Did you know Cool Tools was actually created by metal clay artists? Alan Rein, owner, tells how he and his wife became inspired to create the company.
“My wife Mardel, who was a jeweler, and I took an introductory class in metal clay in 2002 when it was still very new to the market. While in the class, Mardel began cutting into erasers with an Exacto-knife to create textures. The class loved them, and that was the spark which ignited Cool Tools! Two years later Cool Tools launched a website, starting with clay rollers, some textures, and a few other metal clay products.
“Products and shipping were done out of our basement at the start,” laughs Alan. “There wasn’t as much video information on or about metal clay back then, and the videos we created were popular and helped our business grow. Now we have a store with over 10,000 products, including 40 unique Cool Tools brand products that are created specifically for metal clay and metal clay artists.”
“One of our early flagship products was the release of anti-stick product Coolslip, and it remains one of our most popular and best-known products today. We now make hundreds of tools specifically for metal clay, including Slik, Claymate, clay hydrators, clay rolling frames and rollers, drying forms, textures, the Ultra Clay pick, ring sizers, Tuff cards, antique molds, silicone ring mandrels and, of course, metal clays.
“One of the real pioneers in metal clay, in my opinion, was Bill Struve,” adds Alan. “He did more for metal clay than most people realize. Bill developed, and we were happy to make and market for him, the very first sterling silver clay, EZ960® in 2016, which is still our bestselling clay. Bill was also the first to develop the base metal clays COPPRclay and BRONZclay, and developed FS999™ Fine Silver Clay. We are also proud to make and market EZ960 Sterling Silver, FS999 Fine Silver, Cyprus Copper Clay, and we hope to be releasing a new clay by Cindy Silas soon, Aereus Bronze Metal Clay.”
“We are always innovating to create new products for metal clay artists. We just released Finishing Touch Molds, silicone molds specifically designed to easily create precise and repeatable shapes and adornments. Using only tiny amounts of clay, artists are able to add wonderful details and shapes, enhancing their metal clay designs.
“As for trends in the market, we see metal clay now being combined with many other mediums and materials such as resin, dichroic glass, polymer clay, leather, and enamels. Adding color is of special interest: artists are using Prismacolor pencils, alcohol inks, Pebeo Porcelain Paints, Shiva Artist Paintstiks and enamels. Metal clay is such a versatile medium that we can’t wait to see what artists will do with it next!”
What makes Cool Tools different? “We’ve always been focused on helping artists with the information they need to create successfully. Our clays are always shipped with firing instructions, we have a wealth of reference information available online, and we continually create new videos to educate artists, whether new or advanced, on new techniques and new projects. Our goal at the outset, and now, is to have the metal clay community feel that Cool Tools is their best source for metal clay information as well as new and innovative tools and videos.”
Alan, who is a member of AMCAW’s board of directors, notes that Cool Tools was glad to become one of the founding gold sponsors of AMCAW. “We support unified certification of metal clays that is not brand specific, and we feel AMCAW is the perfect venue to support this initiative.”
In fact, Alan has a special offer for artists who are also supporting our vision of shaping the future of metal clay by becoming AMCAW members: you can receive 20% off Cool Tools Brand Metal Clay (EZ960, FS999 and Cyprus Copper) through October 1, 2019, by using the promotional code AMCAW (Discount doesn’t apply to quantity-discounted packages). (Thank you, Cool Tools!)
Find Cool Tools at cooltools.us
Meet the Cool Tools family: from L to R, front row: Tara Strommen (production), Diane Eckstein (shipping), Rhonda Rein (general manager), Jill Genz (customer service), Karen Trexler (resident artist), Mary Jo Hookstead (production); second row: Marty Longrie (videographer and photography) , Dianne Dieter (purchasing), Brice Folts (production), Alan Rein (owner), Diane Rein (owner), Dan Hebbe (production).