By: Anke Humpert
I love tools, and I love textures. So talking about my favorite tools will naturally also be a lot about textures.
The first set of tools I would like to show you if the one above. It´s a set of dentist tools that I found at my local flea market. They have all kinds of hooks and tiny curves so you can reach every nook and cranny (originally) in teeth, but I use them for working with clay obviously. Since I love to have lots of textures in my work they are fantastic if something gets stuck in or need some correction in the not so easy to reach places. I have covered all the handles of my dentist tools with various techniques, which is great for two reasons. First I always know my own tools and if they go wandering I still know they are mine. And second they also serve as demo pieces when I am teaching. Sometimes I am talking about a certain technique and I always have an example to show with me.
These tools are hand made as you can see. The handles are made with polymer clay and fit my hands perfectly. They have a number of tips that I use for textures. From left to right: the first one has a thin needle tip. I use it when my regular needle tool is not fine enough. I can make tiny hole textures with it. The second one has a metal loop tip, that makes little crescent indentations. You can also use it to carve round channels out of fresh clay. The purple one in the middle has a triangular tip, that is made with an extruder. It makes tiny triangular impressions in fresh clay. The beige one is similar to the purple one, just with two triangular tips. Sometimes it´s better to have a fixed distance to the next impression and I use this tool when I want to make a whole row of tiny triangles. The last one has a nick name. I call it the bear claw. It was made from an old electronic component and has four metal nails. It´s great to have a whole row of points or lines or even hatches!
This next tool is originally a wooden stamp used for printing on fabric. I found it in a shop. It is quite small and does not look like much at first. But it actually is one of my most used stamps ( and I do have quite a few stamps!). It makes a really nice shaped impression in the clay and can be used for a number of techniques: mica shift, mokume gane, …. and so much more. This little stamp makes a regular appearance in my work.
This is another set of hand made tools. Again I used my extruder to make them, well the handles at least: I extruded strands of clay in three different sizes and added little balls of clay on one side. With one of my fine needle tools I made the impressions to have a kind of star shape in that top part. Then I cured them all. Now I have a set of 3 different sizes of little starts. They come in handy for a lot of uses! They are very small so ideal to fix up things like the rim at a piece of jewelry.
And finally I would like to show you some found texture tools that I really love! Two of them are pieces I found in nature and two are artificial pieces. The long rod is from a tree. I found that piece while traveling and I liked the texture so I took it home. The brown round one is a nut with a highly textured shell. I found it in my home town from some exotic street trees. The round white piece is a plastic structure that was originally from a coffee machine, I believe. And the last piece is a piece of sequin waste. It makes a nice texture with little round shapes. I have been using it for years.
I always keep my eyes open for unusual and original textures and shapes. There are so many interesting things you can re-purpose. I am always very exited when I find a new favorite one!