Tools & Talismans #74 — Christina Roos

PAINT BRUSH: I have many paintbrushes or brushes for different mediums. For my ceramics, I often use big heavy not so expensive brushes for the engobes. Engobes is a clay powder colored with oxides and mixed with water. The engobe is like a thick paint. You paint with engobes on wet clay. When I paint on bisque fired ceramics I use a fine brush. The brush painting on glazed ceramic can include all sorts of paint brushes. A variety of paint brushes is good to have as a ceramist.

KNIFE: The knife is a really important tool for me as an artist. Sharp and good quality is best to cut clay and sculpture things. The knife is also a tool when you draw in the leather hard clay surface. A technique called scraffito.

SPONGE: Elephant Ear Sponges are natural sponges with a flat shape and fine surface, very popular among potters due to the absorbent properties. A good sponge is nice to have when making additional work on the clay i.e. when you want a smooth and moisten surface.

CAMERA: Photography is an important tool for me. To see through the viewfinder and focus on one scene or object is interesting and to tell a story about a thing you made is so fun. I also use the camera on my cellphone as a daily tool to collect inspiration for my artwork.

SKETCHBOOK: I use my sketchbook daily. It is a must have tool. I don’t go anywhere without it. It's not only sketches in it, its thoughts, idea’s, phone numbers. It’s a small world of everything.

PEN: I have hundreds of different pens . . .  I love pens! At the moment I like markers.

THE BEAR: This Bear my daughter made when she was ten years old (she is fourteen now). She is not a crafty handy person and this was a hard thing for her to finish and enjoy. Sometimes it is good to do things you don’t like and do it well and finish it and learn something about it. It is a good thing to have new goals that you learn something about.

I love the things made by my children. The things they made when they were 4-10 years old have the energy and naiveté that I personally as an artist am searching for.

Christina Roos is a ceramic artist who likes to illustrate, draw, paint and take photos. She builds small worlds in clay and also makes cups that you can have in your world.

Tools & Talismans #73 — Lila Danielle

My computer, and music websites specifically, connect me to my passion and to the devices in which I offer my best work in the world. Music and dance play a large and very important part not only in my own creative self-expression, but in the crafting of events I make available to others. I can spend hours online in the pursuit of finding new music. Whenever I discover a song that makes my body move and my spirit soar, all the time and effort that goes into this beautiful obsession is worth it.  

I drink coffee every morning from this mug. I love its colors. I love its size. I love how it feels in my hand. I especially love what it says on the front which is “Say Yes.” It's a simple reminder at the beginning of each day to remain open to any and all invitations and possibilities.  

I am a writer who never has enough pens. It's quite possible I have an addiction to purchasing writing implements. There's something so satisfying, so delicious about writing with a beautiful pen on paper that typing on a computer could never match.

Ever since I was a small child, my mother gave us white stones whenever she wanted us to remember that “No matter what, White Light surrounds you always.” When I travel, I always carry a white stone with me. And now that I think of it (and I don't think I've ever told her this), wherever I go, I carry her with me.  

Dragonflies are symbols of transformation. And like the dragonfly, I am always changing, becoming, evolving.   

Lila Danielle is a writer, dancer, and facilitator of moving, freeing experiences.

Tools & Talismans #72 — Lisa Anderson Shaffer

I come from a family obsessed with tools. We make our own tools, pass them down from generation to generation and use the hell out of them. My dad has tools that belonged to his great grandfather and I'm lucky enough to use some of the tools passed down from my grandfather and grandmother.

The wooden ruler belonged to my grandfather Kingston Anderson, or as he was known to me Fa. He was a Norwegian carpenter and could build pretty much anything. He taught my dad carpentry, who then taught me as I was growing up. The scissor set belonged to my grandmother Zelma Anderson, or as I called her Besta. Besta taught me to cross stitch when I was around 9. She loved needlepoint and when I was growing up and we would visit her in Florida I would sit on the sun porch with her, watch her sip a glass of scotch and work on her needlepoint.

The wooden crochet hook belongs to my mom, Lorraine Anderson. My mom used this hook to crochet a baby blanket for me when she was pregnant. When I was looking for just the right size hook to use on my Aerial fiber pieces, I just knew it would fit the bill. My mom gladly handed it over.

The overalls I have had since 1995. I bought them with my friend Chad from an Army Navy store in Easton PA. We were looking for smocks to wear in our printmaking studios, but I decided upon a pair of Oshkosh engineer overalls. I've worn these overalls to paint every single painting, develop every single photograph, and print every single print I have ever made. They tell the story of my career as a fine artist and are one of my most prized possessions. I still wear them on a weekly basis.

The horseshoe was found by my husband Matt on the property of our current house. We have found a horseshoe on the property of every home we have owned in California if you can believe that. He was stunned when he found it and I just love that whether it was North Beach, Noe Valley, or Fairfax, there has been a horseshoe waiting for us.

The antler was also found by my husband on our property. We have a family of deer that stay with us from spring through much of the summer. It has been incredible to watch them grow and change over the last few years. I imagine this antler was from a few generations back. We all feel very close to them like they are a part of the family.

The feather was found by my mom at a house we were all renting together in Marin 4 years ago. I love hawks and seem to always see them soaring overhead. The impact of the design and delicate nature of the feather always strikes me.

The note is from my daughter. She's 5 1/2 and the most illuminating presence in my life. I absolutely adore being her mom, watching her grow, and just being around her. She inspires me daily.

I am a fine artist.

You can find Lisa at her website Zelma Rose.

Tools & Talismans #71 — Latisha Guthrie

My field guides are my most important tool. A few years ago I traded my oracle decks and books on what the spiritual significance of plants are for really good field guides. The best way to know a plant is to know how it behaves in nature. For me the pathway to its spirituality is through its ecology. This connects my left and right brains and gives them both something to chew on. A place to meet in the middle and have dialog. This has been the single most important discovery in my spiritual path and has clarified my work in the world. That science and spirit are not at odds with one another and neither are the natural questions of my heart.

Next are my herbcrafting tools: the crescent shaped boline to cut herbs with, the basket to gather with, the mortar and pestle to grind with, the canning jar that makes anything from teas, vinegars, oils, salves etc. These are used on a daily basis to transform matter into magic and medicine. Simple, old-school, manual, essential.

What remains are my talismans. I am a devotee of Guadalupe. She asks me to honor my ancestral blood, to know that I am always beloved and capable of great love. Next to her is a small vial that contains the placenta of my daughters. I use it as offering before I gather plants. The placenta is the tree of life that holds all the mystery for generations. On the other side of Guadalupe is my botanical loupe which is both tool and talisman. Strung on a rosary of rowan beads for protection with an owl at center to hold wisdom, my loupe helps me to identify plants but also to know them in a deeper way. The loupe helps me pause, and magnifies for the eyes what can be felt with the human heart. My loupe has helped me master the Art of Noticing and is responsible for turning much of my scientific wonderings into poetry. I always carry sunflower seeds in my pocket because she was my first and most loyal friend; showing me there is always a way to grow toward the light and sow a little sunshine. The little easter egg is a trick I learned from one of my first teachers. She always carried one with her to be able to collect seeds, flowers, this and that. I love that it's so not earthy or natural. It helps me not to take myself so seriously. Finally is a moon shell. In the depths of a confusing major life transition The Goddesses called me back to the Sea to remind me, though much of my work is based in dirt medicine, when I get stuck, it is the Church of the Old Mermaids I must turn to for guidance.

Latisha Guthrie is an Ecophilosopher who works with plants as a pathway to the divine.

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.