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Scrounging for materials and tools is a central part of my studio practice, and there are great bargains to be found! In the past year, I’ve purchased a nice amount of silver for about $2/ounce, received several pounds of enamels, and refurbished hundreds of rusty chasing tools. Luck has a lot of influence, and the generosity of donors cannot be understated, but there are also strategies involved to help make oneself luckier as well. This blog will also promote recycling and reusing by encouraging artists to donate or sell excess tools or materials to others who need it.
Latest Activity: Jan 4
Summer has reached its peak, bringing a bounty of natural source material. In the warm evenings, our cat, Babu, who is a natural scrounger is often be heard munching on something crunchily delectable---snacks of lacewings, moths, and roaches that somehow make it inside the house. We let her enjoy the tasty lacewings and juicy moths, but the stiff parts of roaches give her indigestion. So, I steal from her shamelessly. A quick dissection yields a pair of truly beautiful wings. The dog has proven less useful. This morning, I saw a mangled grasshopper plastered to the front of my car. Although most of it was badly mutilated, but it did have a…Continue
Making your own tools will cut costs and give you absolute control over quality. Many metalsmiths make their own chasing tools for personal use and/or to sell, and these tools tend to be much higher in quality than mass produced tools. They're easier to use, leave a better mark, and are aesthetically pleasing. While I can usually nudge my college students into making their own chasing and repousse tools, some are more reluctant to delve into the world of tool-making. This is understandable. Making these tools is not necessarily a quick process, and it takes practice to make a great tool, so if you are scrounging for time more than money, tool-making may not be your cup of tea. Tim Lazure, who teaches workshops on tool making taught me how…Continue
When Jeanne Jerousek-McAnich arrived in Tucson in 1976 after receiving her MFA in metals from Kent State University, she transformed Tucson into an artist’s haven. She initially taught design and drawing classes at Pima Community College, but (in a rare and brilliant move) the City of Tucson soon hired her on full-time in the Parks and Recreation Department to teach community classes in jewelry, lapidary, drawing, and painting as well as some youth classes. Given free reign to create new classes and a posh annual budget of $1000-$3000, she soon began purchasing kilns and equipment to teach classes in enameling and casting and expanding the reach of arts programs for Tucson residents. Under Jeanne’s initiative, Tucson become a mecca for visiting artist workshops. Jeanne recalls, “I found out that Eleanor Moty - one of my favorite artists - was a sabbatical replacement at the University of AZ. I went down there starstruck,…Continue
In 2007, Francesca Vitali explored metals for the first time when she took the Necklaces class taught by Tom McCarthy at the Penland School of Crafts. She’d never touched a saw blade before, but had been creating intricate paper jewelry forms and was looking for a way to incorporate metal. Francesca, a biochemist, spotted an old plastic pipette tip box on my bench that I used to hold my needle files and became very animated, exclaiming, “This, I understand!” Undeterred by the many strange tools around her, she knew exactly what she wanted to learn. So, when she told Tom that she wanted to make a small box, he guided her step by step and by the end of the first week, she created a perfect rectangular silver box with precise 90 degree corners to cradle one of her paper forms. …Continue
Greg Corman is a Tucson-based sculptor who works primarily with reclaimed wood, steel, and found objects to create functional bee habitats, benches, tables, and vessels. His bee habitat sculptures don't attract the common honeybee, which by the way, is a non-native species introduced from Europe and Africa. Instead, they support solitary bees, important pollinators that are non-aggressive and nest in holes in the ground or in dead trees. There are an estimated 1000-1200 species of native bees in Arizona alone, but many have been hit hard by habitat loss, competition from non-native species, pesticides, etc..Photo: Green Cosmos Bee HabitatSo how does this work? Using reclaimed wood, metal, and paint from a variety of sources, Corman cuts,…Continue
When I arrived in the studio at East Carolina University to start the M.F.A. program in Metal Design, I carried my little blue tacklebox (the same one I’ve been hauling around since 1997 and still use today). I owned a saw frame, a half-round file, a pair of ACE Hardware pliers, a hand-crank drill, a ball pein hammer, and a few scraps of copper. Everything fit into my tackle box. I thought I owned a lot of tools; after all, I started learning metalwork from Dindy Reich through the Colorado College Arts and Crafts Program where everything, even saw blades and silver bezel wire, was available for students, and there was really no need to purchase personal tools. So, I was absolutely amazed by the piles of tools that even the E.C.U. undergrads had amassed at…Continue