Tools & Talismans #85 — Jen Hewett

When I first started printing on fabric, I was doing only silkscreen work. Screenprinting produces flat prints – chunks of solid color or fine lines – and I liked the contrast between the flatness of the prints and the natural texture of the linen. Block printing is different; its prints show much more of a hand. They’re wonky and imperfect and interact with the texture of linen in a much different way.

Using a baren (in the upper left hand corner) has changed my printing stamina because it lessens the amount of pressure on my hands when I block print. I mostly print yardage these days and my baren makes me able to print for long periods of time.

I just like the way the Blackwing pencil feels when I hold it. They’re pricier than most pencils, but holding one just makes me happy.

I prefer using inexpensive carving tools to carve my blocks. Like the Blackwing pencil, this carving tool just feels right when I hold it.

I mix my own ink colors, and have found that wide popsicle sticks are perfect for this.

I always wear three bracelets on my left wrist. I used to wear a watch, but when I started using my phone (instead of a watch) to tell time, I replaced the watch with three bracelets. I don’t know why I always have three. I feel naked with fewer than that, and flashy when I wear more. These are inexpensive bracelets made of non-precious metal.

My ring, however, is made of 18 karat gold and purple amethyst. I found it on the beach in 1997 or 98, after a series of El Nino storms. I wore it on the index finger of my right hand for years, then replaced it with a cameo ring I inherited from my grandmother. When I lost the cameo ring last year, my hand didn’t feel right without a ring on it, so I started wearing this gold ring again. It’s a reminder that there is treasure everywhere; you just have to look (and have a bit of good luck).

Jen Hewett is a printmaker, surface designer, textile artist and teacher.


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 #84 — Maggie Taylor

It was the early 2000s when I first started seeing Maggie Taylor's artwork — on magazine covers, then on CD covers and later she published a few books. She was practicing a relatively new art medium back then — digital collage, and I remember thinking: she's taking this art form to a whole other planet, creating worlds, universes and stories in each of her complex and beautifully surreal pieces. I'm guessing that if you've ever seen her work, you'd remember it, like Girl with a Bee Dress, does that conjure a visual? Have a visit to her site if you're not familiar with her work, she's phenomenal!

The actual tools I use in my work are primarily digital, and I spend most of the day with my Wacom pen tool on the tablet at my computer.  Occasionally I sign prints with a real pencil and it has to be a 4B.

I collect many small objects and a few of these are ones I have had for many, many years.  George Mortal Freak is my orange eraser in the form of a monster and I have had him since before the age of 10.  The same goes for the red dressed wood fairy with a pearl head.  I have my grandmother’s “worry box” and various other little talismans sitting around on my desk all the time.  I have more than one desk, actually, and lots of spaces where I keep stuff sitting out because I like to see these things.  The rabbit with a ribbon on his neck and President Coolidge normally sit on my desk as well.  This is my favorite old lace doll, Mrs. Bookser.

Maggie Taylor is a creator of digital images, but she likes the title “creator of lovely things.” and she may use that from now on. She needs technology to make her art, but she also likes the analog world and touching and seeing actual things around her all the time.

Tools & Talismans #83 — Rebecca Hass

The staff paper and mechanical pencil enable me to write down what I'm composing, and the piano is obviously also a critical tool in this process. I typically write on full-sheet paper at home, but carry this notebook around, just in case.

Post-It notes are extremely helpful when it comes to focusing in on which items need to get done that day, and my iPhone acts as metronome, timer, recording device, research device, and player of music or podcasts while I'm doing computer work.

The red-topped cactus is a representative of my growing succulent collection, which gives me with some much-needed color, especially during the sensory deprivation of bleak Minnesota winters.

I almost always have a cup of tea nearby while I'm working, whether black, green, or herbal, often in this, my favorite mug.

Lastly, the very beloved Rusty the cat is my near-constant companion while working at home (sometimes unhelpfully, as pictured) - he provides emotional support and amusement.

Rebecca Hass is a pianist, teacher, arranger, composer, and Brasilophile.

Tools & Talismans #82 — Karen Rauch Carter

I consider my gauss meter one of my “contemporary feng shui” tools. It helps me show my clients where they are spending time in electro-magnetic fields (also known as EMF’s) often supporting if not completely causing everything from sleepless nights to MS and arthritis, etc. (although you know I can’t officially claim that, right?)

If you’ve ever had a mom with a 13-month old baby that has missed every first-year milestone beg you to help her figure out what is causing such a phenomenon (her doctor was completely stumped) and you find out that the air purifier under the crib is creating huge EMF’s, you get the power of this handy-dandy tool. One change in that baby’s environment caused the doctor to say, “Whatever you are doing – keep doing it!” Darned if that baby didn’t catch up with its peers.

Many years ago now, while taking a dowsing and earth acupuncture workshop, my fellow classmates and I were told to go out and “find a wand from a tree to use for dowsing.” Everyone went outside and starting wandering around talking to the trees. Eventually, I found a tree to “talk to,” and proceeded to ask it for one particular branch. It “said” that I could indeed take that branch . . . which brought me to tears as I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I removed it from the tree.

Most students came back in with the same experience . . . and I have used that one “magic wand” ever since to locate and balance out unsuitable earth lines for my clients.

My seven-metal Tibetan bell is my go-to space clearing tool. I either place the dorje in the center of the home or room or even give it to my client to hold. Then I ring the ghanta (bell-looking part) by running the rosewood dowel around the rim of the bell while saying mantras (usually internally.) Once you feel the penetrating sound this bell makes you easily understand how it can break up and release clunky or negative energy from a space.

There are many uses for salt in my work. One way is to place it in water near my health-challenged clients – especially if they are in a hospital. I also burn it (by adding a potent alcohol and lots of intentions) to clean very stubborn negative energies.

Karen Rauch Carter is a professional feng shui consultant and author of Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life.

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!