- Arts and Design
Handmade Jewelry Artist Studio
The Gift of Jewelry
In order to be a successful jewelry designer from your home you have to devote, space, time, and money to reach your goal. Not just a little money, time and space, but a great deal.
The rooms that once contained beds, will now contain studios loaded with tools and supplies. The basement where once you entertained is now another place for more equipment. The time you once spent reading is a time to create and so this lens takes you through what is required to create metal jewelry.
Saw, Hammer, Sand and Drill
It is not for the faint of heart to be a metalsmith. There are a great many tools and pieces of equipment that you have to purchase. Some can be dangerous if not used correctly.
My metalsmithing studio contains a desk with all the tools needed for most pieces created from metal; pliers, saw, drill, dapping block, disk cutters, sander and hydraulic press. Not only do each of these require space, they also require eye protection and sometimes dust masks. A design starts on paper,is transferred to metal, then cut out with a saw, sanded to smooth the edges, hammered to create a texture and drilled for design purposes or to make an opening to put a bail or accessory.
That is the short version, but there is much more to creating jewelry depending on whether you are making a ring, earrings, necklace, pendant, etc. Each process requires a different piece of equipment, tool, or supply. A well-equipped studio will ensure that most jewelry can be created from start to finish.
Precious Metal Clay Studio
Roll, Press, Mold, Heat
Setting up a studio for precious metal clay requires different tools and equipment. First a mat is needed to roll the clay on, then an oil so the clay won't stick, a roller to roll the clay, textures, cutouts, and cubic zirconia.
The clay comes in lined envelopes and is wrapped in plastic. Once it is opened the clay can quickly dry out, so only the amount needed is removed and the rest is placed in an airtight container. The clay is rolled by hand and placed on the mat and then rolled to desired shape with a roller. A hotplate is required to dry the clay.
Sanding tools are needed after the clay is dry to shape it and take off rough edges. A hand drill to make holes in the clay for jump rings or designs.
A kiln or torch is needed to fire the clay which turns it into fine silver. After the clay is fired and cleaned with a brass brush, a tumbler is used to shine the silver.
These are the minimum amount of materials needed to work with precious metal clay. There are many other tools and equipment to add color and texture to the clay and to set stones. It is best to keep all this equipment in bins or drawers so that it can be easily identified and used. There are a number of tools and molds especially designed for use with this material that make working with it very rewarding and satisfying.
Solder, Scinter,Clean, Polish
To finish a piece of metal often requires soldering and a special studio in which to solder. A large open area for proper ventilation and the right equipment to carry out the procedure. This includes a soldering torch, a charcoal block or solderite board on which to place the metal, tweezers to hold the metal, solder and a tool to cut the solder, flux to place on the metal before soldering and a turntable to make soldering all around the piece easier.
All this should be placed on a fireproof table. This is the room where the tumbler is kept and the area to clean the metal, which contains two crockpots one for cleaning silver and the other for copper. My soldering room also contains a kiln for sintering precious metal clay. For this area there is also heat proof gloves and a long handled tweezers to take out the metal from the kiln. There is a fire extinguisher and a mask to use when working in the space.
Lights, Camera, Action
The final phase in making jewelry is photographing it. In my photography studio I have a desk, a lightbox, with three lights, several props to hold my jewelry, a tripod and my camera. Each photograph is set up within the light box, the light is adjusted to compliment the piece of jewelry and the tripod is set in the proper position and the camera is attached. I take numerous photographs of each piece of jewelry in a variety of positions, including the back.
I use my computer and several different programs to edit the photographs and to catalog them. Photography is one of the most critical parts of crafting any item, especially if you are selling on the internet. If the photograph is not good, then your chances of selling it are greatly reduced. A lightbox is almost essential for taking indoor photographs and, of course, you need the lights to surround the box. I prefer three, one on each side of the box and one on the top. I don't always use all three, but they are necessary to get the proper lighting on different pieces.
I keep the room dark except for the lights around the box and photograph the jewelry using the macro setting on my camera. In the photo I have used here the third light is not there, because at the time I did not have a third light. I soon realized that two light will not work for every situation. When I use the third light, I attach it to a backboard and rest the shade on the top of the light box. It is not ideal, but it works quite well.
What Happens to my Jewelry
Admire it, Wear it, Sell it
All this investment has to be for some reason. Mainly I create jewelry because I love designing and making it. I also love wearing my own jewelry. If I have someplace to go and I need a piece of jewelry to wear, I make it. Sometimes I even make it to match my outfit. What fun not to have to go searching for just the right piece for a special occasion. That is a real benefit of handcrafting your own jewelry.
I give jewelry as gifts for every occasion, not only because I like doing it, but because I am giving a part of myself to someone I care about. It is a great thrill to see their eyes light up when they open the box. Another reward for my chosen profession. I enjoy seeing people wearing my jewelry.
But I also have to sell some of my jewelry so I can continue to buy supplies and enhance my studios. It is not my most favorite pastime, since I am uncomfortable promoting myself. I wear my jewelry, which helps promote. That I love to do, but the marketing part is just not me. Still, I have to do it, so this is what I do to sell my jewelry.
I sell at shows, shops, house sales and I have a website www.HGWartisanjewelry.com
I also have an Etsy shop www.HGWjewelrydesigns.etsy.com
Don't get me wrong, it is a thrill whenever I sell. It makes me feel wonderful to know that my jewelry will be worn by someone who will enjoy it. This to me is so much more important than the fact that I have sold a piece of jewelry.
Study, Create, Enjoy
I hope this lens has been helpful for anyone who is interested in creating jewelry. Remember, this is a metalsmithing lens. If you want to work with beads, that involves a whole different set of tools and materials. But you will always require the photography studio no matter what type of jewelry you create.
Don't forget to include in the money you spend, the required classes needed to acquire the expertise to be the best you can be in the craft of your choice. I have taken many classes at our local art center, and I am fully certified in the use of precious metal clay. This involved three 2 day classes for each of three metal clay certifications.
I think it is important to reach high and expect a great deal of yourself when you make your jewelry, but always keep in mind that your jewelry will never turn out the way you want unless you have a passion for what you are doing.
How to Set Up a Jewelry Studio - What do You need in your Studio
There are books that discuss supplies needed for your studio, how to set up your business and where to find an affordable lightbox, but the best way to know exactly what you need is to get started on the creative process. As you develop your talents, you will discover what you need for your studio.