Wednesday, September 24, 2008

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Do you remember Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music singing this song? She had such a beautiful voice! Now that you've read this, will you be able to quit singing that song? I don't know. It's pumping through my brain as I write. Anyway, Julie sang about "rain drops on roses, and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens." These are really fine things to have and appreciate. Here in Minnesota those warm woolen mittens come in handy in the cold winter months. Now, to the person who melts glass, whether you be a beadmaker or a sculptor, you know we need tools! In my view, the more the merrier, however, we do tend to run out of room after a bit. So, "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, " I look at my tools, and I'm glad.
I looked up the definition of a tool at I use that site a lot! Here's how they defined tools.

(tōōl) Pronunciation Key
  1. A device, such as a saw, used to perform or facilitate manual or mechanical work.
    1. A machine, such as a lathe, used to cut and shape machine parts or other objects.
    2. The cutting part of such a machine.
    3. A bookbinder's hand stamp.
    4. A design impressed on a book cover by such a stamp.
  2. Something regarded as necessary to the carrying out of one's occupation or profession: Words are the tools of our trade.
  3. Something used in the performance of an operation; an instrument: "Modern democracies have the fiscal and monetary tools . . . to end chronic slumps and galloping inflations" (Paul A. Samuelson)
I decided that for the next few days, I will show you some of my favorite tools from my "studio." Now these are tools that I use every single day that I make beads. I don't exagerate
when I say that. Rather than turn this into a blog that will make you fall asleep, I am going to carry this blog on for a few days. Well, maybe you'll fall asleep anyway, but I'll have the pleasure of knowing you can't quit singing "These are a few of my favorite things."

The first thing I'm going to show you is my brass stump shaper. The edges are beginning to show signs of wear. Whenever I need to move glass, make a dent in hot glass, reshape some glass, I grab my stump shaper.

I have the small sized stump shaper. There are larger ones available, but, for now, this one suits my needs. The handle is a little bit loose, but I think some glue will keep it together.

I found the next tool at the local thrift store. I think I paid 25 cents for this wonderful tool. I use it whenever I need to crease hot glass, to move hot glass. I use it almost as many times a day as my stump shaper. You can see the burn marks from when this has been in the fire.

Many people use a razor tool for creases and indentations. I use my 25 cent spreader. I don't think I could do without it!

Now this unique tool has seen a lot of HOT glass. I use it everyday when I make my butterflies for Beads of Courage. I use it as a ruffling tool.
I don't know what it's actually called, but it's original purpose was for wire wrapping. By using it, you are supposed to be able to get consistent sized wraps. I've never used this tool in that way, but it has served me well when using it for hot glass.

Please let me introduce you to my mini mashers. I use these everyday for various things, including the butterflies I make for Beads of Courage. I used to own a regular size of mashers, but I guess I am just not strong enough to squeeze them to make them work. I finally gave up and gave them away. I could never mash anything with the big mashers, but these mini mashers are a dream come true for me. You can see the burn marks on the blades. They have had a lot of use, both in and out of the fire.

The last tool I'll show you today is my Obsidian Shaper.
All right, for those who know better, I know that's not the real name for this tool, but, even though I searched for the correct name, I couldn't find it. When used in the way it was intended, you can shape some of the most beautiful egg shaped barrel type beads you have ever seen. I use this wonderful graphite tool to help me round out beads. I have used it to make the egg shaped barrel type bead, but I think I need more PPP. The graphite helps to move the hot glass into a much rounder shape. I have found that this tool can work wonders with a lopsided hollow bead. I love it! Someday, I will use it for the purpose for which it was intended.

Now, for the novice bead maker who might be reading this blog. You can do without a lot of the tools I have. The tools, other than those you can make yourself or find in a thrift store, are very much worth the money you spend. I do not buy a tool until I am ABSOLUTELY convinced that I will use that tool on a regular basis. I have sold tools that I thought would work, but I found that I couldn't use them in the way they were supposed to be used, or I sold them because I didn't feel I used them frequently enough to warrant the expense of keeping them. With most tools you buy, you won't get your investment price back even if you sell them. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, that is a true statement. Newbies, treat your tools kindly, but use them well. You won't regret the investment if your beads improve. Look for sales. Look at thrift stores. Look for old tools being sold. Those are the best ways to find what you really need to make great beads or sculptures.


Deb said...

"...Brown paper packages tied up with string - these are a few of my favorite things" ;o) Go Julie!!
In my case that phrase is particularly true - because a brown paper package usually means a parcel from the US of A, & sometimes those parcels have tools in them!

To be honest I never thought I would use my Osibin shaper as much as I do - I can say without a lie I use it at every torch session & in fact it is used as much as my graphite marver.

I don't have a stump shaper - maybe I should put it on my Christmas list - along with a dog ;o)

angelinabeadalina said...

Tools. Ang drools. My favorites are the ones that get re-purposed and do what you need them to do! Oh, and those BBQ mashers I've got are right up there with high heels on my "spawn of the devil" list...I've never been able to mash them together, and I much prefer to just use my handheld marver to mash stuff against my piece of graphite.

Rita'z R-tistic Ramblez said...

Mallory, I love all the tools. I am sure once I light a torch i will wish i had them all!!!!