Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pencil Me In!

I’m a nerdling. I love pencils. And pencils are extremely versatile; they can do so much more than write.

Some obvious uses for pencils include:
  • Back scratchers
  • Chop sticks
  • Pointers

Pencils can also be used in a crunch for extending your reach in the cupboard, opening a stubborn bag of Cheetos (although the pencil tip will likely break) and for cleaning food out of your computer keyboard. 

Pencils are also useful tools for styling hair. You can part your hair with a pencil (careful if you’re blond). You can use pencils to hold your Aunt Bee Hair bun in place. And you can also use pencils to curl your hair.

I originally learned of this technique while in graduate school. I got the idea from an article a magazine and decided to give it a whirl. I remember painstakingly wrapping pieces of hair around pencils. I don’t recall how long I kept them in, but the outcome was amazing. My hair was quite curly and unusually cute when the pencils were removed. 

Years have passed since that pencil-hair experiment. But for some reason, the memory randomly entered my brain and I decided to re-enact the 1982 experiment on Sunday night.

I gathered up all the pencils and bobby pins I could find, washed my hair, and began. The first thing I noticed is that my arms have weakened in the past 25 years or so. Rolling hair onto pencils is quite a strenuous activity. But even more strenuous is the challenge of holding them in place with bobby pins and getting them to stay put.

Inevitably, as I would be tipping my head sideways to jam a bobby pin between the hair on the pencil and the hair on my scalp, a pencil from a row or two higher on my head would slide out.
(It wasn’t until the next day that I realized that a more effective strategy would have been to use putt-putt-golf pencils and binder clips to keep the curlers in place.) 

When I finally finished, a glass of wine was in order. I subsequently lost a few more pencils when I tipped the glass back to take a drink. I lost some more when I tried to blow dry my hair. I took the remaining handful of pencils out when my hair was completely dry.

I looked like a poodle.

No fair. After all that work I had to take a hair straightener to my coifs so I could go out in public. 

But like any failed project, I decided to do a post mortem and identify process improvement opportunities. Of course the putt-putt golf pencil/binder clip methodology topped the list. But sometimes you have to look outside your sandbox for insights.

I found some invaluable instructions on the internet for curling My Little Pony hair. One owner achieved excellent results with straws. 

I’m not sure how she got them to stay in, but it’s worth a try.


  1. Love the Pencil story. I use a pencil to scratch my back. Eraser end only....LOL

  2. Hey Lou--

    These bring back bold memories of...Spoolies! Maybe you should try those instead? I'm sure some flea market somewhere has them....

    Hey--where's the photo of the finished product?!? Your readers want to know...!

    XO JA