Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Watching pencils get made is an unsettingly humbling experience

Screenshot: Faber-Castell (YouTube)

One of the few things that makes humanity worthwhile is our dedication as a species to making stuff. We create incredible buildings and beautiful music, sculptures and sophisticated technological products. We also make lots of more disposable, less lauded items that often require an equal amount of craft, like coffee cups, plastic bags, or—as the video below celebrates with incredible detail and pomp—the common pencil.

Created by pencil-maker Faber-Castell, the video is, boiled down to its essence, an advertisement mixed with a How It’s Made episode about pencils. This would be selling it short, though: The clip is also hilariously lavish, set to a rousing soundtrack that builds continuously over footage of workers and machines laboring together as pencils are assembled. As we see lead and paint colors being mixed and logos being stamped onto the pencils, titles are interspersed both to name the part of the process being shown and, best of all, to introduce “chapters” of the video.

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The whole thing is grandiose and, in its grandiosity, humbling. Look how much craft goes into the pencils you take for granted! Look how many steps it takes to create the tools necessary for a little kid to draw a crummy version of their dog at school!

Sure, the video may be designed to celebrate a specific company, but watching the process through which something as mundane as a pencil gets made is also a good reminder of how much work goes into making stuff we take for granted. Allow yourself to be transported to the pencil factory for just a few minutes and you’ll never again scribble a note without appreciating their design.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.