Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Favourite tools....detail scissors

In almost 25 years of miniature dollmaking, and having lately moved down a notch to micro dollmaking, I've often been asked by my students about the best tools.

Every artist, working in whatever media, will have their own favourite tools.  Most will have one or two tools, without which they simply couldn't do what they do.

I am no exception, and over the years I have collected a jealously guarded set of tools which I have found to be perfect for my use, and  I will reveal them gradually over time, neatly saved and catalogued in the sensibly named Useful Stuff archive.

But where to begin..... there are so many?  Some I use almost every day, some only occasionally and a few for just one specific task....

I'll start with the humble scissors.  This is one tool which EVERYONE will have in their craft toolbox, and usually more than one pair for different purposes.... paper, fabric, metallics, leather.  Using fabric scissors to cut paper, or paper scissors to cut metallics will very quickly end in tears.  I have found, over the years, that even very expensive scissors are totally unforgiving when used indiscriminately.  I keep my different use scissors separately from one another to avoid these incidents.

However, the one pair of scissors I can't do without, for tiny, micro work is my detail scissors.

They are small and short, just 4" (10cm) long and have fiendishly sharp blades with pin-point sharp points.  Definitely NOT scissors for running with.  They can be fiddly to use at first, especially if you're used to dressmaking scissors, but it's well worth persevering with them as they are an absolute boon to the micro dressmaker. 

Mine have soft, rubbery inserts inside the handles to help with their handling, and carbon coating on the blades which makes them non-stick.  I know this works because even glue won't stick to them, another point in their favour.

There is nothing more annoying, when trying to snip off a length of fine silk ribbon close up against a tiny doll, than finding that the very tips of the scissors blades are blunt, and rather than a lovely clean, crisp cut there are messy, fraying 'chewed edges' as the blades mash through the silk.

Equally, the tips of normal scissors are usually much too big to get into the tiny space between neck and shoulders, or under minute arms.

I usually have two pairs in use at any one time.... one for silk ribbons only, the other for fine lace, wigging viscose, thin leather etc when I need to cut on the doll.  For 'rough' cuts I use normal (but still smallish) embroidery scissors.  Despite this segregation I still find that I need to replace them usually twice a year, and the difference when I first use a new pair is definitely noticeable, despite the care I lavish on them at all times.

So if your micro dollmaking toolbox doesn't include at least two pairs of these then you're just making life more difficult for than it needs to be.

Don't even get me started on left-handed scissors though......


Robin said...

I've got the same ones and I LOVE them! My other favourite is an ancient small bone-handled dip pen which has a million uses - other than as a pen obviously.

pastmastery said...

Where did you get them Sandra..I'm sure people would like to know a supplier? Sx

Sandra Morris said...

I got my detail scissors at our local Tesco. All good craft stores will stock them, or a quick Google will reveal lots of different sources.