Tuesday, September 1, 2009


No, not a post about people who flick cigarette butts out of car windows. A post about the tools of my trade.

Turning bottles the other day, swapping from one tool to another (and then another and another, as is my way when I turn) I got to thinking about my relationship with certain objects in my studio.

I am a maker and admirer of objects, yet I place value in keeping consumption to a minimum. I am desirous of things, but once I own something I want it to be used often, appreciated widely and last forever. If I fall victim to a misguided whim, and find myself in possession of a 'what was I thinking' object, then I like to spend time finding it a more appreciative home.

I digress. Back to tools. It may sound cliche, but the objects I reach for intuitively as I create do become an extension of my body and thoughts. They are mostly old, warn and not particularly pretty and are so familiar that I often don't notice that I have picked one up. It's when I don't immediately find what I need that I really appreciate it's importance and it's upsetting when something goes missing for good.

No one likes to admit to placing importance in objects. But when you recognise in them a means of personal expression their importance becomes somewhat raised.

So I'm in a mood to pay tribute to those objects in my studio to which I feel indebted. For the next few posts (or more - I'll see how I go) I intend to provide a snapshot of an object or two that stays near to my heart and hands and perhaps a brief description of its personal value. Folly perhaps, I wouldn't run back in to a burning building to save them, but these 'things' form part of my daily existence and therefore deserve some recognition. So to begin...


A few turning tools.

I admit to owning more but these are my regulars. I like these 'baby' turning tools for porcelain as they are less likely to tear the clay and stay sharp. Although they do wear through quickly. I use an assortment of metal kidneys during throwing and turning, sometimes using the edge to remove clay but also laying a kidney flat against a rotating form, playing with the slip to create a smooth surface. And a metal arrowhead for an ever so slightly undercut base to give an object a little lift and encourage it to cast a subtle shadow.


Anna said...

Love your blog.
Are the small turning tools to the left of the photo hand made or commercially produced?

Sophie Milne said...

Hi Anna
Thanks. They are commercially produced those ones. Would love to have the time and technical ability to make my own tools but with a pottery supply store just outside my studio door it's all a bit convenient...