Co-founder of ThinkUp, Gina Trapani [Cool Tools Show #12]

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Lifehacker founder and ThinkUp co-founder, Gina Trapani introduces us to a few web based apps that offer elegant design and features well worth their minuscule price-points. Fans of an uncluttered web experience will rejoice to hear what Gina offers up in this installment of the Cool Tools Show.

Show Notes:

Gina’s Website

Gina’s Twitter

Gina’s latest venture, ThinkUp

Forecast.io (Free)

“Forecast.io takes several different weather services and, based on your location, it will make it’s best guess, given multiple data sources, of what the weather is in your position and how long it will be partly sunny or at what point it will start raining. So if you wanna walk your dog and you don’t want to do it in the rain, Forecast.io is the place to look. It’s a very, very smart and well-designed weather app.”

Draft ($4/month or $40/year)

“Draft emphasizes that you get better the more you write so it gives you these great stats about how many words per day you’ve written, what hour of the day you’re most productive, what reading level you’re writing is at. It really incentivizes you to write more and so if you’re doing that with Draft, the subscription is definitely worth that. It’s just a few bucks a month.”

kidpost

KidPost (Free during Beta period)

“Kid Post sends a daily email to whoever opts in to your Kid Post, like Grandma or Grandpa, and it rolls up the photos from all those other services and it sends them out to everyone and includes the photos inline. So everyone in the family who is checking their email gets to see just the photos that you post to these different services automatically.”

Push Bullet (Free)

“Push Bullet mirrors my phone’s push notifications, things that have come pushed to my phone, to my desktop. So if any one of my apps shows me a notification, I see that on my desktop which means I don’t constantly have to be switching between my phone and my desktop.”

ThinkUp ($5/month)

“Facebook and Twitter and Google, they have a lot of information about us because we’ve been using these networks for a long time and I wanted to build an app that was like “what kind of information do they have about me that helps them know more about me. I wanna know more about myself. What am I talking about? Who am I friends with? What are the messages that travel far? How many times do I say ‘thank you’ to people?” so ThinkUp is my attempt at that.”

 



Entrepreneur and Inventor, Dan Shapiro

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Robot Turtles creator Dan Shapiro recommends inventions and innovations that offer a surprisingly valuable experience for their price. If you’re looking for high value on a shoestring budget, you won’t be disappointed by Dan’s picks.

Show Notes:

Dan’s Website

Dan’s bestselling game, Robot Turtles

Here are Dan’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Brushless DSLR Gimbal $450

“…you look at what comes out of it and it looks like you just shot a documentary even though you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s like sprinkling magic fairy pixie dust on any video you shoot. These things are incredible! I’ve been using every excuse I have to shoot video now because it’s so amazing.”

 

 

The Art of Electronics $60- $120

“It’s not theory. It’s not highfalutin. It’s, ‘Here’s how to go build things that work.’”

 

 

Navdy $300

“To get something comparable with your car would be thousands of dollars if it’s even available. I think the Corvette has one that’s a multi thousand dollar option. And then at some point in the future you won’t be able to upgrade the firmware, swap it out. The Navdy you can just plunk on your dash…”

 

 

Cheerson CX-10 multicopter $20

“Its super stable and small, fits in your pocket easily with room to spare and it’s even capable of doing flips. The thing is just remarkable.”

 

 

AliExpress Free

“They have everything from fashion to electronics to lumber, across the board. It’s one of those secrets in my list of suppliers. Everybody knows about Ebay and Amazon. Some people know about these sites like BangGood and Deal Xtreme…but AliExpress is underappreciated.”

-- Cool Tools  



Blogger and Author, David McRaney [Cool Tools Show 010]

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Blogger and author David McRaney introduces us to some lesser known creative solutions to life’s tiny nuisances that will help you untangle your wad of keys, opt for a better YouTube experience, and explore the future of musical experimentation.

Show Notes:

David’s Blog, You Are Not So Smart

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

You Are Now Less Dumb by David McRaney

Here are David’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Keysmart $20

“You don’t have a big wad of keys and they just swing out like a pocket knife and go into the door and you twist it, open a door and then swing it back in. It’s all nice and tight and compact and I like it. ”

Hercules Stands Wallmount Guitar Hanger  $15

“You may have seen something like this in a guitar store. That’s how I started looking for it because I used to have all my guitars around my house and my basses on stands and it only takes two or three and suddenly a whole side of your room is taken up by the stuff. ”

Source Audio SA115 Hot Hand 3 Wireless Adapter $150

“The way I was first introduced to this is there’s a band called Pinn Panelle and they had a video where they did a live cover of Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites“…and the bass player was able to make the dubstep bass sound by using this controller…His name is Nathan Navarro and he’s got some really face melting bass solos that he’s created using this device and his album even comes with tablature for his solos.”

AlienTube Free

“Everyone knows that YouTube comments are the worst place on the internet. They are so horrible. I hope that if some sort of extraterrestrial intelligence is scanning our database of knowledge that they don’t ever see the YouTube comments. But usually Reddit comments about a video are pretty good and sometimes really amazing things can be in a Reddit thread…”

-- Mark Frauenfelder  



 

Bestselling Author and Journalist, AJ Jacobs [Cool Tools Show #009]

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This week AJ Jacobs, bestselling author and journalist, shows us how he rids himself of life’s common nuisances and hazards like an untied shoe, a noisy environment, or a half hour wasted in traffic so he can focus on larger pursuits, like bringing the world together in one great big family reunion. AJ reminds us that we are all cousins and encourages all of us to explore just how we are related by hitting up some of his favorite genealogy resources. Oh, and we’re all officially invited to The Global Family Reunion on June 6th, 2015. Don’t forget the potato salad!

Show Notes:

AJ’s Website

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs

AJ’s recent project, The Global Family Reunion

Here are AJ’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Lock Laces $8

“…they are as tight as your regular shoe laces and they cost about ten bucks. I haven’t tied my shoelaces in about a year…”

Surefire EP4 Sonic Defender Ear Protection $9-$46

“They’re great because they reduce noise a lot and they are molded to your ear so they kind of look like a seashell and they stick into the folds of your ear so it’s hard to lose them, which I found was a problem with a lot of earplugs.”

Geni Free or $100/yr subscription

“It’s a lot easier to search how people are related. So if I put in the name Albert Einstein and it’ll search and tell me ‘Albert Einstein is my fourth cousin’s aunt’s uncle’s brother’s sister’s fourth niece.’ It’ll show you the exact track of how you’re related to everyone in the world.”

WikiTree Free

“It’s very much the Wikipedia model, so you can get someone who says Jimi Hendrix is Paul Revere’s son, but the idea is that the community will then correct it. Instead of having one set of eyes on it you’ve got thousands of sets of eyes trying to correct these things and add documentation and I do think it’s getting more and more accurate. There are some branches that require serious leaps of faith and are not documented, but I do think it’s getting better.”

FamilySearch Free

“I always thought genealogy was this staid and dusty pursuit but now it’s gone through this fascinating revolution and actually we are going to have a family tree of the entire world, all seven billion people probably in like five years, maybe ten.”

Waze Free

“I did an experiment a couple of weeks ago where I was in a car with Waze and my friend was in another car and this friend had Waze but refused to believe that Waze had the best directions, so she ignored them and she paid the price! She was about fifteen minutes behind us.”

 



 

Founder of Geek Squad, Robert Stephens [Cool Tools Show #008]

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Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, lets us know how his analog tools and hobbies even out the frantic pace of modern, wired life. His high-tech offerings are especially reflective of his desire to use cutting-edge inventions as tools for personal development. From the whimsical to practical, ancient technology to barely breaking innovations, there’s something in this week’s show for just about everyone.

Show Notes:

A book about building Cob ovens, recommended by Robert:

Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer

Here are Robert’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Flower Press ($17) or DIY

“They say you should stop and smell the roses. I would add to that that I think you should grab them and press them between books for a while!”

 

Watercolor Tin DIY (prices vary) (Use Fimo air-dry clay [$5] for paint reservoirs)

“People have started taking old Altoids mint tins and squirting tubes of watercolor in them and they sell these little paintbrushes at the art store. I was in London a few weeks ago and I was staying in a nice hotel with nice stationary. I pulled out my little tin and I painted a picture of The Ritz hotel while sitting having a coffee and popped a flower I had pressed in there and mailed it to my daughter who was back home.”

Cob Oven DIY

“A Cob is a ten thousand year old technology…. And six feet under just about anywhere on earth is some mixture of sand and clay so it’s safe to use. Clay doesn’t dry in thirty minutes like concrete so it’s very forgiving. And so it’s very natural and it’s all local materials.”

NomadPlus ($39)

“You do is you take your iPhone charging cube and it slides over it like a jacket and it gives you a battery pack, making it about the size of the iPad cube. When you’re on the road you can plug your phone into this and it’s a little battery juice pack.”

Tile ($20)

“Basically it’s a Bluetooth low energy tracking device. I put on on my key-chain. I put one in my car, just toss it in the armrest, and I put one in my backpack. And  whenever it comes within range of my iPhone using Bluetooth low energy, they talk to each other and the phone records where the phone’s location is and therefore it knows when the last time you saw your car.”

Eidetic (Free or $2 for Pro versi)on

“I really like it because I think this is the idea of augmentation. Using technology to help us be more human and personal and one of the things I’m trying to do is exercise that muscle of memory and this is the best one I’ve seen yet. ”

Below are some of Robert’s bonus tool picks that we didn’t have time to discuss this time. Enjoy!

Blaze $200

Crofflr $5

Genius Scan (Free or $7 for Pro version)

Listen to previous episodes of the Cool Tools Show.

 



 

Lloyd Kahn, Editor-in-Chief of Shelter Publications [Cool Tools Show 007]

On the latest episode of the Ask Cool Tools Show, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Lloyd Kahn, editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications. He shared with us many useful tips, ranging from how to get the most out of your camera lenses, to alternative activities for the senior surfer. Lloyd has spent much of his life researching the best possible tools and products for any purpose and doesn’t disappoint with this lineup of excellent picks.

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Show Notes :

Shelter Publications Website

Surfmatters Website

Some of Lloyd’s books:

The Septic System Owner’s Manual

Shelter

Tiny Homes on the Move

Here are Lloyd’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Olympus OMD EM-1 Mirrorless Camera $1299

“It got me to put away my Canon cameras which weighed five pounds. This one is just so much smaller and it’s one of the mirror-less cameras…The mirrorless part is what, I think, saves on the weight…When you look at it, if you’re a Canon or a Nikon guy, it’s going to look just like a miniature of one of those cameras.”

 

Fourth Gear Flyer Surf Mat: $139-$199

“It’s inflatable. So instead of lugging this surfboard around and worrying about getting it smashed up on the airplane or paying a hundred bucks to have it shipped, you just fold up this surf mat in your backpack…and when you get there blow up your surf mat and go surfing.”

DaFINS $62-$66

“I have fins called DaFINS…that are made in Hawaii. They’re smaller than the normal fins you see and more flexible and they’re touted as being preferred by world class body surfers.”


10mm Twin-Wall Poly-carbonate 4′ x 12′ sheet $140

“It’s expensive, but it’s double walled so you get some insulation and it’s clear like glass. It has a ten year guarantee and I bought four by twelve sheets…we tore off the fiberglass and put that on the greenhouse so everything in the greenhouse is much happier now. I’ve washed it once since we installed it. I just take a soft brush and a hose and wash the dust off the roof.”

Makita 18 volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Variable Speed Impact Wrench $206

“It weighs less than the typical drill that you see. There are really no controls on it other than a trigger, like you can’t set it for different speeds or different torque. What it does is it backs up a little bit. Each time it goes forward it goes back a little bit, so it kind of chatters. It’s just really great for grabbers and screws.”

 



Author and Editor Gareth Branwyn [Cool Tools Show Episode #006]

Author of the new book, Borg Like Me, Gareth Branwyn tells us about the set of household tools he inherited from the former occupants of his house that have proven their usefulness and longevity over the years. In this episode we discuss what makes these tools so special and how we all can prepare to pass on our household’s best suited tools to the next generation of homeowners.

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Show Notes:

Gareth’s Website

Gareth’s Book: Borg Like Me: & Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems

Here are Gareth’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Wiss “Nutcracker” Scissors (Modern Equivalent): $18

“These scissors are basically a kitchen multitool of the fifties. They have a distinctive red handle. They’re just really optimized. Everything is really thought through and they have a lot of little gadgets on it.”

Fiskar’s Scissors: $22

“Years ago on Make I reviewed a pair of Fiskars scissors…Super sharp scissors…and I used those, as you mentioned, for cutting food.”
Super Scraper (Modern Equivalent): $3

“I use the scraper every day. This has gotta be the oldest tool, right? It’s like a seashell or a piece of bone that you use for debarking wood or scraping hides, so I love that.”

Gilhoolie: $15

“It’s a cam-operated jar opener. I have arthritis in my wrists and I’ve been going through a spate recently where my right wrist doesn’t work and the other day I had to open up a jar and I couldn’t even begin to twist it off. It was a pretty wide jar and this thing, even with my wrist not working, cracked the seal with no problem.”

Staonal Black Marking Crayon: $4.25

“…it’s like a marking crayon, like a carpenter’s crayon which has really cool fifties typography on it.”

Door-Ease: $2

“There’s this thing called Door Ease, which is a stick of wax for unsticking drawers and I looked at those things and thought, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ and then one day five years later I had a sticky drawer and I thought, ‘Wait, I have the technology!’ so I went downstairs and got my Door Ease and it hasn’t stuck since.”

Qwikie (Modern Equivalent): $4.50

“[For touching up marks on painted walls] It’s kind of like a nail polish bottle, where the brush is actually in the bottle.”

Empty Touch-up Bottle 2 Oz.: $3

“We’ve been painting all the rooms in our house and when we finish I save a small container of it, like a cup’s worth, in a little jar and then just stash it in a drawer of whatever room we painted in, so that way if you drill a hole or remove a painting and pull a nail out, you can spackle it and paint it over with that paint rather than leaving big jar somewhere rusting away.”

________

Gareth has also kindly supplied us with images of the vintage tools he inherited with his house.

Thanks, Gareth!

Cool Tools.jpg

Wiss “Nutcracker” Scissors, Super Scraper and Gilhoolie (Links, images and prices for similar products can be seen above.)houseTools_2.jpg

Staonal Black Marking Crayon and Door Ease (Links, images and prices for these items can be seen above.)

-- Cool Tools  



Tim Jenison, Founder of NewTek [Cool Tools Show #005]

Tim Jenison, Founder of NewTek and star of Tim’s Vermeer, a critically acclaimed documentary about his discovery of a possible tool used by hyper-realist painters throughout history, takes us behind the curtain this week to see what tools made this investigation possible.

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Here are Tim’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Fadal Milling 4020 Machine (Prices Vary)

“…I just love the interface on it. It’s so simple it’s just brain-dead and it does everything you need to do…They’re extremely simple and reliable.”

“How to Learn any Language” by Barry Farber $7

“A lot of people start out wanting to learn a language and then they realize it’s a lot of work, but the emphasis of this book is how to teach yourself a language, not to go to school but how to do it yourself and he’s got a step by step plan that actually works. Can’t recommend the book enough. ”

Point It $9

“It’s just a bunch of tiny little color pictures so if you can’t communicate with somebody you whip this out and point at a picture. There’s so many pictures in it that you always get the idea across. ”

Fujitsu Scansnap $420

“You just drop the papers in and push the button. There’s really no software to mess with. It just scans them in, both sides of the sheet if it is double sided, in color and it’ll turn it into a PDF or anything else you want.”

evernote

Evernote Free

“You can drag any kind of material to it and it automatically shows up on all your computers and a local copy is kept on your computers. On your iOS or Android device it keeps the index and downloads things as you need them, but everything in synced constantly. ”

Superfocus Eyeglasses (No Longer Sold)

“Right now I’m looking at my computer screen and it’s about fourteen inches away from my eyes, but the whole thing is in perfect focus. Now, if I was wearing bifocals I’d have to tip my head back and try to find the part of the lens that works…There are other people making variable focus glasses, but nothing as good as this, so I really hope somebody takes over and starts making them again. ”

Foursevens Mini MLR2 flashlight $33

“You get incredible battery life because it’s always defaulting to low brightness and you can hold it in your teeth. It’s really small and it’s really handy. As I said, I’ve been through a lot of flashlights and this is currently the cream of the crop.”

Flex 6700 radio $7500- $8000

“Ham radio is kind of a niche. I just had to mention it because I use the thing every day and it’s just a totally different experience to knob turning Ham radio. ”

Leatherman Skele-tool CX $67

“Y’know it’s amazing how much time has been saved by everybody having a multi-tool in their pocket because you’ve gotta run and rummage around this toolbox and that’s what we always used to do, but it’s a new world.”

Xcelite R3323 Steel Slotted Pocket-Clip Screwdriver, 3/32″ Head, 3″ Blade Length $6

“…there’s one tool that a nerd cannot be without and that is the “Green Tweaker,” the Xcelite R3322, which is a tiny little flat-blade screwdriver that every tech head has to have to make adjustments on things. Actually, the 3/32″, 3″ is the better one to have because it’s a bit longer. ”

Jenison Comparator Mirror (Not Sold)

“This extremely simple elegant device, it’s just a mirror on a stick and you have to put the mirror in exactly the right spot. If you spend enough time, you end up with a hyper-real photographic-looking painting.” (In the podcast, Tim shares some building tips that were not included in the documentary.)

 

Available from Amazon



Creative Good Founder & CEO Mark Hurst [Cool Tools Show #4]

CEO and Founder of Creative Good, Mark Hurst brings a laundry list of Cool Tools to our show this week. Our highly productive discussion yields tips on how to properly rinse your text, type most efficiently and how you might casually pick up Mandarin Chinese in your spare time.

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Show Notes:

Mark’s Website

Mark’s Book, Customers Included

Twitter: @MarkHurst

Here are Mark’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Default Folder X: $35

“You know how when you save a file it brings up that little popup dialogue box and it shows the file hierarchy? If you wanna save that file in a particular folder, generally you have to click through this morass of folders… Default Folder makes that process much easier by letting you set hot keys to go to your most commonly accessed folders with one keystroke.”

TextWrangler: Free

“How often do you go to a webpage and you copy some text and you place it in wherever you’re gonna place it, in Word or somewhere else, and suddenly it has the crazy font and italics and the blue color that the original source had an you go, “No, no, no, no! All I want was the text!” And there’s no easy way to remove all that stylistic data. What you do is just paste it in a Text Wrangler file and then copy and paste it out of Text Wrangler to wherever you’re going to put it. I think of it as rinsing off the text until you’re left with the pure ASCII.”

 

Instapaper: $10

“It’s clever enough to save if an article is broken up into three or four click-throughs. It’ll pick up all of those pages’ content and put it in one long scrolling list and it does a text rinse…and displays it without all of the cruft that comes up in a lot of the content sites. One of the best things on my iPhone, bar none is Instapaper.”

Pinboard.in: $10

“With one keystroke. I can tag that URL and get back to it anytime later. All the bookmarks are saved in the cloud. Really simple elegant design. I just love the service. ”

Ask MetaFilter: $5

“Every time I go on somebody’s saying, ‘Does anybody remember that movie? The guy looks to the left and then a watermelon hits the sidewalk.’ And in three minutes someone gives a link to the YouTube clip of that happening. ”

KTdict+ C-E: $4

“If you’re an English speaker learning Chinese, you have three things to memorize, the Chinese character, the definition and then the Pinyin, which is the phonetic pronunciation, including the tone. Most flashcards will give you two sides to the card, but this one actually does three sides…”

 

eStroke: $7

“What it does that the dictionary app does not do is it will show an animation of a character being drawn, and that’s indispensable. ”

Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by John E. Sarno: $7

“I was sitting down to breakfast with a friend of mine who said, “Oh, you have back pain? No problem! You just need to read the book!” and [I said] “What book? I don’t wanna read a book!” But he convinced me to read this book and I read it from front to back. The book is very clear: you just need to read the entire book. A few weeks later my back pain disappeared and it really hasn’t come back.”

 



Author Howard Rheingold [Cool Tools Show #003]

Howard Rheingold is a critic, writer, teacher, and artist; his specialties are on the cultural, social and political implications of modern communication media such as the Internet, mobile telephony, virtual communities, digital media and learning, and online co-learning. He joins the Cool Tools podcast this week to discuss how his budding interest in woodworking has enriched his creative projects and led him to amass a whole new arsenal of cool tools. In this episode, Howard shows us a thorough list of must-haves for any beginner in woodworking or circuit tinkering, as well as some quality-of-life items to cultivate a healthy working environment.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Podcast on iTunes | RSS | Download episode | Transcript

Subscribe to Cool Tools Show

Show notes:

Howard’s Etsy Page

Here are Howard’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:





6′ x 8′ Tuff Shed: ~$2,000.00 (See website for exact pricing.)
“I’ve got a six by eight foot shed installed. They broke it down into parts and moved it through my narrow garden gate and installed and painted it, all level and nice, for two thousand dollars for an eight by six foot shed. You’ll be amazed at the amount of stuff I’ve been able to cram in there.”


Makita Compound Miter Saw: $449.00-$796.00
“I’ve got a Makita compound miter saw, which is invaluable. Compound means you can move it in an angle in the horizontal plane, but you can also move it at angles in the vertical plane to make bevels. That’s very useful especially if you get a blade with more teeth on it so that you can make finer cuts.”


Survivair S-Series Half Mask respirator mask: $27

“The respirator I’m using is the Survivair, S. Series Half Mask Respirator. Cost me thirty bucks and I figure it’s worth it to not have to worry about my lungs.”


Jet 10-inch lathe: $419 – $521

“I have a Jet mini-lathe. Again, I took a wood turning class and the teacher recommended it. It’s a 10-inch, which enables me to work in a pretty small space.”


Rikon 8-inch grinder: $140


Wolverine Grinding Jig: $92

“By the way, if you get a lathe you have to get a grinder, I found out, because your tools get dull very quickly, so I’ve got a Rikon eight-inch grinder and at the recommendation of my wood turning teacher. I got the Wolverine grinding jig with it.”


Uvex Bionic Face Shield: $42 – $54


Roker Wireless portable bluetooth speaker: $23

“I just put on Spotify or my iTunes, click ‘Library,’ start playing it on my iPhone, and then just turn on my speaker and turn on Bluetooth and, bang! It’s pretty substantial.”


Spoonflower Fabrics: See website for pricing.

“If you go to Spoonflower.com you can upload any image and they’ll send you fabric.”


Copy Paste Pro: Free

“Copy Paste Pro will remember up to the last two hundred things that I either cut or copied to my clipboard. The clipboard, by the way, Ted Nelson calls “the abominable hidey hole.”


Radio Shack Wire Wrapping Tool: $3 – $13

“It wraps wire around a pin and makes just as good an electrical connection — and just as good a mechanical connection — as soldering does. You put a little shrink wrap on it and it can be quite robust if you’re not going to move it around too much.”


Adafruit Perma-Proto Breadboard: $7.00

Mark: “Adafruit makes these really great printed circuit boards that have the same letter and numbering system as a solderless breadboard”


Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencils: $23/doz.

“One thing that Boing Boing turned me onto are Blackwing pencils. I’ve got those out in the shed. I’ve got them in my sketchbook here in the office.”


Felco Pruners: $54 – $63

“I use them for cutting up anything that’s basically smaller than your thumb and there’s a lot of it in my garden. If you’ve got fruit trees or you’ve got bushes or blackberries or ivy, anything like that you’ll use it a lot.”



Paper Clay: $12/16 oz.

“It’s mostly paper but it’s also got a little bit of clay in it. You don’t need to bake it. It takes a couple of days to dry and after it dried you can sand it and paint it or put something more substantial over it and it’s very, very lightweight which is a good reason for using it.”