Category Archives: Organizing supplies
by Ashley Weeks Cart
It was a gloomy, rainy Sunday here in Billsville, so while not ideal for an afternoon hike, absolutely perfect for a day spent inside crafting up a storm. A friend of ours had passed along a link to a DIY Newspaper Basket a few weeks ago, and I was obviously intrigued. This weekend was a great time to give it a go. I saddled up with the discarded Sunday Times, adjusted the directions slightly, and suddenly had a funky place to stash a pile of plastic bags I’ve been accumulating.
Materials: Newspaper Scissors Staples or glue
Directions: 1. Use scissors to cut the seam of the newspaper to create individual 12″x 22″ pages.
2. Fold each individual page lengthwise. First in half, and then in quarters, and then in eighths. The resulting strip should be about 1.5″ thick and 22″ long. I needed around 20 for my basket.
3. Begin weaving the strips together, using a staple or glue to secure as needed.
4. Continue weaving the strips to the size of your liking. I made by basket 5 strips x 5 strips.
6. For the sides of your basket, just fold the strips to a 90 degree angle and continue weaving. Go nice and slow, keep the weave tight, and again, use staples or glue as needed. You’ll need to probably attached strips to one another as you weave the diameter.
7. When you reach the ends of the newspaper strips, fold the ends down inside the basket and secure with staple or glue. I then used another strip of newspaper to border the top edge of the basket. My glue gun broke as I did this, so I used staples to secure. You could also edge with ribbon, if you really want to get fancy. Now go stash something in it!
Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Weeks Cart
Scrapbook paper storage solutions are easier to come by than you think! See if you have an old accordion file somewhere in the basement. If you do, you’ve got yourself one of the best scrapbook paper organizers out there!
Here’s a great way to keep your single scrapbook paper sheets organized. All you need is a collapsible sweater shelf and a few of these storage bins for paper, available at Cut Rate Crafts. Label the bins by color, paper theme, or whatever system works for you.
I have hanging shoe storage bags hanging on the doors of my studio. I store surplus supplies in them. (Look for an upcoming post with pictures of my studio)
I use a pant/slacks hanger for rolls of ribbon. This is hanging from the ceiling near my desk. (Picture will be included in upcoming post with pictures of my studio).
Jewelry-Making Essentials, Part Two: 23 Everyday Items For Your Jewelry Workshop01-24-2011 by TammyJones
Ah, January. Resolutions have everyone on their best behavior, eating better, learning new skills, saving money, being earth friendly. . . . My friend Chocolate and I can’t help you with the “eating better” part, but I’m happy to say I do have some ideas that will help you learn new (jewelry-making) skills, save money, and be earth friendly, all at the same time.
Shop Smarter = Save More
I love finding new and unexpected uses for items I already have, and spending a few days with master metalsmith Lexi Erickson in her studio recently brought to my attention how many everyday items we jewelry makers repurpose for use in our craft. Shopping “outside the genre” is a great way to save money (try buying white ribbon both in a fabric/craft store and in a wedding shop, and you’ll see what I mean), but it also cuts down on having to buy more stuff, which most of us already have way too much of as it is.
|Lexi’s saw with her sparkly bike-grip saw handle.|
Lexi shared her jewelry-making essential tools on Friday, and while watching her work some magic in her workshop, I made note of these everyday, unexpected jewelry-making essentials she used while making handcrafted sterling silver jewelry:
1. Keep pickle hot and ready for your jewelry in a Crock-Pot.
2. Cute bicycle grips make a perfect hand-friendly topper for your tool handles. Get a cute sparkly one with ribbon streamers like Lexi’s, and no one will mistake your tool for theirs in a class—they’ll just wish it was theirs!
3. Sharpie markers: Draw designs on your silver or copper sheet or wire with a Sharpie—the ink will rub off when you’re ready for it to. Sharpies also double as a mandrel and are the perfect size for forming ear wires.
4. Bar Keeper’s Friend is a pumice that teams up with (5) Dawn dish detergent and (6) a kitchen scrubber or (7) a toothbrush to clean and finish sterling silver jewelry after soldering, pickling, and liver-of-sulfuring.
8. Baking soda works well as a pumice and cleaner, too.
|Bar Keeper’s Friend (a pumice) pairs up
with Dawn detergent to clean silver jewelry.
9. A plastic sandwich bag is always handy; use it to keep scraps of metal types separate, to store different gauges of wire (write the gauge on the back with a Sharpie), your saw blades, polishing wheels, solder, as a backup container around liquids that might spill, even over your hand as a makeshift glove for dirty jobs like painting on liver of sulfur.
10. Milky Way mini candy bars: Lexi never really explained why these were necessary, but she’s the expert, so I’m taking her word for it. ;o)
11. Use old paintbrushes to apply liver of sulfur to add patina to your silver jewelry.
12. Ammonia, used with Dawn, dissolves oily, greasy buffing compounds from metal. If you’re removing Tripoli, use a toothbrush or a brass brush.
13. Cotton swabs and (14) toothpicks make great removers, too. Use them in your flex shaft with Tripoli and rouge to get into hard-to-reach places and then use clean ones to remove stubborn buffing compounds from high-polish metals.
15. A pencil makes a good solder pick in a pinch—just be careful not to catch it on fire! A pencil can also be a mandrel to coil metal.
16. Boiled eggs: Slice one in half and store it with silver in a bag from #8 to get an attractive patina without using liver of sulfur.
17. Just like the bags from #8, mini candy or mint tins can be used to store any little bits and pieces you need to keep track of without investing in expensive storage pieces.
|Lexi keeps various solder types in color-coded
Altoids tins, but I’m a Godiva Chocolate Pearl
girl (of course). These tins are vertical and
taller, making them good for wire, saw blades,
18. Wad up toilet tissue and send it through a rolling mill with sheet metal for a beautifully unique texture.
19. Fabric scraps also impart great texture on metal when passed through a rolling mill. Coarse fabric doubles as very fine sandpaper or polishing cloth. Crocus cloth from auto-supply shops can be torn in strips and used for sanding or thrumming.
20. Textured-paper greeting cards, gift wrap, wallpaper samples—all of these can transfer beautiful textures to your metals when you run them through a rolling mill.
21. Window screening/mesh: You can use metal screening for its textural qualities in a rolling mill, and plastic screen doubles as a strainer for holding small parts when pickling, liver of sulfur, enameling, and more. Don’t use metal screen in pickle. Plastic screen is available.
22. WD-40 is good to keep tools oiled and whirring along smoothly.
23. Beeswax makes a perfect lube for saw blades.
What’s your favorite everyday essential for jewelry making? I’d love to read about it in the comments below!
Okay, I admit it: I love jewelry-making tools. Even if I don’t use them all, I love having them in my studio. I’m perfectly happy hanging out with my steel and wooden buddies.
Nothing upsets me more than to be happily working on a project and then realize I don’t have the proper tool to finish, so I’ve taken care of that little problem by purchasing the best-quality tools I can afford and taking good care of them. I clean them after each use and keep them oiled.
Every studio has its everyday tools—pliers, files, saws, hammers, etc.—but I thought I’d give you a look into my studio and show you my babies.
Basic Jewelry-Making Tools
My basic tools are the ones in my bench I use daily, such as:
- Pliers: Allcraft German Ergonomic pliers are my favorite; they do the down-and-dirty bending that is needed when using 18-gauge sheet or 6-gauge wire.
- Saw: My favorite jeweler’s saw is the Knew Concepts saw designed by Lee Marshall. It’s more expensive, but with this saw I was able to use one saw blade for over a month. No kidding. You will save in saw blades what the saw costs in the first few months.
- Cutters: My favorite cutters are Xuron; I have a blue-handled pair for solder and orange ones for wire.
- Files: There is only one file for me—any of the Grobet files are lifetime files. Clean and brush them and they will take care of you. I’m still using my original #2 and #0 6-inch files I bought twenty-five years ago.
- Hammers: I’m addicted to Fretz hammers for the delightful textures, and for planishing, Allcraft makes the best hammers and stakes.
That takes care of jewelry-making basics, but what do I use for fun? That’s the best part!
|Lexi’s custom jeweler’s bench|
The Jeweler’s Bench
Though not always considered a tool, my favorite thing is my jeweler’s bench. Mine was specially made for me in South America, with drawers on one side, bookcases on the other side, and just the right height. Because we travel a lot and move around the world, this one breaks down into five sturdy parts. It has a place for everything. It’s good to have a jeweler’s bench or special table for jewelry where you can reach what you need quickly and where, if you don’t finish a project at one sitting, you can leave things, and they’ll be there when you get back (unless you have a cat like mine).
To get a jeweler’s bench custom made for you, check with your local high school woodworking class. There might be an advanced student who just needs a project.
|Lexi’s guillotine shear|
Specialty Jewelry Tools
Probably the second-most used tool in my studio is my guillotine shear. It cuts perfectly straight lines, doesn’t crimp the metal, and is a lifesaver for cutting metal squares and 6-inch strips for cuff bracelets.
Another tool I couldn’t live without is a rolling mill. I have a Pepe 90mm and an old Polish mill that’s probably forty years old. I chose to get the flat rollers instead of the wire rollers because wire is cheap, and I usually have a good supply of wire on hand. A rolling mill can reduce the thickness of a 16-gauge piece of metal down to a 24-gauge thickness in just a short time. I keep a supply of thicker silver on hand, usually 18-gauge sheet, and just roll down what I need. It’s also the best way to impart texture onto the metal, so I also keep a big Rubbermaid box on hand full of interesting papers, screen, netting, fabric, etc.
|Lexi’s torch and soldering setup|
My favorite torch is the Smith Silversmith, also known as the HandyHeet acetylene/ambient air. I have a variety of torch heads, from #00 for soldering jump rings to #2 for annealing. For consistency, ease, and safety, I think a Smith torch can’t be beat.
|The Fretz stake set from Santa|
I’ve probably sold a bunch of bezel scissors to our readers after mentioning them in my Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist articles. They cut a perfect bezel each time and have saved me countless hours of filing and fitting. I can’t recommend them enough.
I was really good last year and Santa brought me the Fretz mini stakes. Oh happy, happy, joy, joy! They are wonderful for forming small shapes. I haven’t worked with them much–I just sit and drool over them right now–but stay tuned.
Best New Jewelry Tool: Tube-Setting Burnishing Tool
The best new tool is a tube-setting burnishing tool. I like the elegant sparkle that a tiny diamond or sapphire adds to a piece. With this tool, you just drop the tiny little faceted stone into the tube, level it, and then run the corresponding size tool over the top of the tube, which will fold and burnish the metal over the stone. Voila! It cuts time and aggravation, and it’s available from Allcraft Tools.
|The tube-setting burnishing tool makes
quick work of setting small stones.
Regardless of the jewelry-making tools and all the booms, bangs, and whistles you have, the most important tools to bring into your studio are common sense and creativity. It’s also important to have a good collection of jewelry-making instruction and inspiration, all of which is on sale in our store right now in the form of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs to teach you what you want to learn and inspire you to do what you love.
What’s your favorite jewelry-making tool? Let us know in the comments below!
P.S. Check out our free eBook about jewelry-making tools! And don’t miss Jewelry Making Essentials, Part Two: 23 Everyday Items for Your Jewelry Workshop.