It’s here, our third Volumes release, the Blackwing 1138. We’re calling this one “the sci-fi pencil.” Movie and science-fiction buffs probably already have an idea why. This pencil has a story to tell. Literally.
Any “Intro to Film” student can tell you how simplistic movies were at the turn of the twentieth century. Some of the earliest examples like “Roundhay Garden Scene,” “Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory” and “The Arrival of a Train,” were motion pictures in the most literal sense: single frame movies shot with a stationary camera. They were a far cry from the works of art we see in theaters today. That all changed when a director named Georges Méliès decided to take his audience to the moon.
Clocking in at 13 minutes, Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon was groundbreaking due to its length, intricate sets, elaborate costumes, and coherent story of six astronomers’ voyage dans la lune. It is not only the earliest example of science fiction film, it also laid the foundation for narrative films of all genres. The way Méliès seamlessly transitioned from one scene to another was revolutionary. His use of special effects, while rudimentary by today’s standards, was groundbreaking. If you haven’t seen the film, you can check it out and download a public domain digital copy here.
The Blackwing 1138 salutes A Trip to the Moon and all things sci-fi. The pencil’s striped barrel may appear random at first glance, but the sequence of blacks and grays is very deliberate.
Using a process known as movie barcoding, we condensed A Trip to the Moon into individual bands of color (shout out to Melvyn over at Arcane Sanctum for his awesome open source movie barcoding program). We then set out to put that onto a pencil.
The easy answer would have been to create a wrapped pencil. Using this process, the image of the condensed film would have been printed onto a wrapping material and that material would have been wrapped around the barrel of the pencil. Instead, we opted for a more intricate method that would better meet the expectations of Blackwing fans. This method is called roll-on printing, and we’ll go into a bit more detail about that in a later post.
The result is the Blackwing 1138. We put a movie on a pencil, and we had a blast doing it.
The Blackwing 1138 features the soft and smooth graphite also found in the Palomino Blackwing. This rich, dark graphite reminded us of space, and that seemed like the perfect fit for a sci-fi pencil. Long-time Blackwing fans will notice that the 1138 also sports the first-ever silver ferrule on a Blackwing. The number 1138 is widely used in the world of science fiction, appearing in numerous films, television shows and comic books.