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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dremel of my Heart - Artists Using Unusual Tools

What the hell is a Dremel? Well for those not familiar, this is a tool used by construction people, builders, etc. It is sort of like a super tool that you can change the head of to allow for different kinds of uses. It can be a drill, a sander, a buffer, a screwdriver and a host of other things. Most like it for its versatility and prices can go high on getting a great one.

Many artists have only heard of the thing in passing and may even have one that they use around the house, but do not think to you use it as an art tool. But let me tell you that as a sculptor this thing has literally 10,000 uses for me. But many of the applications I use it for can also easily be used for texturing on paintings.

The most important thing to remember though is that while you can pay several hundred for a Dremel, that it also comes into more economical packages. In fact mine was only $23.99 at my local Walmart and was probably the best purchase I've ever made. Its cordless, so its easy to get into small spaces and has two speeds. The only drawback I've found is that the rechargeable battery only lasts about 3-5 days depending on how much I use it and the recharge time takes several hours. Mine also came with some basic accessories that I could use.

I of course have acquired a great deal more since I originally bought it. Walmart or any home improvement store will carry a whole section of Dremel accessories and I suggest you experiment with them.

The most useful for me have to be the sharpening attachments. These are a variety of sizes and are supposed to be used sharpening things like knives or scissors. I've never used mine that way even once. What they are exceptional for is carving on softer surfaces. I use mine on dry foam and clay mostly but they would work on just about anything. The key is to NOT pay attention to what the accessory was supposed to be used for and try it out in other ways. There are also a series of polishers made of soft felt material that I use for gentle sculpting or fine shaping of foam. The etching tools are great for exactly that, etching into materials. I've also used these effectively with stencils. There are flat sanders that are phenomenal for texturizing.

The point to this entry is that sometimes we have to use things in totally different ways than would be expected. If the price hadn't been so low I probably wouldn't have ever bothered experimenting with it. In fact I will probably buy a more expensive model at some point. Its proven its artistic value to me.

What out of the ordinary tools do you use as an artist?


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