1.) [SEE (#1) on diagram]Shelves on this bookcase have photo boxes and shoe boxes used for storage of old CDs and CD cases. I use the CD cases to store my unmounted stamps. On top of these shelves are a dorm sized refrigerator . I keep non-perishable snacks in a vintage snack can on top and a tiny set of three drwers. In the first drawer is used stamps to send to disabled Veterans. The second drawer has misc. car and window type stickers and the bottom drawer has old business cards. I keep current business cards in a slot in the printers desk [SEE(# 10) on diagram)
2.)[SEE (#2)on diagram] Shelves on this bookcase store old video games belonging to my deceased son. I am not sure what I want to do with them yet so they are staying put for now. There is also a bucket of cloth loops for potholder loom, a potholder loom, 2-rectangle storage boxes I use to transport ornaments and edible crafts. Storage boxes for the lightbulbs for my table top photo studio are located here also.
3.)[SEE #3) on diagram] Two shelf bookcase opposite my sewing desk actually contains books. There are art books, antiquing books, books on collecting, Jewelry books, beading and stringing books, clay books, and more.Underneath the bookcase are two file boxes. One with files and the other with empty bags and some other misc. items I do not use often. On top of this bookcase is a CD/DVD storage tower [SEE(#9) on diagram]. Shelved here is a large tag punch, a set of alcohol inks, serging thread, boxes of embellishments, black and white film, cups, and a pile of current catalogs.Hanging above the CD/DVD tower is a heat lamp projecting on top of the tower where there is a tray wrapped in aluminum foil where I dry my resin dsigns and other items that require drying. Next to the tower is a stack of file trays with a box of ephemera on top and an American Girl Doll. On the other side of the tower are some sketch books, light box, magazine storage boxes (folded), and some photo albums. 4.) Roll Top Desk – Mess! [SEE (#4)(#12) (#22) on diagram]On top of the roll top deskis my stereo and flat screen LCD TV on top of that. A speaker and misc. jars with beads, repairs, misc. loose single findings, a jar of beads I use specifically to make jewelry for mom, findings that need to be put back where they belong, and a jar of single beads. In the cubbies is a stapler, rolls of tape stacks of mixing cups, remotes for stereo and the TV. One mini drawer has crayons, another has misc. pens. The third drawer is empty.I took apart an old VCR [SEE (#13) on diagram], removed all the inards and am using the outer case as a shelf. Under the shelf are beading trays with projects in progress.The top large drawer has paints (oil, acrylic, and watercolors), markers of many types, crayons (I use them to melt not necessarily for drawing or coloring), colored pencils, fabric markers, and sparkle glue paint pens.Middle Top large drawer contains stencils, glue stix, large rolls of different types of tape (ie: packing, duct/duck, removable, double-sided, poster, etc.), glue guns, glue sticks, tracing tool to enlarge drawings, drawing pads and more.Bottom middle large drawer cantains round stacked findings and bead containers of various sizes, pill containers with findings, trays of crystal beads I have yet to put away, pop-out ice cube trays I use these trays for alphabet letter words. Each tray is a name of an American Girl Doll. I make doll bracelets for a store that sells clothing and accesssories for American Girl Dolls.) There are also containers (trays with projects I have started but have not completed).Bottom drawer contains bags of beads divided by basic color that need to get priced and put away. Boxes of empty file folders an extra stapler and a three-whole punch.
6.) [SEE (#6) on diagram] On top of the Bureau are milk crates with 3-ring binders with jewelry ideas for inspiration, jewelry business info., jewelry making tips and techniques, and business receipts. There are also mgazines in magazines holders. There are also filefolders with craft ideas, holiday ideas, stencils, and more.On top of the crates is a childrens Toy organizer with red, yellow, and blue bins. The bins are labeled and contain: ribbon, sprays, angel crafts, wire, misc. boxes, mold maker, plaster gauze, feathers, pipe cleaners, sequins, and chain divided into smaller boxes by color or type. 7.) [SEE (#7) on diagram] Closet – on the back of the closet door is an over-the-door shoe holder made of cloth and see thru plastic. These pockets hold many misc. items such as small zip lock bags (some new and some prev. used to be re-used, empty bottles (all prev. used to be re-used), washable magic markers, game pieces, etc. In the closet are rolls of bubble wrap (some new and some prev. used to be re-used), boxes of jewelry boxes with cotton, boxes of display items for neclaces, bracelets,and earrings, mirrors for craft shows, boxes of packing and stuffing for shipping (all prev. used, to be re-used), sm. kiln, microwave kiln, pasta machine for polymer clay, a binding machine, a reg. size and small Bowdabra, boxes of photos, some family records, a beach carriage (good for stacking items to bring to and from car at craft shows), bags of air pillows (prev. used, to be re-used) for shipping, a few shadow boxes, lg rolls of laminating film, full sheet laminator, and more.
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:
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.
Pictures of my studio
Ways I have organized things in my studio with pictures.
Handmade Christmas card
Unusual uses for ordinary items
handmade organizational tools and items