Over Christmas break, Becka and our grandson Drew watched an online video from Mister Rogers Neighborhood  on PBS's site about how crayons are made. It's amazing to see how many steps are involved in the process. If you'd rather see a newer, shorter video on the process, you can view it on the How Stuff Works site . You need to scroll down halfway and, for whatever reason, you have to manually unmute the video. The videos reminded me of pictures in my files. After a bit of web researching, I came up with a lot of neat info.
This month the Chinese New Year  begins on January 23. The Chinese have a twelve-year rotation, based on the Chinese zodiac. We will be entering the year of the Dragon. Below is a chart telling which animal corresponds to which year for quite a few years back (if you want to see what year you were born in) and more years yet to come.
Below is a picture of crayons carved by Diem Chau  — one crayon for each of the twelve animals.
I also found some Diem Chau crayons carved featuring some of the main curriencies in the world.
Diem Chau also did some crayon carving to represent the likenesses of six soccer stars of the 2010 World Cup.
There are actually other crayon artists out there. Here are some crayons intricately carved by Pete Goldlust .
Some of you old timers remember having a Crayola box of 64 colors like the one pictured at the beginning of this post. Through the years Binney & Smith  retired some colors and added new ones. Below are two pictures — one of 13 retired colors with the names of the colors obscured. See how many you can identify.
Now here is the original picture with the names. How many did you get right?
As a French teacher I cannot think of the word crayon without thinking of the French noun le crayon, which means the pencil. I found a video on how pencils are made .
I also found a picture of some carved pencils by Tony Wispinski .
As cool as those are, though, here is some far more delicate carving done, not into the wood of the pencil, but in the lead tips! The artist's name is Dalton Ghetti . Here are 26 pencils, one with each letter of the English alphabet.
Ghetti has also done some pencils with tools in the tips.
I just cannot fathom the amount of time and patience that goes into that kind of work! I'm not blessed with either ... let alone the talent! Other examples of his carvings can be seen online .
I saw something similar done in colored pencils with New Year's greetings for 2011 done by artist Harwinder Singh Gill .
That seems even more difficult to me since I break colored pencil leads faster than regular pencil leads!
Something else I saw done with colored pencils was to make a wall shelf  with them.
I found a site that gave some unique ways to recycle pencils , which include one I've already featured and some other ones that are very interesting. Here's one of the worst, in my opinion.
Sitting in that chair seems reminiscent of a fakir lying on a bed of nails !
Here's a pencil I saw at the IT Service Desk on campus last summer.
One mundane use for crayons and pencils is writing. Last January I did a blog post called Is Cursive Dying?  In that post I showed a picture of the Zaner-Bloser writing method used in the elementary school I attended. Recently I received an e-mail through the contact link on my site from their Content Specialist, offering a special discount to my readers. Here's the information I received:
Handwriting  Overview from Zaner-Bloser
Click on the ZB Fonts Online button and enter the code ZBFOP to receive the paid version of ZB Fonts Online for only $14.99 (usual price is $30.99). Expires 12/31/12
Also Spelling Instruction  from Zaner-Bloser
I pass that on for anyone who might be interested, and I thank the folks at Zaner-Bloser for their generous offer.
And now the promised bit of humor, perfect for us in the US as we have now officially entered "Primary Season" and are probably already suffering from election fatigue. It's going to be a l-o-n-g ten months!
I hope this has been an enjoyable post. I look forward to the comments.
(This is more a paraphrse than a quotation, in reference to Colossians 3.) "The things we are instructed to 'put on' in this chapter is not a 'to-do list,' but a 'to be list.'" — Drew Conley
We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others are bright, some have weird names, but they all have somehow learned to live together in the same box.