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Grumbacher Plastic Paint Mixing Tray

A long time ago, in a gallaxy far far away…..wait a minute, wrong tale!

Take two.  A long time ago, I tried my hand at painting. One of the items I hung onto from that artistic adventure was this paint mixing tray by Grumbacher.  As I was decluttering my studio a while ago, I found this and considered donating it so that someone else might be able to put this to use.  However, I did not and it sat in a little box….sort of looking at me.  Then I moved it to the top of my soldering bench, next to my pickle pot.  I still wasn’t sure why I felt the need to keep this aside from some emotional attachment, but I did.

So why am I posting about a Grumbacher paint mixing tray in my Talkin’ Tools segment?  Well, it turns out that it has become a very handy way for me to organize the components for my Ginkgo leaf earrings.  Sure, I could have gone out and bought something else, but this works and puts this tray back into use in my studio.  Saved a little money too!


Ginkgo parts

You see, when I make my Ginkgo leaf earrings, there are a variety of bits and pieces that go into their assembly. I need to keep them organized by earring style so as I start to put the sections together, I have the right part for the right design.  I work on one earring set at a time as I build them.  The dividers keep the sets together and I don’t run the risk of getting them mixed up.

Prior to utilizing this tray, I would have the earring sets scattered around in little piles on a table.  Speaking from the voice of experience, there were times when my sleeve would brush them and they would fall on the floor or get mixed together.  That was FUN, not!  These incidents left me with this time consuming and needless task of putting an interesting jig saw puzzle back together.  Talk about frustrating!

One day, as I was in this frustrated state, here’s this little tray, sort of smiling and winking at me now and I think, ok, I get it.  Put you to use.  I did.

Viola!  Once I started using the tray, the process was simplified. I can keep track of how many are ready by a glance. I’m assured that the right parts for the earring set are together. Once I fire up my torch, I can work on 8 pairs or more if use the small circles in the tray.  Even though I build them one pair at a time, I don’t like to start work on the assembly process until I have a batch.  I find it to be more efficient.

There are several key things I’d like to convey with this post:

  • Organization in the studio (and other areas of life) is very important. It helps simplify what you are doing, alleviates stress and frustration, along with speeding up what you are doing.
  • Be innovative. Look for items you may already have and see if they can be used for another purpose.  It may be a good fit and save you a bit of money.
  • Consider options.  Being open to alternatives that can help you with an immediate solution…it’s good to have options.

Have you found something that you use in your work that is an alternative use from its original purpose?

I hope you find this tip helpful and are motivated to start looking for things that may help you in your work.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.


Stanley Tools ~ Barbara’s Way Tool Bag

Those of you who know me know my passion for the color purple. I can spot this color from a mile away. Ok, maybe not, but in this case, an aisle away.  🙂

About a month or so ago, Dan & I were doing our weekly shopping and skirting the tool section in our local Wal-Mart when I caught a glimpse of purple down an aisle. At first I thought this was an unusual color to see in a tool section, so it beckoned me to come.

As I approached, I saw this canvas bag, trimmed in more of a lavender than purple, but I’m not one to quibble about that when it’s in my favorite color family. I opened it, saw a number of clever side pockets for storage, inspected the way it was constructed, discovered a handy little side storage pouch, plus another zippered pouch for storage too.  I loved it.  Of course I bought one!

They run about $10 and I don’t think you can beat the value.  It’s pretty awesome as far as I’m concerned.

It’s absolutely perfect for taking the right amount of tools when I go for a lesson at Lexi’s or a workshop at one of the local metal studios.  I could not be happier with this convenient bag to transport tools.  Lexi uses a Plano fishing tackle box and hers is great.  However, they no longer manufacture that model so I tried in vain to find something close to hers.  Well, I found one, that worked sort of, but it was just so frustrating to use and didn’t work well for transporting files, pliers, metal, sand papers, etc.

Now that I have this tool bag, I can pack it as needed for whatever metalsmithing class I’m taking.

This is a view of the inside of mine.  The zippered opening is reinforced with a metal frame so it opens like an old fashioned doctor’s satchel.  Perhaps that’s part of what appealed to me?  It’s great to have that nice wide opening.  From this angle, I’m trying to show the interior side pockets that work well for holding pens, pencils, smaller sheets of metal, pliers, and more.  And some of these side pockets have Velcro to hold things in place.

The bag is approximately 12″ long and I have been able to fit a 12″ ruler in there without any problems.  The opening is roughly 5″ wide so it’s very easy to take things in and out.

This is another pouch that comes with the bag; it fits inside the bag.  I’ve used it for pens and pliers.  There is clear vinyl so you can see what’s inside.  Just a convenient way to know where things are.

Another folding tool holder on the outside.  It’s held in place by Velcro fasteners.  This little side pouch is perfect for holding my files.  You can see I’ve added a little luggage tag with one of my business cards.  Just an easy way to have your identification on the bag.

I just love the convenience of this tool bag system.  It helps keep things well organized in preparation for a traveling to a class or as you are cleaning up after a class.  I find it makes it so simple to inventory what you took and make sure you don’t leave without all of your precious tools!

Stanley also has a line of the hard sided tool boxes in this same family.  I’m tempted, but I don’t really feel I need one in addition to this nice canvas tool carrier.  I’m sure it’s a matter of personal preference.

I have not found these available on Wal-Mart’s website, but they still can be found in their stores…at least our local stores still carry them.  And I’m fairly certain that Stanley tools will help you find a store that carries them as well.  I think they are a pretty valuable addition to the tool arsenal…even if it isn’t a tool, it carries and organizes them very well.

There’s an addendum to add to this post that I know you will enjoy, but that will have to wait until another Talkin’ Tools segment.  For this post, I wanted to focus on Barbara’s Way Tool Bag by Stanley tools.  I highly recommend it.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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