When asked, “What is your favorite tool?” many clayers answer “my hands” or “my creative mind.” Not me. My answer is “rulers.” I collect them in all shapes, sizes and materials.

Of course, they’re great for measuring and as a straightedge for cutting. But my favorite use is in color mixing. I make sheets on the thickest pasta machine setting, then use a small metal ruler to cut lots of squares. (No worries if the squares aren’t perfect – as long as the same ruler is used for the cross-cuts, the square area will be the same.) Then I can mix a small quantity of color, tracking the number of squares added with hash marks on a notepad. If the color doesn’t work out the way I hoped it would, I haven’t wasted much clay and it’s easy to start again.

I make mostly small jewelry projects and rarely make more than two of the same thing, so I don’t need to mix large quantities of colors, keep a color chart, or make key rings full of chips. The color-mixing process is my warmup for a creative clay session. I like the idea that every project could have one or more unique colors in it.

Just a few of the rulers in my house. The white one I’ve had since grade school. The large wood one was my husband’s father’s – his initials “W.B.” are on the front.

Just a few of the rulers in my house. The white one I’ve had since grade school. The large wood one was my husband’s father’s – his initials “W.B.” are on the front.