My Favorite Tools

Tools I use in my art include  not only pens and pencils and rulers, but also technology. I use an iPod Touch as my camera and photoshop to make sure my photos look like the real thing when I post them on my blog.

Tools I use in my art include not only pens and pencils and rulers, but also technology. I use an iPod Touch as my camera and Photoshop to make sure my photos look like the real thing when I post them on my blog.

For the month of March, I shared a tool a day on my Facebook page. It was fun watching people’s reactions over the course of the month. The responses I received have encouraged me to share with you some of my favorite tools. I hope you find it interesting.

These are my four essential tools: bone folder, Olfa knife, straight edge and cutting mat.

These are my four essential tools: bone folder, Olfa knife, straight edge and cutting mat.

My top four essential tools for the overwhelming majority of my paper arts are bone folders, my trusty Olfa knife, my cutting mats and a good quality straight edge. At least one (if not all) of these tools see use on a daily basis. And with all four, I can do almost any of my paper projects.

This is my favorite ink pot. It's just the perfect depth for dipping my pens into.

This is my favorite ink holder. I just learned that it’s called an inkwell and that what it’s held in is known as an inkstand. It’s just the perfect depth for dipping my pens into.

As a calligrapher, I find myself using ink a lot with my dip pens. Dipping my pen into the bottle of ink is usually messy. This my favorite ink holder. It was left to me by a dear friend many years ago. I believe it’s an antique. I love to use my inkwell because the ink is just the right depth and I don’t get it all over my fingers (quite as much) as when I use the ink bottle itself.

I use quite a variety of pencils, including double pencils.

I use quite a variety of pencils, including double pencils.

I use so many pencils, lots of different pencils for different projects. Most of you, unless you are fellow calligraphers, probably haven’t made or used double pencils. My double pencils are the ones on the right, held together with rubber bands.

Double pencils are used for practicing calligraphy to see more clearly if you have the correct pen angle, branching and other things calligraphers are so interested in improving. I’ve photographed the pencils on a piece of my practice paper I filled with my double pencils.

For seeing tiny details, these are great.

For seeing tiny details, these are great.

Okay, I have to admit it. Sometimes, such as when I am working with tiny lettering or cutting tiny pieces out of a piece of paper, I need to see just a little more clearly. A magnifying glass requires the use of one of my hands and I usually need both for my projects. So, here are the glasses I use in my home studio. I have purple ones for my studio at the Ashland Art Center. They don’t need to be colorful, but it’s fun that they are.

When I need to punch a hole, or lots of holes, this Japanese Hole Punch can't be beat.

When I need to punch a hole, or lots of holes, this Japanese Hole Punch can’t be beat.

My Japanese Hole Punch has interchangeable punches that enable me to punch from 1mm to 4mm holes in paper. I don’t know what I ever did without this tool.

This is my board shear. It will cut paper or mat board or davy board.

This is my board shear. It will cut paper or mat board or davy board.

This is my “paper cutter.” It’s actually a board shear that I bought and had to have shipped from the east coast. It has a foot pedal to clamp down and hold the paper or board while it is cut. I can cut paper or boards for making books up to 29″ in length (or width).

This board shear is what I use to cut the paper I use to make my Earth Spirit Vessels. In the board shear right now is the black paper I’m cutting for my next vessel. The paper starts out 18-3/4″ by 24-3/4″ with four deckled edges. After I’ve squared it and cut the width to 18″,  I’ll cut it into 4″ by 18″ strips, then cut those strips into 2″ by 4″ pieces of paper ready to fold.

This is my camera. It's actually an iPod Touch that I use as my camera. Most all of the photos in my blog have been taken with my iPod Touch.

This is my camera. It’s actually an iPod Touch with a camera built in. Most all of the photos in my blog have been taken with my iPod Touch.

One of my tools is my iPod Touch’s camera which I use to photograph my art. I set up a large piece of watercolor paper in the corner of my living room where there are both east and south facing windows. I put the subject of the photo on it and use my iPod Touch for my camera. This photo is of my one of my latest vessels. In this photo the top row of folded paper hasn’t been glued to the rest of the vessel. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that it’s not quite straight.

People don't usually think of cattails as tools, but they make great inexpensive pens.

People don’t usually think of cattails as tools, but they make great inexpensive pens.

Cattails make great inexpensive pens. I made around 25 of them and taught calligraphy to a 6th grade class once. The teacher had ink and paper, but no pens and no money to buy pens. So I went out and picked cattails. Using a knife, I cut the cattail to make an edged pen point. Put the cattail in ink, then write. By changing the width of the edge, you can make your “pens” write differently. It can be a fun change, even for professional calligraphers.

My book press might be small, but it's just perfect for my purposes.

My book press might be small, but it’s just perfect for my purposes.

When I’m making books, my book press comes in very handy. Before I had my book press I had to resort to hauling around heavy books and various weights. I even went so far as to purchase 50 pounds of lead shot which I stored in plastic vitamin jars (once the vitamins were gone, of course). They still come in handy when I am trying to weigh something down, like gluing the burl wood bases for my Earth Spirit Vessels. Though I don’t think I need need quite so many.

Which doesn't belong, yellow coat hanger, knitting needles or lead shot as one of my paper arts tools?

Which doesn’t belong, yellow coat hanger, knitting needles or lead shot as one of my paper arts tools?

I have a reputation, within my family, for using things as tools in ways they weren’t originally made for. The lead shot I used for weights is one example. Another was the knitting needles I used in bookbinding before I had my metal edged boards to make indentations, or creases, for the opening of hardback books. So when I put 25 yellow plastic clothes hangers on my Christmas Wish List one year, my parents wondered how I was planning on using them in bookbinding, and why they needed to be yellow. The fact that I actually wanted to use them for their intended purpose never occurred to them.

I have a friend who sometimes wants to borrow tools. He has learned to describe the tool in detail without naming it, because I may have it, but know it only as a bookbinding or paste paper tool.  Examples include a carpenters square, wood chisels, calipers and putty knives, which I have finally learned the official names for. There are many others which are simply “my bookbinding tools.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about some of the tools I use in my paper art.

Happy creating, Candy

6 responses to “My Favorite Tools

  1. Candy, you are amazing! Thank you so much for the tour of your studio.

  2. Virginia Cook

    Hi Candy I love the tool descriptions of those you use. We missed you the last of the calligraphy classes. Have you thought of teaching classes for the group? I know you are busy but I think you have a lot to offer.

    Thanks and hope to see you soon.

    Virginia

    • Thanks for your kind words, Virginia. I missed the last couple of classes due to re-injuring my wrist. I am resting it and now by not doing calligraphy or folding for a couple of weeks. I have taught classes in the past and will likely do so again, but not for a while. We should get together for tea or lunch some time. Call me.

  3. I enjoyed this post…. especially the bit about the yellow hangers. Love your inkwell. It’s nice to have this peak at your backstage.
    I hope your wrist heals up well and soon. Sorry to hear that you have to take a break from folding, but will be watching to see what you do instead.

    • So glad you liked the yellow coathangers. My family has gotten used to my creative uses for tools over the years. I have had a number of people who have liked postings here and on Facebook about my studio and behind the scenes kinds of things. I will try to post more in the future.

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