My Favorite Tool - Crissa Hewitt

My studio is full of tools. Some might say too many, but it is nice to have choices. Most I have purchased, but many are from the studios of friends who had to stop working or who, sadly, have died. There is loss in the reasons for my acquisition, but there is something special about working with tools that have been lovingly used by others. In a couple of instances, people have given me tools and those gifts have been special indeed.

I could talk about my love of filing or hammering or sawing, but my hands, eyes, and ears are the essential tools.  This simple fact has been brought home to me more than once. This year I have been dealing with a pinched nerve in my right hand. Fortunately, it is getting better, but the processes of learning to use it less and how to use it more effectively have been challenging, both emotionally and physically.  

In 1982, I had cataract surgery in both eyes.  Wow was it a shock to see the globs of solder and many scratch marks on my work.  All is well, but I certainly do not take my sight for granted. 

So what’s wrong with my ears?  Not much except just the diminished hearing that seems to come for many with age. When am I using sound as an indicator that I am working the tools effectively?  More often than one might realize.  When I am sawing, I can tell when I am nearing the end of the cut or if the blade is dull. When I am filing, I can tell if the file is cutting efficiently. From across the room, I can also tell if someone else is correctly pushing the file or incorrectly pulling it or scrubbing it back and forth.  I can hear the hiss of the torch and know if the heat is too low or too high. (This can also be done from across the room which allows me to give direction to a student who is soldering.) When using a hammer, I can learn if I am making proper contact with the metal because just pounding away is sure to cause major damage to the piece that I am shaping.

This is the Open Studio Art Tour after all, so even if silver, copper, brass and wood are not your “thing”, you might enjoy seeing the variety of tools that make the forming of the materials possible. You might even want to explore a bit of hands on activity while you are here.

Look forward to your visit.