Monday, January 7, 2013

Tool Nirvana from a Friend

I’ve been graced with many great instructors in my life.  I can count on both hands and add toes to the number of  lampworking “greats” I’ve been lucky enough to have as teachers.
It’s given me a great platform of techniques to draw from.  On the other end, the metal working and fine art side of me, I’ve been equally lucky.  There is not a depth of art instruction close at hand.   Closest areas to get any good instruction – Traverse City or Midland (each is about 100 miles away).  You’ve got to really love to learn to take those types of trips.

First, I attended Northern Michigan College and loved it.   It was a piece I designed in Metals that sent me to glassmaking when I couldn't find a one holed bead I needed.  My metals instructor was Diane Hubert.  It was a 3 hour round trip but I didn’t care – it was a golden time there and between Diane and Jack (my printmaking instructor) I was on fire inside.   They were (are) as talented as they were kind.  Diane knows her stuff and further opened my mind to all the possibilities of metal work.  It’s from her I got my love of using a rolling mill to pattern metal – I covet having my own rolling mill.

I’ve never lost my love of drawing – or lithography (Jacks fault for sure) but since owning a press was going to be out of the question I eventually had to narrow my focus.  Pliers could be put out of the way of childish hands the way caustic ink and cleaners couldn’t, so it was an easy choice with little ones in the house.
Today I met with Diane in TC.  It gives me an incredibly warm feeling to see her and I wish we lived closer – we’d be great friends.  She has been selling off her personal equipment (the arts department in their insanity closed the fine arts metals program a long time ago at NMC).   Diane has slowly been retiring from her metal work – not from art – just metals.  It has always been the colleges loss and they have no idea what a large one it was – so sad.    Last year I purchased from her the casting equipment we had used at the college.  It was well loved and equally well maintained by Diane.  

On this  “trip to town” she allowed me to purchase eleven hammers and several draw plates.   Amongst the hammers there are raising hammers, chasing hammers, ball peins, and the like and all just beautiful…a steal at $10.00 a piece.  She even gave me the tote bag she carried them in with - if she only knew what a freak I've become with tote bags. 

Necklace by Diane Hubert 1993

The draw plates make me gush…two are of French origin (old plates from Rio) and in mint condition.  The third has carbide inserts and after I saw the chain I remembered it had been chained to the rolling mill in class so it didn’t sprout feet and walk away.  Diane was careful to tell me how to remove the chain she so carefully riveted on it but I like the chain - I won't be able to look at it without thinking of her and those pleasurable memories and lessons.
Diane and I talked about me teaching.  I haven’t done that in awhile.  I used to drive down to Midland and teach at the Bead Weasel.  The Midland Art Center has two good metals teachers (my good friend Sharon Berkan-Dent teaches casting) and the fabrication teacher can not be beat either  – I adore him – Roger Schmidt.  He has a gemologist degree and 23 years of bench experience.  You can’t shake a stick at that or throw the man off with even the ticklish of questions.  Damn he’s good.   Aren’t I the lucky girl?  At least my effort to make the drive leaves me with two great friends and teachers.
Thanks Diane for entrusting the tools to me – they’ll be well loved and cared for.  Teaching is again on my agenda - but a ways off for now.  And you’re right…when it comes my time to retire from metalsmithing I too will find someone who will care for them and pass them along.
Aren't you all having some seriously bad true tool envy about now?  Who says boys get all the tools!


Lela said...

Yup. Tool envy.


Maplegirl said...

Yes, envious, haammmerrrs. Who can have too many!