Products Reviewed: Helen Breil Designer Texture Stamps,Rivet Piercing/Setting Tool and the Jool Tool
Helen Breil Designer Texture Stamps
Zentangles®, a meditative, repetitive form of doodling, seems to be everywhere these days. Last month, Metal Clay Artist published an article by Linda Styles Smith that explored a number of ways these highly graphic drawings could be used for textures in metal clay. Those who like the patterns, but don’t feel like creating their own, can now get the look from designer Helen Breil’s intriguing line of texture plates inspired by her experiments with Zentangles®.
So far Breil has introduced fifteen intricate designs, with more to come. My favorite is “Tango”. There were so many different designs on the 4”x5” plate that deciding where I most wanted to place my clay was a real challenge. The plates are deeply etched grey rubber that take an impression well. (Be sure to lubricate them before each use, however.) These whimsical designs will be handy for quick projects or to put out for students to use.
The Helen Breil Designer Texture Stamps are available from http://www.shadesofclay.com/ and cost $12.75 Canadian each.
Rivet Piercing/Setting Tool
Cold connections are hot, and this new tool is intended to make them easier. The tool is specifically for setting “semi-tube rivets” available from the same manufacturer. These rivets have one smoothly finished end and one tubular end that you flare to secure your connection. The tool resembles a classic two hole metal screw punch, except that it is heftier and feels stronger. One end is used for piercing the metal and the other is for flaring the tubing.
The tool really is quick and easy to use, with practically no learning curve to master. I was able to set a neat and secure rivet on my first attempt, connecting a 1mm thick piece of fired silver metal clay with a .5mm thick piece of fired copper clay. The hardest part was holding on to the tiny rivets. Once I grabbed a pair of tweezers, the rest was simple. Directions are clearly written and nicely illustrated. Aluminum, brass and copper rivets are all available in any of four lengths to accommodate different riveting jobs, and the directions give guidelines for which length to use for different thicknesses of metal.
The piercing side makes a 1/16” diameter hole. According to the manufacturer, it can piece through more than 12 gauge/2.03mm metal (except steel). Although I didn’t have any 12 gauge metal handy, I was able to easily pierce a fired bronze clay disc that was at least 1mm thick. I can see myself using this tool as a hole punch just as often as for a riveting tool. The tool is engineered so that when that when a different diameter of rivets is needed users will only have to purchase new piercing and flaring sets to install in the tool base. The company has added a flaring accessory for making eyelet closures to their line up of accessories.
At $89.99 plus the cost of rivets, this tool isn’t an impulse purchase. However, if you like the look and utility of cold connections but don’t enjoy making rivets, the Rivet Piercing/Setting Tool is the answer to your prayers. Find it at www.metalclayfindings.com.
I heard so much buzz about the Jool Tool that I ordered one for myself sight unseen. It arrived yesterday, and I’ve gotten to play with it just enough to know that it’s going to hold a prominent place on my workbench. The Jool Tool is a combination grinder, sharpener, sander, polisher, deburr-er, and more. What makes it interesting is not only the variety of different jobs it does, but how it does them. Looking a bit like the bottom of a blender, the tool uses a variety of quick-change 3M “ninja disc” attachments for all sorts of sanding and buffing. Because of the shape of the discs and the fact that you hold the work below the wheel and look down through, you can easily see what you are doing. An attachment is available to hook the system to a vacuum for dust collection, too.
As one user told me, “I found it easier to work with than the old style grinders and even the Dremel tool because the way the disc turns (horizontal) and placement of the object (usually on the flat surface rather than the edge) it not only does the job quickly, but it keeps the metal piece cooler and it doesn’t have the tendency to grab it out of your hand as easily.”
The tool won’t replace a flex shaft or rotary tool for getting into certain shapes or spaces. (Because of this, Jool Tool offers an optional flexible shaft accessory.) However, when it is the appropriate tool to use, I’ll be turning to it for its ease of use and quick results. (And as a bonus, I’ll be trying some of the tool’s non-jewelry capabilities, such as cleaning and sharpening my garden tools.)
The Jool Tool retails for $469 at www.riogrande.com. Although the kit I bought came with some basic sanding and buffing wheels, I already want to add accessories. Be aware that the cost of attachments can add up; it is recommended that you have a backing wheel for each different abrasive, and those wheels cost $38.99 for three. Although the cost makes this a luxury item for the casual user, its benefits make it an excellent choice for those who are looking to upgrade their equipment.
Pat Evans (a.k.a. The Tool Diva) keeps her hoard of jewelry making tools in San Jose, CA. She is a Senior Art Clay instructor and holds PMCC Level III and Rio Rewards PMC Certifications. Pat has been teaching about crafts and creativity to both children and adults for more than 20 years, and she loves to encourage students in finding and playing with their inner artists (generally along with a nice selection of tools.) You can find Pat online through her website: http://patevansdesigns.com/