Tools & Talismans #70 — Marie Perkins

1. Digital Radio: This is an Orla Kiely digital radio that my family bought me as a birthday gift.  I find working on a laptop all day, whether designing or blogging, you cannot watch anything as you can rarely look up from your work, so sound is essential instead. I listen to the radio a lot during the day to inform me of the news and of course for music. I listen to a mixture of BBC Radio 2, 6Music, and Five Live.

2. Digital Camera: I have around 4 of these particular cameras which I use for taking ‘Store snaps’ (a regular Print & Pattern feature where I photograph what is new in the shops). The camera is old but despite purchasing more modern cameras these Konica Minoltas never let me down. They are discreet and shoot in very low lighting without blurring.

3 and 4. Bowie Mug and Cadbury's Flake: Tea break is always a happy part of the day for me. The David Bowie mug is part of a series where I am collecting all my musical heroes from the personalised pottery range by Emma Bridgewater where you can have any name you like hand painted onto a mug. I was so lucky that through Print & Pattern I was able to tour the Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent with Emma herself. After being a fan for years this was a real treat. I use it for tea and never drink coffee. Cadbury's Flake is my chocolate bar of choice, and in 2013 I also found out it was one of the things my hero David Bowie missed most about England.

5. Notebook: I get through lots of notebooks and love to change them with the fashions. This current one is a favourite with it's neon pink triangles and was from Tesco.

6. List Pad: I am super forgetful so writing lists of tasks to achieve everyday is a must. This one if from Paperchase and was a little free gift given to all the journalists at their last press show.

7. Pencils and Pen: I always write and draw with a Paper Mate Flair (a sharp black felt tip) as I really dislike using ballpoints and biros. My current pencils were purchased at the theatre in London and are from the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

8. David Bowie postcard: I have this framed on my windowsill. It's a reproduction of a 1970's car bumper sticker and was purchased at the David Bowie is... Exhibition at the V&A in London in 2013. Bowie lived his life with a constant creative aesthetic and I have been inspired by him all my life to keep creating and changing style with the times. I also love a good pseudonym to hide behind and so did David.

— Marie Perkins aka Bowie Style is the author of the Print & Pattern blog and series of books.

Tools & Talismans #69 — Inka Mathew

Green Pantone Mug: This Pantone 376 mug is one of 6 mugs set my husband gave me for our 8th anniversary. I love this one the best because green is my favorite color. I'm a coffee drinker and I always have a cup of coffee on my desk.

Pantone Solid Chips Coated Swatch Book: I'm a freelance graphic designer, specializing in logo and branding, also print design. I use Pantone color chips quite often for my work. For the past three years though, the book has taken a more essential role because of my visual blog "Tiny PMS Match" (tinypmsmatch.tumblr.com). It's a personal project of a tiny proportion, in which I match small objects in my life to their matching Pantone colors.

Dot Grid Book: I use this note book to do sketches when I design logos. I love the dot grid! I also use the dot grid page as a background to shoot my "Tiny PMS Match" objects. It really helps me keep everything aligned and consistent.

Kuretake No. 8 Fountain Brush Pen: I started to pick up hand lettering last year and I enjoyed exploring the medium. I bought this fountain brush pen and I love using it. One my favorite hand writing tools now.

Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil: I have been using this pencil for 5 years now and I don't think I'll change to others! It feels great in my hand. It's heavy and the weight helps when I do sketches.

Pink Pearl Eraser: A very good eraser indeed. A must have.

Pantone Color Chips: I always have a pile of these color chips laying around on my desk. I like the accidental lovely color combinations that happen sometimes.

My iPhone: It has become an important tool for me ever since I started "Tiny PMS Match" project. I took all the pictures and did photo editing using my iPhone. I do my social media posts through this device as well. It's an essential work tool for me.

Three Lego Chickens: My son made these chickens out of random pieces of Legos when he was 7 years old. I found them so adorable and decided to keep them for myself. I put them on top of my Apple monitor to bring me smiles.

Inka Mathew – graphic designer, creator of "Tiny PMS Match" project, author of the book Tiny Pantone Objects (Abrams).

Tools & Talismans #68 — Kathryn Clark

I find Kathyrn's work both fascinating and comforting. She explores political issues, human rights issues, and the status of refugees, but instead of photos or paintings created on canvas or board, she uses the medium of fabric and quilting to convey her ideas. Many of her stories are dark, some disturbing, and all of them have an important place in our cultural narrative — does the rendering of her work on fabric make it easier to take in the subject matter? I don't know. But her work is intriguing and troubling and beautiful, and I just find that the most interesting piece.

My Omnigrip, rotary cutter and 4’x8’ cutting board (background) are indispensable everyday tools for me. They provide a link to my previous life as an architect and urban designer where measured lines were the standard. Integrating the architectural process into my work is what makes it my own. I can always spot a former architect in their artwork.

My favorite sketching tools are also architectural: small trace paper and my favorite Unionmade #2 pencil. The pencil has just the right feel and I’m very particular about my pencils. I started with 12 of these and am now down to 3. When I discover lost ones around my house I’m over the moon.

The rest of my tools are for hand sewing. My small black scissors have cut out every one of my foreclosed lots in my Foreclosure Quilts series, they’ve seen it all.  My pen cushion and thimble came from Japan and every time I reach for these tools, I reminisce about my visits there. I made a series of indigo ceramic trays for a series I made that never panned out, but they make great pin holders! The tray reminds me that even though we have a lot of false starts, a failed idea always informs and influences our later work.

Kathryn Clark, Conceptual Fiber Artist


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 for a year of Tools & Talismans — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

I'd love to talk about creating illustrations for you! Do you have a project that needs some illustration? Think my work might be a good fit? Get in touch, I'd love to talk about your project with you!

Tools & Talismans #67 — Melanie Falick

My laptop is the tool I use most. I covered it with a swatch of peel-and-stick wrapping paper printed by Spoonflower and we used it for a photo in The Spoonflower Handbook, a book I edited. I like that the pretty sashiko-inspired paper gives the laptop some personality.  I really appreciate the power the laptop gives me to communicate, write, edit, and design both at my desk at home and wherever else I go to work, but I wish I didn’t spend so much time on it. Same goes for my phone. I use it all the time to communicate and to take photos, but when I spend too much time looking at screens, I feel lethargic and sometimes pessimistic.

I always have a little notebook or some sort of paper, plus a pencil and a pen (often a Sharpie) on my desk. I write down notes when I’m talking on the phone and when I need to remind myself to do something. I also have a To Do list on my computer but I often write down priorities from that list or things I’m afraid I’m going to forget on paper and put the paper in a really obvious place that I won’t miss (such as taped next to the trackpad on my laptop). When I’m editing printed book layouts, I always use a black pencil and an eraser.

Lately one of my jobs requires me to spend a lot of time picking yarn colors for knitting projects (thus the four mini skeins). I absolutely love working and playing with color and pattern!

I like to keep a hand-sewing or knitting project on or near my desk. I often stitch when I’m participating in phone meetings.

I included my yoga mat here because I find that I am happier with my work and myself when I go to yoga class and meditate regularly.

Melanie Falick is a writer, editor, and creative director.

Tools & Talismans #66 — Catherine McIntyre

I use the camera every day — it’s looking a little the worse for wear now, having been dropped and splattered in body paint from nude shoots. I back up the day’s work onto the hard drive every night (I have three more, all identical — very belt and braces). The most personal item here is the necklace, which I always wear. The rings belonged to two of our greyhounds; they wore them on their collars. The fossil is from Charmouth beach - my favorite place in the world, the one place where I never worry — and I wear it in the hope that it will ensure my return.

Catherine McIntyre is an artist and author.