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The Tools We Can’t Live Without…

October 7, 2014 , In: General, Studio
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I’ve spent a lot of time in the last two months packing and unpacking things both at home and at my studio. In both my worlds, there are a few things I have to be able to put my hands on right away in order for things to keep clicking along.

In my studio, one of the things I keep close are my hammers. Metalwork is impossible without them. But in addition to my Fretz beauties, I use this Harbor Freight special almost every day.

It’s inexpensive and a real workhorse. I use it for whacking disc cutters and stamping on metals, and I really love the texture I get on metal when I use the ball pein side. Add in my new Green Lion Saw and a decent pair of cutters, and I’m good to go.

But favorites change – last year I wrote this post about tools and am delighted to say that I now own all three items that were on my wishlist back then! So I thought I’d ask some of my AJE teammates what their current favorites are.
Caroline relies on her Swann-Morton retractable knife, which has interchangeable blades for a variety of tasks. She says, “I use it for everything – cutting, trimming, carving, making
vinyl masks, holding things… you can get different blades for different jobs
and it’s really sharp.” (Unfortunately it looks like it’s only available from the UK supplier – if you find a source in the US, post it in the comments!)

Jenny relies on her jeweler’s saw – and says she’s still using the student version she got from Rio Grande ages ago. She loves it!
Jen doesn’t know the name of her favorite – she’s written about it before, and it was made for her by a friend’s husband. She calls it a shovel, and uses it to poke, pull, and move hot glass when she’s making her gorgeous glass beads.
Karen gave me a list so long it really deserves a post all its own! But when she’s throwing clay, she say she absolutely cannot do without this special wood paddle.
She also relies on an Exacto knife – not precisely like Caroline’s scalpel, but she uses it for many of the same things. The item on her list that most intrigues me, however, is the tool she uses for drawing: Fifty Three’s Pencil, a specialized stylus intended to be used with Fifty Three’s iPad app called Paper. Karen does some extraordinary work using this app and the Pencil, and it’s now officially on my wishlist.
So what are your current favorites? Are there things on your worktable that you just can’t live without? Things on your wishlist that you drool over late at night? Do share!
Until next time –

Francesca Watson

Francesca Watson got bit by the jewelry-making bug in 2008, when she and a few girlfriends took a simple stringing class at a local bead shop. Now, she is co-owner of The Makery, a working and teaching studio and gallery in the Texas Hill Country outside San Antonio where Francesca creates and teaches metals, wire and enameling full time, and indulges an emerging interest in mixed media. She and her husband Nick have been married since 1989 and have one grown daughter.
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