The Craft of Intentionally Imperfect

Ernest Wright & Sons


Pencils may be my favorite office supply, but scissors are a close second. Growing up, my mom had to hide every pair of scissors in the house because nothing was considered sacred to me — no pair of clothes, head of hair, sheet of paper, nothing. I’d creep around the house and snip my brother’s hair when he was watching TV. I’d take my sister’s homework and cut out hearts. When I discovered paper snowflakes… MIND BLOWN and my mother’s worst nightmare. I spent hours folding any flat piece of paper, including pages out of the phone book (when people actually used ‘em!), and cut little squares and circles. I left an endless trail of teeny-tiny bits of paper that my mom and dad constantly had to vacuum or pick up by hand. They were not amused.

And my love of scissors still runs deep. I have a minimum of 3 pairs of scissors at my desk at all times. So when I discovered The Putter, I knew instantly that I NEEDED Ernest Wright & Son scissors in my collection. The Putter is a short video with no voiceover or text that follows Cliff Denton around the Ernest Wright & Son factory as he works his magic. It’s stunning, and I was mesmerized watching Cliff craft scissors with his hands. It was crush at first sight. Full disclosure — I’m crushin’ hard on Cliff, the now famous putter. You’d crush on Cliff too if you met him. You’d have to be stone-cold ice to not not fall under his spell.

Ernest Wright & Son is based in Sheffield, the birthplace of stainless steel (daily-diet design, am I right?). It was now on my list of must-hit cities because I wanted to meet Cliff. We rolled into Sheffield on a cold Sunday and woke up early the next morning to head over to Ernest Wright & Son. We walked down a narrow alley and when it dropped us into a big open parking lot, we were looking straight at the factory.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield, England, photo RAD AND HUNGRY

I swung open the door and walked straight up to the only person in the shop area. I started gushing, I’m not sure if I was even talking in full sentences. I rambled something like… “Hi, my name is Hen and I’m visiting from Seattle because I f’in love your scissors.” Probably in a bit of shock himself, Simon laughed and gave us a big welcome. Within minutes (when he realized my genuine excitement was not about to wear off anytime soon), Simon asked if we’d like a private tour. HELLZ M’FIN YEAH!! Tours need to be arranged well in advance, but Simon was gonna make it work. But before he even had the tour time locked down, I met the man. Cliff.

Cliff Denton, Putter, photo RAD AND HUNGRY

Cliff started his career as an apprentice when he was 15 years old and has been a putter now for 59 years and counting! We also met Eric, one of the few putters still makin’ scissors at Ernest Wright & Son.

Cliff and Eric, photo RAD AND HUNGRY

And then it was all a blur again! I couldn’t help it — I kept gushing about how much I love scissors, how much I love Ernest Wright & Son, how I love the video. I’m sure I came across as cracked out but I didn’t care.

We learned so much during our tour. Jamie, the current apprentice, walked us through the factory, showing us the step-by-step process and the tools used.

Jamie, photo RAD AND HUNGRY
Jaimie, photo RAD AND HUNGRY
photo RAD AND HUNGRY

Next we watched Cliff go through the various stages of putting together one of their super popular ‘Turton’ kitchen scissors’. So popular they’re currently on a 3-months-or-longer wait list! But then our visit got turnt up a notch — they hooked us up. They let us handpick a pair and we got to watch Cliff finish our very own pair! My pair was delivered into my hands with the blades still hot to the touch!! ROCK STAR STATUS?! Yup.

Cliff, photo RAD AND HUNGRY
Cliff, photo RAD AND HUNGRY

Cliff then walked us through the factory pointing out different styles of scissors, explaining how he assembles them, showing us his tools and how he uses them.

Cliff, photo RAD AND HUNGRY
Ryan, photo RAD AND HUNGRY

It was so clear by the way Cliff handled his tools and spoke that he creates products that represent a true love of the craft. Each scissor is labor intense and will last forever. They’re “intentionally imperfect” — you trust the process, you trust the people, you trust the products.

photo RAD AND HUNGRY

We were welcomed back to Seattle with a package from Sheffield — laminated photos and autographs of the entire Ernest Wright & Son crew! No. 1 groupie? I think so!

photo RAD AND HUNGRY

BIG hugs to Cliff, Simon, Jaime, Eric, Ryan, and the rest of the Ernest Wright & Son crew for the warm welcome, tour, and endless hugs.

Cliff, photo RAD AND HUNGRY
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