This is a rolled up, short paper blending tool with a hollow core for shading.
Perfect if you are confident with your pressure, a great delicate fine tool, easy to load with graphite and move it into the exact spot, angle, curve or line when you use it flat to the paper. It’s French for “something twisted’ – and this is exactly what it is, a short piece of paper twisted up.
If you’re not so confident on your pressure technique, or are looking for a tool for children, a paper stump may be more useful.
Be warned if you hold this like a traditional pencil you will end up drilling the point inside itself. Hence why they are short in length – so you can hold it tucked inside the palm of your hand as you use it, and that also makes it easier to see exactly where the point is going.
You can’t sharpen these, so to bring one back to life if you find the point is disappearing, you can use an unwound paperclip; insert it down the middle hollow core and gently push the point back out, and therefore extend its life. Please note, a tortillon is a small bit of paper; it doesn’t last for lots of sustained use; mine last me a couple of months, although it does not survive the washing machine when left tucked in a pocket. 🙂