Here is the story of my latest carved pencil that was completed in October 2016. After the success and online popularity of my Elephant Pencil, I was commissioned to complete a Giraffe Pencil with a similar layout. I knew it would be tough – but WOW – I had quite a time working on this one! 😀
I ended up trying different graphite based on hardness, I went through a number of giraffes to get the final three and one baby giraffe escaped – never to be found again!
Click any image to view it larger.
Yes, you can only imagine how tough it is to carve these small pencil leads, and if you look at the first image in this post, you’ll see that the legs are as thin as columns on the Lincoln Memorial shown on the penny I used as reference.
As most of you know, I don’t carve these animals directly from the pencil. If I did, I would continually be starting over and they would take forever. Like most other pencil carvers, I will use a separate piece of lead and then attach it to the pencil. In this piece, the trees are carved directly on the pencil, but not the giraffes. Here is the start of one of the giraffes that didn’t end up in the final work.
As you can see, this poor fellow lost his head just as I was finishing up! I keep the area between the legs in place until I am ready to mount it on the pencil, but this carving didn’t make it that far. This was my first shot at giraffe carving.
I also had another giraffe almost completed when I discovered the lead had a ‘fault’ in it and this hole could not be fixed and then it shattered. So two attempts, but still no giraffes!
I won’t go into all of the gory details, but two more giraffes were lost along the way as heads rolled and legs snapped.
It was about this time that I ordered new pencil leads to carve. I changed from the 6B lead to the HB leads, which are harder and denser. This helped. 😀
This one made it onto the final pencil and it seemed like I was one my way!
But… some projects just have their “issues”. I took a break from carving giraffes because my head hurt so I carved out the trees on the pencil. It looked great and was ready for the giraffes. Almost… sadly, this pencil fell into a bit of wet glue and the lettering on the pencil was ruined. I had to start over.
…sigh… I don’t want you to feel bad for me while reading this, but I do want to let people understand what goes into some of these carvings. “It’s all part of the process” as we say! Things break, you have to start over, what should take a day takes two or even 3. All of these things affect my overall schedule… and that’s why sometimes it takes a while to get your commission.
With a deadline of a birthday delivery looming and new lead in hand, I was able to set everything else aside for a week and focus solely on my giraffe family! I had the two adults carved, I had the trees carved on the new pencil and just had junior to do!
Try to imagine how small the baby giraffe is on this pencil. Then think about how something like static electricity can affect a small piece of lead. I had the baby giraffe complete and ready to join his family when the static charge built up and ejected the tiny piece of graphite from my finger tip! Yes, it fell from my hand to the grey carpet below.
Normally I can find these tiny carvings (and yes, I’ve dropped a few). But this little guy fell and made a run for it – never to be seen again! I spent an hour looking for him at 6 in the morning and finally went to bed.
From this point on, the rest of the project went fairly smoothly. I was able to finish up the trees and mount the three giraffes without further drama.
As I write this, the pencil is in the mail on its way to a happy recipient! Of course, with the storm affecting the east coast, there’s still a chance the pencil will be delayed. (Update: The Giraffe Family arrived safely at their new home at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens!)
I guess the big question is “Would I do another one?” Of course! 😀 But I also know that with the potential for breaks, I would have to charge more. But on the other hand, I may try to talk the next client into a Hippopotamus Pencil! 😀
Here is a gallery of final images of the “Giraffe Pencil”.
Thank you for reading this and if you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact me.
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