The Accidental Hammer
Initially, this all happened by “accident”. I did not wake up one morning and say “I think I will make a paper hammer”. I did not know what one was or even that the two words went together to form something. In fact, the name seems like a contradiction of terms. Paper—soft, bendable, collapsible, thin. Hammer—hard, rigid, firm, thick.
Working as a student of Charles Lewton-Brain of Calgary, Canada, I was concerned that in trying to hammer a piece of copper, the leather or wood mallets had a tendency to mark the metal (not necessarily where I wanted marks). In talking to Charles, he mentioned that at one time there were hammers whose heads were made out of tightly rolled paper. However, there was not a source for them anymore.
So, upon returning from Canada, I said to my husband, “I want you to design and make me a device which will take a roll of Kraft paper and turn it into a densely-packed hammer head.”
He did not say much to this request (other than to say that he was not spending his retirement making paper hammers), but after disappearing for a couple of days in the studio, he called me down to look at what he had “invented”. Here sat a perfectly amazing little machine.
Well, we commenced to make our first hammer head. And then another and another. I am still using that first one we made, and it is worn, smooth, velvety, solid, and lovely to work with. I use it all the time unless I want to texture my metal or confirm it.
We continually worked with the machine, changing some of the basic design, tweeking it, reconfiguring it, making tiny adjustments, and thought considerably about engineering principles and some physics until we “got it right”.