Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Tools!

For several months I've been toying with the idea of finding a company to manufacture tools based on the handmade tool designs I've been using for decades.

Back when I started using Fimo in '81, there were no tools, no classes and only one book, published by Fimo. The more I used the clay the more it became obvious that tools were needed for a variety of techniques.

Along with becoming a sculptor I became a tool maker.

When I teach classes, the students get, for free, one of my tiny bamboo Peej Picks. The bamboo is sanded smooth, the point is tapered and the opposite end is cut into a wedge shape and polished. It takes quite a bit of time to make forty or sixty of them at a time but the students seem to love their Peej Picks as the lessons go a bit easier with this little workhorse of a tool.

Word about the Peej Pick got around and soon other students, people at retreats and clay friends began to express an interest in having their own "Peej" picks. Those who would come to play days at my studio saw some of my other original tools on the work bench and were interested in them especially after a demonstration of how quickly a job could be done with the right tool. See the switch plate covers below.

The original tools were made of wood, clay and wire but Christi Friesen encouraged me to go for stainless steel after seeing my bamboo "Peej Pick" at Fandango last May and so the search for a tool maker began!

After much thinking about the logical tools to begin with and planning sizes, shapes, etc., I contacted a friend of mine, Andy Huang, in Taiwan RC. He was able to find a factory who could do the e
ntire kit including the following:
  • two stainless steel Peej Picks
  • two stainless steel Peej Shapers,
  • three half circle clay cutters with polished wooden handles to cut or imprint polymer clay
  • one small custom shape scraper / blade. Used for lifting clay, removing excess clay from molds, scraping unintentional colors from sheets of clay
  • one super cool zipper pouch 4 by 6 inches with loops to hold all 8 tools. A graphic will be silk screened onto the front of the pouch. Right is a rough draft mockup using Photoshop but the final design will be similar and have the final name on it.

The tool samples arrived on the first of March!! Needless to say, I was doing the happy dance!! and have enjoyed playing with them.

The Peej Picks and Shaper tools have excellent heft and strength. They are designed for clay but can be used for a number of applications other than polymer clay.
We expect to be delighted to see what our customers do with the tools.

I made the flowers and eyelet, left, ten minutes after opening the tool kit. The flowers were cut using the half circle clay cutters and all the details shaping the petals and centers were done with the Peej shapers. The indentations around the petals and the bottom edge of the eyelet were done with the wedge end of the Small Peej Pick. The eyelet finishing 'eyes' were done using the large and small Peej Shaper. It was great fun.

Left are two light switch covers with scalloped, picot edges. These borders were quickly cut using the half circle clay cutter. The 'picot' holes were also quickly done using the Peej Shaper.

The covers are made of a very strong clay and the borders are still perfect.

The production will begin after the final approvals.

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