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Dimensions: Large Masher: paddle size is 1.5" x 2", tool length: 7 inches Small Masher: paddle size is 1.25" x 1.5"
I am really excited to introduce these new mashers - initially we were just planning on creating a "ridged masher" (which is also available), but the mechanism "Tool-Tony" came up with was so incredibly beautiful that we decided to make "regular mashers" as well.
A well designed masher is one of those tools that literally every beadmaker, or actually every lampworker, should have - even though there might be weeks were it's never touched, but it's kind of like a hammer or screwdriver in every household, sooner or later you will need it, and you don't want anything less than the best.
What makes these masher so special?
I will go into more detail below, but I just wanted to add all the good points in a list:
- light weight - well balanced - comfortable to hold with rounded edges on the handle - very easy to press - short - durable - beautiful
Most of these points you understand know the moment you hold it in your hand: it just feels good, light weight without being flimsy, easy to press down (you will be surprised!) and just downright beautiful.
Most mashers that are used by beadmakers are very long. That means that your hands are far away from the "action", you don't have as much control, and you have to press very hard, because so much of the applied pressure gets lost in the length of the handles. Here is a picture of a "standard masher" (and that one is one of the better ones I own...) next to the Magic Masher, you can see how much shorter it is.
There are times when a "quick mash" is just what you need, and the closer to the "action" you are holding the masher, the better. I remember taking a class with the fantastic paperweight maker Chris Buzzini, and he had a special masher made, just for him, that I was SO jealous about (I told him to check my pockets before I left) - and thinking back to it, the Magic Masher is very similar to what Chris used to smash a tiny amount of glass into a perfect little petal. Because there was so little glass, you only had a split second to "get in for the kill". And the thickness of the paddles added more "oumph" behind the mash.
The next picture of the Magic Masher in my hand illustrates how much closer you are to your work, which gives you more control and requires less pressure, because very little of your pressure gets "lost", as it does in a masher with a longer handle.
The small amount of pressure needed when mashing was what impressed the first testers most - one lady with arthritis in her hand said she couldn't believe how easy this was, and that she had finally found a masher she could actually operate...she had one of those very common mashers that comes with a wooden handle... very uncomfortable in your hands...
You might wonder whether the handle will get hot, considering that the paddles are made from brass and your hand is very close to those paddles. When we tested the prototypes during the first "Beadcamp" in Florida, there was ONE student (out of 10) who found that the handle got uncomfortably hot, none of the other students had the same experience, but just to be on the safe side Tool-Tony now included a tiny square of some aerospace-material between the handle and the brass paddles (as outlined in the picture), which absorbs the heat and keeps the handle nice and cool.
One big question when it comes to mashers is: are they coming together parallel? The answer is: not really. Most mashers have "some" point at which the paddles are parallel to each other, but that's kind of a random point. There is only ONE pair of mashers on the market that promises parallel action at every point, and what deterred me from purchasing one was not the price (around $ 140), but the incredibly uncomfortable way it handles. I have tried it many times, borrowing it from students, and I could never warm up to it. But if PARALLEL mashing action is one of your foremost needs, that is the only one that delivers. The SMALL Magic Masher is parallel at about 1/8th of an inch, the LARGE Magic Masher is parallel at 1/4th of an inch. The latter was designed to accommodate people who actually use mashers to make flat beads (like tabs) - and 1/4th of an inch seemed a good thickness for beads like that.
So again, being parallel in NOT one of the sales point of the Magic Masher, but honestly, for MOST applications of mashing, being parellel is not all that important. I mostly use mashers when making twisties or cane, or when flattening a part of a bead.... none of which requires things being parallel.
If I managed to convince you that you HAVE to have a Magic Masher, even though you already have a masher or two cluttering your workspace, the last question might be: which one should you get? Some people believe that one big tool will replace all the smaller tools of the same kind - if that is your thinking, of course, get the large one. Personally, I always use the SMALLEST tool of something. I have a bunch of graphite marvers, and when I work on a small area, I use the really small one. I just work better that way, although the largest marver would do the same job. When it comes to the masher, for MOST people the smaller one will be just perfect. I have both mashers, of course, and I have only used the larger one to try it, but when it comes to actually WORKING, I tend to grab the smaller one, just because that's me, and I always use the smallest tool I have. If you are more the "one tool should serve all" kind of person, OR if you want to use the masher to flatten your actual beads, then the larger version will serve you better. And it you get one and it doesn't work for you, you can always exchange it for the other one, of course.
I might have almost convinced you - but then there is the issue of the price. I know. Most of the mashers on the market are somewhere around $ 40 (of course, except for one that costs $ 140) - so these two are quite a bit more expensive - but remember, they are entirely handmade, in a small shop in California, by tool-genius Tony Garcia, and it takes 32 steps to make each masher. Yes, there are other mashers that are handmade as well, but I dare say that nothing surpasses the quality of these mashers. I remember from my childhood, there was an expensive butcher-shop my dad shopped at once in a while, they had a sign on the wall: "The joy over a cheap price doesn't last as long as the enjoyment of excellent quality." Amen to that (and their liver sausage was out of this world, I do remember that, 40 years later).
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! Let's mash!