What is a #2 pencil?

The number on a pencil indicates the amount of hardness or softness the writing core has.

A #1 pencil is very soft, makes a dark mark, and tends to smudge.

A #3 or #4 pencil is very hard, makes a light mark, and tends to “dent” the paper.

The #2 grade pencil makes a nice dark mark that is easy to see (or scan . . . for tests), is easy to erase, and doesn’t smudge.

Incidentally, pencils do not have lead in them. The writing core is made from graphite and clay. More graphite and less clay makes a darker mark – more clay and less graphite makes a lighter mark.

Oh, and the little metal band that holds the eraser on the pencil is called a ferrule, a combination of the Latin words ferrum (“iron”) and viriola (“small bracelet”).

yellow pencil 2

The Graphics Lab has pencils, pens, and markers available for your use – no need to bring writing utensils!

Do you know who invented the scissors?

The invention of scissors is frequently attributed to Leonardo DaVinci (maybe Mona Lisa just needed her hair cut?), but scissors were around long before DaVinci’s time (1452-1519) and the actual person who invented scissors is not known.

spring scissors

In 1500 BC Ancient Egyptians used ‘spring scissors’ with two bronze blades connected at the handles by a thin, flexible strip of bronze – which served to hold the blades in alignment, to allow them to be squeezed together, and to pull them apart when released.

scissorsPivoted scissors or cross-blade scissors were invented around 100 AD by the Romans – made of bronze or iron, in which the blades were pivoted at a point between the tips and the handles. Large-scale production of this type of scissors began in 1761, when Robert Hinchliffe of Sheffield, England first used cast steel to manufacture them.

Scissors, X-Acto knives, and paper cutters are all readily available for your use in the Graphics Lab.