Variations on a Butter Knife

Monday 01.05.15








I can’t speak for anyone else out there, but, for me, the iterative process of design is where I find true happiness! So, here are a few recent sketches of a butter knife I plan to carve out of wood. Nothing particularly fancy. Totally functional. This is the way I begin: sketch after sketch after sketch. Fast and not at all precious. Almost bordering on messy. Soft HB pencil. (Please don’t ask me what a pencil is.)

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Freshman Studies

Tuesday 11.19.13






I assume that these studies in perspective, drawn by my stepfather, were from his freshman or sophomore year at art school during the early 1930s. My assumption is based on my own first year in art school. I did many of these same types of drawings for a class called “Drawing Perception.” The only difference being that our professor had us using a No. 2 pencil on a kind of drawing vellum, and erasers were absolutely verboten. Even, in some cases, grounds for failure. The pieces here are yet another part of the analog trove of work found at my mother’s house. Note his very stylized signature.

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Pencil Sharpener

Tuesday 02.05.13




I really really like this little critter. Put him to work sharpening your pencils. Designed by Rodrigo Torres Kastor for Alessi. Not available yet. But soon. Soon. Makes a nice companion to his other design: a bird in the form of a paper clip holder. Oops…via designboom!

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Mendel and More

Tuesday 01.29.13

If I hadn’t chosen to pursue life as a designer, I might well have been a scientific illustrator. As a student, I loved biology. I would spend hours with my pencils and paints making drawings of dissections and microbes. I was (no surprise here) consumed by chart making. I remember in high-school biology how I dove headlong into the science and visual representation of genetic traits. Gregor Mendel wasn’t exactly my hero, but I noticed early on how much I was enamored by what I imagined to be a life devoted to pea plants and bees. My friend Kay sent me a link to this site. It has a wealth of unusual and wonderful images. Thanks Kay!

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A.W. Faber: Pencil Pusher

Wednesday 04.11.12

I literally gasped when I saw these lithographed renderings from A.W. Faber’s late 19th century catalog of pencils and other office supplies. The pamphlet cover states that Faber has factories in France and Germany and “houses” in London, Paris and Berlin. But the company address is at 78 Reade Street, right here in NYC. I applaud the University of Houston libraries: another superb digital archive. I came to this collection first via Tom Lynch’s blog Went Sketching. One of his posts then led me to the over-the-top obsessed German pencil-centric blog Lexikaliker. I love the interwebs.

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Gift Idea Numero Uno: Ring Pencil Sharpener

Friday 12.09.11

Right now, this would be my number one gift choice for anyone who deigns to pick up a pencil. Much to my chagrin, I don’t believe these are in production. But maybe if we send Ignacio Pilotto (the designer) some pleading messages, he’ll get the ball rolling.

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Belated Birthday Thanks

Tuesday 08.09.11

I just wanted to show off what I thought was one of the best birthday presents ever! 2 dozen pencils — 12 Black Warriors (the name alone makes me feel invincible when I draw) and 12 newly reissued Blackwings. The jury is still out on the Blackwings, in part because I am continuing to process their decision to remove the tag line that used to be printed on the pencils themselves: Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed.

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