Sharpening the butter pencil.

2004-09-23 06:09

My spouse is a wonderful artist. He can draw a person well enough that you can tell how often he works out, and what exercises he skimps on.

So, why, O why, can’t he draw the letter “e”? I have a copy of his shopping list for the art store. On it, one of the items is “butter pencil sharpener”. I suspect he meant that she wanted a pencil sharpener which was more good than the one he already had. But what he wrote was clear enough; “butter pencil sharpener”. I suppose that’s what you use to sharpen a butter pencil, which is presumably what you use when a grease pencil is too hard.

So, we went to the art store — Wet Paint. While we were there, I was looking for a sketch book. I wanted one that would fit in my purse so I would stop forgetting to bring it. So, while he was looking around, I was walking through the notebook section, trying to shoplift. I mean, really obviously. I’d pick things up and try to hide them in my purse, then shake my head sadly and put them back. One of the staff found me a wonderful notebook, which fit inside my bag. It’s Moleskine, apparently. I don’t know what it’s made of, but it’s incredible; very thin paper, but not tissue paper; it’s solid and opaque. The clerk said she was able to watercolor on one side of a page. And the paper is as smooth as any paper I’ve ever seen, which is a big plus for sketching. Oddly, I didn’t like their “sketch” book as much as I like the plain unlined notebook.

On the way home, I was bragging to Jesse about how wonderful the surface was, and I said “it’s like butter”. (One of Jesse’s favorite sayings is “smooth like butter”, generally pronounced “smoove like buttah”)

The conversation went rapidly downhill. “Well, actually, it’s not like butter. Very much. Butter would be hard to write on. Unless you had a butter pencil.”

I still don’t know what a butter pencil is, whether it’s made of butter or used to write on butter. But Jesse needs a sharpener for it. I guess he compromised and just got a really nice sharpener for ordinary wooden pencils.

BTW, I am stunned to note that Real Live Preacher just mentioned Moleskine in a recent article.

Peter Seebach



  1. Ah, but clearly what you need a butter pencil sharpener for is when, like Fermat, you need to write a proof in very fine script, or else or there will not be room for it in the margarine.

    — Poly · 2007-05-17 12:36 · #