Sharpening the Saw, Dremel Style

Today I’m off to Tucson to take a Dremel tool class. It sounds odd that someone who spends most of her time working with art journaling would need to wield a tool most often known for cutting, sanding, and drilling. But there is the creative curiosity thing–“what happens if?”

Dremel tool and attachments for drilling, sanding, building.Constant learning is a big part of a creative life. The spirit needs to be honed, tempered, and set to rest. This class is the honing part. To stay creative, sharp, alive, I need to learn new things, and how to work out new ideas with old tools.

The Dremel tool class seemed like a wonderful starting place. It will give me new ways to look at journaling, new answers to the question, “What is a journal?” Where are the boundaries of the thing that catches your thoughts and helps you discover yourself? If self-exploration is deep, limitless and expansive, shouldn’t the vessel that holds those thoughts be all those things, too?

Tell me about a journal you used that filled you with joy. I’ll catch up with you when I get back from class. Read the review of Jill Timm’s Dremel class.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach.

17 thoughts on “Sharpening the Saw, Dremel Style

  1. Love the idea of a Dreml class. My older daughter uses her Dreml –a present from her dad and I when she was in college at her request–to carve pumpkins and squashes at Halloween. Why not journal covers, too? Always new things to learn.

    And Pete, I have wanted to take a welding class for decades. But I’m a bit afraid of fires, so I never have. You highly recommend it, hmmmm??

    • The Dremel does more than I thought. It was an interesting and useful class. Lots of hard work, too. Welding and soldering are close enough that you can start there, Bo. Soldering well is a skill that is useful and not easy to perfect. Well, this is the land of BIG sculpture, so there’s always that opportunity.

    • The thing about welding is that it’s surprisingly easy to get started. There are several kinds of welders but I think they fall into two categories: electric and gas. I’ve only used the most basic; an electric arc welder. It’s just a big electric spark that’s hot enough to melt steel. Gas-based welders are like propane torches, but hotter. I think there’s more skill involved in using those.

    • Thanks for the link, Diana. How typically generous of you to include me! I love using Sumi inks. Well, I love inks in general as a color medium. Not used enough, in my opinion. In this month’s copy of Watercolor Artists there is a story about a man who documented Chinese immigrant labor through watercolor illustrations–using only sumi inks. The illustrations have a ghostly, historical feel.

  2. For your next class, my recommendation is welding. No, really! It’s not hard and it changes your perception of metal. I should say, it’s not hard to do; I think it’s pretty hard to do well. Beyond me, anyway.

    • After I laughed, I thought, “You know, it’s not that much different from soldering when I made jewelry.” Another useful skill. And you are right about easy to do, hard to do well. It took me years to become skilled at soldering silver.

  3. I think often of how my creative edeavors seem small, daily, expressions…and I now see your post on “power tools!” and see the bigger idea of “building” something.

    I will not be using an actual power tool, but my mind and soul feel like a “virtual” power tool! I can use these seemingly small ideas, creations, to create something MUCH bigger. Perhaps like the tiny bits used in the dremel create a larger version…of something.

    As always, Quinn…you stretch my thinking and give me a place to voice those thoughts:)

    • Ahhh, Marianne, the Dremel drills holes to bind the signatures, allows you to use metal or plexiglass covers, too. I’ll be posting a review of the class later on Sunday and you’ll get great ideas for book making and Dremels!

  4. I’ve used Dremels since I was about 12; they’re great. The one in the picture is the current primo choice; it’s the rechargeable variable speed version. However because of the battery pack it doesn’t fit in all the accessory systems — the drill press stand is particularly useful, but you need the old style corded Dremel to fit. Enjoy the class!

    • The photo is not the one I own, although the case looks just like it. I bought the 300 series because of the drill press stand and because when you are bookworking, you are doing a lot of small repetitive motion that requires high torque–not what a battery pack delivers. Can’t wait to use the right tools!

      • The battery version is super useful but it’s also heavy after a while. If you have a stable mount (like the drill press stand) there’s a flexible driveshaft that’s much better for fine handheld work. The latest generation of battery power tools is phenomenal, by the way. Loads of power and charge lasts for hours of use.

        • OK, so I bought the “work station” which is really a drill press for the Dremel. I may get a shaft drive, at some point, too. The one I tried was nice enough, but I imagined (and I may well have imagined it) that the torque was lower. And it heated up the Dremel something fierce.

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