Jewelry metal organization is an issue for every jewelry artist. Because my way of working includes metal clay components as well as milled sheet, wire, and tubing, I have a big job to keep everything easily accessible.
Metal Clay Components
Organizing metal clay components is the first step between the metal clay bench and the jewelry bench. As I showed in my post on producing MC components, I tend to get into a bit of flow and produce a shelf full of bits. I use regularly various leaves, flowers, birds, etc.
After the metal clay components are completely fired and cooled, I sit down with the kiln shelf and a small plastic organizer box to sort the similar leaves or flowers into different receptacles. The number of styles of leaves, for example, is steadily increasing as I add more and more complexity to the designs. It’s nice to have all the smooth leaves together here and all the serrated leaves together there. My new favorite organizer for metal storage is this tiny box of boxes, which provides a total of 28 containers with nice snap-lock lids. Yes, pieces do sometimes darken when they’ve hung around for an extended time, but the sulfur that causes that will burn right off once the pieces are reheated. The bright white components are fresh from the kiln.
Of course, I also have boxes of unfired metal clay components for when I’m combining dry clay parts before firing. I have several of these larger 14-compartment snap compartment boxes for those.
Small Argentium Components
A larger box of boxes has historically held my small Argentium parts, I like the larger boxes because they can hold accessories, like the 1mm drill bits that I use as mandrels for tiny jump rings or the washers and pipe fittings that I use to cut even snippets for forming granules.
After years of having a cup of random jump rings left over after projects, I’ve finally gone to organizing them as well. I simply cut a large quantity at once with my Pepe jump ring maker and then place them into labeled boxes so that I can easily know which mandrel to grab when I need to make more.
Wire, Sheet and Tubing
Finally, as many jewelers do, I organize my wire and sheet in a hanging file system, organized by gauge. Square and round wire in each gauge is stored in its own plastic bag for tarnish control, but filed together in the slot for the appropriate thickness. I also have slots for tubing and less commonly used solders.
All these containers are easily at arm’s reach when I’m working at the jeweler’s bench. I want it to be easy to reach over and grab the needed part when an idea strikes.