A Sharp Pair of Shears

Freida and the sacred scissor sharpener

This is one of those blog entries that I either have to write really well about or have a picture of a cute animal to make interesting to most people other than myself.   But I’m writing about it anyway, for one of the the same reasons I make art and have a blog, in the hopes of connecting with someone else.  Sometimes it’s many people, sometimes only one person, and sometimes it seems I’m the only one who gets it.   But I do believe there are other people out there who understand the idea of getting really excited over something that is really very mundane.

Of course, sometimes the passion or excitement a person conveys is enough to draw people in.  When I was in school, one of my classmates was passionate about Jeeps.  I had never thought twice about Jeeps before meeting him, but by the end of the first semester, I found myself looking at Jeeps and telling Mike about it whenever I saw one.

So, about 20 years ago, my mother bought me a Gingher Shears for my birthday.  This was very special.  My mother used to sew when I was growing up making clothes for my sister and me , curtains for the windows, costumes for plays and Halloween.  For years, she used a dull shears, never buying a new one, or getting hers sharpened.  When she bought me the Gingher, I knew it was one that she wanted, but wouldn’t buy for herself.

A few years ago, when I started making quilts, my Gingher quickly dulled.  I guess I inherited my mothers aversion to a sharp pair of shears and put off getting mine sharpened until they would not longer cut.  I asked around at fabric stores and hardware stores, but I couldn’t find anyone to sharpen my shears.  I finally bought a cheap pair of scissors and kept up my quest for a sharpener.  Last week when I went to JoAnn Fabric to get some supplies I thought I’d try again.  The woman cutting my batting said “I don’t know anyone who sharpens scissors, but we use this.”  She held up a  piece of black and orange plastic about 5 inches square and 1 inch deep.  I asked if they’d work on my Ginghers and she said “I don’t know, but they work on these”  She held up her orange handled scissors.  I was a little reluctant being a bit of a snob about my Ginghers that didn’t cut, but for eleven bucks I thought I’d give it a try.

Well, it worked!   I kissed the black plastic sharpener and cut and cut and cut.  Then I sharpened my cheap pair of shears and my antique scissor that should cut thread but didn’t…. until now.

Now I don’t think  my excitement over finding a scissor sharpener can compete with Mike’s passion for Jeeps, and I’m not even sure how long it will last.  Once I get used to being able to sharpen my scissors whenever I want, it’s possible the whole thing, sharp shears, scissor sharpener, and the immediacy of it may become mundane to me too.   But right now, just thinking about it makes me smile.  And if this is one of those things that only I get, I can always call my mom, I have a feeling she’d understand.

38 thoughts on “A Sharp Pair of Shears

  1. I do understand that, Maria. My dad kept all of our kitchen knives very sharp, carefully using a whetstone, and all of his tools as well. When you are ready to cut fabric or a tomato or bread, it’s just a good feeling to have a sharp tool.

  2. Oh, Maria! I have to go get a sissor sharpener at Jo-Ann’s, now that I know they exist! My grandma (died in 2009 napping on her porch at age 94) bought me a pair of Gingher shears for my highschool graduation in 1973. That I never lost them is a miracle in itself; but they are too dull to use now. Maybe someone has to cut and sew with dull sissiors given by a person who loved her to know how wonderful your post is! Frieda never looked better. Annie

  3. Oh my goodness, Maria !! I totally know what you have with this new sharpener ! When my daughter was 7 (or 8) she put her brand new lunchbox next to her pillow because she was so over (OVER) joyed with it – she said she wanted to fall asleep looking at it because it made her so happy – and over time there were shoes next to her pillow or a beach toy or a picture she painted/drew… whatever made her happy, she wanted next to her – exactly how I felt and what I did as a child, but never told her before she had her idea to do it. So, now in my 50s, there are still things that get a hold of me like you and your sharpener !!!!!!! Hooray ! Enjoy ! happy cutting and sharpening !

  4. I have that same scissor sharpener, in fact I’ve had it for a few years now. Yes, a pair of sharp scissors is something to get excited about!

  5. Maria,

    I get it. You brought back memories of when I used to help my Grandmother sew. She used her old treadle machine and would hold a tiny flashlight in her mouth so she could see better. What a site! Those were such special times and I miss her so.



  6. Hey Maria, I get it! Sounds so familiar to me!
    Frieda looks like Royality!
    Why don’t you call your Mom anyways and tell her this story.I wish I’d had such a relationship with my Mom as you seem to have. 🙂

  7. Looks like Frieda shares your joy over the scissors sharpener! Looks like she’s laughing with delight. Love that photo.

  8. I sew too. . . I understand. Careful, now. The first few times you use these nicely sharpened shears you may be surprised at how effortlessly they are slicing through your fabrics. I’m glad you found that handy little implement.

    I enjoy looking at your quilts, potholders, other things you draw and sew, and your ever-faithful Freida.

  9. I understand your excitement over the sharpener. To be able to be happy over the small things in life gives you a lot to be happy about, doesn’t it?
    My husbands’ grandmother used to say “I have so little … but what a good life I have” She was born 1895 and had seen different times. I bet she would have understood the joy of a sharp scissor too.

  10. Your job is only as good as the tools at hand- to quote my father. I remember getting my haircut several yrs ago and fell into a discussion with the haircutter about his shears – they were very expensive, but a must. It made me smile to read about your joy over your scissor sharpener.

  11. I loved this story, Maria…..the whole moment of joy when you find something that really works in your life. Like when you’re real little and you realize that the ice cream store is open every day and you can always get more. These moments can be few and far between, but there’s nothing like them when they happen, no matter how small.

  12. You covered it on both fronts, cute animal pic and well written! 🙂 And yup, I get it! I am an artist that works in the medium of coloured pencil. You would not believe how excited cp artists get over finding the ‘perfect’ pencil sharpener – one that gives just the right point, doesn’t eat the pencil, is robust and doesn’t overheat, you get the idea. Ah, but maybe you would believe how excited we get…Yes, call your Mom, share the excitement.

  13. Gee, Maria, when I worked in a quilt shop that sold Ginghers, we told customers to always send them back to the company for sharpening. If anyone else tried, it invalidated the warranty. PS: Adorable photo of Frieda. She’s grinning. She doesn’t look fierce any more.

  14. This made me laugh. Anything that makes your life easier is worth getting excited over. I always joke that some people need to jump out of planes to get a thrill so whats with me. I bought a cute egg seperater the other day that fits over a measuring cup (it is shaped like an egg has a face on it) . I’m thrilled with it! Every time I use it I call whosever in the house into the kitchen to see how cool it is.

  15. Oh, I get it, alright! Sharp, well-made scissors are a luxury that we frequently deny ourselves because you can find scissors for a buck at the dollar store and if they wear out, there’s more where that came from. And maybe for those of us who were raised with sewing mothers, for whom sewing was frugality and a survival skill–not a hobby that entitled you to have the best toys money can buy, or an art form that deserves the right tools–it still seems almost sinful to invest in wonderful shears.
    I, too, have struggled to find someone to sharpen my scissors. So glad to hear this sharpener works. Is it Fiskars?
    BTW, love any post that features beautiful Frieda.

  16. nope I understand totally because there is nothing WORSE than dull scissors!! my local quilt shop in Cobleskill will send scissors away to be sharpened for about $3 or $4 which is pretty good but your little yellow and black thing might prove to be even better. I have ginghers too and only use them on fabric. i have batting scissors and paper scissors and plastic scissors…but the ginghers are sacred and I am the only person allowerd within 6 feet of them! so happy yours are back in action!

  17. Actually I’m glad you wrote about your shear sharpener since I’ve needed one for years. No JoAnn Fabric stores in Charlotte, but I’ll start my search. Does the sharpener have a brand name and/or model number? Thanks!

  18. Maria,
    I sooooooooo understand this excitement. Any artist understands that tools are precious gifts and collaborative to our creations. I find similar excitement in finding new kinds of threads, as well as new pens/paints for my watercolors. It’s like a gift to ourselves!
    Have fun with your sharp scissors……

  19. Soooooooo glad you found a sharpener Maria. Now you can use those wonderful shears! Call your mom too. :^)

  20. Wow, Maria — looks like you struck a chord here! I THOUGHT I had sharp scissors, until my friend (who cuts hair – on people) came to trim my cat’s beard (it gets in his food otherwise)… and she said, No… (as nicely as possible), that my scissors were NOT sharp… hmmmmm… guess I need a sharpener!

    1. I love beards on animals, not so much on humans. Lulu the donkey has a lovely white beard, not so much in the summer, but lush in the winter.

  21. Your post made me smile. I often get teased by my loving family over my excitement for things they think are ordinary or silly. Two of the more recent things include the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (I call it my magic sponge because it’s great for cleaning everything) and Mary Muncil’s Skin Survival Balm that I insist on putting on everyone just because it smells so good. It makes me happy to get excited over simple pleasures, so I don’t plan on stopping just because someone else thinks I’m silly. Silly is good for the soul. Keep on being silly.

  22. There’s a real salt-of-the-earth old school knife sharpener in Plainfield, MA. I think his last name is Rodriguez (sp?). He makes old fashioned “real-deal” tools with wood and metal too. He’s the only person so devoted to this type of craftsmanship I’ve heard of left in this country. Probably because our economy depends on people throwing their scissors in a landfill and buying another pair instead of sharpening them. We’re not so good at reacting to fire emergencies that creep–only the dramatic ones. I wonder how we could change this?

  23. I couldn’t sew my way INTO a paper bag but I so get the excitement of having the right tool for the right job! Mundane and simple it may be but so important for the creative mojo. I recently splurged and bought myself some really fine pruning shears for my gardening joy—and it feels like I won the lottery!
    And Ms. Frieda glam-girl knows a good thing when she sees it!

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