Oh my!!! Is love at first sight truly possible? Can you fall truly, madly, deeply in love at the first glimpse?
You better believe it! Especially if the item in question is a tool. Not just any tool, but a beautiful tool. A wonderfully well-crafted, well thought out tool. A beautifully balanced tool. An exquisite expression of humanity's destiny as a tool-making ape. Oh my.
This stunning baby, that looks like it perhaps should be on the space shuttle, next to the Canadarm - is the TP Mashers - and TP stands for truly parallel.
And in the best tradition of the best tools, it is immediately obvious that mash parallelly is exactly what it is designed to do.
Note the scissor action. Note how the head - the mashy part - stays completely parallel. Have I mentioned the sheer parallelity of these?
But wait - there's more. Not only do these mash your bead with complete and utter even action - they have switchable graphite pads - so you can change shapes.
Here are 4 different shapes, and the tiny, tiny Allen key that you need to undo the screw that holds them in place. Which I now live in fear of losing because it's so small.
Changing the graphite shaping "pucks" is simple - undo the screws, turn the masher to point the now loosened puck downward, and have it slide into your hand. (Graphite ain't particularly strong - I wouldn't suggest dropping it.) Good news - due to all the lubricating graphite, I think we can assume that the screw will never get stuck!
In addition, the heads (where the pucks are contained) can be released and unscrewed. I haven't actually found a use for this yet, but I like lots of options, so it's cool.
There is a set screw that you can use to prevent mashing too thin, or to get consistent thicknesses. I personally never use this, but some people like them.
The pucks come in flat, lentil, and large and small cushion, or maybe bar. Note, in these pics, and in real life, the cushion masher appears to have a disfiguring ridge down the centre. This is completely an optical illusion, but you have to use your fingers to reassure yourself there is no ridge there.
The flat is, well, flat. The lentil is a nice curve, w/o being so deep that you need 3 rods to fill it.
The cushion press is possibly the most versatile - as most of the shape control starts with whatever shape you start with. You can see from this handful of mandrels - all done with the large cushion press - that every thing from large rectangular tabs (teal over silver - also see last post), bracelet tabs, slender tubes, and even more drop like shapes all lead to interesting shapes when mashed.
This is the lentil shape. I usually flatten off that little scoopy bit at the end - I really don't like the "wings" on lentils - some people adore 'em though.
But of course, one of the first things I did was swap out one of the flat pucks for a lentil puck, and start making flat-back lentils - or turtle-back shapes. Half the glass for one thing. And I'm not sure, but I think that they may resist flipping over when worn as a pendant (the heavier side - the lentil side - should, in theory, stay at the back - so this would make the flat side the focal side - but I'll be stringing these and testing that theory.)
My only problem with this masher is that I will need more than one, as you just can't swap pucks in the middle of a bead, and I will probably want one set up for flat mashing at all time, and ideally, 3 more or 4 more (lentil, cushion, turtle-back, other cushion), but I might have to build up to that.
If you do spend a lot of time mashing a single bead from very hot, you might find that, when you go to pick it back up - the heat has transmitted to the handles, and they are warmish. Not really warm, but warmer than expected. Or maybe I just put a hot tool down them and didn't notice.
Anyway - I think these are fabulous - I hope they made a lot of them! Woohoo! I also hope that more puck options will become available too. Maybe some to impress designs, like spirals?
Postscript: As I have had requests from multiple sources as to where to get these - I got mine from Jean Robichaud at Nortel Mfg in Toronto - I know she has more coming - so if you are in Canada - that's a good option. Email her at jean [!at] nortelmfg.com
They are being made and distributed by Wale in the US, so if you are in the States, they are a good choice.
Outside of continental North America, email both and see who's shipping is cheaper. ;-)