General Pencil Company from Jersey City, New Jersey is one of the last remaining pencil factories in the whole of the United States and this is where photographer Cristopher Payne spent several years trying to be granted permission on the production floor for photo-documentation of this little-known process of making pencils. Payne built a good friendship relationship with the owners of the General Pencil Company and between 2015 and 2017 he managed to take photos of the production of pencils. “The pencil is so simple and ubiquitous that we take it for granted. But making one is a surprisingly complex process, and when I saw all the steps involved, many of which are done by hand, I knew it would make for a compelling visual narrative”, he says. And indeed, have you ever wondered how they make a pencil? That cheap, blunt little tool that you use for writing and to which you pay no attention whatsoever?