New York Times writer Sam Anderson recently teamed up with photographer Christopher Payne to produce a photo essay that reveals the rich, colourful world of the General Pencil Company. Since 1889, workers of the factory have transformed raw materials like wax, paint, wood and graphite into pencils charcoal sticks and pastel crayons – and they're still going strong. Here are the highlights of the story (which you can read, in full, here).
"The basement, where workers process charcoal, is a universe of absolute grey: grey shirts, grey hands, grey machines swallowing grey ingredients. A surprising amount of the work is done manually; it can take employees multiple days off to get their hands fully clean."
"The pastel cores are fragile and must be carefully placed by hand into the cedar slats."
"Ferrules – the metal bands that cinch around the bases of erasers – are loaded onto a conveyor and sent to a tipping machine."
Check out more of these images, and read the full incredible story, in the NYT's 'Inside One of America's Last Pencil Factories'.
Photography: Christopher Payne