Artists’ Tools

What are your go-to tools when designing or creating?  Rosaline Darby has collected ideas from all our artists and presents us with some exciting images and stories from a range of contemporary tools to some which may take you down memory lane.  Written in a four-part series, you’ll be keen to continue to the next stage.

Part 1

We all use a wide variety of different tools in our work, from state-of-the-art, specialist and purpose-made ones to those adapted from other uses, cherished items inherited or passed down, tools improvised from everyday and found objects, and those that are home-made for a specific task.

In this first part we will be sharing some of our specialist tools.

Maggie Barber’s beautiful, detailed and intricate quilting is produced using this wonderful long arm Bernina sewing machine.

Whatever form of textile work Joan Bingley does, it is always some form of needlework. And that means the type of tool she uses most is a needle.

There are specialist sewing needles for every use: upholstery or sail for heavy fabrics, curved for awkward corners, blunt ends for canvas and fine points for darning. There are a vast range of needles differing in point style and size, eye shape and size, length and diameter, including degree of taper. Joan sometimes resorts to the stereo microscope to check markings, especially to see sizes for the sewing machine, and how sharp or worn the needle points are. Worn or damaged points can spoil the fabric.

Some years ago, Joan was given a set of needles in a case by the then Master of the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers, a livery company in the City of London. This is so attractive and her existing stocks so plentiful, she has not yet brought herself to use one of this set of needles. She just enjoys looking at them.

What Linda Walsh uses most are her digital camera and computer. Loving to travel, she takes hundreds of photographs around the world, changes them on the screen, transfers them to fabric and adds stitch.

Rosaline Darby’s work almost always incorporates printmaking of one sort or another, which requires a range of different specialist tools including silk screens and equipment for carving and printing lino and wood.

Lynne Butt also enjoys printmaking, and is mainly focussed on that as well as drawing and collage at the moment. On the Gelli plate is her very beautiful walnut drawing stick and a pallet knife which is useful for mixing paints and printing inks. It is also great for getting glue under those annoying bits of papers that don’t stick down entirely. Also her bone folder that she hadn’t used much until recently when she discovered how useful it is for smoothing collaged papers and a roller/ brayer essential for printing.

Samantha Jones was lent a new tool recently, a Japanese Screw Punch. Needless to say, she thinks she may have to purchase one, although a bank loan may be needed first!!

….. to be continued ……