Tools & Talsimans #81 — Laura Stoddart

Years ago I was given a book called Up the Garden Path by Laura Stoddart, and I can honestly say it changed the direction my life was going in. At the time, I was working full-time as an in-house designer with a gift publisher and had drifted away from my brushes and my pencils and creating off of a screen.

Something about her style, something about her whimsy, her point of view and her focus and attention to the details totally captured my attention. As I paged through the book, I was remembering the feel of a brush in my hand, and how the paint moves with and against the bristles and how a pencil feels as it scratches across the surface of paper, and how much at home they make me feel. And so with a quick trip to the art store I was sketching again. Awkwardly, but I was sketching, and haven't stopped. Here's Laura:

My objects are my tools rather than talismans. Even though I love that sort of connection to an object and I collect many things I don’t carry them with me or invest more in them at this point in my life.

My tools are my box of watercolours given to me by my Mother, who is also an illustrator, for my 21st Birthday. It is Windsor and Newton and I never clean it, the colour underneath add to the new colours mixed on top; although red has always been in the same spot. My brushes are a mixed bag, not especially expensive but always better when old and down to fewer hairs. This is also why I use a rotering pencil because the leads can be really fine and draw as small as I need them to. My rubbers (erasers) always end up in tiny pieces from being cut down to form clean sharp edges, I always have a few at the bottom of my handbag.

My watch was given to me by my Father for my 40th Birthday; it still feels very grown up. My glasses are a new addition and I keep forgetting to wear them. Cologne no.4711 is the perfect smell and I love the pocket-sized bottle. It makes me want to draw all these things too!

Laura Stoddart, illustrator


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I document {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

Would you like to have your very own Tools & Talismans painting to inspire, support and remind you of all the things that make you “you”, as you go about your days, grow your business and create your life? Get in touch so we can talk, I'd love to hear from you!

Tools & Talismans #80 — Katie Hess

Pecha: Made of golden silk brocade, my pecha holds my Tibetan meditation texts, wrapped tightly inside with an orange ribbon. Every morning I sit down to do my meditation practice, which include visualizations, mantras, prayers and silent meditation. In Tibetan Buddhism, in order to do these types of practices, one must get a lung (oral transmission) and wang (empowerment), so each of the practices I do remind me of certain teachers I hold really dear and precious. In the last fifteen years, my meditation practice has been my refuge - the place I go when my mind is wild and crazy, where I face myself, wake myself up, unearth new insights and re-connect to an ancient wisdom.

Mala: My mala was strung together and given to me by my teacher with gorgeous chunks of turquoise. It recently broke, so I just strung it back together myself — the long strings are waiting for another bead to be placed inside the shell, perhaps a ruby. Malas are used to count mantras, so it keeps me on track during my meditation practice.

Jade: The carved jade bead was also given to me by my teacher — it was hand-carved centuries ago in China by someone very special to me. I hold this in my other hand when I am doing my meditation.

Incense: My favorite incense is made out of Piñon sap, which is divine. . . the scent is so lovely and sacred and it’s wonderful for making smoke offerings. Piñon is one of those botanicals that seems to be from another realm; it slows everything down in your body and helps you be more aware.

Peony: A fresh flower, which represents the magic of flowers that I am constantly tapping into and infusing into elixirs and other remedies to help us all remember and realize our full potential.

Inspired Action: One of my favorite flower elixir remedies made by our company, it is a blend of flower elixirs like Fire Star Orchid and Red Bird of Paradise that help me stay on a creative edge, be super productive and think outside the box. It also has aromatherapy with oils like cardamom, bay rum, lime and my favorite: pink pepper oil. I keep it on my desk and mist it around myself constantly throughout the day to sharpen my focus, because life is short!

Felt Notebook: I love having a small notebook for jotting down brilliant ideas on the go. If I’m in a creative mode, I prefer to write by hand with markers. My current notebook has a soft felt cover and is made by hand by a local artist in Phoenix, AZ.

Markers: Instead of writing with pens and pencils, I prefer to write with markers. I feel like it opens up and loosens my mind, so bigger ideas can come in — and out. My favorite markers are made by Pentel — 36 luscious colors!

Phone: I hesitated to include my phone, because they can be such a source of distraction and busyness, but it’s one of my most important business tools. I can take beautiful photos of flowers, post on social media, share files, manage teams and projects, and video chat with partners internationally. Technology is amazing, and I’ve used it to expand my positive impact in the world. To inspire a little self-awareness during my busy bee phone time, every few weeks I upload a new digital floral wallpaper from the collection that we make and give away. It has a gorgeous color, flower and insightful saying on it that I see each time I turn on my phone. 

Katie Hess, Flower Alchemist & Founder of LOTUSWEI

Tools & Talismans #79 — Cal Patch

I get very attached to objects; most of my tools are to some degree talismans as well, often handmade by someone I know. In the photo are my Gingher shears — I use these almost every day, to cut (only!) fabric. I've had them nearly 30 years, since college. A few years ago I crocheted around the handle to make them more comfortable when cutting a lot.

There's a plaid tomato pincushion I made — one of several pincushions I use. It was meant to be sold at a fair, until my pup Pippi chewed on it and it had to be adopted. Secretly I'm glad, because otherwise I wouldn't have kept one. The candy tin is a portable sewing kit; I try to never be without a needle and thread.

I treasure my wooden crochet hooks, handmade by friends, woodworkers Linda + Stephen Willette. They are always my first choice to use for my projects. I feel that using handmade tools imbues an extra bit of love and magic into the pieces I make. I have a lot of plants in my studio; watering and fussing over them is a ritual that helps me transition into making mode. A few months ago I started a bunch of baby succulents from some of my bigger plants, and I'm obsessed with watching them grow!

The crochet-covered stone was made by Margie Oomen and is one of my most prized and special possessions. I used to keep it tucked away in a cabinet, but lately I use it as a pattern weight so that I see it and interact with it more often. You could say it's a talisman that's become a tool.

And finally, the needle book was made by my friend Rebecca RIngquist. I keep it filled with embroidery floss and needles, so that I'm always prepared to put a touch of stitchery on anything, anywhere, at any time!

Cal Patch considers herself a Maker of Clothing, Crochet Crusader, and Textile Arts Teacher.

Tools & Talismans #78 — Maria Pace-Wynters

I use many different tools for mark making and papers for patterns and textures.

I have had my horse hair brush for over thirty years. I use it to brush away all the the grit, chalk dust, and paper scraps off my work place.  It is functional but I love how it looks and I love that I have had it for such a long time.  I use my dragon brush occasionally but it is less functional. Mostly, I just like to have it around to look at.  I love surrounding myself with beautiful things. I find such pleasure in that.

My cup and saucer were given to me by my mother decades ago. It is rare that any dish that I use daily would last that long so that in itself makes it special to me. The colours used to be bright, fruit on a green background, but they are now faded. I find that comforting somehow. My husband makes me a latte in a flask and I take my cup and flask to my studio every day. It’s the perfect size. I pour out small amounts from the flask so it stays hot. I often forget about my coffee when I get into a painting so this stretches it out longer and I am not left with a large cup of cold coffee.

My necklace is always around my neck. I love the large circle. It represents the circle of life to me. My mother in law gave it to me and it is handmade by a jeweller from Alberta.

My nib pen and black ink play a huge part in my mixed media paintings. I love the many mark making tools that I have but my favourite tool is my nib pen.

Maria Pace-Wynters is a mixed media artist.

Tools & Talismans #76 — Rhea Zimmerman Komarek

I met Rhea at an International Women's Day event in Napa California 4 years ago. I was presenting with Mary Anne Radmacher my co-author of She: A Celebration of Greatness in Every Woman and Rhea was introducing her forth-coming movie Love Bomb: A Journey of Fear to Love. I was so captured by her story, and the premise of her work — both as a chiropractor and as a film maker — and when I started putting together a list of women who I wanted to be a part of this Tools & Talismans series, she was on the very first iteration. She is of service both as a healer and a speaker about altruism and also as a woman who continues to give back to the world in order to “create a better story for humanity.”

My hands are my primary tool and the first to develop, they are how I give to life as a chiropractor, and the core of how I touch people, in real life, day to day.  They are an expression of love.  The rose is one of the symbols that I love, the essence of the flower blossoming.  This is a symbol of my work and the name of my chiropractic studio Blossom.  My goal is to help people to Blossom, knowing that it is our innate design and that we simply need the right conditions to relax, grow, and open.  It is also my mission in life, to relax, grow, and open to give of myself to life fully.  

The bracelet says "Love Bomber" and is a reminder of who I am and the tribe that I am connecting with through my film Love Bomb, my podcast Love Bombers, and the 8 week immersion program I have developed for choosing Love over Fear, called the My Love Bomb Program.  

The ring represents my marriage and my family, the cornerstone relationship that is my support and that holds the life of my son Destry in the safe arms of love.  The computer and mic are the technological tools that represent my love of creating transformational media, from my film to my CD set Breathe Love to my podcast to the online portion of my course and online forums I run!

Rhea Zimmerman Komarek is a Transformational Media Developer, Chief Love Bomber, Chiropractor, Wife, Mommy, and Friend