Organization & Storage Tips for Jewelers: How to Keep Your Creative Space Tidy by Roxy Burg

Sourcing beads and jewelry making supplies can be highly addictive. You start with a small collection of seed beads, and then before you know it, you have hundreds of thousands of beads cluttering your design space and getting in the way of your creative process.

Decluttering your space is the first step to a more creative and productive jewelry making operation, whether you design as a hobby or for a living. While you could simply throw all your beads in a jar, you need storage solutions and organization strategies that complement the way you design, allowing you to easily view, select and access your materials. So here are some handy tips on how to keep your creative space tidy.

Everything in Its Place

The first rule of organizing your space is to make sure that everything has a place. This means finding ample storage for your (no doubt) extensive jewelry making supplies.

There is no need to go the conventional route and box everything up when it comes to tidying your space, but you do need to be systematic. So try to find storage containers of a similar size and shape to house your supplies and keep things neat.

Jars are usually every crafter’s go-to storage container. They’re cheap, you usually have plenty of them around the house and you can easily see what is inside. Another great option is watchmaker’s cases that are like small flat jars with see-through lids; they’re perfect for storing gemstone beads, sequins, clasps and other tiny pieces.

You can’t have a tidy space without proper shelving to hold all your storage containers. Open shelving units allow you to see what you have in your inventory and can also act as display cases for your final products, while closed cabinets can hide some of the less glamorous tools and supplies.

Think Inside the Box

One of the best ways for storing stray beads isn’t found at your favorite craft store but at the local outdoor outfitter or sporting goods store. Fishing tackle boxes are ideal for storing beads, stones, sequins and other small, easily lost items.

The partitions in the boxes are moveable so you can customize the interior to suit the materials you need to store. This also allows for different methods of organization. For example, if you prefer to keep similar colored beads together, you can have a larger compartment to fit focal beads and smaller compartments for seed beads.

Fishing tackle boxes are usually transparent so you can easily see what materials you have stored inside and quickly find what you need. They are also stackable so you can minimize the clutter and maximize the storage space in your design studio.

Think Vertically

For tools and materials that don’t fit neatly into boxes or other storage containers, it can be challenging to find the right storage solution that doesn’t take up too much bench space.

A great idea is to have your tools mounted vertically on the wall to keep them from cluttering your workspace. A pegboard hung above your work area allows you to add shelving or hooks that can be moved and customized to suit the tools you have and still leave plenty of space for new supplies you acquire later.

Use hooks to mount rolls of string, ribbon, chain and wire to keep them tangle-free and readily accessible. You can also use these hooks for keeping electrical cords from drills or soldering irons off your workspace to prevent accidents.

Keep Things Within Reach

Most makers generally have a specific area of the studio they stick to when designing and crafting. Though wandering around your creative space can be useful for getting inspiration for your designs, when it is time to create your masterpieces, you need to be able to focus.

Keeping the tools and materials you use most often within arm’s reach will make it easier for you to complete your designs without the distraction and interruption of searching for the right item.

Label Everything

There is nothing more frustrating for a jewelry maker than safely storing your materials away, then not being able to find them when you need them. So when it comes to organizing your design space, a label maker is a great asset.

Labeling your storage containers, even those that are transparent, allows you to know what is inside at a glance, giving you more time with your creative process and less time searching through your design studio.

Make the labels specific for faster access. Rather than just writing “beads,” try “vintage focal beads.”’ And if there are multiple items inside the container, identify each one on the label.

If you don’t have a label maker, you can use masking tape and a marker. Or go all out and color code your labels with Washi tape.

[Editor’s note: Have you seen/drooled over Pam East’s tidy studio?  She has redesigned her storage system and uses clear boxes clearly labeled!]

Get Creative

While all your supplies should be neatly stored and labeled, this doesn’t mean your design space needs to be devoid of fun and color to look tidy. Using different types of storage containers or adding a splash of paint can be a gorgeous way to not only keep your space tidy but to personalize and add style to your workspace.

There are so many creative ways to upcycle jars or storage containers. To keep the contents of jars visible, try dipping just the bottom half in paint in your favorite color or covering the lids with Washi tape. You could also use chalkboard paint to label your containers, which allows you to reuse the container for different items. Unleash your creativity, and the design possibilities for your jewelry making storage are endless.

Put Stuff Away

There is no point decluttering your space and creating a gorgeous organization system if you don’t put things back where they belong. Make it a habit to put things away as soon as you have finished with them.

Final Thoughts

Jewelry making is a meticulous and creative craft, and you can apply that same philosophy when it comes to organizing and tidying your design space. Remember, a cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. So make room for more creative thoughts and try some of these simple tips to help tidy your design space and let your creativity flow.

 

Image Links

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/storage-box-buttons-used-create-jewelry-793228414?src=q6s6S3lqCjwlNQi051bapQ-1-43

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/boxes-glass-stone-beads-board-instruments-753064189?src=Mb895Au2EgkWwPs9B24PUQ-1-31

Roxy Burg Roxy Burg is the Marketing Manager for Beads of Cambay. She is very passionate about channeling her creativity. When she is not busy writing she loves working on projects ranging from jewelry making to crafting. Roxy gets her inspiration from nature and seeing the beauty in everyday life. Her daughters mean the world to her and nothing makes her happier than picking up a glue gun and making memories with them.

So you wanna sell your jewellery?? (Part 1)

12552325_163727650661795_2052323012_nLast month we ran a survey for our readers and there were some really great comments and questions.  One theme that repeated itself was about “making a living” at selling your work.

Here are a few of the reader questions:
“How can I make a living at my art?”
“How do you balance a personal life, regular work and creative time?”
“Does anyone make a living selling metal clay jewelry?”
“Can you make a living as an artist when you work with metal clay? This question could be asked to any “regular” person, like you and me ;)!”

I could have asked any of these questions! So I’m not the expert with the answers.  But I have done a bit of research and I have some resources to share. The first thing I’d like to address comes from a conversation about these very topics with my father.  He told me to “never pay too much for an income” and to “make a life, not a living”.  Sage advice from a person I admire.  I think his words address the question someone had about balancing work life and creative life. You can become a slave to your work even if it is your calling and by consequence miss out on family and friends. Many artists throughout history have sacrificed for their art. I have struggled with “work-life-balance” myself.  I’ve had to choose what is the most important–not just to me but to my family and so creative time often gets missed even though working in my studio is like breathing for me. I decided that I’d never regret giving the time to my children.  They won’t always be around but my many unfinished pieces of “art” will be there.index4

Question: “Does anyone make a living selling metal clay jewellery?”
Yes, I think there are artists who do!  However, given that the job of “artist” lacks a regular pay check, artists have to rely on many revenue streams. Artists living off their craft work hard at marketing their work, they sell on many platforms such as shops, online and shows, they teach, and most have varied jewellery lines and some sell products.  I would encourage you to find artists pages online, their sites and so forth and see how hard they work at “making a living”.

Question: “I would love to ask many of the high profile artists for more detailed information on how they achieved such name recognition/built their business in this community. And, if it supplies their full income, possibly even in the absence of a lot of travel teaching.”

This short talk by Paul Klein about finding your niche, removing obstacles and finding a mentor provides a great answer to the above question.

“Artist and career advisor Paul Klein emphasized the importance of being different.  He insinuated that distinctiveness generates sales–even more so than quality.  “Can’t all of us name artists who are doing really well monetarily, whose work we think sucks?”  The branded artist doesn’t necessarily produce better work, but more bankable work.” Quote from this article in Forbes.

In “Part 2” I’ll find answers to the questions about the nuts and bolts of business such as inventory, tracking, descriptions of work.

quote-to-make-living-itself-an-art-that-is-the-goal-henry-miller-130-94-16My closing comment is to be yourself.  I know that sounds so cliche. But it’s so true. I’ve been looking at metal clay jewellery for over a decade. (gasp) and I can almost without fail look at a photo of a piece of metal clay jewellery and tell you the name of the artist (and if I’m wrong–usually that person was the “inspiration” for the work). We need more work that stands out.  In another article I found on Forbes by Jessica Hagy she shows why weird can be bankable. Yes…be weird, but let your own distinct artistic voice show in your work!

Image credit for opening image: Location Pillar in the stairwell of the UT Austin Art Building was up for two weeks

JFL HeadshotJeannette Froese LeBlanc is working on becoming a distinct and profitable jewellery designer.  From her studio in rural Ontario, Jeannette tries to balance life as a mom of two (very) active children and earn a living from her jewellery.  You can find her work online and in several boutiques. www.SassyandStella.com

Every Breath You Take by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

fan3So what’s it like in your studio?  How’s the air you breathe? I work with many different media types and use several different processes. For example: metal clay, metalsmithing, metal etching, polymer clay, paint…and sometimes my work makes me feel ill.  Sometimes I’m affected by just the smell of certain things in my studio. So I started to think about installing an exhaust fan.  I looked at some “industrial” options and found most to be out of my budget.  Then I came up with an idea-and it cost $43.  Can’t beat that!

I bought a brand new kitchen stove exhaust fan at a “Habitat for Humanity-Re-Store”. Then I brought it into my studio and realized I had no wall space where I needed the fan.  My solution was to take the fan out of the range hood and to put it in a box. Below I show the steps I took to install a fan to help with drawing out the air in my studio.  I always try to have a window open a bit to bring in fresh air (even in the dead of winter) but I didn’t feel the air in my studio was being changed fast enough. Continue reading…

Metal Clay 101: Rolling Textures by Kris Kramer

index1 When I rolled my first textures in metal clay, I was excited by the results and truly amazed at the level of detail the clay picked up. Then I moved on to a stage where I noticed tiny cracks in the clay, which left me rolling a texture more than once to get the results I wanted. Time went by and I began to notice double imprints or shadows in the designs, then various depths to my textures that I also didn’t like. I was evolving into a metal clay texture aficionado. Continue reading…

Metal Clay 101: Where to Begin: Choosing Your First Metal Clay By Dona Miller

101 montana-agate-pendant-Dona-Miller-DesignsWorking in a new medium can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. As anew metal clay artist, your first question may very well be “Where should I start?” There are many varieties of metal clays to choose from and where you start your journey can have an enormous impact on where it leads.

Looking metal prices, one would think that base metal clays would be the best way to get started in metal clay. However, the firing of base metals is complex and often takes trial and error to get it right. In addition, base metal clays must be fired in carbon in a kiln.

So which metal clay should you choose to start? I start my students with PMC3.

101 Donna 1PMC3 is a fine silver clay (.999 silver). True, fine silver PMC3 is more expensive than base metal clays. But the ease of working with and firing fine silver clay makes it a much better choice for beginners. From start to finish, PMC3 is the least complicated of all of the metal clays, which means that students can focus on the basics of construction, firing, and finishing without having to worry about complications created by the clay itself. Once you have those basic skills under your belt, there is an entire universe of textures and colors available to the metal clay artist.

101 mountain-night-sky-custom-silver-ring-Dona-Miller-DesignsWith all metal clays, getting the basic texture and forming in place before the clay starts drying is key. Make sure your clay is sealed in an air-tight container when not being worked, and don’t hold the clay in your hands when you are not shaping it as your skin will pull moisture out of the clay.

Most important is to stay relaxed, have fun and experiment.

Still wondering about the other varieties of PMC clay? Here is a quick summary:
PMC3 – great for beginners; can be fired with a torch; low firing temperature allows for inclusion of findings, glass, and fire-able stones.
PMC3 paste – good for joining pieces; can be used for adding texture and painted designs; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling.
PMC3 syringe – good for making repairs and filling grooves; can be used for drawing, building up forms and setting stones; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling.
PMC Flex – designed to stay flexible when dry; good for bending, twisting and braiding; low firing schedule and can be fired with a torch.
PMC+ Sheet – flexible and does not stick to itself; great for origami, folding and weaving; can be laminated and used with paper punches.
PMC Sterling – great for added strength and shine, must be kiln-fired in carbon
PMC Gold – great for accents; low firing temperature; can be fired alongside silver PMC and can be torch fired.

dona-n-logan-5Dona Miller: “Art, especially jewelry, is very personal.  Through the constant inspiration of nature, animals and my dogs, I interpret the spirit around me into jewelry, using my love of stones and shaping metal.  My designs and metal work incorporate the use of cut and natural stones to reflect the peace, love and joy of nature.”

Jewelry in article by Dona Miller.

“Metal Clay 101” is an ongoing series brought to you by PMC Connection and their instructors.

Getting Started in Metal Clay

clay
At my last count there were over 22 different kinds of metal clay!


Safety Tips:
Always dry your clay completely before firing. If your clay is damp the moisture will try to escape quickly during firing and the piece will break or it could explode while torch firing.

Most metal clay pieces under 15 grams will take a day to dry. You can speed up the drying by using a mug warmer—remember to turn the piece every once in a while. Or you can use a food dehydrator that has been dedicated to non-food use. With these methods it will still take a few hours to dry out.

Do not torch fire metal clay that has been formed over a core, such as a ceramic bead, wood or cork clay.

Always follow the clay manufacturer’s directions for firing. The insert that comes with the clay will explain firing temperatures and timings.

Always fire metal clay, with a torch or with a kiln, in a well-ventilated area and have a fire extinguisher handy.

Technique Tips:
Keep that clay moist and you’ll be a happy artist! Clay can be stored in a small airtight container and if you are leaving the clay in-between projects, put a small piece of damp sponge in the container. It is also handy to have a small spray bottle handy to re-moisten clay if it starts to dry out.

Keep all the bits and shavings clean. All dried bits of clay can be re-hydrated into a paste, but keep the bits free of sandpaper grit and other work-space debris.

Before you open your package of clay, have your work-space ready. If you are rolling out the clay, have a non-stick work surface ready. (This can be a sheet of glass or plastic.) Lightly coat your hands and tools with olive oil. And lastly—know what you are going to do! Don’t wait for inspiration while your clay is drying out.

Torch Firing Demo:

Material Lists: (Click on images to enlarge.)

Basic Metal Clay Set Up_Page_1Basic Metal Clay Set Up_Page_2

Open Shelf Firing Base Metal Clays by Martha Biggar

 

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I recall so clearly when I first heard about metal clay, back in the late 1990s, in the Rio Grande catalog. I thought I might like to work with it, and took my first class in 2000 (a two-week stint at Arrowmont in Tennessee, with Linda Kaye-Moses). I also recall, equally clearly, hearing about and then using Metal Adventures’ (Original) BRONZclay, when it came on the market in 2008. Such an interesting and different take on metal clay!

And look at us now: we have several versions of silver clay, plus a multitude of base metal clays, with more coming. What Bill Struve started experimenting with in 2006 has grown into an international community of inventors and users, with clays coming from many parts of the world. While I am personally far from a scientist, I do have an inquisitive nature that wants to know many things about the materials we use.

Most of us are aware of some differences in the base metal clays, like color and shrinkage rate. I’ve taught many classes that help others get the feel of different clays, but never went beyond the basics where firing is concerned.   This is the subject of my latest set of experiments, and this article deals specifically with open-shelf firing of base-metal clays; torch firing is the subject for my next major experiment and another article. Continue reading…

Metal Clay Textures Are Everywhere You Look! By Margaret Schindel

TexturesOne of the key reasons for choosing metal clay as a jewelry making material is that it allows you to create or reproduce virtually any texture in metal quickly and easily.

What Can You Use to Add Texture to Metal Clay?

Although it sounds clichéd, you really are limited only by your imagination. There is a dizzying selection of commercial plastic, polymer or silicone texture mats and sheets, rubber stamps, texture rollers, molds, etc. that you can purchase to impress patterns in fresh clay. There also are many different ways to make your own one-of-a-kind texturing materials and tools. You can use water etching, carving, drilling, filing and metal clay appliqué on dried clay. After firing you can use traditional metal working techniques such as hammering to alter the topography of the metal’s surface. Continue reading…

Tips: Keeping Metal Clays Moist.

Whenever I teach a metal clay class I always see students carefully re-wrapping their metal clay and putting it back into the packaging. I hate to see fresh metal clay dry out so I show my students several ways to store metal clay. Here are a few of my favourites for keeping metal clay either lump or syringe types ready to use and in their optimal condition.

111831Long Term Storage
Clay: There are several ideas for long term storage. Some people like to use pressed powder containers with a wet sponge on top. Others have purchased different storage containers from metal clay sellers. I find the lotion sample containers from the make up counter to be cheap and plentiful. I like to have containers dedicated for one type of clay. Simply write the type of clay on the lid. A small piece of wet sponge can be added for really long term storage.
Syringes: I have a few containers that hold water and seal off the syringe. I like this one by Linda Stiles Smith which is sold by Rio Grande. Continue reading…

Kilns: Fiber or Firebrick?

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Kilns: Fiber or Firebrick?
By John S. Hohenshelt

There has been much discussion regarding the differences between brick and fiber kilns in light of the introduction of bronze and copper clays into the marketplace. This article explains the differences in these two insulating materials for kilns in relation to the firing requirements of the different metal clays. Continue reading…