“I use Pelikan black drawing ink, and the crow-quill pen nibs. And you stick them in a handle. They’re all getting harder to find, all these antique art instruments. The companies that have made them are dying off one by one. But I got lucky. One day about six or seven years ago, my daughter, Sophie, bought a box of old pen points at a flea market in France. She found a box of about a hundred drawing pen points, and they’re the best ones I’ve ever used. They last and last, everything about them is fine, the point, the tensile quality, even the metal, the glass. The metal was just better, back then. I’ve still got maybe fifty of those. I think they’ll probably last me the rest of my life.”more info
source: “R. Crumb, The Art of Comics No. 1,” interviewed by Ted Widmer, in Issue 193 of The Paris Review, 2010.
“Paul Klee’s studio was once described as an alchemist’s lair, stuffed with the materials and instruments that he made and kept about him—home-made brushes, whittled reed pens, dental picks and razor blades fastened to improvised handles, gesso-caked cups and bent bits of wire to scrape, incise, and abrade the compounded surfaces of his paintings.”more info
source: The Art of Looking Sideways (London: Phaidon, 2001), 24.
“One well-documented use of tools on a grand scale by crows around the world is the dropping of nuts on the road to be shelled by passing cars. The crows will swoop in, drop their nuts, and wait on a wire for a vehicle to pass. They will then swoop down again to see whether their nuts have been crushed open.”more info
source: Crow Planet (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009), 72.
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“It can take years to find the right art supplies.”more info
“The white page for me is like a ski slope; I go absolutely mad! I go mad in stationery stores. Just to see beautiful paper gives me a desire to write.”more info
source: “The Artist as Musician,” in A Woman Speaks (Chicago: The Swallow Press, 1975), 219.
notes: interview is edited and built out of various conversations, interviews, and seminars
“Thanks again for the knife, which is a little gem. My husband, I regret to say, has snitched it for his own use—cutting the lemon peel the proper thinness for the six o’clock Martini—but it will be mine while he is in California.”more info
source: April 3, 1952 letter to Julia Child in As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), 9–10.
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“When I was a little kid, there were still blacksmiths around, and I’ve never forgotten the ring of a real hammer on a real anvil.”more info
source: written in a letter to Philip Roth, letting him know his stories are the “real thing,” dated December 12, 1969, in Saul Bellow: Letters (New York: Viking, 2010), 290.
“The process of writing and thinking on screen has a wonderful lightness, a sense of constant changeability and evanescence. But sometimes you need to touch down. As the pamphlet that comes tucked into each Moleskine says, it’s a way ‘to capture reality on the move.’ I can pull ideas not only out of my mind but out of the ethereal digital dimension and given them material presence and stability. Yes, you exist, you are worthy of this world. It doesn’t matter that the best of my notes will ultimately reside on my hard drive. The point is that before any of that happens, while the ideas are still cooking, I spend time with a tool that brings out the best in my mind. It may be an old tool, but, like a hinged door, it can do things that the new gadgets can’t.”more info
source: Hamlet’s BlackBerry (New York: HarperCollins, 2010), 154.
“Wearing down seven number-two pencils is a good day’s work.”more info
source: The Paris Review Interviews, vol. I (New York: Picador, 2006), 40.
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notes: Originally published in Issue 18 of The Paris Review, 1958.
“I knew from the very first that some day there would be a cow here. One of the first things that turned up when we bought the place was a milking stool, an old one, handmade, smooth with the wax finish which only the seat of an honest man’s breeches can give to wood.”more info
source: “Getting Ready for a Cow,” in One Man’s Meat (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1944), 315.
notes: White wrote this essay in September 1942.
“The most powerful tool of all is the word no.”more info
source: “What I’ve Learned: Andy Grove,” by Mike Sager, Esquire, May 1, 2000.
“The best lesson my mom taught me was how to be scrappy. She was a beauty queen and had her own television show. But for her birthday, she’d buy herself a table saw. She put a roof on our house. My father—great as he is—couldn’t pick up a hammer. It was my mom who was up there pounding the shingles in. But more than that, she taught me how to be realistic and survive in weird situations.”more info
source: “What I’ve Learned: George Clooney,” by Cal Fussman, Esquire, December 31, 2004.
“Nothing is more incisive than extreme cold. As we now cut iron with an acetylene torch, some day when we shall have completely harnessed the cold, tools will be unnecessary and we’ll saw wood with a blade of cold.”more info
source: Sens-Plastique (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2008), 123.
“As soon as you move to New York, you kiss your tools goodbye.”more info