It’s been a long time since I last added something to this site – life has simply got in the way, with moving home, school holidays, and lots of other things going on. Although there are lots of other potential events on my horizon which might further disrupt attempts to get back to business as usual here, with the kids back at school again, I thought it was about time to give it some attention and make time for creative activities once more.
With this in mind, and the usual back to school stocking up with stationery, I’ve been creating some personalised pencils. These are a lovely low-cost gift to give and receive, and most of us will be familiar with the standard basic pencil with a name printed on it. But for a truly unique and bespoke pencil, why not try decorating your own? Plain natural wood pencils and pencil crayons are a blank canvas for decorating in lots of different ways, and result in a gift that is both useful and artistic. For this activity I used hexagonal pencils as the flat sides make it easier to draw on!
Here are just a few ideas for creating your own art-inspired pencils…
These are not actually dip-dyed – I did in fact try that, but there is a tendency for the wood to split, so instead I used Watercolour Pens to decorate and create the ombre effect. These have the advantage that because the colour dissolves in water, it is very easy to get gradual changes in colour – I also tried using fabric paint Sharpies, to achieve the same effect, but you have to work quite quickly as the colour doesn’t brush out with water so readily.
Sharpies and Masking Fluid
I rather liked this painterly effect – a very simple design was brushed onto the pencil with masking fluid and allowed to dry. The pencil was then coloured all over using a Sharpie, and again allowed to dry for a short time. The masking fluid was then carefully removed to leave the bare wood patches in a simple pattern.
This was mixed with string medium and diluted to a consistency where it could be ‘dribbled’ onto the pencil. Although fiddly, the finished result is a decorative effect which is also ‘non-slip’ and makes the pencil easier to grip. The trickiest bit is getting it to dry evenly all round without getting too many thick dribbly bits dripping off, which I achieved by turning the pencil as it dried – as I say, a bit fiddly!
By far the easiest way to decorate is simply by using a Sharpie or other felt-tipped pens to draw designs directly onto the pencil. I used a limited palette of colours, and stuck to very simple geometric designs – simple dots, dashes, crosses and zig-zags etc., as these are easy to achieve and look quite effective when combined. Sometimes less is more!
Of course you can also personalise your pencils even further by using a fine pen to write a short message onto each pencil if you choose. A coat of varnish to finish will also help to protect the artwork on your pencils from smudging – though you may need to experiment with the type of varnish first depending upon the medium you have used. For example I used an oil based varnish on the pencils decorated with watercolour pens, and a water-based varnish for those decorated with Sharpies.
And finally for a different way of personalising pencils with existing artwork, check out this earlier post for Arty Pencils