Paint Brushes and Hockey Sticks – Day 53

[Today’s featured artwork for Day 53 of the 365 Days Project is by Vicki Hardin.]

Skunk Hair Brush by Vicki Hardin
“Skunk Hair Brush” by Vicki Hardin.

You gotta have the right tools.

#53 – Behind every extraordinary creation is a great talent supported by the right tools.

Tools are just as important as materials to any artist.  Although there’s no denying the value of talent and experience, the right tools can raise that talent to the highest level imaginable.

I had a colleague in Canada who used to play hockey as a child with his neighborhood friends. They were invited one day to play another neighborhood “team” of Native American kids from the nearby reservation. “I knew we’d never be able to beat them,” he said. “They make their own hockey sticks! How could we possibly compete with our shiny new store-bought sticks against a team who carves their own hockey sticks?”

When I came across Vicki Hardin’s exquisite handmade brushes for this article, it reminded me of those kids with their hockey sticks. Her brushes are not only unique works of art, but they are also functional – used for very specific types of work. Each brush is created from carefully-chosen natural materials – skunk hair, rooster hackles, feathers, antler, then meticulously hand-bound for durable wear.

The point of the hockey story and Vicki’s brushes is this: it’s not just the quality of the materials, it’s the intent. You can always buy an item of quality that’s mass-produced. But imagine the power of making your own hockey stick – choosing the tree which will furnish the wood, then spending days and nights carving it so that it fits just right in your hands and controls the puck exactly the way you like it.

I’m not about to create my own Dremel tools for my sculptural work, but I do have two wonderful workbenches that were created from old doors and wood scraps from the building where I had my first studio. Almost two decades later, those benches still vibrate with a creative energy I could never buy in a store.

There’s simply an added “edge” to that kind of dedication, which is why painters mix their own paints, sculptors have carving tools specially-made just for them and calligraphers create their own brushes.

What’s in your toolbox?

Hakame Brush by Vicki Hardin
“Hakame Brush” by Vicki Hardin. Photo courtesy ©Vicki Hardin.
Fox Hair Brush by Vicki Hardin
“Fox Hair Brush” by Vicki Hardin. Photo courtesy ©Vicki Hardin.
Clay birds by Vicki Hardin
“Untitled” by Vicki Hardin. Photo courtesy ©Vicki Hardin.

Vicki Hardin’s artwork can be viewed at: Vicki Hardin

Description of the images included in this post:
Skunk Hair Brush
Vicki Hardin, Texas
Skunk hair, feathers, bamboo, antler

Hakame Brush
Vicki Hardin, Texas
Broom corn straw, bamboo, chicken hackles

Fox Hair Brush
Vicki Hardin, Texas
Wood, bamboo, fox

Vicki Hardin, Texas
Pit-fired works in clay

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.

Click to view The 365 Days Project

Click to subscribe to Artful Vagabond's Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: