Tools and Technology

Tools are beautiful

Something about design for function makes the result attractive. And rendering designed materials in watercolour can create magic. Aircraft design requires no description and train spotting is a thing. Boats and the supporting technology (and characters) are certainly a worthy subject for a watercolour study. When I worked on the mine I used to love having to go to the open pit to watch the huge dozers, shovels and trucks. Functional design on a mega scale. Where would we be without engineers?

This posting focusses on the beauty of the functional mundane.


Since taking on the discipline of one watercolour-a-day I have sometimes looked into my plumbing kit for subjects to paint. I like the dull shine on brass.


And I can’t do anything with this kit without two very important helpers – Shifty and Bobbejaan.

Shifty and Bobbejaan

Heh heh – all I need to add is a ‘groot tang’ en ‘n rol bloudraad – and I would fit right in at the Kooperasie. Actually there is an idea… (Watch this space).

Heh heh – all I need to add is a ‘groot tang’ en ‘n rol bloudraad – and I would fit right in at the Kooperasie. Actually there is an idea… (Watch this space).

While we wait, here is are my knippers.


And then there are tools to hold stuff down while I bliksem it with my hammer. I grew up using a workshop without a vice. Man! The frustration! It was one of the first tools I bought. I also now have a collection of G clamps.

I bought this mini-vice mostly because it was just a neat little piece of equipment. It came in a carefully constructed box with wax wrapping. Very cool. I use it to squeeze the last few washes out of watercolour tubes when my palette becomes depleted.


More brass and shine!

Miscellaneous stuff

And here are some highly functional items from a while back. The first is a “Friend” a camming device from rock-climbing days. My magnifying glass with resident elephant from my days in geology. Below is my “Awl for All”. When I made myself sheepskin boots and a leather jacket I bought the awl from Woodheads in Cape Town because it inlcuded instructions on how to sew leather. Good 50s packaging. Actually I may move all of these to another post.

My High-lift Jack

And here is a piece of equipment that saved my landrover – decades ago when I drove into a mud sink in the Namib. Fortunately for all of us on the trip I found a log that had washed down the Orange River and was able to get just enough lift on the front bumper to get some rocks under the front wheels to reverse out. I also used it extensively to build a rock wall. A whole other story…

I bought this from a guy called Bob who was a Cobol programmer on the mine. He used to call his globals file “Bobglobs”. Later when I joined the team to write code they told me he used to pick his nose as he worked. I always found that quite amusing.

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