Tools of the Trade-The Hammer

It is a new series, the third of 2010 and it’s only the 9th of January, 2010.

We have “Slides of My Father” and “Food Art” and now thanks to Jim Dine, “Tools of the Trade”.

I felt like my old self today, the first time since Thanksgiving.  No aches, no pains, no crowd clearing cough.  I was grateful.

I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to celebrate!

9 degrees out.  Who cares?  My back feels fine!  I can walk around and just let things hit me.

Jim Dine hit me.  He has 10 lithographs hanging in the new Visitor Center at the MFA of what he calls “Tools of Winter”.  Drawings of simple tools.  An awl.  A wrench.  Scissors.  I don’t know why he called it “Tools of Winter” but I loved each and every one of them.  He also had a series of paint brushes!  I looked around the internet for an image of one of these tools but could only find some red clippers to absolutely die for but they weren’t one of the lithographs at the MFA.

I could hardly wait to get home to get out the red tool box that my late brother had brought over to me after my Dad died.  He had more tools than Senor Craftsman himself.  Old tools.  Hardware stores were his favorite place to go.  I can remember him asking one of us when we were just kids, “Hey, wanna go to the hardware store?”as if he was saying, “Anyone want some candy?”

My brother and I would slowly slide under the table hoping he’d forget we were there.

No more.  Let me at these tools of the trade.  The older the better.  Jim Dine was quoted on the Wexner Center for the Arts website as saying that the hammer symbolizes the creative force of all artists as they can “be used to build as well as to break apart”.

Say no more.

I begin with my father’s hammer.

Now, mine.

Oh, how I’d love to go the hardware store now, fifty years later.  I think I’m going tomorrow and see what I can see.

Building and breaking apart.

Yes, all life long– the sounds of hammering.

I’m also going to see if I can buy a stethoscope somewhere and make a thank-you card for my new doctor who has kind eyes, a light touch but I’m pretty sure doesn’t use a hammer in his trade.

©Pat Coakley 2010


**Select images from this blog and my wider archive can be purchased at

8 comments on “Tools of the Trade-The Hammer”

  1. Beautiful hammer, the color, detail. I have my dads old hammers and tools too. I was just fixing a table leg the other day, a small ornate table he made (he taught wood-working and metal-working and built furniture for our home) thinking the same hammer that pinned this together is poking this wobbly leg’s pegs back in their burrows. I use his tools, even though they are so old, they were made so well that they have kept their integrity over the years. I have tried a lot of hammers, and the best one was passed on to me, with a solid wood handle and no frills, excels in hammering for its strength balance and dynamic simplicity (userfriendly for a smaller hand). sigh. did you know Jim Dine is a graduate of the Museum School? yes. you probably do, but I like to mention it anyway. I love your new seriesses!

    • Oh, I think the thought of tools passed on is such a potent and dynamic simplicity, in and of itself! I did NOT know Jim Dine was a Museum school graduate!!! I knew he had Boston training somewhere but did not know specifically! You’ve probably seen them in the visitor center! I don’t know whether they are part of their permanent collection or what. Do you?

  2. A beautiful, even tender, image. Old tools carry with them the remnants and marks of many projects past. Just look at that hammer, and imagine what it has done! While a new tool can be well made and even graceful, it will never carry the patina of one well used and loved.
    I envy your access to interesting and stimulating exhibits such as Jim Dine’s, and am glad to hear you are energized enough to go out in that weather to see it!

    • Tender is such a lovely observation about this hammer, Don, and one I felt myself in looking at Jim Dine’s tools as well. Makes me feel good that is embedded in my image as well. It’s funny…as I was scanning the contents of the tool box yesterday, I found myself looking at certain previews of a tool and saying. “O, my…how sweet that screwdriver is!” O, my.

  3. i know the MFA has some of Jim Dine’s work in the permanent collection but not sure exactly which ones. Have you seen his bathrobe series? I love his work.

    I have to laugh at your comment to don. i love what he says, and i can so relate to your inner dialogue ha! I’ve recently said “what a wonderful box of brads.” this large box of 2″ers that i’ve had for more than 20 years. I think its bottomless. i think it will still be here in another 20 years. i’ve used them for everything and they never run out. if they did i wouldnt know how to find replacements. this is true. i was at home deopt and looking at the vast array of them and couldnt figure out which ones were like the ones i have. the boxes are all tightly packaged, you cant open them and see whats inside.

  4. whoa…. do you hear me slamming on the brakes ??? Love this piece (constructing and destructing – that’s what life is all about !!) and I was in a blissful state of imagery until I hit the “NEW DOCTOR”??? I need the specifics gf !!! Congrats for standing your ground…. time to construct a new and healthier relationship !!!

  5. Very cool picture of the hammer. Have you ever considered taking photos of things inside the house…like for example… Your wood floors, or camera equipment, or any antique things you might own?? I have seen some stuff done like that and it looks pretty neat.

    Sanityfound even took photos of interesting fabrics that came out amazing!

  6. Amber, these days anything or anyone who comes in the house that fits in a scanner is at risk! Don’t have hardwood floors but fabrics…hmmm…thanks for the idea!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: