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  • Edward Donato

Holding the train of thought




Following the thread from my last post, Thinking Hands, I thought I'd share a series of tools I made titled Straight Lines. This set of tools was born directly from the appreciation of my hands; my most valued and fundamental corporeal tools and life receptors. Of course my hands would not be of use without a body, and a life to experience, for which I am filled with gratitude for as well.

Straight Lines are an active work on the edge between art and utility, they are not only a representation of the relationship between my hands and the world they are an active thought experiment or physical process of extending the reach of my hands and their capabilities; stepping stones to deeper refinement of work, accuracy and efficiency. Making ones own tools is also an act of appreciation, appreciation initially for life, the body, hands, mind and energy, and for the tools that came forth from the alchemy of life, Body and Earth-body or element. As we grow in relationship with our kin of nature and earth an accumulation of understanding develops and tools surface within our conscious mind.

I realize this practice might seem backwards, time consuming and unnecessary in this day of “convenience” with online orders, prime delivery and big box stores but I’d like to share my own experience and found benefit, application, and joy. Although the tools that compose Straight Lines are not new inventions, they are unique to only me; that is the first benefit! Making your own tools lends them selves to the fit of the maker; physically and athletically, they embody their maker or their maker embodies them? Either way they fit! They fit the hand and feel good!

Fit and feel inform the hand and affect the relationship with the material of that which is being made and the form of the made object; the tools carry with them a unique finger print of their own and impart that into the aesthetic and feel of what they make. I’d even go as far to say the spirit of the maker carries through, into their work from their own tools more clearly than with store bought tools.

Forming utensils also creates a bond between hand and tool, this bond in many ways causes a deep gratitude for the tools and an extra care and conservation I’d say of one’s own tools arises, similar to the care of ones own body.

The act of creating a tool deepens understanding of self and of the world and is in its self an act of thoughtfulness, opening opportunities for the spirit of inspiration to speak and share new ideas!

Not to ballyhoo this practice any further right now, I’ll introduce the tools;


First of the set is the plumb bob; cast from bronze I couldn't help but incorporate a hand holding the line from which it hangs



On to the level, the level uses the same principle as the Plumb Bob using a weight that points to the center of gravity from which it's axis is centered on a board of parallel straight edges. I Again carried the thread of hands into the cast line holder. The board is a plank of walnut with inlaid pine down the middle.




Next the Sumitsubo is a Japanese inspired tool similar to a chalk line. It is used to snap long straight lines onto material to be cut or hewed. I carved this sensuous ink pot from basswood and stuffed the ink well with raw silk fiber, the line is silk thread as well.





Last of Straight Lines is the angle finder. I made it from walnut, cast bronze and forged silver. The angle finder is a wonderful tool for transferring an angle onto material to be cut or carved.




This body of work is part of a larger "body of work" as I use them to build and create their voice will be added to that of my spirit and experience.

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