I just want to say first off that its so easy to look at photos and compare ourselves or what we have to others. I am no different seeing other people’s studios as big open spaces in a greenhouse with lots of plants or every tool you can imagine perfectly in its place and organized. Mine happens to be in a portion of my bedroom. Yes you heard me correctly, so I’ll say it again you do not need a lot of space to make jewelry.
The entirety of my jewelry is made and designed using one smaller jewelers bench, one small office desk, one small table, and a rolling chair to go between the 2. The jewelers bench is just one from Rio Grande. I use the top to organize all my current projects, the bench pin for all my sawing and the catcher drawer area for my soldering. I went for years with only this before adding on the second desk that I new primarily use for stone setting. I have found that soldering in the same space the silver and gold dust falls can become quite messy and was a nightmare for fallen gemstones. However I make due with what I have.
I have organized my gemstones and wire metal into binders to quickly be able to sort through to what I am looking for. These binders usually get opened behind me on the bed. Sometimes I end up on the floor. There are countless reasons for being down there as you may know if you have ever dropped a 2mm gemstone you need to find or a small component you were making. Neutral grey floors are a game changer for that! All my dropped tiny items now get found within 2 mins because of these grey concrete floors. Most hammering and punching also goes down to the floors. I don’t have a fancy tree stump that’s raised for me to hammer on so I make due with a sand bag to help prevent damaging the floors. I also have a small square steel block that is great for smaller jobs on my desk.
For hammer storage I use a twisted steel rod I created in a welding class that is screwed into the left side of the jewelers bench. It’s a simple rod with a 2” bend on each side. It’s not entirely functional because any shaking from my desk send the hammers falling right through. I need to alter it so at least one side is 1” deep and tapers to the larger depth for a variety of sized hammers. The small one fall constantly, I will get around to fixing that one day.
Now let me talk about my bench pin modifications as most bench pins you buy are blank. (see photo below) First I sawed out the classic V shape on the left and a smaller V on the right. 99% of the time I use the smaller one and if I were to do it again I would make the bigger V more narrow. I work with such small pieces that most things fall through the one on the left. I filed in a round bar across the whole bench pin this is great for resting tubing or wire in to cut it and eliminated the need for a tube cutter although I ended up buying one later this is a great start. All other marks have occurred just from me working sawing and using it as a platform to drill into. It’s there to be used so use it!
The last area of my work space is just a little table that holds my pickle pot to clean off the metal and two bowls of water one with baking soda to neutralize the pickle then plain water to rinse. The other thing on this table is my patina cup. I use liver of sulfur for all my black patina and its never let me down. A recent addition of tools I have purchased is a Lortone rock tumbler, GAME CHANGER. I cannot believe it took me 4 years to get one do yourself a favor and add this to the list of tools to get early on. I use it for most my polishing now. I use the Foredom flex shaft that hang on a stand that is screwed into the right side of my desk for pre-polishing. I love to use the silicon polishing wheels to remove the initial patina before putting pieces in the tumbler.
For the tumbler I primary use a mixed steel shot. Once the pieces are finished I use the stone setting area, which is that second office desk. Separating the stone setting area on a clean desk helps eliminate lost stones. I use GRS graver ball for most stone setting this is my luxury item. Its fun to spin and saves a lot of time before I had it though I was using a simple ring clamp. Either works fine if you don’t want to dish out for a more expensive tool yet.
The entire studio space is again just one wall’s length of about 10 feet long. Organization and storage are key for a tiny workspace I’ve tried to make sure each tool has a place. Now I still dream of large open studios with multiple tables but you can do a lot in a little bit of space so start small. This is what works well for me so I encourage you to make do with what you have instead of letting size restrictions hold you back. Expand as you grow, learn from mistakes and never stop creating!