April 9, 2015
Artisanal pencil store opens in Manhattan
by Adly Elewa
According to Gothamist there is a new artisanal pencil shop now open on the Lower East Side.
Of course there would be. I never cease to be amazed at the lengths people go to find things to fetishize. Such reverence for the banal always reminds me of this xkcd comic. Not trying to judge. More power to you if you love pencils. My employers at Melville House published an entire book on how to sharpen them by David Rees. And yes, the new fancy pencil store does sell it.
In regard to why this store exists the owner explains:
“My love for pencils stems from many things. I was definitely influenced by my mother’s obsession with nice pencils but mostly I just grew to appreciate them on my own. In school it’s cool to use a mechanical pencil, but most of them are cheap, the lead breaks and they’re generally just truly awful. I made it a point to always have an arsenal of freshly sharpened pencils with me from a young age and grew to appreciate the feeling of writing with something so tactile. The smell of the wood, and the sensation of sharpening—nothing beats it, really.”
Personally, I was never a fan of pencils. I can’t stand the sound they make on paper. They leave the side of your hand shiny and gray. Everything you write comes out faint and dull unless you manage to sharpen the thing just right. Then strap in because you have about 2 sentences of crystal clear writing before that brittle graphite tip snaps like a compound fracture.
The only advantages to using a pencil ended after grade school for me. As a fidgety (ADHD) student using a pencil granted me a free pass to leave my seat and make a voyage over to the sharpener. By the way, the school I went to was a Catholic one in south Brooklyn, so it wasn’t just one of those lame electric atheist sharpeners. It was a big retro bolted hand crank sharpener that looked like a WWII air raid siren. It required me to really get in there and work for it.
After getting my cardio requirements for the day out of the way by cranking the thing my resulting product would match the efforts of Stevie Wonder with a potato peeler. The tip would have uneven spiral canals all around it and be covered in the colorful soot of previous pencil victims. Lots of fun. I wonder if this fancy pencil shop sells one of them?
Oh they do sell sharpeners! Maybe I am starting to understand this whole low-fi pencil thing. There is undeniable visual beauty to all these tools. Just look at this page of erasers. The type on them is incredible. I would just have a hard time bringing myself to actually use them. I guess I’ll just Instagram them in pretty mugs and next to house plants.
The store is located at 100a Forsyth Street in Manhattan, and is open Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m, and Sunday 12 to 7 p.m.
Adly Elewa is the art director of Melville House.