The obscure history of colored pencils and their existence today
Colored Pencils. You have most likely used them before, even if only when you were a small child. They are useful in a variety of ways, They can be used by themselves but can also be used with other art mediums such as markers to create new depth and effects.
They are much like a normal pencil, with a wooden casing and core. The main difference, quite obviously, is that they have a core made of colored pigment. This pigment is made using wax, additives and binding agents. You can even get colored pencils that are oil based, water-soluble or come in mechanical pencil form.
Wax based colored pencils are great for layering, though wax bloom, or a white haze due to wax buildup can be an issue. Non wax-based pencils, like oil based ones, may require more pressure though they eliminate the wax bloom issue.
These versatile instruments do not have a well-documented history. While it is known that the Ancient Greeks and Romans used wax-based crayons, colored pencils do not have quite a clear past. It is known that in the 19th century they were used for marking on documents, their color making them easily distinguishable and noticeable on an otherwise black and white (or off-white) page.
Did you know that a single tree can make up to 300,000 colored pencil barrels?
The German company Staedtler, invented colored oil pastel pencils in 1834.
Faber-Castell and Caran d'Ache made the first colored pencils for art in 1924 and Berol began making them in 1938. As the years went by more manufactures began to produce colored pencils, with a few claiming that they invented the first watercolor pencil designed for artists.
Faber-Castell makes a pencil that retails for $10,000 (as of Nov. 2018). It was made in 2001 to mark the 240th anniversary of Faber-Castell and includes an extender and end piece made of 18-carat white gold. And under the coat-of-arms the third millennium is symbolized by three diamonds.
In 2009 Jainthan Francis made the largest colored pencil drawing ever documented at 20 inches wide and 500 yards long.
If you have ever shopped for color pencils you are probably aware that there are different types. They each have different intended uses and characteristics.
Artist-grade pencils are generally made of a high quality pigment made to easily blend, be light fast, water resistant and durable.
Student and scholastic grade pencils can be found in just about any store and while they may not have less quality pigments and not be light fast they are great for beginners and are sometimes erasable. These are the type you most likely used as a child.
Art Youtuber SuperRaeDizzle who states herself to be a youtuber who does art rather than an artist on YouTube, works with crayola colored pencils (student/scholastic grade) on a regular basis and compares them to more expensive brands, like prismacolor.
Here is a list of some of her videos (with links) that involve crayola and comparing them to more expensive brands.
Colored pencils can work even after a hundred years and are considered to be the art medium with the longest shelf life. Here is a video of SuperRaeDizzle TESTING 100 YEAR OLD COLORED PENCILS!
Crayola makes the most colored pencils of any company, around 600 million a year which could circle the earth 2.5 times if laid tip to tip.
The largest colored pencil is the color yellow, weighs 984.05 pounds and is almost 26 feet long. If anyone were able to hold it they would actually be able to use it because there is actually pigmented lead running though the core. The pencil has been on display at the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Cumbria since 2001.
The Adventuring Artist
***Please note that I have no affiliation to any brands or companies mentioned in this post.***
Do you use colored pencils? Do you have a favorite brand or set? Let me know in the comments!
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