A couple weeks back, my friend Anya sent me a birthday package of several catalogs from the Tate, as well as a picture that she cut out from a Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing. She liked the way the objects were arranged, and it reminded her of how I arrange my objects. It gave me an idea for this post, a list of my favorite studio tools.
1. My medium jar. I’ve had this jar since I was an undergrad, and it’s perfect. It’s an olive oil container, and I bought it precisely so I could use it for this purpose. I knew it would patina with oil and paint over time in a beautiful way, and it has not disappointed.
2. Corner brace. For years, I made my stretchers without these, and now I feel like a fool for doing so. When I make my stretchers, I use these to align the pieces of wood in a 90 degree angle. These are the most handy devices.
3. Mallet. A mallet is a lot more handy than a hammer, which can leave marks on wood. Too, it makes closing paint cans a breeze. It’s also just fun to own a mallet.
4. Small tape measure. I have several tape measures, but I use this one the most. It’s small and thin, and fits into tight spots when needed. And it’s bright green, so I can see it in dimly lit spaces.
5. Corner square. I use this all the time. I have a plethora of T squares and levels, but this one is my must-use whenever I need to double check a right angle. Which is a lot.
6. Left-handed scissors. I am ambidextrous, but with some things I can only use a specific hand. Cutting is one of those things, and so all of my scissors are left-handed. This is my oldest pair, a pair I most likely swiped from my mom 20 years ago. They have dulled over the years, but are still strong enough to cut wire, cardboard, and plastic. I would be lost without these scissors.
7. Tube squeezer. I used to scoff at this tool, but now I love it. With these, I can get every last drop of paint out of the tube. Misia uses this squeezer all the time for lotion and toothpaste, so I often have to search for it in the bathroom or her office.
8. Can opener. The paint stores used to give these out when you bought a gallon of paint, but they don’t really do that anymore. The ones that do give out a really flimsy version of this opener, but this is an old school model. It’s sturdy and has small teeth that allow you to open a bottle of beer. It’s the best bottle opener in the house.
9. X-Acto knives and pencils. I sharpen my pencils and cut paper with the knives. I keep my pencils until they’re down to the nub. A studio isn’t a studio with these tools.
10. Canvas pliers. This is one of the first painting-specific tools I ever bought. I use these to grip the canvas and then stretch the canvas over the stretcher. When the canvas is at its most taut, I staple the canvas to the stretcher. Without these pliers, it is impossible to properly stretch a canvas.