the feel and the grip better. This little thing gives me a great point and is very durable. I've had it for at least five years now and it hasn't broken yet. The white circle in the front is a small roll of cotton that is used to clean your tip after sharpening.
You can actually clean the inside of the lead pointer easily with soap and water. Just be sure to dry it off well before recapping it so the metal doesn't rust.
Colored pencils can be hard to sharpen without breaking, especially soft ones like the Prismacolor brand. While I don't do much with colored pencils these days, I used to. I went through a few different sharpeners before finding one I was truly happy with.
I figured since Prismacolor makes the pencils, their sharpeners must be just right. Now some people use these next two with no problems. Me, I've found them to be a little too harsh on the pencils. I keep them around for traveling, but that's about it.
The first is the Prismacolor oval.
This is a pretty basic sharpener.
It has a small reservoir for shavings, a metal blade, and a cap to protect the sharpener. It's cute and stylish, but didn't really fit my needs. The reservoir fills much too quickly for my liking. It also made the point a little too sharp and narrow, leading to easy breakage.
The other sharpener Prismacolor has to offer is their standard.
It's heftier than the oval with a bigger reservoir. Not only that, it has two different blades, one for narrow sharpening and the other for wide.
While an improvement on the oval, I still wasn't thrilled with this one. It cut the wood around the tip a little roughly, leading to a prickly surface. I tend to hold my pencils a little close to the tip, so the rough surface was not pleasant.
The bit of plastic with the Prismacolor logo on it needs to be removed before the sharpener can be dissembled and emptied. Note, removal and reassembly should be done carefully. I've already snapped one of the little tabs which hold the logo piece onto the body.
My second favorite sharpener is our corgi's least favorite. It's the Industrial Grade 2WFU2.
I ran across this on sale and figured I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did! Turns out it works wonderfully on the Prismalcolors. It consistently gives me a nice, smooth point with no breakage. This one runs on four AA batters which, while sounds like a lot, very rarely need to be changed. It also came with a replacement blade.
It does fill up rather quickly, but the result is well worth it. Now if only Holly would stop trying to attack this one whenever I use it.
While the 2WFU2 is good, the king is my Dahle 155.
Matt bought me this sharpener years ago and it's served me well. The Dahle can be held or clamped to the desk. It also has a dial in the back which lets you adjust how wide or sharp of a point you'd like.
But, one of the best things about the Dahle is its automatic feed and shut-off mechanism. Just push the two metal "rabbit ears" on the top together, pull the facing forward, place your pencil into the hole, release the "ears", and sharpen away. Once your point has reached the sharpness set by the dial on the back, the mechanism won't allow you to go further. No more over sharpening!
The Dahle can also be taken apart for easy cleaning. This is useful since - unlike the lead pointer or the Prismacolor sharpeners - the Dahle can work with just about anything, from colored pencils to hard, woodless graphite.
Out of all of them the Dahle is the priciest. Still, it makes up for the cost in its durability, ease of maintenance, and wide range of uses. It's by far my favorite.
I hope this look at some of my tools has been interesting. I'll do another, similar-type post later on. For now I need to get to work. Later!
"A worker may be the hammer's master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea."
-- Milan Kundera