Tools Make a Difference

I was thinking this morning about what a value it is to your work, to upgrade your tools whenever you can. And buy the best you can afford. I upgraded a tool in the past few months, and every time I use it I sigh with appreciation about how much easier and more efficient it has made my work life.

I use an air eraser to paint dapple greys with ceramic overglazes. (The dapple grey color or any horse color with dappling, is in huge demand, and it has to be executed right or not at all!) Essentially, it is like painting the white areas of the horse by removing paint to expose the white china underneath, rather than painting white on a dark color. (Which is the way I used to paint dapple greys with acrylics, for the most part.) The air eraser blows away the powdery glaze pigments I have applied with my airbrush. I discovered that there was a sort of “industrial strength” air eraser I could buy, that instead of using a little cup on top of the eraser (which looks like and works just like an airbrush) it uses a big metal can attached with tubes:
This makes painting so much easier for several reasons. I don’t have that annoying cup sticking up from the eraser, often preventing me getting the eraser into the small areas of a piece. And I don’t have to refill the erasing powder hardly at all, because of the big metal canister.

The new air eraser system also came with an accessory which is the true amazing upgrade for me. I got a separate air pressure regulator for my air eraser, attached off the compressor next to the hose for my airbrush.
Now, instead of turning down the air pressure every time I want to use the air eraser, and then turning it back up to airbrush, I can set the air eraser’s separate pressure gauge to its ideal pressure, and leave it there forever. I can switch back and forth between the airbrush and the air eraser as simply as picking up one or the other. Instead of fiddling endlessly with the air eraser pressure (which has to be practically zero) and refilling it all the time. This consistency has allowed me to paint faster and more pleasurably, like on this pretty Hagen-Renaker “Sheba” that I am glazing for a client this month…
Honestly, I really dislike using these mechanical sorts of tools to create art. But in order to get the results the way I like them to look, the airbrush and the air eraser are my tools of choice for glazing ceramic colors.

Another tool I have to admit has made my work life amazingly better, at the sacrifice of my vanity: my reading glasses.
I realized gradually that I was losing my very short vision, and my contact lenses prescription won’t fix that anymore. (Turning 50 next year sucks!) I didn’t really realize how it was affecting my ability to see what I was doing in the small painting and sculpting details, until I got the glasses. Now I can’t work without them!