What a fun and interesting concept. Pencils made from real branches and twigs! Actually you don’t need to go back too many years to a time when most pencils were made this way. In the 16th century it was discovered that graphite made a much nicer mark than lead. A method was needed to hold the brittle graphite in place so it could be held and applied to the paper. At first string or sheepskin was wrapped around the graphite, but later someone figured out how to insert the graphite into hollowed out twigs, and the modern pencil was born.
Making a twig pencil is fairly easy and also makes a fun project for children, although adult supervision is required since sharp tools are needed. After a suitable twig is located and cut to the desired length, simply drill a 1 to 2 inch hole into the end of the twig, then insert the graphite after rolling it in white glue. After allowing the glue to dry, the tip can be sharpened using a sharp knife. An added touch that kids love is to personalize the pencil by using a knife to remove a 2” to 3” strip of bark from the side of the pencil. A name can be written on the bare wood where the bark was removed. To make a really interesting pencil, try finding a twig that has had a vine growing around it, which causes interesting grooves to spiral around the twig.
TropicaZona branch and twig pencils are made from the discarded branches of Tamarind trees in Thailand. Tamarind trees are farmed (for their fruit) in a sustainable manner in Thailand, so it can be said that the production of pencils from the leftover debris is very efficient and environmentally friendly. TropicaZona offers graphite and colored branch and twig pencils in three sizes: 3.5”, 5” , 7” (Graphite) and 7" (Colored).
Some tips on using twig pencils: Before using a twig pencil, clean it with a stiff brush to remove any loose dust or bark. Inspect the bark for any sharp spots or potential splinters and carefully remove them. Using a conventional electric or manual pencil sharpener is not recommended, since the twig used could be of a variety of wood that is too hard for the sharpener blades, and could even break them. If you are proficient with a sharp knife, such as an X-ACTO knife, you can sharpen a dull tip, but it’s easier just to grab a new pencil to minimize the risk of accident. If the wood used to make the pencil is very hard, it may be quite difficult to sharpen. Simply toss the used pencil in the trash or fireplace when the point is dull.
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