Via Comrade Brian.
Don’t trade in your pencils and paper for a keyboard just yet.
A new study that compared the different brain processes used for writing by hand and typing has found that there are cognitive benefits to putting a pen to paper. These findings give support to the continued teaching of penmanship and handwriting in schools.
Children who don’t learn the skill of handwriting, like generations before them had to, may be missing out on an important developmental process. Compared to using two hands to type out letters on a keyboard, writing with one hand uses more complex brain power.
Read more at The Huffington Post.
The following is some really cool artwork submitted by Jesse Patrick Ferguson. Many thanks to Jesse for reaching out and for allowing us to publish his work on our humble site. (Click images for larger views.)
“Figure-Four Deadfall is a piece of environmentalist visual art by Jesse Patrick Ferguson, a Canadian poet and musician who also dabbles in the visual arts. It was displayed in the Cape Breton University Art Gallery in February 2013, and it is based on the figure-four deadfall—a type of trap used to catch small animals for food using a baited trigger mechanism. Ferguson has replaced the usual heavy stone/log with a book on humanity’s environmental impact (Fragile Earth, 2006). He has also replaced the usual rough sticks that make up the trigger mechanism with wooden pencils, and he has replaced the food bait with a Canadian one-dollar coin. The symbolism is fairly simple: if a person makes a hasty grab for the money, the trap activates and the “fragile earth” falls in on him/her, literally rapping the thief’s knuckles. The message is that short-term financial gain often results in long-term environmental problems.
The pencils used are a Papermate Canadiana (not a very good pencil) and two free promotional pencils (fairly decent writers, actually). The pencils are carefully notched to form the figure-four shape, and the erasers help by providing friction on the book and the pedestal.”
(Text and images, JPF. Used with kind permission.)
I certainly don’t mean to open a Hipster Shooting Gallery, firing at hipsters or other people. Nor — given the fact that hipsters seem to adopt things I like (beards, rye whiskey, bikes, etc.) and the subsequent fact that I probably look like an older and wider hipster — do I necessarily exclude myself from the School of the Hip. Even if I’d rather be counted out.
But I have noticed something that I’m sure many Comrades have noticed. There’s this whole “artisanal” and “craft” and “small-batch” movement going on. There’s no question. But I’ve noticed that pencils are fitting into this in bigger and bigger ways. Pencils are showing up more and more in advertising for products and services aimed at the hip crowd. I read somewhere (I forget where) that a lot of the low-fi stationery trends are “hipsterish” and that brands like Field Notes have been extra successful as a result.* To be sure, the shops that seem to cater to hipsters around my house all have a decent stationery section.
If paper is cool, certainly no ordinary writing implements will do. No Bics or gel pens. Wood and graphite and the accoutrements/accouterments thereof all the way! Take this ad (above) from a local watering hole in Baltimore. There are myriad examples I will let Comrades find on their own, for enjoyment and/or scoffing and/or edification.
I live in a pretty hip spot, and there are benefits (good coffee shops, stores with stationery) and obnoxiousness (kids telling you about the neighborhood in which you grew up like their discovered it). I’m waiting to hear someone in expensively battered boots wax philosophical about the benefits of using a “simple” pencil’s eraser as a smartphone stylus in our of our hipper coffeeshops.
I’ve been known to employ Blackwing erasers on my non-smart-but-touch-screen-phone. But never in public.
*[I might point out that Field Notes have also been successful because of their level of service.]
[Please excuse the bad phone picture.]
Seen while taking a nice three-mile stroll on a lovely day in Baltimore (lower Charles Village/Old Goucher). Dawn’s used to have really interesting window displays. They have either stopped doing this or were between displays today. I’m not sure any person can go in and browse (or if there is browsing to be bad), though I might reach out and see what kinds of pencils they have just for fun.
Photographer Lisa Cargile sent us a link to her excellent pencil photography project, and we had to share it with our Comrades. These are excellent photos, and I see some rare pencils and some I’ve never seen before. From Ms. Cargile:
“I’m a corporate employee by day and a photographer by night ;-) The pencil project is just something that I started last year. It started out to be a ’365 project’ but life happens and I didn’t make it the entire year. Jan 1st I started the pencil project again so I’m posting those on my Facebook page. Anyways …glad I came across your site.”
Check out the pencil photo series here, including many more than we’ve posted on this blog.
(Images, text, L.C. Used with kind permission.)
While looking for pink pipe-cleaners (!!) today at my parents’ house in Baltimore, I happened upon a box of Sanford American pencils, circa 1999, with half of the dozen left. Two were obviously sharpened with some kind of point-stopped electrical sharpener (which I’m not aware that my parents have ever owned), but the other four were just factory sharpened. I was gladly given the box.
While I grew up with an older version in the 1980s, the color of the paint, the plain ferrule and the typography warm me up on a surprisingly chilly Maryland evening. One is behind my ear right now.
For my birthday two weeks ago, I was treated to a night at the Maryland State Fair by my family. I couldn’t resist breaking in my last County Fair edition between packs of the Day Game edition, for my Fairly Pocket Notebook. This was a Thursday.
That Sunday, I got caught — sans umbrella — in a long and heavy downpour and was soaked to the skin. Even my hardier cargo shorts were no match for this deluge. There were a few notes in this book in pen, and liquid inks (Flair, Zebra Regal) just made a huge mess, some enough to not be able to make out what I wrote. Everything in pencil (at least 90% of the book) was Okay.
One of my favorite things about the County Fair edition and Field Notes in general is how much better they look when they get worn-in. For instance, the corners and edges of these linen covers loss their floodcoated ink and aged in white, while the covers developed some prominent creases. I was sorely sorry when this was full.
This is also something I have always liked about pencils: they are not [always] neat. I catch myself trying to put an end to GHOSTING and things like that. But, in the end, anything but water/fade-proof ink on waterproof paper (can you combine them?) is going to look beat-up after some time in one’s pocket.
Why not embrace it?
Comrade Dan (a very good Comrade of mine) sent some photos of a sharpener at the school he went to, in its present state.
He tells us that this sharpener has been there since he was in school. Mr. Dan and I are…not so young these days; it’s been there for quite some time!
I love the groves worn into the wood from decades of turning the crank.
[Images, D.K., used with kind permission.]
This is only slightly pencil related, and I thought twice about posting it. Still:
1) Thoreau made pencils.
2) Some of these surveys still have pencil marks on them. And who doesn’t enjoy a good chart of a woodlot?
3) Why not?
“The Concord Free Library received some money from AT&T to scan and host actual hand-drawn maps from Thoreau, with his notes in pencil (his own?) and ink, in his very…difficult handwriting.”
[Image, P. Used with permission.]
Join us now on Facebook! This is different than the “group.” We’re moving on up to a page, wherein Comrades can receive updates, and there will be a “wall” on which anyone can post.