Thursday, March 14, 2019

Pencils, Part Three

Today we're moving upscale. The Rotring 600. Of all the mechanical pencils I've ever used, this is my favorite. Not that the others I've used and written about in this series are bad. They aren't. You mostly get what you pay for and seeing as how the others are much cheaper, well... You get what you pay for. 


Friday, March 8, 2019

Pencils, Part Two

Next up in the review of technical pencils suitable for use with Wild Gears is the Pentel GraphGear 500. This is a step up from the P20x series. It has a metal barrel near the tip that is knurled to provide a better grip. The weight of this barrel shifts the balance point of the pencil to be closer to the tip. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Compound Patterns, Part 1

I want to talk today about patterns, specifically about some of the oddities. For simple patterns, those created with a gear inside a ring, the formula for determining the number of loops that will result is well known (LCM(RingTeeth,GearTeeth)/GearTeeth) and with a little experience it's usually not difficult to have some idea of what the pattern will look like before you begin. There are usually not any big surprises with simple patterns. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

To mark or not to mark --

...that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the confusion and disorientation of unlabeled pen holes, or to take marker against a sea of invisibilities and by labeling, end them. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Pencils, Part One

We've covered pencil leads and using pencils in various ways but not much has been said so far about the pencils themselves. This topic will cover multiple posts, not sure yet exactly how many. Today I'll cover some basics and then mention a couple cheaper pencils that might be a good place to start.  

The most basic characteristics you need for use with Wild Gears is that the pencil hold the lead securely and that it have a straight tip that will ride along the edge of the holes in the gears. From what I've seen most modern mechanical pencils have both these characteristics. I've seen some older mechanical pencils that had a more conical tip that would not work very well with Wild Gears. Avoid that and you're probably okay. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Tale of Two Gradients

Today I filled a gap in my 0.5mm pencil collection so I took the set out for a spin. Literally. 

I was just playing around with light to dark gradients and came up with this.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Can you have too many colors?

We'll get back to talking pencils in due course but I'd like to bring a bit of color into the mix. About a year ago I took a chance on a set of color pens I'd never heard of before. "100 Unique Fineliners" by Shuttle Art. Unfortunately, real life has kept me from using them until very recently, but I've finally had a chance to take some of them out for a test drive.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Fifty Shades of Gray

Let's talk lead. Well, actually graphite, but everybody still calls it pencil lead. In a previous post I talked about using mechanical pencils with Wild Gears and touched briefly on the variety of leads available.

If you're not familiar with grading of pencil leads, take a look at this excellent primer from Jet Pens. (TLDR: B is softer/darker, H is harder/lighter, larger numbers indicate greater hardness or softness. 10B is incredibly soft and dark, 10H is so light it's basically invisible. HB is "normal", between H and B, about like a standard #2 pencil. F is an oddball, sitting between H and HB.)

Aside from 2mm drafting leads used a lifetime ago when I took drafting class (and we actually drew things on paper), my experience with mechanical pencil lead has been limited to the Pentel brand. There are others. Some of them are probably quite good. Pentel is readily available and hasn't disappointed me so I've stuck with it. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Gears Noir

I know that most people using Wild Gears probably got their start with Spirograph, even if that was more than a couple decades ago. Spirograph came with pens so that's what everyone used. When I got my first set of Wild Gears I also bought a set of Stabilo Point 88 pens. And less than a week later I bought a set of Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens. I'm fairly confident these are the go-to pens for most people using Wild Gears.

In addition to the pens, though, I also bought a cheap set of mechanical pencils. It had been a long time since I'd used a mechanical pencil and couldn't remember what size I preferred so a pack with three different sizes, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 0.9mm, made a lot of sense. For reasons that now elude me I mostly used the 0.7mm pencil.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

First Post

I've been fiddling with this blog for a couple weeks. Every plan I come up with involves complex organization of a sequence of posts concerning different aspects of the topic at hand. It soon appears a monumental task and I decide to do something else. So I'm going a different way. I'm just going to start and if it doesn't make much coherent sense, well, that's how it goes.

This is a blog about Wild Gears, specifically my experience with them. If you're not familiar with them and are too lazy to follow the link, Wild Gears are a set of gears and rings cut from acrylic sheets. They allow you to draw complex sequences of ellipses, epitrochoids and hypotrochoids, that, hopefully, create pleasing patterns. Wild Gears has been described as Spirograph for grownups. It's an apt description.