Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm such a Tool

If you are at all like me, then you have probably read (a lot of) magazines in which a celebrity or artist is interviewed and asked "What are your favorite fill-in-the-blanks?" Because I'm a girl with 30 lists going at all times, I have actually thought about my favorite tools, and fantasized about someone asking me that very question!

And, like Lisa, I'm going to go beyond the things that I would die without: the flexshaft, torch, hammers & files. I'm going to show you the quirky things that I've come to depend on--my secret weapons.

Catalogs are little slices of heaven to me, and nothing in the world compares to the Rio Grande Tools & Equipment catalog. Among the 3,467 things I stickied as desirous in the early days of metalsmithing, were these 3M radial polishing discs, and AdvantEdge rubber polishing wheels. They're sorta pricey little buggers, but I am in total and complete love with the whole spankin' line. And because I'm me, I have every single variety.

This is a relic from my scrapbooking days. A clear ruler that I use every single day. My children know that a painful death awaits them should they touch this ruler. Ever. It is amazing for marking on metal--the scribe slides along the edge beautifully.

Ultimate metalhead fashion accessory. I rock this mask every day in the studio and it leaves a deep crease across the bridge of my nose as a token of its affection--but I look DAMN fine in it. Plus, little boys can make nice Darth Vader sounds with it. (Darth Vader in pink drag). Much less violent coughing since this baby came home!

Yep. Uh huh. Sham wowza. One of those brilliant purchases (embarrassing, however) that has revolutionized my studio experience. Unfortunately you have to buy about a twelve years' supply at once, but I cut the sheets into quarters, lay one by my metallicious sink and tip out my little pretties onto it from the rinsing cup. It's true--they absorb a lot, are lint-free and disposable!

And finally--sticker paper. I have commitment issues in general, but not to intricate patterns for my saw (nor to my husband; hi Kevin!). However, my hands sweat profusely (ask anyone I've ever dated), and ink on metal smears almost instantly. These 40 year old eyes can't see scribe marks well enough on detailed designs, so I draw and print onto sticker paper. The ability to re-size images on my printer before finally printing on the label is phenomenal. Stickers hold onto clean metal through an hour or two of seriously ornate cutting, and peel off easily. Voila!

Tools are the best. They present a challenge, and when mastered, are so friendly. I can feel competent on the worst of days when I pick up my favorite ball peen hammer and remember the good things I've done with it.



  1. Nose creases and sweaty palms you say? oooooh BABY!! Laughed way to hard at this post, and I will second you on those rubber polishing wheels, they really are wonderfulness incarnate. Will be buying Shamwow and stickers first thing tomorrow because they will solve two of the biggest problems I'm facing right now: waterspots and the way I'm totally sick of trying to tape paper onto metal. You're so pretty!!

  2. That Rio catalog is temptation paradise for sure! Thank you so much for sharing your cool tools, which I will be buying as soon as the wallet and bank account permit.

  3. You know, I was just looking through my jewelry bible, the Rio Catalog, and I saw those swirly looking rubber wheels and I thought maybe I might need some! I love the rest of my rubber wheels (can you believe how expensive they are?). Are they good for really tight spots? That's what they look like they'd be good for. Sticker paper...hmmmm...I never thought of that. We used to use tracing paper and rubber cement in school, and I still use permanent markers, but that's ingenious! Great article!

  4. My wish list keeps getting bigger and bigger. Great post! Thank you!

  5. Loved the post. My gas mask leaves crease marks, too, but yours is so much prettier! I use a glue stick to glue my paper patterns to the metal. The sticker paper would be a lot neater!

  6. And I thought my idea of paper with glue stick for designs was good but sticker paper is ingenious. I will be buying that soon.
    I also love the 3M polishing disc's.
    Thanks for this post!

  7. Thanks for the great article! I do love the idea of the sticker paper, and will be using that in my next sawing adventure!

  8. Shams are a great idea. Thanks for sharing the tool list.

  9. This was very useful and funny :)
    The sticker paper is great!! :D

    I never bought rubber disc! gotta get some of them!

  10. What a great post! I especially love the sticky paper idea. I've been using tracing paper with a glue stick, and it works ok for about 1/2 of the piece. Must give this a try!

  11. Great article...I didn't realize you could buy the 3M discs from Rio. Off to check my catalog...

  12. So, you have those colorful collections of polishing wheels and discs? Cool! It’s a good thing that you have varieties of wheels and discs because you’ll have options as to which will give you a better output for crafting your jewelry.

    >Jeanette West