Monday, March 16, 2015

Artisanal Pencil Sharpening

A New Advocation

"Sharpened Blackwing"
"Sharpened Blackwing": photo by Cliff Hutson

Some books have literally life changed my life. Two would be "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein and "The Last Temptation of Christ" by Nikos Kazantzakis, both of which I read as a teenager. This past weekend, I added "How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants "by David Rees to that list.

Artisanal pencil sharpening is a way of finding beauty and harmony in a world wherein perfection may not be possible. However, I think, we must acknowledge that the striving is worth the effort. Rees writes -  “Putting a point on a pencil—making it functional—is to lead it out of Plato’s cave and into the noonday sun of utility. Of course, life outside a cave runs the risk of imperfection and frustration. But we must learn to live with these risks if we want enough oxygen to survive.”

So, now that I have an introduction to the philosophy, tools, and techniques of pencil sharpening I feel inspired to attempt to master the craft and enter into it on my own. Not only will it allow to improve upon the pencils I use in my life, it may afford me the pleasure of sharing what it means to use a properly sharpened pencil with others. And, if I can make a few bucks in the process, what is the harm in that?

"Wing-Nut Sharpener. Perfect for anyone with a workshop, or a pencil. Or both.”
"Wing-Nut Pencil Sharpener": photo by Cliff Hutson

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