Drawing Basics: Caran d'Ache's Pencil-Making Process

7 Mar 2008

Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making ThemThe pencil manufacturer Caran d’Ache agreed to share their pencil-making process with Drawing readers through the following photographs, so that artists are informed about their materials and can use them when solidifying their mastery of all drawing basics.

 

Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 1 Step 1: Clay and water are mixed to form the mud that will be added in small amounts to the lead to adjust its hardness. The more clay, the harder the lead.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 2 Step 2: Next, the clay mud is mixed with graphite powder.                               
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 3 Step 3: The mixture of clay mud and graphite undergoes numerous steps to achieve optimal homogenization and purification. Each time the clay mud and the mud-graphic mixture is kneaded and filtered, more impurities are eliminated—which is crucial, as even the smallest particle of feldspar or quartz could rip the paper surface when the pencil is used.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 4 Step 4: Dry cakes of the mixture are produced. They are ready to go into a special mixer that will blend the graphite cakes with water to form a paste. This mixture is then ground on roll mills, then compressed into flexible cylinders that allow the graphite to be easily handled and precisely dried, and finally extruded into the form of pencil leads.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 5 Step 5: Next, the leads are extruded into their proper shape. This process is the same for colored-pencil leads and for graphite pencil leads. The extruded leads are dried for eight hours at 100 degrees Celsius, then baked for one hour at 1,000 degrees Celsius. This step is the most delicate operation, for it is in the furnace that the lead attains its hardness and resistance to flexibility.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 6 Step 6: The leads are then submerged in a warm wax bath to seal them and improve their ability to make flowing marks. The leads must be completely free of humidity before this step to ensure that the wax mixture penetrates to the heart of the lead.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 7 Step 7: Both colored-pencil leads and graphite leads are regularly checked by    microscope for cracks and homogeneity.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 8 Step 8: The leads are also tested for strength.                                                          
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 9 Step 9: Some leads are precisely sharpened to allow for accurate testing.    
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 10 Step 10: This machine allows Caran d’Ache to test how leads wear down. This is crucial in ensuring that hard leads wear down slower than soft leads in a consistent way.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 11 Step 11: Glue is then applied to the grooves in the wooden halves, which are cut from California cedars. This wood is preferred because it consists of regular cellular tissue that permits an even sharpening with knife or pencil sharpener.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 12 Step 12: The leads are placed in the gluey grooves.                                                            
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 13 Step 13: The leads are then sandwiched between the two wooden halves and pressed for 23 hours to guarantee the quality of the adhesion.
Drawing Pencils by Caran d'Ache: Making Them, Step 14 Step 14: The finished pencil is painted, stamped, sharpened and prepared for sale. This is the complete line of GRAFWOOD pencils by Caran d’Ache.

To read more about drawing techniques, become a Drawing subscriber today!


Related Posts
+ Add a comment