Monday, December 24, 2012
my lucky precision tool
This is my lucky hammer.
Surely we all have our quirks and since I happen to know just how weird some of you are, I won't feel bad about sharing this particular oddity of mine. I have a lucky hammer.
As a student, when I turned out a good sculpture I could barely enjoy the compliments because I was already wondering if I would be able to make another one just as good or better. I always wondered if the good one was a fluke. I wish I could tell you that this insecurity faded after graduation but it was always the same. If I made something that people loved, I always wondered if the next one would be a flop.
I began to observe my creative process and each time I started a new sculpture, I tried my best to follow the patterns noticed during the last successful sculpture. Not in an obsessive compulsive way, but making sure the welder was set exactly where it was before, trying to use the same clamps and eventually the same hammer.
This little 4 pound hammer was the one that handled the precise seams and bends on some of my best sculptures. It's also taken a couple of hearty tosses across the welding shop, but I'm trying to be better about that sort of behavior.
It's also my favorite hammer and for slightly different reasons. This little guy was the smallest hammer in my dad's toolbox. Most of the others were 8 pound hammers. When you're trying to convince steel to do what you want it to do, the bigger hammer is generally preferred. But for whatever reason, this was the one I picked up on a particular day and it stuck. And of course, the fact that it was my dad's hammer is also important.
I have several hammers of my own. (See a previous post about how I feel about hammers if you think that's an odd statement.) But this hammer was one that my dad told me to take with me when I moved my sculpting operations out of his welding shop and into my basement. Each time I grab this one to swing at something I get a pleasant memory of home and of my dad.
Pop called hammers "precision tools". This was his comedic nod to the barbaric nature of such a tool. Yet as strange as that sounds, when you need a 200 pound piece of steel to move 1/16 of an inch, the hammer is one of the few things that can provide that gentle and precise nudge.