Day 3:  The prompt: Pick a tool, list 100 different ways I could use this tool in my work?

The moment the prompt landed in front of me, pick a tool and list 100 different ways to use it – my eyes unconsciously darted to the surface of my writing desk The clutter of tools, each with its defined purpose lay there, but my gaze landed on my pens, pencils and highlighters. Tools so simple and commonplace are a cornerstone of my process, but that’s the beauty of art and creativity; it’s often about rediscovering the ordinary or what we fail to notice.

I think most people assume a ceramic artist just plays with clay, and perhaps doesnt think too much about the importance of writing and drawing as foundational aspects of an artists practice. While it might seem counterintuitive, the act of writing, highlighting, and drawing is an integral part of my ceramic journey. Each pencil line or pen mark is like a small marker, leading me further into the depths of my thoughts and ideas.


Ok, so there’s the very act how I capture ideas. It’s simple right? But the action solidifies fleeting thoughts, turning them into tangible concepts. A rough doodle can morph into a blueprint for my next piece. Sometimes, I scribble down words that evoke emotions or images I’d like to capture in clay. Earthy, ethereal, stormy, serene, poetic. It’s not about the words themselves, but the worlds they conjure.

Then there’s the art of highlighting. Much like in ceramics, where you etch out patterns or emphasize textures, highlighting in my notebooks and index cards helps me accentuate ideas I find compelling. It’s a sort of mental bookmark, telling me, “Here’s something worth exploring further.”

But it’s not just about the immediate inspiration. My pens and pencils aid in feeding my giant Zettlekasten – a system that’s become my external brain, a repository of thoughts, insights, and observations. By writing, I’m transferring ideas onto cards, making connections, and seeing patterns that weren’t immediately evident. The very act of putting pen to paper forces me to dissect and re-evaluate my ideas, often leading to refined or entirely new concepts for my artwork.

I think that drawing preliminary sketches really supports and guides in visualizing three-dimensional forms. While the tactile feel of clay is irreplaceable, sketches offer a playground to test, iterate, and even make mistakes. It’s a space where the risk is low, but the potential for discovery is boundless.

What’s even more interesting to me writing about my pens and pencils as tools, is how the act of using them shapes my mindset. Every time I pick up a pen or pencil, I’m not just recording ideas; I’m also in a state of introspection. I’m questioning, challenging, and conversing with myself. It becomes a meditative act, much like moulding clay on the wheel, where the world fades away, leaving just the artist and the medium.

So, when asked about 100 ways a tool impacts my work, I might not have a literal list, (I honestly was never going to write 100 ways to use the tool cause I’m lazy), but I see an endless weave of connections, emotions, and revelations. The pen, the pencil, the written word, they aren’t just tools; they’re bridges, linking the nebulous realm of inspiration to the tangible world of creation.

End of Day 3