Saturday, March 7, 2009

Take Care of the Tools That Take Care of You

Here is a picture of four new "Woobie Souls" I made this week. First, I hand form the details in their faces using a variety of tools, then I slab roll the various "wrapping blankets." Most of the "Souls" are formed around recycled 20 oz. espresso cups. Joe and Christy from Windy Ridge Pottery recently shared their favorite throwing tools, inspired after Brandon Phillips did the same. Finding just the right tool has forced me to get innovative when it comes to wanting custom implements. I've read and observed in other studios that almost all artists, especially clay artists, end up forming their own tools from various raw and benign sources like CD's, Popsicle sticks, pencils or chicken wire to make that perfect mark or create that signature form. A few of my favorite wood trimming tools and ribs were gifted to me by mentors, teachers and experienced potters. I like to think that these gifted tools came with a special energy and experience that they're ready to share with me. I even scored an entire utility cartload of tools, glazes and various kiln parts from a garage sale for $15. Once washed up and sorted I now have plenty of extra tools for workshops or to gift to other artists just starting out.

A few months ago at the craft store, I purchased several cake decorating tools that I thought would be perfect to use in clay. A group of tools that's seen a lot of use lately is a Fondant Paste Tool Set that I use to make the face details on the "Souls." Another is a Spiral Pattern Roller that I roll onto some of the slab blankets of the sculptures. Though I prefer natu
ral materials, especially wood, the precise details cut into the plastic tips of the Fondant tools are hard to replicate. I took a quick picture of some of my tools (after their bath) I used this week -all clean if only for the moment!  Another tool I love the feel of is my navy blue French Silicone Rolling Pin, (also in the photo) I got from Seattle Pottery Supply. I was taught early by my folks to take care of those things around me, no matter how small. Sometimes I listened to their advice, and well, other times... Thank goodness I valued and did take care of most of my old art supplies. One of the best wooden trim tools is from a set that my parents had to buy me for a high school ceramics class. I've never seen one quite like it, fits my hand perfectly and the wood is smooth and has an oil patina from age. Whenever I go to use it, it's like meeting an old friend.


Linda Starr said...

You're woobie souls look so peaceful and comfortable in their blankets. I have a fondant roller, but fondant tools, I'll have to check into those. I like some plastic tools since the clay washes off easily. I've found paint brush rollers are nice to form sculptures around because they are soft sided. You've reminded me to sort through my tools again and bring out ones I haven't used in a while, thx.

cindy shake said...

Hi Linda, thanks for the post. Good point about the plastic cleaning up easily -I think thats also why I love the silicone roller! I forgot to add, that to smooth the details on the faces I use small, smooth hair or sable paint brushes. I use the boar hair paint brushes to do more deep shaping. My fingers can be a bit too big for some of the details and I find that the brushes work well. The downside to using my good paint brushes is that I leave them in the water soaking with the clay sponges etc. and ruin them. oh well :o)