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Category Archives: Tools

tools: finger brush and texture plate

When Lorrene Davis sent along the link to this artist I popped over to her website to see what she was up to and look what I found!

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davis_fingerbrush

Davis, a metal clay Master Instructor, handcrafts and sells the Finger Brush – a tool she invented when she got tired of “Putting down the file, picking up the dry brush to save the precious silver dust.Then putting down the brush and picking up the file.Then repeating the whole process over and over again…… and over and over again.”

Cool beans. You can get one too. Right here.

marsha neal shards

Then a visit to Marsha Neal’s blog revealed a post about how she makes porcelain shards. I like the way Neal uses two wood texture plates to make the spiral ridges. I’m sure the texture boards can be used with materials other than porcelain. Maybe Miss Marsha will share her source for the serious looking texture mats? 

In the meantime, although you can’t buy the texture plates from her, you can purchase the porcelain shards.  This way please – booth #806.
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cormier & holmes introduce new work and the great white Sh.A.R.K.

We are dedicated to evolving polymer clay through creativity without boundaries, quality without compromise, design with intent, and innovation with integrity. And we want to have fun doing it. Dan Cormier & Tracy Holmes

Dan Cormier and Tracy Holmes have been busy sprucing up their website - adding new work, making cool videos, sharing exciting news about the Sh.A.R.K. family of tools (see below) and refining a mission statement (that’s it above, but read more here).

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cormier_whitepin2

Polar Pin, 2009, polymer clay
 

When Cormier has a new idea for a piece and discovers that it requires a tool he doesn’t have, he gets to work making the tool and the whole community benefits. He has been sharing his Cutting Edge line of precision tools with us since 2005 when he introduced the Peeler Collection, adding the Sh.A.R.K. in 2008 and now the Great White Sh.A.R.K. and more to come later this year.

The Sh.A.R.K. is “a magnetic ‘moveable wall,’ a sheet adjuster that turns your single-width pasta machine into a versatile ‘any width’ tool for sheeting, mixing, blending, and reducing polymer clay.” The original Sh.A.R.K. was made to fit the Atlas 150 pasta machine, but now everyone can enjoy the benefits of this little fin-that-could with the new Great White Sh.A.R.K., which fits the Amaco, Makins, and Atlas 180 machines.

cormier_shark

The video below is a comprehensive look at what the Sh.A.R.K can help you accomplish in your studio.  Beautifully executed, it takes the concept of a ‘brochure’ to a whole new level. Fun, informative and enticing.  I have a Sh.A.R.K. and while I love the way it adjusts the size of the sheet of clay, I admit that it wasn’t until I saw the video that I truly understood that I had a powerhouse sitting on my pasta machine!

Want your own Sh.A.R.K. ? You can purchase a Sh.A.R.K. Kit here.


For me, my tools and what I do with them have always been intertwined. It’s not about the latest gimmick or trick. It’s more fundamental, evolving organically out of some need I find through my dialogue with the clay. A new idea requires a tool I don’t have. So I make that tool. Once I have it, I can usually do the thing I wanted to do, which is great. But even better, it continues the conversation. Suddenly I see something I couldn’t see before, something I hadn’t even imagined. Like cresting a hill, I get a new view, a new perspective, a new take on my medium. Dan Cormier

Congratulations to this dynamic duo – it certainly does look like they are having fun (see mission statement above) while elevating the medium with their innovative tools, work and techniques – a win/win combination for all.
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michael sherrill: pottered plants

Self-taught ceramic artist Michael Sherrill is nourished by the natural beauty of the North Carolina mountainside that he calls home. Sherrill’s finely honed skills jump to life with this series of realistic plant sculptures – pictured here are details of ‘Beauty in a Hard Place’ and ‘Leaves in the River’.

You can see the full-sized work and others by the artist at accessCeramics, an online image resource of contemporary ceramics.

sherrill_beauty_in_a_hard_place

sherrill_detail

 

sherrill_leaves_in_the_river


For those of us who long to see the color and texture of plant life again after a long, bleak Winter, Sherrill’s flowers offer hope. More images at the Ferrin Gallery.

In addition to being an artist, sought-after lecturer and teacher, Sherrill is also the creator of Mudtools, a line of innovative clay tools for the ceramic artist.

sherrill_bumptool

During my years of working in clay, making pots and art, I have often had ideas that required working outside “normal” processes. I found that the available “clay tools” did not serve my ideas well. So, out of necessity I would make a tool, or modify an existing one to suit my needs. These new tools quickly became indispensable and were always the first thing to come out of my toolbox. Naturally, I would show these off at a workshop, and as a result I found that people were interested in buying them!

 

art supply tote from recyled yoga mats!

This is my new favorite way to carry a stash of art supplies for my creative play dates.

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olovesm_bag

olovesm_floor

The bucket bag is made from repurposed yoga mats and discarded scraps from the companies that make yoga mats.  I’m not sure that designer Merle O’Brien had art supplies in mind when she created this one, but the  minute I saw it I knew it would be perfect for the job.

olovesm_detail

The mat’s PVC material makes it easy to wipe down, the bag is deep enough to hold a variety of materials, there are mesh pockets all around the outside of the bag for more supplies and seeing the mat material is really a daily reminder that I must practice my yoga more often.  I love it!  Check out her story here and see some of the collection of bags here.  More designs are  sold in stores across the country.

yogamatbags

My bag is a marriage of three things that I love:  organized art supplies, yoga and recycling.  Can’t go wrong there – and besides, O’Brien is a Grateful Dead fan.  ‘Nuff said.
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text messages: new etsy supply shop

Yes, I was silly yesterday.  Teasing you with images and clues and giveaways.  All done in the spirit of fun.  All leading up to this announcement:

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I opened an Etsy shop!

textmessages.etsy.com offers text-related materials for artists and crafters.  I love words, text, quotes and use them often in my art so this was a natural progression for me.

I’m pushing polymer again!  This time through vintage brass.  Click the image!

 

At textmessages.etsy.com you will find vintage typewriter keys, brass letter stencils, vintage vocabulary cards, text collage sheet downloads, letterpress wood type and a variety of other text-related supplies to help you add another layer of meaning to your art. It is still evolving and I have lots more to list so visit often! You can access the site through the links in the sidebar on the right or the links in this post.

Vintage French vocabulary cards.  Click the image!

 

Come back this afternoon for my regular post featuring smashing good art and tomorrow morning I’ll be announcing a BIG BOOK giveaway to celebrate textmessages.etsy.com. Stay tuned!
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