Back at Christmastime last year, my aunt got me a really nice drawing kit in a flat-pack plastic bubble. It was ugly and not very convenient to get at the specialized pencils and charcoals and so on. So I left it packed up for another day.
I found it today while cleaning my office. (Cleaning my office is code for fussing around on the Internet in between bouts of throwing stuff away. I really need to make Cleaning my office a priority as an actual thing I do, and not code for something else.)
I’m aware that Christmas is coming again, and it would be nice to have some presents to give away. This drawing kit is a perfect candidate, really. But I can’t take something that I didn’t use in a year, and give it away to someone else to not use without making some sort of change to it. So I’ve added a little something to it this morning — a tool roll to contain the tools.
A tool roll is kind of a promise to do work. It’s a container for the tools, but it’s also a thing that places them in a way that makes them easily accessible. It takes materials that were formerly sealed away, and makes them available and organized immediately. Paired with a nice sketch notebook, this has immediately become a more attractive and useful tool for someone, and it’s not merely a tool-set: it’s an imagining of how to put them to use. Stick this in your hiking backpack, and immediately you’re set for a day of plein-air sketching while out and about on a hike. It’s a new way of expressing freedom.
It’s not to say that I or anyone else is likely to use it. After all, I made a bunch of tool rolls earlier this year to give away for the “back to school” movement; and one of them is even on my Etsy website, unsold. Part of it is that it’s cheaper to buy them from China right now, though that may not always be the case. It’s always the case that my solo production will always be lower and more expensive than a sweatshop factory full of little old ladies at their sewing machines. But I’ll never be able to meet their ability to produce. So I have to do something else, and treat the making of these kinds of projects as what they are — cheer-sending Christmas presents.