Succotash at the Studio
It National Letter Writing & Poetry Month! While we celebrate penmanship all year long, its nice to really dive in and enjoy all that letters and handwriting offer us. Handwritten letters are heartfelt, make you smarter and more mindful, we could all use more of that.
Imagination at work.
From an early age, Ada Lovelace, the only child of Romantic poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Milbanke, showed an adeptness for mathematics and an uncanny ability to make creative connections between seemingly disparate things and ideas. She described this ability as “the Discovering Faculty,” and it was a gift she put to use in a way that would help shape the future of human civilization.
In 1843, while translating an article on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine computer, the Countess of Lovelace wrote her own thoughts and notes on the machine. These notes dwarfed the original article and contained what many consider to be the first complete computer program. Ada envisioned the future of such a machine, including its potential use for the creation of music, earning her the present-day title of “The Prophet of the Computer Age.”
The Blackwing 16.2 is a tribute to mathematician, writer and visionary Ada Lovelace. The pencil features a matte white finish and matte black ferrule inspired by the simple styling of early personal computers. It features our firm graphite formulation ideal for both writing and mathematics. The number 16.2 is a nod to the Analytical Engine’s storage capacity of 16.2 kB (0.00005% the storage of the average smartphone) and the backside of each pencil bears a binary pattern stamp of Ada’s initials AAL, the same initials she used to sign her work.
To round out the first year of the Blackwing Volumes program, Blackwing has paid tribute to one of their personal heroes, John Steinbeck. Designed under the guidance of his son, accomplished author Thomas Steinbeck, they’ve attempted to create what would have been John Steinbeck’s ideal pencil.
When asked about its design, Thom was adamant that his father would want it to be black, from barrel to eraser. “My father despised yellow pencils,” Thom said. “It would be black. The whole thing. Top to bottom.” In an effort to avoid distraction, John Steinbeck chose pencils that were dark in color and, therefore, less eye-catching. Thom went on to describe the ideal graphite as “the hardest point you can find that still maintains some darkness.” “My father’s pencils had a firm, sharp point,” noted Thom. “They were surgically sharp. You could dissect a mouse [with his pencils].”
John Steinbeck saw sharpening as another unnecessary, and unacceptable distraction. So every day, before putting graphite to paper, he would sharpen 24 pencils and place them point up in the first of two identical wood boxes. Each pencil lasted just long enough to dull its point – usually four or five lines – before being placed in the second box, point down. After all 24 pencils had progressed from one box to the other, John would resharpen each pencil, and begin the process anew. According to Thom, some days he would use over 100 pencils. But every day started with 24 pencils and the sound of the pencil sharpener.
The Blackwing 24 features a new extra-firm graphite great for extended writing. You won’t find this graphite in any of the other Blackwing models. It’s slightly firmer than the graphite found in the Blackwing 602, without sacrificing much in the way of darkness. It also features a distraction-free black barrel, black imprint, black ferrule and black eraser.
We are thrilled to offer this limited edition pencil in the studio and online. Get yours today.