A couple days ago I was perusing my dear friend Lynne’s blog and some of her links and discovered Kate Strickland’s blog ArtVeinVessel – really nice.  I was compelled to participate in her ‘artists’ tools’ weekly post, which in turn got me to thinking more about my own tools and their significance.  The tool I submitted was my treasured scribe ….Favorite PMC tool

Here’s what I wrote about my beloved tool:

“This is by far my favorite tool.  I’m a PMC artist and have been for over
10 years.  This tool  – I’m not even sure what to call it, maybe a scribe? – was
included in the original PMC tool kit that was sold by Rio Grande.  That would
be either late 1997 or early 1998.  It’s a wonderfully versatile and seriously
basic design and, quite obviously, was hand-made.  It gets into teeny cracks and
crevices and smoothes and burnishes and scribes and gouges.  It has a wonderful
weight and feel.  For years I wondered about it’s origins.  Rio Grande just
doesn’t sell tools like this.  The original tool kit was a bit of a
hodge-podge.  PMC was a brand new medium – nobody really knew what people would
need or want to use.  Through the years I’ve taught workshops praying that no
one would steal my treasured tool.   It was always stated early on in the class
– “see this tool?  It goes missing and there’s going to be trouble!”  Finally,
last year I decided to track down my tool’s origins.  For some reason I was
talking to the head PMC person at Rio and after trying to describe it, asked her
if she’d ever seen another tool like mine.  She was fairly new to PMC and had no
idea, but why not contact Tim McCreight who was the original head PMC dude and
liaison between the manufacturer and the distributor.  I sort of know Tim – I
did my certification workshop with him back in 2000 and I’ve emailed him several
times with technical questions.  So, I emailed him with the image attached and
got a quick response. 
Turns out my beloved scribe was made by one of his students back in ’97 as
a small money making project.  Tim suggested the fellow forge out about 150 of
these scribes to be included in the first tool kit.  It’s forged from a steel
welding rod with adhesive gauze wrapped around it.  The original gauze
disintegrated years ago and it’s wrapped with the second generation which is now
in need of replacement.   I don’t teach workshops any longer, so I know my tool
is safe.  The current gauze is pretty much gobbed up with PMC and stretched out
and fraying – but the tool itself is unchanged, beloved and held close.”

So, this got me to thinking about other categories.  How about silliest tool – that would be this one …
Teeny tool This is my teeny PMC hole punch.  It’s the chopped off tip of a bamboo skewer with a silver crimp bead smushed onto it and wrapped with a vast amount of adhesive gauze for padding, ’cause I use this thing a lot

My other favorite tool is this hammer, which technically is only on loan to me. Favorite tools 1 The hammer belongs to my neighbor, Myron and originally belonged to his mentor and dear friend Anthony Lord.  Mr. Lord was a famous architect in Asheville, NC and Myron was his assistant and estate caretaker in Mr. Lord’s later years.  The face on it is wonderfully marred and makes for great texture when I’m forging stuff. 

What’s even more exciting than this wonderful tool is I will soon be in the possession of one of my grandfather’s old shoe hammers.  Turns out my brother Gene has had it for years.  Gene says it has a nicely corroded face and a new handle that he made to be as close as possible to the original.  I got all choked up when he told me about it.  My Grampa was a shoe repairman.  His shoe shop was an old city bus that he drove around town.  I got to know the bus years later when it had grown dusty and dark with neglect, but was transformed into a five year old’s magical playground.  It had the distinctive smell of leather and machine oil and beeswax all mixed together. Grampa's shoe bus
I just got this photo while in Florida for our family reunion.  Needless to say, it didn’t look like this when I knew it.

Hmmm, back to tools….  As artists, our tools and workspaces are important extensions of ourselves. 

Tools 6My work is important, but just as important is the space where I work and the tools with which the work is created.  It took several tries, but I finally turned my current work room into a creative haven.  First, I love the colors – sage green walls with magenta trim.  Of course, every nook and cranny is jam packed.  I’ve got shelving everywhere and my beloved 8 foot long table (free from the old Whittier, NC elementary 1st grade classroom) is the perfect centerpiece.  I’ve done some “retrofitting” over the years.

A  favorite diversion – “retrofitting” and making something out of nothing.  The little shelf on the table is one of my creations as is the PVC pipe hammer organizer – not elegant, downright strange, but very serviceable.  Tools 2

The block of beeswax there in the front – that’s from my Grampa’s shoe shop – one of my prize possessions.  I have no idea how old it is, but it’s got grime and gook left over from years of sitting in that old bus.

In the category of retrofitting, old dish drains can be endlessly useful.  I’ve combined an old one with the rack from my clothes dryer (for drying stuff flat, which I’ve never done) and made a great multi-function shelf.  Tools 5

It also has a rack for hanging my supply of very useful old handtowels.  Tools 11

Well, last but not least of the cherished objects that live in my workroom – my
desktop collection of special treasures to bless and inspire.Tools 3 Crystals to focus energy and creativity, three of my miniature vessels (you can only see two here), gifts from darling Lynne and gifts from the sea.

Tools 4 You can see my ever-present need for balance and symmetry in the way some objects are arranged.  I do try to keep some level of chaos in relation to the balance – yin yang, you know.

Goodness, well this is certainly my longest post.  Fun stuff!  So, things to be thankful for – my wonderful home that holds and supports my beautiful workshop; my beloved Dave and his unconditional love and support; the gift of creative expression and the ability to make a good living doing what I love and, back to where I started, my treasured tools that bring such joy as they assist me in creating the work I love.

and to the readers, fellow artists and travelers,
with gratitude and many blessings – kvk