Tools of the Trade.

August 25, 2011

Funny thing about us Artists, there’s not much we won’t try to do. We are generally a jack of all trades, an expert in a few, and crazy enough to say why not?

This weeks adventures resulted in a glass tiled kitchen back splash.

Tiling projects require lots of math checking.

Today’s project was a more “labored” sort of project in the Home Improvement. I was helping lay out tiles for a friends kitchen.  Lots of people take on these sort of DIY projects every weekend. There are lots of YouTube demos and TV episode showing what to do. But It’s funny to consider how much real math goes into doing just that.  Once in a blue moon everything adds or divides up evenly with little headaches.  But most often you encounter something that just doesn’t work like you planned. It’s Murphy’s Law.  So then you have to resort to a bit of imagination to solve the problem with grace and elan.  Easier said than done.

Turns out, it’s a good thing I’m a fearless artist, and I know how to cut glass, measure and divide fractions, and remembered to bring along my trusty bucket of favorite tools. Inside it you can find a small level, framer’s square, shims, box cutter, chisel, putty knife, trusty cordless drill, 2 pairs of work gloves, vice clamps and safety glasses.  There are other items in there, but can’t recall everything off the top of my head.  Having access to a Dremel tool and pastry bag made it even better.  The Dremel cuts glass tiles very well with a steady hand.  The Pastry bag pipes small spots of thin set into tight spots the trowels just won’t go.

The trick is a willingness to learn something new, apply the knowledge you have, put some time and thought into it and you usually end up with something pretty darn good.   Yes, I’m bragging a bit.  But it really comes down to knowing your tools and how to best use what you have to do the best job.

So here is some thoughts for those thinking about a career as an artist or contractor… know your math.

Each year I hear these questions along with why are you an artist?  That much like asking Why do you breathe?

  • What do you do?  I create / make stuff.  I just have to do that. 
  • What materials do you use? Depends on the project and scale of the job.  But I have several buckets of tools for various projects. One for Framing art. One for house projects and several more for specific to each Art area I work in.
  • What did you have to learn?  That’s a bit harder to answer, see I have lots of applied knowledge (learned).  I have to know lots of math, fractions, proportions, some chemistry, more science, history, more color theory, basic construction, basic mechanic principles, economics, book-keeping, marketing, computer programs & languages, and researching. I’m sure I missed something in there.
    • Just when I think I have it together the game changes and I find myself heading back to the books.
  • What is the most important parts to my process / career?

Imagination, Discovery, Planning, Education and believe it or not lots of Math!

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