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The Mayas called it hunn (bark or book) and the Aztecs gave it the name amatl.Both cultures wrote their codices in amate and there is archaeological evidence the Aztecs used it to decorate shrines, sacrifice places, gods sculptures and burials.
They haven’t been completely steamrolled by the digital revolution, because their disposability is a virtue.
You can always buy another one for just a few cents in your nearest 7-Eleven or supermarket checkout lane.
Tonight’s Tedium talks about the ubiquity of cheap pens, a topic we don’t discuss enough, except when we have to write something down. Rudell’s piece cites a statistic from an EPA manual that 1.6 billion pens are thrown away every year—but that statistic, as straw fans might assume, is suspect.
Not because a nine-year-old came up with it, but because the statistic dates back to at least 1986.
Men peel the bark from the trees and women make the paper.
They wash the bark and boil it in a large pot with ashes or lime (calcium hydroxide) for several hours until softened.Unlike the smartphone, which still shows glimmers of innovation despite being everywhere, the ballpoint pen has fallen into the tableau of everyday life, never really standing out unless you really spend time thinking about it.But as an analog device, it solved a lot of problems, and it took a few tries to get right. Loud, did so about 60 years before the average person saw one in person, in part because the design was imperfect and it needed more work before it was ready for prime time.Next the crafters rinse the pulp and laid it on a wooden board to beat it with a stone until the fibers fuse into a paste. The Amate is painted by Nahuatl speaking folk artists in the region called the Mezcala, on the Rio Balsas Basin in Guerrero state.The natural beauty of the area has inspired one of the most valued folk art painting styles in the country.A lot of stuff has happened since 1986, including the rise of the computer and smartphone.The ballpoint pen’s creation story reminds you of the fact that it was once considered an exciting piece of technology.From the school developed in Ameyaltepec rose internationally known artist Nicolas de Jesus.At first the paintings in Amate resembled the pottery figures with colorful flowers, birds and other animals like deer and rabbits.Among them: They had a tendency to leak; they needed to be constantly refilled; issues with the nib, or the metal tip of the pen, could cause problems such as a pen that tears the paper or makes it possible for the ink to hit the page at all; and fountain pens don’t tend to do well at high altitude, making them a bad bet for planes.(That last issue would prove fundamental for the pens’ early update.) Teaming with his brother György, Biro came up with a ballpoint mechanism that would allow for a small amount of the thicker ink to flow onto a page at a time.