Who Invented Colored Pencils for drawing. Who Invented Colored Pencils? In our daily life, we use a lot of accessories whose history we do not know at all as if they had always existed. But obviously, this is not the case, and this also applies to all the accessories we use when we vent our desire for art. We are convinced that knowing the history of the various accessories we use daily can help us use them in a more reasoned and more efficient way, minimizing waste.
Knowing how many centuries it took to perfect the creation of paper, for example, should encourage you to use this support even more carefully, giving each sheet the value it deserves. For this reason, today we will see together who invented colored pencils, even if, as we will soon discover, the answer to this question is not as easy as you might think!
The invention of the drawing pencil
Let’s start from a basic assumption: colored pencils must be seen as a development, indeed, as a variation of ordinary drawing pencils. Here, it is then worth underlining that the drawing pencil is not a particularly ancient invention, indeed: many masters of the past, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Jan Van Eyck, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Caravaggio, have created their immortal masterpieces without ever having seen nor heard of the lotus flower drawing with color pencil.
Yes, because the drawing pencil develops later. First of all, it should emphasize that the crucial material for the drawing pencil discover in 1565. Almost by chance, that year, a massive deposit of graphite was discovered in Borrowdale, England, a material that from that moment, and slowly, was used to “draw.” Or rather, at first, some graphite splinters were used by the shepherds of the neighborhood, like coal, to mark the head of cattle; only sometime later did someone come up with the idea of wrapping pieces of graphite in strips of fabric for writing and drawing.
But the actual drawing pencil as we know it had yet to be born. The first impulse was given by two Italians, Simon and Indiana Bernacotti, who inserted graphite into an oval juniper shell; a few years later, in 1762, the German Faber factory started the very first industrial-level production of drawing pencils, inserting the graphite lead between two sheets of cedarwood.
The mine was then optimized by Nicolas Jacques Conté, who in 1795 began mixing graphite with clay to have a more complex mine, a technique that Joseph Hardtmuth later perfected. So far, it must be said that there was still no colored pencil: we were talking about drawing a pencil to indicate the one with a graphite lead.
Who Invented Colored Pencils?
From the outside, the drawing pencil and the colored pencil are structurally similar. The interior is different: if the drawing contains graphite and clay-based lead, the colored one contains a lead made with wax or oil, subsequently mixed with colored pigments and other binders and additives. The composition and making colored pencils are exciting aspects if you want to know more read our article.
The origins of colored pencils
Therefore, in the eighteenth century, we arrive at the industrial production of graphite pencils while there is still no colored pencil. What then existed? Well, for centuries, there have been pastels, or rather, prototypes of pastels based on wax mixed with colored pigments of vegetable, animal, or mineral origin. We have news of these pastels already in ancient Greece and ancient Rome.
At what moment, inspired by the graphite pencil with its beautiful wooden casing, was the colored pencil invented? Well, we don’t know what the exact year was. We do know, however, that in the nineteenth century, colored pencils, or rather, wooden cases with colored mines inside, were used in the world of industry to mark and mark different objects: in the same way, later, felt-tip pens were created first for industrial purposes, and only then for artistic purposes.
But we also know that Johann Sebastian Staedtler. In 1834, before founding the famous company that bears his name, he invented colored oil pastels that could be sharpened and pointed with a sharpener like a colored pencil: it was made of the link between the old wax crayons and the future colored pencils. Staedtler’s oil pastel was protected by a wooden casing, which allowed you to use the pastel without getting your hands dirty, without dirtying the paper, and with a lower risk of breaking the pastel.
Colored pencils today
However, to see the first real colored pencils produced on an industrial level, one will have to wait about 70 years. In 1908 Faber-Castell created the first version of the famous Polychromos colored pencils. The series initially consisted of 60 colors. A few years later, in 1924, Caran d’Ache’s first colored pencils were also created. Many other famous brands will also start producing colored pencils for artistic use in the following years, such as Berol Prismacolor (1938), Derwent, and Lyra.
We, therefore, do not know who invented colored pencils: we do know, however, that a fundamental impulse came from the improvement of the drawing pencil, that Johann Sebastian Staedtler gave a decisive push, and that Faber-Castell and Caran d’Ache they were the first to collect the results of this very long research to present colored pencils as we know them today on the market.
Artists recognize pastel pencils as the meeting point between the world of pastels and that of colored pencils. Inside the wooden casing, they contain a mine that recalls pastel structure in terms of composition and properties. Also, in this case, we recommend that you look at our article, we are sure you will find more information about these fantastic colored pencils.
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