Did you ever wonder where the iconic Number 2 pencils of our youth (and that of our children) come from? Well, the best answer is the General Pencil Company in Jersey City, New Jersey, one of the last remaining pencil factories in the United States. Photographer Christopher Payne courted the corporation’s favor, and was eventually granted unprecedented documentary access to the company’s production facilities. In honor of the kids (and teachers) returning to school, I thought it was a perfect subject for today.
“The pencil is so simple and ubiquitous that we take it for granted, but making one is a surprisingly complex process, and when I saw all the steps involved, many of which are done by hand, I knew it would make for a compelling visual narrative.”– Christopher Payne
Although I don’t have the architecture and engineering background that Payne has, I am also fascinated by manufacturing and how things are made. If you enjoy such things, too, you’re going to love his work, which explores wildly divergent industries including fabric, vinyl records, paint, candy, and golf balls!
You can see all of Christopher Payne’s interesting documentary photographs on his website and on Instagram and Facebook. I also recommend you check out General Pencil Company’s surprisingly-artistic Instagram!