[Clayart] making hand tools, story

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Mon Jan 23 01:52:54 UTC 2023

> On Jan 21, 2023, at 8:15 AM, mel jacobson <melpots at mail.com> wrote:
> ...my song is "make your own tools".  First buy a used 1 inch belt sander.
> A new one is not expensive…

First semester students have a tool assignment: Make or modify three tools. It may not need skill, just insight, and a sense of what is possible. I start them off by pointing out the classroom scoring tools: cut-up plastic combs form the dollar store, and ribs: cut-up old gift cards. When we had to go into lockdown during Covid, they all had to work with what they had at home…and they did! They traded tips on Discord every day. 

A very wealthy student (drove a new Lincoln Navigator to class) could have bought any tool she wanted, but one day, she came into class bouncing with excitement, carrying an empty soup can: “Look! I can use the bottom to stamp circle patterns, the top to cut circles out, the side to roll ridge patterns, use the lid as a scraping rib, and the pull tab makes a pattern too!”  (An ‘A’ for the assignment, with no fabrication at all.)  The assignment isn’t about the tool; it’s about learning to think differently. It’s all about thinking about how things can be used, and the reverse: start with intent, and seek a thing that will make it happen. 

Often, we end up making the things our tools allow for, rather than the things we want to make, without ever realizing it. My grandfather got rich as an inventor…nothing high-profile and famous, but things that almost everybody owns anyway without even knowing it. And as best I can tell, he never owned an unmodified tool. Don’t let someone else’s idea of the ‘best tools' dictate the terms of your own practice.


More information about the Clayart mailing list