Break Your Watercolor Pencils

In the last class at JournalFest (Octobers won’t be the same without it), I met a woman whose watercolor pencil work was amazing. Did I ask her with whom she had studied? Of course not. I said, “What kind of pencils are you using?” She unzipped her traveling pencil case and showed me a collection of pencils I recognized as Derwent. Except half the length.

The length was the same for all the pencils. Supposing she didn’t use them all equally, I asked her about the pencil length. She smiled broadly. “I wanted to buy a lot of different colors, but they were too much for my budget. I asked a friend if she wanted to share a set. We split the cost of the pencils, then split the set.” It took me several seconds to realize they hadn’t each divided the set by colors, but by sawing the pencils in half.

This clever solution gave each person all the color in half the length—and at half the price. This brilliant idea had other creative results, too.

Packing half-size pencils takes much less space. Even in a week-long class, you won’t use up the entire half pencil.

If you aren’t sharing, you can have a travel set and a studio set. No packing and unpacking, just grab-and-go.

If colored pencils are your tool of choice for art journaling, the half-size set fits neatly in a bag or backpack. Combined with loose-leaf journal pages, you can get the entire kit and a watercolor brush into the original metal pencil case (if you prefer flat) or into a butterfly pencil case (I love these from Cool Pencil Case). Great for working on airplanes or small restaurant tables.

If you teach, you can separate your neatly sharpened pencils, organized by color number from the ones you share in class. You won’t mind the hard wear the student set gets if yours are neatly stashed in your bag.

If you can’t bear to break up your pencils, then consider this incredible wall mounting system designed by felissimo for social designer. Each pencil snaps to a wall mount to create its own art.

-Quinn McDonald teaches art journaling; she’s also a creativity coach with a serious attraction to watercolor pencils. She is not addicted. She can quit anytime she wants. She just doesn’t want to quit.


21 thoughts on “Break Your Watercolor Pencils

  1. Pingback: Pencil « myothervoices

  2. Great idea! I had a lightbulb over my head when I read this. . . as a mom of kids who are always in need of art supplies and who attend schools who always require each child has a set of colored pencils. . . next time I need to buy them – I’m getting one set and splitting them in half!

  3. Oooohhh, ermmmm. I don´t think {feel actually} I could do this. *Paula holds her pencils to her chest and pats them*. And the wall, you would need to use them/sharpen them … and … they would not be the exact same size … and …well … you know. 😉

    • Yeah. I do know. If you had seen the woman’s pencils, you would be a bit calmer. She had sliced them with a rotating saw, evenly, then sharpened them. She had then dipped the cut ends (now the back end of the pencil) in paint and they looked adorable. But I get patting and rocking your pencils, too.

  4. If you split them lengthwise you could still share, or you could use and decorate with them simultaneously!

    And if you split a pencil into two equal helixes (which I bet might be done with a cnc lathe) you could…er…well I don’t know what could be done but it would be pretty cool. (note: the resulting shapes would probably not be truly helical, strictly speaking)

    And if you sliced the colored pencil stubs you’ve already used into “buttons” I suspect you could find a use for them.

    • The buttons would make great. . .buttons. On doll clothes, or on people clothes. And while you have your tools out, you can drill through the diameter of those button shapes and then string them together. Hmmm, possibilities!

  5. This really is a good idea! Why is it that the simplest ideas are so hard to figure out? That question isn’t easy to answer, and was ment mostly as a loud thought. Thanks for sharing once again.

  6. What a brilliant idea! Twice the fun at half the cost. But what I would like to have is half-size coloured pens for my travel set. Even 2/3 pens would do nicely. And you can write/draw just as well with half-size pens. (Hey, you, there in the corporate world. Here’s an idea for your next produce: travel sized pens for art journalers. Must be of good quality though.)

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