8/10/2010

Tuesday tools of trade

Today we are traveling to Texas in the US to meet Paula from PaulaArt to learn about the tools she uses to create her amazing and unique art which is made (mostly) from found and recycled objects.

Paula, the inspiration for this 'Tuesday tools of trade' series came about while I was watching the Youtube video you posted on your blog recently. In the video I watched you use a number of different tools in your creative process. Can you take us through these tools?

The first tool I am using in the video is a chop saw. It has a large blade for cutting metal, ie the pipes I use to make my vases. That particular pipe in the video is the thickest yet, easily 1/2 inch which is really hard to cut and I have to take my time going slowly or else the saw slows to a stop. One day I hope to get a bigger machine so I can cut anything!

The next tool is my old wobbly grinding wheel. This tool was made by a little old man in Vermont; I bought it off him at a garage sale 5 years ago and it has been a faithful companion ever since. This machine is noisy and loud, has no 'on' button (you plug it in and it GOES!) and often wants to jump off the table but I love it and prefer it over the new sleek models you could buy at home depot. It has two wheels: a brush that deburrs and smooths rough surfaces as well as removes some rust and paint. The second wheel is a grinding/cut off wheel that I use to ground down really rough metal. After cutting a pipe there is a lot of sharp slivers of metal I need to remove, I also use this to clean off the top layer of steel if I want to cold weld something as it is more efficient than the wire brush.

When my materials are all clean and smooth I then use a dremel tool to make small 'cuts' into the metal that I need to cold weld. Those cuts ensure that the two pieces of metal 'bond' properly. Dremel tools are amazing! High speed (even faster than my hand drill) and easy to use, they come with an endless array of accessories to use on almost any project you can imagine! I mostly use this tool to make cuts or do more refined grinding when the other grinding tool is just too big to get in there. As for my vases, the only other tool that I use are my hand shears which I use to cut up metal to fit the bottoms of the vases.


My list of other tools include: a table saw, jig saw, miter saw, circular saw, drill press, hand drill and a hand grinder.

Can you give us some sort of indication on the monetary outlay you've had in setting yourself up with the equipment that you have?

I try to buy used tools at garages sales or ebay. I think to date I have only spent $1400 or so on all of these tools. I say only because I know when I get more metal working tools I could be spending thousands!

Maintenance of your tools must be ongoing. What special care and/or cleaning is required to keep them in optimal working order?

So far the maintenance is minimal if non-existent. I honestly don't know what I'm supposed to do to my old/used machines other than occasionally cleaning bushings or oiling them and that's something my boyfriend does when a tool isn't working properly. The most expensive part is the buying of blades/drill bits and accessories. Blades can cost anywhere from $7 to $20 as well as drill bits; that is what I end up going through the most.

What sort of safety gear is necessary when using your equipment?

I always wear goggles. ALWAYS. I've had specks fly in my eye and that is the last thing I want to happen. I even wear goggles when I paint, you never know what is going to splatter or where it is going to go. Leather gloves for cutting, latex for painting. Face mask when cutting big pieces of metal, ear plugs and mouth mask to protect from noise and fumes. I should probably wear better body protection when cutting stuff but it's hot and I still wear shorts and t-shirts.


Photo of Paula when she lived in Vermont working on art in the garage.

If you could own any kind of tools that aren't related to your own craft what would they be?

mmmmm. Not related to my craft? I have no idea Kerrin. Art is pretty much my day in and day out so everything feels related to that. I feel unimaginative all of a sudden!



19 comments:

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Hooray, Paula!!! I so enjoyed hearing how you work and with what tools you create your finished pieces. That picture of you is radical, too! I am always on the lookout what you'll be listing in your shop, and ever since I've seen that video of you polishing up the rough edges of your vases, I view them with new eyes--so much work and thought that goes into them--and it shows! Loved reading about you--thank you!

KnotOriginal said...

What a treat getting a behind the scenes view into your creative process, Paula!!! Seeing the photos of the flying sparks and you in the goggles have left the soundtrack from Flashdance playing in my head. I just showed my husband this and he has serious tool envy...:)

paula said...

hahaha i'm relieved you guys dont think i'm crazy with that winter get up. (glad i'm in texas now and its warm!). you both made me smile with your words, i'm glad you enjoyed and thanks kerrin for a fun tool interview!

CMC said...

So much fun to get a peek into your process, Paula. Loved it. Great interview.

ArtPropelled said...

Well I've learned something today! I also wear a similar get up when cutting my wood etc because of the huge quantity of sawdust swirling around and up until today I've steamed up my glasses every few seconds but now I see your nose is not covered with the mask Paula!An AHA moment! Breath through the mouth and leave the nose uncovered.

Your vases and the photographs you take just keep getting better. I love the pieces in this photo mosaic.

paula said...

robyn, i keep that up normally but in the winter in vermont everything would get so steamed up i couldn't see! those are skiing goggles too hahaha

glazedOver said...

It seems to me that a lot of people don't realize how much goes into all of these handmade items we make. For you Paula, and a lot of us, one must count equipment, time, physical strength and enough space so that the studio doesn't burn down. Looking at the final photo of the finished product can be quite misleading. Thanks for the fascinating walk through your tool box!

Kendra Zvonik said...

Awesome post! Thanks!

betsy bensen said...

We use a lot of similar tools paula, except for maybe the chop saw! This is great, and I always wondered what you looked like, now I know! :)

Michelle said...

Thanks so much you two for sharing this!!!
So sorry I missed that youtube Video...
So lucky I did not miss this interview :D
I am very impressed Paula of how you work and
Jill is right, many have no Idea how much work is behind a Handmade!
Cool Photo!!!

StudioZen said...

What an great post! I love getting a peek into other's artistic processes. Thanks for sharing your story Paula. And BTW, cool Gordini goggles! Let's go skiing next time you're in the Northwest!

paula said...

betsy if you can tell what i look like from that YOU are incredible!
i know what you mean jill...even i am sometimes guilty of that mentality. it looks so simple sometimes and that is usually very misleading. haha leah, i'm not a skier at all, snow shoeing yes :)

Waterrose said...

Great interview. We have many of those same tools in our garage, but I've never used them. There are times I watch my husband make something and think....hmmmm....what if...

Sigmosaics said...

Yay Paula! It was such a pleasure 'interviewing' you ... I always admired your work and to know how it all fit's together is just awesome. There's a lot of work involved .... I'm loving your tools, my favorite though HAS to be your wobbly grinder - it's the coolest!!

WolfeWoman said...

This is such a treat! I've been in awe of Paula's work, and seeing the skill that goes into it gives me even greater admiration.
Lee/OneClayBead

paula said...

waterrose, once you try it you might be hooked, tools are FUN.
hahah...that grinder should be its own installation piece in a snobby NYC gallery :) thanks kerrin, I loved working with you on this.
thanks lee!

ingermaaike said...

Ah I love those tools and even more what you do with them. Yet an other skill I would love to learn! Working with metal..

Victoria Webb said...

What a great interview! Thanks to Kerrin and Paula for the interesting look into her work... I have newfound respect for the process - those tools look formidable.

The end result is certainly worth it - love your unusual and eclectic pieces!

kathiroussel said...

i love seeing the sparks flying paula-- i see so much of you in them-- your passion and devotion to your work. it's great to see that you've made great use of used machinery and tools-- a smart way to go. and i'm loving all of the color you've added to your new work and photos-- all of it inspired--
great stuff kerrin and paula!