CARRY-ALL: I had been driving to the Open Studio because my supplies were too heavy to tote, especially if I was carrying clay. I wanted to walk and it always made me feel silly driving, since the art centre is only three or four blocks away. So, I decided to get some kind of a rolling cart with telescoping handle. I did a lot of comparison shopping and found what I wanted. It cost $43.40 Cdn and the shipping was only $10. It’s called a ‘Stow-away Folding Caddy.’ Basically, it’s a folding crate on wheels with a telescoping handle. As the photo shows, it’s quite slim when folded and it will carry 50 lbs. I bought it through Canadian Office Supplies and am very happy with it. I store it in the car, at the base of the hill and, when I go to the studio, I carry my supplies down the stairs to the car, open the crate, plop everything inside, then roll on down the hill. I might have found one in the U.S. that was less expensive, but then I’d have to deal with shipping hassles (see Postage Dilemmas below).
HOBBY STORE BLUES: I had been hauling my ceramic tools in a plastic food container. It was big and everything fit; however, I noticed that the lid popped off when it was transported to the studio in my new rolling crate. Nothing fell out of the crate and it was dry and cold that day, but usually it’s rainy and I want something that will stay shut. So, today, when I was at Michaels Arts and Crafts looking for candle wicking, I looked around. I found the wicking for my clay olive oil lamps. I also wanted to see if I could buy a styrofoam cone I wanted to use for a form for a clay bird house I’m making. Well, I did find one, but it was $25. No kidding. So, I’m going back to the drawing board and will make a cone of cardboard, stuff it with tightly crumpled newspapers, then cover the whole thing with plastic, then duct tape it.
STORAGE CONTAINER: While at Michaels, I came across some storage containers for scrapbooking supplies that were 40% off. My kind of deal! So, I bought one very similar to this Iris Storage Container. Mine is 8.5″x14″, has adjustable dividers, is made by Everything Mary and was on sale for $8. It’s a single-layer storage case. I had thought about buying a fishing tackle box, but didn’t think I needed anything that big. So, now my new storage case is full of my tools and the lid has clasps and will stay shut. There are other ways to look at storage for clay tools and I really like these cotton roll pouches from Whole Lotta Whimsy. I imagine this style of pouch has been used for clay tool storage for centuries. The site caters to jewelry makers but we could use this pouch just as easily for our clay tools. Moving on, my friend Joan uses a plastic tote for her tools and, while I’m sure you can find this type of thing many places in your locale, I found this one to show you what I’m talking about. It’s called Tote Max and I found it on the Plumbers Surplus site. I like the choice of colors and it sells for $12.29 US. You could probably find something like this at a dollar store for less but you’d have to check to see if it would be durable enough. I like the idea of a tote because if your tools are wet, it will allow for air drying. For a little more heft, I found this Stanley toolbox. It is only $9 US through Amazon.com. You can’t go wrong with a Stanley. I like the lift out tray but the thing I like best is the metal clasp. I have had tool boxes that had plastic clasps that broke off, so I’d go with something like this next time if I were to get one. The thing about tools, any tools, is that they need to be cared for and, if they are, they will be there next time for you to use.
POSTAGE DILEMMAS: It’s always tricky because many of these places ship from the U.S. Beware, because if your your items are shipped UPS, when the UPS delivery guy arrives, they will exact a whopping C.O.D. called a ‘handling fee.’ The fee is a loophole in the border laws that basically allows UPS to hold your item hostage as you stand on your front doorstep. Unless you run to get your credit card and pay up, you won’t get your package. It works the same way with items shipped to the U.S. by UPS. So, Canadians and Americans, beware. Some of the fee is Customs duty, but the main part is the ‘ransom.’ So, read the fine print and try to have your goods shipped by a different method. I feel quite lucky that my heavy crate on wheels was freighted all the way from Ontario for only ten dollars!