A collection of pencils captured in a piece of my house

Artist: Sheryl Boyle


Through processes of collection, composition, iteration, and reflection, this tile aims to discover a new instrument for drawing with found materials. It is made with:

  • a variety of pencils that have become too short to be comfortably used;

  • charcoal drawing sticks from thin branches of a weeping willow tree along the Ottawa River;

  • a piece of pine from the porch of Associate Professor Sheryl Boyle’s late 18th-century Bytown house.


To assemble the new instrument, Boyle drilled a grid of holes in the piece of pine to match the sizes of the varying pencil stems. Overall, the assembly transforms a single line created with the hand into a plurality of lines that can embrace the motion of the forearm. Among the grid of lead and charcoal pencils is a small number of red pencils arranged in the constellation Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia was the constellation Boyle saw while making charcoal drawing sticks in her fire pit. Although often whitewashed by Europeans, the constellation represents an Ethiopian queen of unrivaled beauty who chose to speak her mind but was punished for it and turned into a constellation by the angry god Poseidon. The red pencils take their place among the grid of charcoal pencils and become an acknowledgment of Black women who have been silenced throughout history.


Architects are in the business of transformation, taking things and turning them into something else. This tile questions how discarded tools can be transformed into new tools that provoke imagination and create new forms of image-making. Materiality exists in drawing through the tools we use. This tile is one in a series of tiles by Boyle that questions tools in architecture and their role in the making architecture.


Related link: https://discardstudies.com/discard-studies-compendium/