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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 #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 #75 — Stefanie Renée

Compass:  I received this as a birthday present from a dear friend and it sits beside me at my desk.  It reminds me to find my true north and keep on striving for what I really want in life.

VW Bus:  I also have a collection of VW buses and this particular one sits outside my window that I work at and reminds me that adventure is not that far away.

Hamburger eraser: This represents and reminds me of a hamburger bell I had on a bike one summer with friends and every time I rang that bell it meant a “yes to life” exclamation! It reminds me to look at things differently and to really have a “Yes to Life” outlook.

Heart Shell:  When I am out in the world, I look and find hearts everywhere. Either in trees, rocks, leaves, shells. It’s become a habit that my daughters have taken too and it reminds us that love is all around us, all the time. I have a collection of different rocks and shells and I choose 1 to have with me all the time . . .

Laptop:  This is the main tool for my business, I’m a creative entrepreneur assistant and I manage at least 3-4 email accounts daily + all the behind the scenes of these different businesses. I couldn’t work without it. It also allows me the flexibility to work wherever I want.

Watercolors, pencil, pen and brush: I started sketching and water coloring a couple of years ago and they sit on my desk so I have a daily practice of doing something creative. It feeds me in so many ways.

Burts Bees: A tube is never far away, in my purse, my desk, my nightstand, a constant for me.

Fitbit:  I wear this every day and it motivates me to move my body.  I like the reminder to get up from my desk, get outside and walk.

iPhone: my phone is my constant companion for better or for worse. It’s my camera, my entertainer, my link to the outside world.

Stefanie Renee is a Mother, an Artist/Photographer and an all around behind-the-scenes guru for creative entrepreneurs. She’s been motivated to live a creative life, and has always chosen personal and professional pursuits that support and deepen this relationship.  You can find her on Instagram @stefanierenee.

Tools & Talismans #65 — Pia Jane Bijkerk

I write almost every day in my journal. It is where I share my all: My emotions, my stories, my ideas, dreams, and experiences. Writing is my lifeline, I rarely go anywhere without my pen and notebook. And nature is my muse. I collect fallen branches, leaves, or flowers as I walk, particularly if I recognize it to be an Australian native as I’m wanting to learn and connect more with the Indigenous heritage of my surroundings. Being by the ocean is a place I feel the most grounded, so my home has piles of shells on almost every surface, especially on my desk and beside my bed, where I do most of my writing. And a few pieces of dark, fair trade chocolate are always on hand when I’m in my creative headspace to spark my sense of delight and joy.

Pia Jane Bijkerk is an Artist & Author.