As a Zentangle artist, one of my favourite tools is a tortillon, that is used for blending graphite for smooth shading. But what do you do when the tip becomes worn and rounded? How do you recover the nice sharp tip that lets you work fine detail?

Cindy Angiel ( shared a great tip. Here is a tortillon with a worn tip, and a straightened paperclip.

tortillion and paperclip

Insert the straight end of the paperclip in the top of the tortillon and push. This pushes out some of the paper in the middle of the tortillion and refreshes the tip.

tortillion and paperclip

Is this cool, or what?


This entry was posted in tutorial and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Tortillons

  1. What a great tip! Thanks! I have a whole baggie of tortillions I have been holding until I could “sharpen them”.

  2. Pauline Healy says:

    Thanks – what a great tip!! I appreciate all the help I can get.

  3. Diana Crick says:

    Dumb me thought you meant stick paper in the other end in the space. Yeah I am blond and sometimes stupid…lol. Great tip, thank you!

  4. Brilliant! Just brilliant. I rescued three that would have soon seen the inside of the waste basket. Yay!

  5. alice says:

    great idea! i wondered what you do with all those blunt-nosed things 🙂

  6. Sandy Hunter says:

    Good to know…thanks, Genevieve!

  7. nancy smith says:

    a picture is worth 1,000 words! Thanks.

  8. Thanks! I had moved to blending stumps because I could at least sand them to a nicer point than my tortillions.

  9. Claudia says:

    Love this tip. Thanks so much for sharing it. Must find paperclip, now!

  10. webster says:

    Would you believe that I actually tried to sharpen mine? It didn’t work, BTW. Thanks for the tip!

  11. helen says:

    wonderful tip 🙂 Thanks!

  12. Nikki says:

    I use fine sandpaper or a nail file to resharpen mine. Saw it on YouTube and it works like a charm too. But I love this tip as well. Options are a wonderful thing. 🙂

  13. Estelle Goodnight says:

    Thank you so much for this “tip”. It’s great! Now, why didn’t I think of that????

  14. Genevieve, this is such a great tip, especially with the photos for us visual learners! 🙂 would it be alright if I were to share it on my blog, with reference to both you and Cindy?

  15. Paula says:

    What a great idea. I’ve got dozens lying around and have wondered why they aren’t manufactured to be used more than a few times. I’ll give it a try!

Comments are closed.