I’ve gotten a few folks asking about how I get such neat little sticks for my lead holders, so I’ve decided to post photos of the process I use. First, I grind up the broken bits of natural sanguine. I’ve found that the consistency is usually fine without adding any binders or chalk if I am using mostly the natural clay. If I add any iron oxide pigment to the mix, I will add some tragacanth gum and a bit of kaolin clay to give it a nice texture. After getting it all powdery, I sift it onto a piece of glass. Then I add distilled water and mix it with a knife until it is the consistency you see in the photos. I then load it into a children’s Tylenol syringe that I cut the tip of of with a razor blade. After loading and carefully squeezing out any trapped air, I extrude lines of the mixture onto a cardboard or other absorbent surface to dry. I prefer extruding to rolling because I am able to control the consistency better.
In this case, I decided to use a food dehydrator to speed up the drying a bit. It worked quite well, I think. I’ve done this before by cutting each into uniform segments that are cut at a 45 degree angle so that they are sharp and ready for drawing right away. That worked really well also. I hope this helps! All the best.