Basics of Willow and Vine Charcoal
The modest stick of charcoal is easily overlooked. Charcoal is the oldest drawing medium and yet, little has changed since our ancestors first pulled charred sticks from the fire to make marks on a cave wall! Charcoal dates back nearly 30,000 years. It is made from ground organic materials like grape vines and willow. These materials are held together by a wax binder, or can sometimes be produced by eliminating the oxygen inside the material.
Using charcoal produces a deep black mark, brilliant for bold and expressive studies or it can be soft to produce a wispy, light effect. There are various types and uses of charcoal as an art medium, but the commonly used types are: Compressed, Vine, and Willow. Grumbacher makes Willow and Vine Charcoal in varying degrees of softness:
Willow and Vine Charcoal
Grumbacher extra soft vine charcoal is created by burning hand-selected vines at high temperatures to produce a rich, dark stick. We use high quality vine to create a charcoal that is rich, blend-able and lays down smoothly.
Willow charcoal has a look and feel that is quite smoky and light. You’ll struggle to get strong darks with willow charcoal though. Grumbacher willow charcoal is made from burning natural, uncompressed willow rods to create charcoal in a range of diameters. Willow is ideal for laying down preliminary sketches for paintings and drawings.
The sticks tend to be slightly distorted and curved, part of the natural effect of burning them to a specific hardness.
Vine charcoal is similar but instead of willow, grape vines are used.