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Artisinal Pencil Sharpening
August 11, 2010 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Artisinal Pencil Sharpening That is all.
posted by grateful (64 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe I would do this if I had no pocket-knife. Or no hands.
posted by hermitosis at 12:21 PM on August 11, 2010


Is this something I need to own a pencil to care about?
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 12:22 PM on August 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is such a strange coincidence! I was just dreaming about pencils!
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:23 PM on August 11, 2010


Okay, snark aside, I seriously don't get it. This is supposed to be a joke, right?
(My sarcasm detector is in serious need of an adjustment today.)
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 12:24 PM on August 11, 2010


Somebody should send this guy a Bic mechanical pencil just to see what they get back.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:24 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


So absurd and unnecessary an offering as to be keenly amusing. While I will not personally be contracting the services of D. Reeves (writer of the comic "Get Your War On,"), I appreciate his creation here.
posted by alexandermatheson at 12:26 PM on August 11, 2010


What's the point?
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:26 PM on August 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


THE RECESSION IS OVER!

I'm also thinking of starting an online artisinal gum eraser rounding service. NEVER DEAL WITH THE EMBARRASSMENT OF A SQUARE ERASER AGAIN!
posted by Keith Talent at 12:26 PM on August 11, 2010


From the guy who does Get Your War On.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:27 PM on August 11, 2010


Artisanal, my Aunt Fannie. I don't trust my fine pencils to some yahoo using a plastic sharpener. Where's the carbon steel knife?
posted by Elsa at 12:27 PM on August 11, 2010


There are people in the world with more dollars than sense; we already knew that. Those that can get money from those people (legally), are doing us, and 'trickle down' economist, a service.
posted by Some1 at 12:28 PM on August 11, 2010


Is this the same guy who carves teeny tiny little sculptures on the ends of pencils? No?
posted by fixedgear at 12:28 PM on August 11, 2010


He's forgetting all this history!
posted by Michael Pemulis at 12:29 PM on August 11, 2010


Anyway, I'd be more impressed if he had a small hand held pencil sharpener surgically embedded in his forearm.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:29 PM on August 11, 2010


Come on, it's only $15/pencil! That's only like $5/page!

Cheapskates, all of you.
posted by bonehead at 12:32 PM on August 11, 2010




Recent Rees-related post. & featured in LA Times Blogs today.

BTW: I love this guy!
posted by activitystory at 12:33 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was very young I did things by hand but was told it was not a decent thing to do. I now rely on mechanical devices, usually battery operated.
posted by Postroad at 12:37 PM on August 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


Over-sharpen it and the point will just break, though, unless you're doing really light shading or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:38 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are few things in the world that I find more satisfying than a really sharp pencil. The pencil sharpener on my desk gets WAY too much use. Someone stole all the pencils off my desk while I was gone last week and left me with a single mechanical pencil. I am not pleased with this turn of events, and will be making my way to the supply closet in a few minutes.

That being said, this is truly absurd.

(Pencils of choice: Mirado Black Warrior or Dixon Ticonderoga)
posted by mollymayhem at 12:40 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was very young I did things by hand but was told it was not a decent thing to do. I now rely on mechanical devices, usually battery operated.

That's what she said?
posted by swift at 12:40 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


That being said, this is truly absurd.

No, that's what she said.
posted by jquinby at 12:42 PM on August 11, 2010


I was sort of hoping this would be someone sharpening all the way through a pencil without breaking the shaving.

I might have to try that now.
posted by lucidium at 12:55 PM on August 11, 2010


If you think it's a joke, why don't you poke yourself with your newly sharpened pencil? Or better yet, don't -- because it'll really hurt. In fact, every pencil David Rees sharpens is shipped with a signed and dated certificate authenticating that it is now a dangerous object.
Okay, these sentences are next to a picture of him wearing safety goggles and an expression of deep concentration, carefully putting a single pencil shaving into a tiny ziploc bag with a pair of tweezers, and it is cute and hilarious. Thanks for the smile, grateful!
posted by bewilderbeast at 1:05 PM on August 11, 2010


"The main trade that was carried out was in the skins of the NowWhattian boghog but it wasn't a very successful one because no one in their right minds would want to buy a NowWhattian boghog skin. The trade only hung on by its fingernails because there was always a significant number of people in the Galaxy who were not in their right minds."
-- Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless
posted by leapfrog at 1:18 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fabulous.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:22 PM on August 11, 2010


I'm just going to go ahead and reject the idea that this is so dumb that it's smart and stick with my original impression of it being merely dumb.
posted by nanojath at 1:23 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is from that guy that does things like this.
posted by Mister_A at 1:28 PM on August 11, 2010


There are few things in the world that I find more satisfying than a really sharp pencil

As a left-handed person, I hate pencils. I do make an exception, though, for really sharp pencils. There's real, tactile pleasure in writing with one.

(Actually, I insist on writing the grocery list with a particular pencil, too, even though it hasn't been sharp in ages. But that's entirely unrelated.)
posted by uncleozzy at 1:29 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Want to read even more about this guy and his McSweeney's-esque tomfoolery? Sure you do.
posted by Zerowensboring at 1:30 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was very young I did things by hand but was told it was not a decent thing to do.

I learned to hand-sharpen pencils because my old-school drawing teacher at the time said it was wasteful and disfunctional to use a mechanical sharpener. We had to carry a little knife, knife sharpener, and coarse sandpaper with our drafting supplies. I guess it never occurred to him that bleeding all over your schoolwork, having cut yourself whilst whittling a pencil, was also wasteful and disfunctional.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:33 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there's somebody in India who could sharpen your pencil for $8. But if you want authentic American craftsmanship, $12.50 per pencil.

I will do it for $6.25! Half price, and I'm even more American than he is!
posted by yhbc at 1:40 PM on August 11, 2010


Now I have Van Halen's Hot for Teacher in my head.
posted by Tube at 1:42 PM on August 11, 2010


As a left-handed person, I hate pencils. I do make an exception, though, for really sharp pencils. There's real, tactile pleasure in writing with one.

I agree, which is why I never use wooden pencils anymore.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:43 PM on August 11, 2010


The word "artisanal" really, really needs to go away.

BTW, we exhibited the Dalton Ghetti carved pencils at the museum I worked for, and they were just amazing little things to see up close, every day. Interesting guy, too, that Ghetti.
posted by sonascope at 1:46 PM on August 11, 2010


The word "artisanal" really, really needs to go away.

So as a museum guy how do you feel about 'curated?' There is a word I can do without.
posted by fixedgear at 1:56 PM on August 11, 2010


I fucking love a really sharp pencil.
posted by steef at 2:03 PM on August 11, 2010


I tried going back and reading some of the older Get Your War On comics, and they don't really have the impact they once did. But in early 2002 when lots of people were still really sensitive about a bunch of shit, he was consistently making me laugh more that anyone else.

I saw David Rees speak at Powell's many years ago, and I think he's one of the funniest people I've ever encountered.
posted by monkeystronghold at 2:06 PM on August 11, 2010


I had the same reaction, monkey, when i went back to read some of those comics. I think I've just seen too many imitators and echoes of that style of humor for it to still be funny. But it was really funny back then.
posted by Mister_A at 2:13 PM on August 11, 2010


YOUR FAVORITE ARTISANAL PENCIL SHARPENER sharpens pencils.
posted by everichon at 2:26 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


My new sharpening technique is unstoppable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:46 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess the context of the fact that he became somewhat famous from making cartoons that involve no drawing is sort of funny.
posted by nanojath at 3:03 PM on August 11, 2010


i'm an office supply fanatic. sticky notes, white-out pens, file organizers, thumb tacks ... the list goes on. i love them all. i especially have a lifelong affinity or affliction for pens. i went through the fountain pen phase, the felt-tip marker pen stage, the search for the perfect ball point pen, and, currently, i'm a gel pen groupie. not *any* gel pen, but the pentel energel deluxe rtx metal tip bl77 gel pen. it has the right weight, the right feel, and the smoooooothest writing. no little gel skid marks like other gel pens; this baby writes a consistent, smooth memo or missive.

as much as i love office supplies, and especially pens, i have pretty much loathed pencils since somewhere right around the 3rd grade, possibly the same time that tommy abdalla, little gentleman that he was, was sitting on the crowded school bus & i had to stand in the aisle, regrettably, in front of tommy's seat. the bus lurched, i lurched, and the pencil tommy was holding shot into my flank. i still have a little lead mark where the tip broke off. so pencils: hate 'em. even though there are some things that require a pencil--although i can't recollect what any of those things are right now--that doesn't do a thing to quell my aversion to the little lead-filled demons. and as much as i love david rees, i still hate pencils.
posted by msconduct at 3:13 PM on August 11, 2010


I find that I want to be more irritated by this than I am. It's...grr...funny.
posted by Zerowensboring at 3:14 PM on August 11, 2010


I too wanted to be irritated, but he's awesome:

Why would a man whose cartoon was made of clip art turn to the pencil? "I've always loved the iconic No. 2 pencil," he explained. "When I was working for the 2010 census, we were each issued No. 2 pencils and a manual sharpener. We all sharpened our pencils on the first day of training, and I was like, 'I'm feeling this. This rules. I like sharpening pencils.' It had been a while since I had done it. And the more I thought about it, the more I was like, 'If I could figure out how to get paid to sharpen pencils, I would be happy.' So I decided to become an artisanal pencil sharpener."


Let's buy him a subscription to Make magazine.
posted by mecran01 at 3:19 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's buy him a subscription to Make magazine.

No, I don't want Rees to get lumped in with the steampunks.
posted by lukemeister at 3:28 PM on August 11, 2010


This reminds me of the origami boulder guy.
posted by LiteOpera at 3:31 PM on August 11, 2010


@msconduct: I will check out the energel. I really like the Jetstream retractables.

I'd actually like to find tubing that would slide over the ends of pencils to keep the point from breaking or mucking up the container.

And even though Rees is engaged in absurdist parody, this pencil blog isn't. I am fascinated and delighted by this level of detail and care.
posted by mecran01 at 3:32 PM on August 11, 2010


I prefer to knife sharpen my pencils because there is something... right about it. Sadly, people get a little weirded out if you whip out a blade in the office and start whittling, so I stick with the basic plastic sharpener at work.

I think part of the appeal of a pencil is that, as a tool, it changes while you're using it, and you feel (in some small way) that work is being done by the tips erosion.

Also, if need be, it's nice to know that I can make it disappear Joker style to get a room full of gangster's attention.
posted by quin at 3:33 PM on August 11, 2010


My favorite pencil sharpener ever. A colleague saw me using it and felt bad so he gave me an electric sharpener as a gift. After trying it for a day I unplugged it and left it on the desk (I didn't have the heart to tell him that I preffered my primitive little Kum).
posted by jnrussell at 4:21 PM on August 11, 2010


I think this, and David Rees in general, is hilarious. And am sorely tempted to get a pencil sharpened. The artisinal way.
posted by grapesaresour at 4:34 PM on August 11, 2010


What' I"m excited about (no, really, I am!) is the Sharpie Liquid Pencil!
posted by vespabelle at 5:04 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh good lord, the typos in my previous post! If I'd only used a Sharpie Liquid Pencil instead of pixels!
posted by vespabelle at 5:07 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I guarantee an authentic interaction with your pencil"

was the best part for me.

A series of crap pencil sharpeners have soured me on the art. Last year I bought a delightfully heavy and double edged German-made sharpener from an art store. I couldn't wait to get home and try out my new tool but, to my dismay, it gnawed at and ripped the lead from every poor pencil I tried it on. I've gone electric ever since. zzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzz... zzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzZZZZZZZzzzzzzuhzuhzuhzuh
posted by bobobox at 5:09 PM on August 11, 2010


I already manually, if not artisanally, sharpen my own pencils using 3 separate techniques. Many of these interactions are even authentic.
posted by DU at 5:16 PM on August 11, 2010


I bought the highest rated sharpener on Amazon, a Panasonic K-something. It worked great for a while, despite removing a lot of material. Now it does that thing where the lead is only exposed on one side, so I use a staedtler hand sharpener unless I am deflowering a new pencil.
posted by mecran01 at 5:35 PM on August 11, 2010


I sharpen my pencils in the eyesockets of my enemies' corpses.
posted by jonmc at 6:08 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now it does that thing where the lead is only exposed on one side...

This is why you twirl the pencil while sharpening. What DO they teach in Pencil Sharpening School these days?
posted by DU at 6:26 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


From Zerowensboring's link:

"David Rees...discovered his passion for sharpening pencils while working for the U.S. Census Bureau."

As a 2010 enumerator, I have to agree. The little plastic sharpeners that they gave us to use in the field would sharpen a pencil like you wouldn't believe. We're talking, like, super-freaking-lethal-nano-sharp.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:37 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


My addled brain seems to recall that in my high school drafting class pencil sharpening was a two step process. You would first expose the lead in a special sharpener that looked just like a regular sharpener and then put a delicate point on it with another special sharpener where the pencil was held vertically and rotated like you were stirring coffee.
posted by digsrus at 7:16 PM on August 11, 2010


Now it does that thing where the lead is only exposed on one side...

This is why you twirl the pencil while sharpening. What DO they teach in Pencil Sharpening School these days?


Oh, I know the twirl trick, but if I have to twirl, then I might as well use a Kum.
posted by mecran01 at 8:20 PM on August 11, 2010


lucidium: "I was sort of hoping this would be someone sharpening all the way through a pencil without breaking the shaving.

See Tom Friedman, Untitled (Pencil Shavings), 1992.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:27 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I use a 2mm drafting lead holder and one of these to sharpen it. (It's the second device that digsrus mentions above, I presume).

It's fantastic. You get a good conical pencil-tip like a wooden pencil, deadly sharp every time, but without all the shavings and waste. Plus you can easily swap out leads of different hardnesses for different tasks.

No eraser on the end, but that just means I get to use one of those white plastic stick erasers that I also love.
posted by rifflesby at 3:10 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


...but if I have to twirl, then I might as well use a Kum.

No, wait. That's what she said.

I'm no good at this.
posted by jquinby at 9:10 AM on August 12, 2010


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