Let’s ban plastic – not shopping bags, but sharpeners


In the name of all that is good, can we just ban plastic-bodied pencil sharpeners? Please?

My daughter loves to draw. I have purchased several little sketchbooks and a multitude of pencils and pencil crayons to help feed her creative wants. Of course she also has the obligatory pencil case and a wide assortment of little plastic bodied pencil sharpeners. They come in loot bags, they find their way home from friends, they somehow magically appear in various places at various times. However I don’t think I have purchased a single one of them directly out of my own pocket. Why? Because I hate them.

Yes, hate is a strong word. The darn things are so colourful, they’re practical in that most of them provide a place for all those pencil shavings to go (although invariably they end up on the floor anyway when little one wants to empty them out). But still I hate them because they just don’t work.

Her own use of them always ends in frustration. She holds up the sharpener and the rounded, flattened or plain broken pencil crayon silently demanding some assistance. As the father-hero figure of course I try. I hold the pencil as squarely in that hole as humanly possible and slowly turn it. But it hardly ever ends well. The lead or pencil crayon core breaks off just inside the tapered wood end of the pencil or worse yet, a small piece of the lead gets stuck in the end of the sharpener itself.

If you’ve done this, don’t put it down to your own ineptitude. Yes, you were holding the pencil arrow straight. Yes, you were rotating it at a smooth enough cadence. Quit blaming yourself. The problem is not you.

I making a vow to fall off my wallet and buy ten metal-bodied sharpeners (maybe even Staedtler’s if I’m in an overly generous mood). I will sprinkle them throughout the house, and maybe keep two in the car (she’s got a sketchbook and pencil that stays in the car).

There’s even a good looking twin sharpener with a place to store and subsequently spill the shavings. It’s a Staedtler, so I’m assuming there are metal bodied sharpeners within it.

So let’s end the frustration and ban the plastic bodied sharpener once and for all. Let’s make the move to metal.

And listen, don’t even get me started on cheap pencil crayons…

2 thoughts on “Let’s ban plastic – not shopping bags, but sharpeners

  1. First, absolutely _gorgeous_ video of the snow. Seldom do I come across something that just has that ‘magic’. It is a wonderful combination of image / music that vaults it out into the realm of abstract visual poetry. Having said that – I’m warning you now that I am currently forking it – assuming I can find the time to finish the project.

    Second, I can’t agree with you more on the issue of plastic pencil sharpeners. It is damn difficult to find someone who gets obsessed about pencils and pens. It was refreshing to see another person with a similar bent view on drawing instruments. I’m the idiot that sits down with that ever-rare-and-wonderful-ink-pen and admires the flow of the tool as it licks the paper. How sad.

    I’d say that you aren’t alone in your sentiments however. Some hack by the name of John Howe has a one paragraph rant about sharpening pencils in his book. It is amusing because he takes it a step further and banishes the pencil sharpener altogether – preferring to carve the point by shaving off the wood and graphite / clay with a razor knife. In addition to being a very utilitarian way to achieve a broad swath of graphite, he also has a philosophical objection to the robotic-precise-mechanical milling delivered by those infernal devices, and as such, prefers to craft them by hand…

    PS: Hilarious that you took the time to create the images for the sharpeners. _That_ says it all…

  2. Yeah, when I’ve grown too frustrated with the plasticky crap, I’ve gone running to the kitchen for a knife to manually sharpen more than a few times. But I have nothing against a good mechanically sharpened point.

    LOL about me creating the images for the post. A while back I was determined to create a little image for every blog post I did. It doesn’t happen all the time, but I still enjoy doing it. I enjoy the small challenge of coming up with something apropos to the point of the post (if there is one).

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