A marvelous minute of video portrays a virtuoso hand at sculpting the lead out of a pencil. Click on “Art on the tip of a pencil” to view a minute of how Salavat Fidai gets the lead out. More can be seen at his website via Facebook called Salavat Fidai Art. My wife Victoria sent me this video clip, no doubt pursuant to conversations we’ve had with our son Billy about the poor quality of the lead in pencils these days. We find, in doing homework (an astonishing amount for a kid in first grade at Vartan Gregorian Elementary, in Providence), that pencil lead snaps easily, and that sharpening a pencil is an act that calls for the patience of Job. (Not to be compared, of course, with the patience of Salavat.) That critique might actually apply to the pencil sharpener. Ours is a high-tech affair (as these things go) of plastic. It runs on batteries, and yet it routinely breaks the lead off the pencil in the process, leaving a deep empty wooden mine shaft that must be ground through before reaching a paydirt of lead to sharpen again.
As a boy we assumed such items were made in Japan. Now we assume they are made in China.
A Facebook commenter on Fidai’s video – one of almost a couple hundred thousand, according to the Facebook tally – marveled that pencil-manufacturers, who on the normal No. 2 pencil provide merely a quarter-inch of eraser at the other end must have unbounded confidence in the quality of the work being done at the business end.
No errors that we could see on Fidai’s video. He is a true virtuoso. The video is brief, almost titillating in its brevity, and if you can bear the accompanying elevator music you can see him whittle his pencil sculptures with an X-Acto knife (I think it’s called) in stop-action, whereby he completes or displays 11 sculptures in just a shaving over a minute, including wee Big Ben at left.
Salavat Fidai’s sculptures are featured on Bright Side Videos.