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a plea for tools (longish)

updated tue 15 aug 00


Lori Leary on mon 14 aug 00

There have been some great suggestions from everyone about making tools
on the cheap. Most of the tools in my studio are handmade. To give
credit where it is due, I have learned so much from mel, Paul L.,
Russel, Dannon, Doug Gray and Vince. Vince has a great handout from
NCECA which he posted last spring. It should be on the
archives...sometime in March, I think.

Some suggestions that I don't recall seeing so far:

CUT OFF WIRES: Use bisqued teardrop shaped wads of clay with a hole at
the smaller end. Tie (or use a crimping tool..fancy) leader fishing
line to make cutoff wires of an appropriate length. Sounds like you
will be mostly hand building, but for throwing, I also use very thin
fishing line attached to a bobber to use for cutting uneven rims of very
delicate and thin pots. Attach a short length of cotton triple braided
fishing line to a stick for cutting pots off the hump. (the name escapes
me, and I am not at the studio) A roll of this costs about US$12.00 and
lasts forever.

RIBS: If you have access to a wood shop, cut out the shapes you want on
a scroll, jig, or bandsaw from a thin piece of hardwood or bamboo.
I love the plastic motel keycards, they are very flexible and can be cut
to different shapes.

TEXTURE TOOLS: Anything goes! shells, combs, toy truck wheels, dollar
store massage geegaws, commercial stamps, stamps carved from dowels and
odd pieces of wood. (You can do this with just an old hacksaw blade,
needle tool, An exacto knife and a jeweler's saw is nice,
but the inexpensive small woodcut and linocut tools are fabulous.
HINT: use a vise to hold the stamp you are making.) Roll out a small
half inch sheet of fine grained clay, make multiple deepish impressions
of an interesting object or stamp. Bisque, and use to make sprigs. Send
the kids home with some clay in a plastic bag, and have them make
impressions of interesting objects. Make roulettes....Vince did a post
on this a while back. They are enjoyable to make and use.

MOLDS: Old woks, bisqued bowls, kitchen bowls. Use Dannon's technique
to make molds. For an Empty Bowls type of benefit for Habitat, I threw
dozens of bowl molds. I invited the public to my studio once a week for
a month to handbuild Dannonbowls out of green ware molds. (make them
sorta thick) Afterwards I just recycled the clay. Use coils to make
square sushi dishes(idea from Lee Love). It is very exciting to them
when they are able to take home matching dishes.

BRUSHES: I have also gotten a great deal of satisfaction from making
deer tail and moose hair brushes....I have even made some fancy ones
with raku and pit fired handles. I decorate them with colored wire and
beads. It feels good to use something nice for glazing or painting. (I
call them my "dress" brushes.) I have lots of deer tails and some moose
mane I would be happy to share with you. I ordered mine from Moscow
Hide (They are on the web).

You probably already know most or all of this, but maybe you can glean
a few tips.

Good Luck!
Lori Leary, T.D.W.
(Tool Doctor Wannabee)
deliciously cool Pawleys Island, S.C.