Smudge Sticks : The Artist's Tool or the Appropriated Term

There is a certain type of a tool in the art community that we like to call A Smudge Stick… Its technical term is a tortillion but we in the Art community have a tendency to just call it what it is used for. 


A Smudge Stick is made out of rolled up paper. Seriously. Its paper that has been rolled into a pencil like shape.

In general it is used for exactly what the name says… Smudging. 

When you are drawing with graphite or even charcoal you can use these  sticks to blend and soften certain areas in the drawing.


It helps to give a smooth transition when shading dark to light areas and can help create subtle details that a pencil or piece of charcoal would not be able to achieve. 

Now on to the Witchy part of our Lesson.

We all know what a smudge stick is right?


That bundle of White Sage that they sell at every Metaphysical store or Earthy based shop.The only problem with this is that the term Smudge Stick is an appropriated term.

Smudging is a ritual among Native Americans and it is handed down through out the clans/families. Its has alot of different parts and traditions that are different from group to group. Smudging =/= Smoke Cleansing.

Smoke Cleansing is where you take one of those sage sticks/ smoke sticks and you waft it around an area to cleanse it of negativity as well as getting rid of negative entities.  

Smudging is a Ceremonial practice among Native American Clans. 

Smoke Cleansing is the use of smoke to purify an area. 

When a person, that is not involved in a Native American Tribe or Group, calls smoke cleansing… Smudging..that is Appropriation because you are not part of the group and you are taking a Sacred ceremonial practice and cutting out alot of the practice.

The best way to remedy this is to leave Smudging where it belongs and find a new term for it. ( it really doesnt matter that the bag you bought the sage in still says Smudge Stick. Still Appropriation.)

I call them Smoke Sticks and Smoke cleansing, but you can come up with your own term for your cleansing practice.

If you would like to know more about the Differences and Similarities of Smoke Cleaning and Smudging here is a link.

Here <——click here——

Now you know about two different types of Smudge Sticks. ^_^

anonymous said:

How do you clean your tortillion?

I take a piece of paper and then just smudge it with the tortillion until there is nothing left. The tip still stays grey/black since the graphite has stuck in the fibers of the paper in the tortillion, but it won’t make any dark smudge marks. Some people take sand paper to get rid of all the graphite but that just uneven the whole pencil and makes it really hard to draw with, so I’d recommend you to just smudge it “empty”.

Watch on

How To Make A Tortillion For Sketching

(Completed version) A portrait drawing of actor Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon from the film “Captain American: The Winter Soldier.


A little over a month


Vellum Bristol Paper 

2B and HB Mechanical Pencils


Tissue paper



**If you would like to commission me and/or ask for prints, please message me for more information**


So I finally finished it today… aka, I made myself put the pencils down before I continued on and did something stupid that I couldn’t erase :)  Not completely satisfied, but this thing was trying to destroy me, so I’m happy with it.

1. Darkened and evened out

2. B&W

3. Original

4. The series (so far)

pencils (2B, 2H, 3B, 4B, 6B HB), markers (black Prismacolor and good old fashioned Sharpies), white pencil (Prismacolor), pens (Micron 08, 01, 03, 005, 02, Pigma Graphic 3, 2), tortillions/blending stumps and blending cloth, and my handy dandy trusty Mars eraser for highlights :)

circa, 12+ hours