March 29, 2010

How do you organize your jewelry making supplies?

This is a question that comes up at least once a month in the jewelry making forums. Everyone has a bit of a different way it works for them. Somethings seem pretty universal after trial and error most people end up doing a few things the same.

This is my work bench. It is an old desk I didn't feel bad about hammering on. I made sure it was very sturdy since I didn't want any bounce back when I hammered. It is a heavy wooden desk with nice big drawers.

Lighting is important. I have two lights and then an over head on the ceiling. As I get older I think I might need a flood light too! The two lamps have daylight bulbs so I can see the colors I am working with as true as possible.

I didn't even clean up before I started this article. I thought about it but then changed my mind. This is how it looks all of the time. It may be creatively messy but it is organized. Well okay sometimes it looks even a bit more chaotic.

Beside my desk and my chair I have a book shelf. On the end I have hung nails and on each hook I hang all the gemstones of a certain color together. When I use some beads on a strand I just knot the strand again with the left over gemstones and hang it back on it's hook. I like this set up since then I can take the bead or pendant I am trying to match up and I can just run it past all the colors to see what works.

On the upper right corner you can see my two tins where I store my silver and copper scraps. I always plan to someday use them but the pile just seems to keep growing.
To my right is a box I keep the pendants I want to use next. On the top of the picture you can see some small white boxes. Those are the projects I am working on. They sit there ready for me so that when I sit down to work and I have no ideas there are a bunch ready. Looks like I seldom need to use them as they keep piling up as well.
The small round tin lid by my bench block holds a few of the things I always need; crimp beads, crimp bead covers, small round beads, my viking knit starter etc. . . Also any teeny metal beads get tossed in there.
Behind the wire jumble is a big wooden bowl where all my bead soup beads go. It was full. I just emptied 5 years worth of beads into a bag and gave them to my sister.

The same shelf to the right of my work bench holds the jewelry I recently made so I can look at it over a few days and see if I want to keep it as is or change anything. Eventually it goes into cases.

This is the same view of the recently finished pieces from my chair at the work bench.

On top and to the back of my work bench I put up this shelf that I can bang nails into to hang beads and my dremel. I also place finished jewelry there to inspire me and to look at them to see if I want to keep them as they are. I find I don't store much on the higher shelves since I can't reach it from my chair so it never gets back up there.

My drawers hide the real mess.
My top right drawers holds all the tiny findings like jump rings, crimp beads, clasps, beading wire, leather thong and small spacer beads.

The next drawer down holds all my base metal wire. Presenty all I have is copper, brass, steal, memory wire and a bit of colored artistic wire.

The drawer to my left holds everything that defys organization. Files, glue, markers, paste, wax, you get the idea.

The bottom drawer to my left houses all my sterling in big gallon baggies. Each is labeled by size and shape. I flop open the part I am working on and then when I am done with that bag I toss it into the opening. This system works better for me that using a file holder since I found I wouldn't get them back into the right spot. With this I do every time. I sort by shape (silver round) from smallest to largest. Then 1/2 round, then square. I also keep my shaped brass and copper in the back of the drawer organized the same way.

To the left of my bench is another shelving unit with even more nails to hang beads. When I get into making a piece I find I need to see as many beads as possible to really get the ideas rolling.

The shelf to my right holds my beads that have no strings or are pendants. My daughter helped me label them. I love her hand writing :)
As you can see there are even more hanks of colors here.

A close up of my "need to finish this" pile of boxes.

Close up of my wire graveyard.

On my desk and to the left I found this wire shelf (I stole it from my sister). It is iron and perfect for hanging my pliers, hammers etc from. The shelves store big and odd things like my tumbler, paint brushes, mandrels etc.

My pliers. I love my lindstroms. Before I bought them I worried I would have to stop working with wire because of the pain in my hands. I have not had that problem since I started working with them.

Out of that mess sometimes comes beauty. That is the most amazing thing I think.

March 6, 2010

Photo borrowed from Sachi News

Predicting jewelry fashion trends is always an interesting endeavor. For years I was always ahead of the trends and thought I had some sixth sense knack for what would be hot. My ego took a tumble when I realized what was hot was what people were making and it all starts with supplies. What ever is discounted and in mass quantity at the gem and bead shows is what will end up being the fashion trend. Ended up that I was not some jewelry Nostradamus but that I was cheap!

That said there is also a trend I have noticed over the many years that I have been making jewelry. If jewelry is tiny and feminine one year the next the swing will be to the other extreme. Also different parts of the country will pick up fads faster or slower than other parts. The usual chain of events is it is fashionable in Europe a few years before the states. It's also is picked up quicker on the coasts and may take a few years to make it over to the center of the country. Good news for people in Texas since they just have to watch New York and LA. Not so easy for LA people.

Even this is rule in the fashion industry is not always set in stone anymore with the level of social networking and internet communication. Designs and styles will take off and spread much more quickly.

Even so what you make as a jewelry designers might get eaten up by clients' but if you are selling to a store or gallery you still have to appeal to their like and dislikes or your pieces won't get in the door.

  • What I see as being hot this summer is long, think 20's flapper double over chain and wired in gemstones long. Layers and combining will be happening and long can be added to anything.

  • Multi strand will be big, especially with chain.

  • Feminine yet bold. Geometric designs and the less traditional.

  • Alternative metals are still receiving open arms with the high cost of silver and gold. By that I don't mean the client doesn't want to pay but the designers don't so as long as they are all kicking out alternative metals it will remain a trend.

Most importantly make items that are uniquely yours. Do not try to copy what you see but make what is in your heart and you will find your niche.

To see the color trends for this spring and summer check here. These are the clothing colors designers are using this year.