PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
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 their benches.
I came in the studio the next morning delighted to see several beautifully used tools laying on my bench-generous gifts from Bob Ebendorf- a pair of wire cutters, a few pliers, a hammer, some cross-lock tweezers. I still use these tools daily, and they are some of my favorites. Through his gesture of kindness, he literally doubled the number of tools I owned. Since then, I’ve amassed quite a few more tools and materials, but most are things I’ve found second-hand and significantly discounted.
There are really two reasons why I am creating this blog. First, I am thrifty to a fault and love the adrenaline rush that comes with finding bargains. I know I’m not alone here. Second, I am a metalsmith with a background in conservation biology. Having worked for a conservation land trust and as a botanist, I am sensitive to the ecological ramifications of human activity. I hope to use this blog to encourage reusing and recycling wherever possible and to offer tips for others to find their own bargains.
I have been a collector of valuable things since childhood. Constantly scanning the ground for coins or fingering the change wells of public pay phones, cigarette machines, arcade games, and even slot machines, I scrapped and saved every penny, nickel, and dime, enjoying their metallic feel. But mostly, I enjoyed the fact that the piles of change I collected were FREE!
In college, I collected hundreds of plant specimens for botanical research and now, in my spare time, I collect millipedes for my husband's research. The process of searching for an elusive and often tiny organism starts with knowing something about it, such as its habitat or growth form, and then using your eyes as sifters to weed out the common things. And if you’re lucky, voila! There it is, ready for the taking (for scientific and conservation purposes, of course).
The process of finding great deals on tools or materials is more or less the same. Know what to look for, understand its value, know where you might find it, and you’re halfway there. Old tools have a rich history, colored with years of naturally developing patina. And, they are often better made than the tools manufactured today.
In the next post, we’ll discuss Craigslist, one of the most fruitful gateways for bargain hunting.
I'm a tool fanatic too. Although I don't have room in my teensy studiolo for many of the "toy's" I'd like to accumulate. I also stalk a couple of local swap meets for tools, found objects and other goodies to stock my bench. This is a great idea for a blog/group Charity. Looking forward to the interaction.
Love your story about how you double the tools you owned because of the generosity of Bob Ebendorf. He has a very kind spirit.
I also love tools but I do not have as much as I wish I can have. I am always in the look out for good deals and I know little by little I will have the tools I need.
Yes, Bob is wonderful in so many ways. Recently, I've been buying used tools in lots, which makes for some redundancy. To prevent these from disappearing in the black hole (which is rapidly becoming my studio), I'm trying to 'be like Bob' and pass them on to those who will use them.
I am such a tool junky and always looking for a bargain. A large part of my tool collection are used tools. Any info on new ideas how to aquire more tools sounds good to me. I'm not above dumpster diving, it's just gotten a lot harder to do since my left leg was paralyzed, but I've got some good friends & a couple of special nephews who love to do my bidding. Keep the ideas coming.
Anyone want 100 tin Prince Albert tobacco cans? I already dumped 150 on Bobby Hanson.