Getting to the point


A man in America called David Rees has created a website advertising his artisanal pencil sharpening service.

Here’s how it works. You mail your blunt pencil to David at his Hudson Valley, New York, workshop. David sharpens your pencil using generations-old artisanal pencil sharpening techniques. He then collects up the shavings — your personal shavings — and packs them up carefully, together with your exquisitely retooled pencil and ‘certificate of sharpening’, and posts them back to you. You pay “just $17”.

Now, it’s true that I’ve become hyper-intolerant to artisanal nonsense in any shape or form. But this really takes the bloody artisanal, craft-baked biscuit.

So, it’s probably fair to say that when I tapped out I was expecting the worst.  But do you know what, David’s site has a certain charm. There’s some nice photography of that artisanal workshop (a pared down, Shakerish affair) and several pictures of David at work. In one, he is shown annotating a drawing of the mathematically perfect pencil point. In another he is pictured looking quite the part in his artisanal pencil sharpener’s apron and visor.

Yet despite all the trappings of authentic endeavour some people clearly aren’t taking this 100 per cent seriously. “Just because something makes you smile or laugh…doesn’t make it a joke,” says David, slightly plaintively, on his home page

I was actually feeling a little bit sorry for David when a spot of idle Googling led me to discover that his day job is ‘satirical cartoonist’. So it has only just dawned on me that his artisanal pencil sharpening service is, in all probability, a piece of satirical art.

I’m pondering this over a glass of Sancerre, a good quality 4B, and nice sharp penknife. Now for some quality pencil sharpening time of my own.


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