Pencils and personalisation

IMG_5643Many years ago that wise man Martin Farrell at Get2thepoint ( gave me a brilliant tip – cut your pencils in two and sharpen them at both ends.

Not only does this create four writing options for the price of one pencil, but it also makes your pencils so distinctive that people can’t say they picked them up ‘by accident’. I think Martin also suggested the very act of personalising the pencil would make it less attractive to would-be purloiners because it looks like someone loves it.

I was thinking about Martin’s tip as I used my (stubby) pencil to design a display stand made out of – yes, you’ve guessed it – an old pallet. This will be The Repair Shed’s first commission for a pallet product following an outing to the Festival of Enterprise in Ipswich last week – a ‘graduation event’ organised by the East Enterprise Hub.

I like the implied impermanence of something in pencil – to me it suggests creativity with an openness to change (although I can never find a rubber when I need one – especially if someone has sharpened both ends of the pencil that had one on). I think that knowing you can change what you’re about to draw (or write) is liberating in a way not equalled by being able to press the delete button on a keyboard.

For our would-be client I felt it was important to show that the design was not ‘written in stone’; rather an idea that we can adapt to suit their needs. It was also about personalising the final product – if we get the commission it will be a handmade one-off.

I know our would-be customer – a small producer of healthy spice drinks using 100% natural ingredients – is as keen as I am to get away from large-scale mass-production and standardisation. For me, personalisation is the name of the game.

PS I’ve also been thinking about pencils because this year I’m considering growing an ear-to-ear pencil moustache to raise money and awareness about men’s health for Movember (more at but that’s another story…

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