Five Days To Go…

27 12 2010

Or… 2010, Tying up Loose Ends at StudioDax!

Well… it’s the end of the December, and no matter how I plan for the end of the year, it always seems to sneak up on me.  I like to spend a little time thinking about what I’ve done over the past 12 months – the pieces I’ve created, the classes I’ve taught, and the techniques I learned. Taking stock of the past helps me decide the direction I want to go in the future.

Bead Crochet Starter Jig - Patent Pending!

In 2010, I also made a real effort to finesse the design and tutorial for my Bead Crochet Jig (which I sell in my Etsy store), and in April, I filed the papers starting the process for a patent. I’ve been teaching classes with it, selling it online and at shows, and I’ve started wholesaling it to stores. This has been a great learning exercise, and I am looking forward to expanding my wholesale to more stores and distributors.

Like other artisan jewelers, 2010 has been a real wake up call to factors that we can’t control. I’ve been watching the silver market, and getting anxious about how I’ll be able to continue working with quality materials when the prices keep spiraling. Since I buy my sheet and wire in bulk 2-3x a year, it hasn’t had a great impact on me yet, but my next purchase will probably be double what I paid for it last time around.

About 2 Years of Scraps!

The only upside to the rising silver cost – it’s time to turn in the scraps! I usually turn it in when I get about a pound, and this shows a little more than that. So at least I’ll have the ability to buy some more without feeling the pain so much…

My final “end of year” activity is always the same – it’s clean up time in the Studio! I get very accustomed to working in my own chaos, and this year is waaaaaay worse than any previous years, so it will take me a lot longer to organize, clean, and trash my work closet. Usually my workspace isn’t nearly so bad , but take a look at what I need to get thru this week!

What a Mess!

There is absolutely NO surface space at all – I have to remove storage items and plates with works in progress in order to make room to work…. very much a PITA! I can’t even think of doing any soldering with spending 20 minutes to remove the piles first….

The mess at the back - Part I!

The pickle pot is totally surrounded by bits and pieces of silver and copper. Small things I’ve played around with and put down, not quite sure if they should be discarded or left for future play.

The mess at the back - Part II!

I seem to always have plastic ziplock bags with a few things in them – beads, and threads, and things from the hardware store…. fun things that have no home yet. I pile them onto plates, then pile the plates up, to make it easy to move them around. And sometimes when I start a project, I put all the pieces on one plate, so that I can stack it up instead of trying to put the pieces back…. it’s gonna take a real  long time to make this space usable again!

Within a week – this should be nice and clean, ready to start the New Year off with space that will inspire – rather than hinder – creativity. I promise to post a few pics once it’s done!

And until then – have a great New Year!





Getting Hooked (or, How to Make a Clasp)

26 07 2010

Being able to make your own jewelry findings means that you can always create what you need, in the size you need. I love finishing off a handmade piece with a well made clasp, and one of my favorites is the basic wire hook.

Step 1: flatten one end

I start with a 2.5 inch length of wire, in a pretty heavy weight. I’m using 16g here, but you can change up the gauge and the length to customize your clasp. Sand or file the ends clean, and hammer one end to create a “paddle” shape.

Step 2: create a small loop

Next, you need to create a small loop (as small as possible) at the flattened end, using the very tip of my round nose pliers.  Make sure you don’t use good precision round nose pliers – the heavier gauge wires could twist the tips out of alignment and ruin your pliers!

Step 3: make a large loop

On the other end of the wire, make a larger loop, using the base of your round nose pliers. Make sure that the loops are facing the same direction, as shown below:

The wire is now ready to be shaped

The loops are round, facing the same direction. The wire is nice and straight, and  can now be shaped around a mandrel into a hook (I use a pen in the following steps, but you can use any appropriately shaped rod as a mandrel).

Step 4: holding the wire

Hold the wire across the top of the pen, with both of the loops facing up. Position your thumb a bit closer to the large loop, and hold the wire tight on the mandrel.

Step 5: bending the wire

Start bending the wire over the mandrel on both sides – the end with the small loop will be longer. Bend the wire gently, ensuring it keeps a rounded shape.

Step 6: shaping the hook

Once both sides are pushed down (like an upside down “U”), push the longer end with the small loop under the mandrel, toward the large loop. This gives the clasp a “swoop” shape, which helps with the integrity of the hook.

Step 7: the finishing touches

Now the hook is done. The final step is to harden the wire, so that the clasp will not bend out when used. You can either whack it with a mallet, which will keep the wire round (as shown on the left), or you can lightly hammer the wire on the curves, which will result in a clasp as shown on the right. If the curves open up a little, just reshape them closed. And don’t forget to antique your clasp to match your chain and metal components if needed.

Practice a few in copper before working with silver, and adjust the wire gauge and length to create variations that suit your designs and style. You  will never be “held hostage” to store bought components again!

What’s in a Name?

9 06 2010

Naming a company, or a business, is very personal, and NOT easy! You try to come up with a name that is memorable, reflective of what you do, and isn’t going to confine you, in case your business changes a bit. The name also has to be available so you can own the websites associated with the name, otherwise your customers will never find you!

So how did I come up with the name “StudioDax” for my business??

Well… the “Studio” part is easy to explain – it’s where I create, and where I love to be. The “Dax” part is a little more personal.

Jadzia Dax... Ezri Dax...

It has taken me many years to admit this, but I am a geek. Not a huge one – I’ve never been to BayCon (if you were a sci-fi geek, you’d know what BayCon is!), and my geekiness is fairly limited in scope, but I am … a geek.

And Dax is one of the characters I always enjoyed and admired most on the Star Trek Deep Space Nice show. Dax was character that was a joined species, with a host humanoid Trill, and a long-lived symbiont. And each time the host dies, it would join with a new Trill, retaining the memories and skill of the previous lives. All in all, a very strong, interesting character!

... and StudioDax!

So that’s how I became “StudioDax” – it’s easy to remember and easy to spell, it reflects a bit of my personality without being “too geeky,” it’s broad enough to continue using as my products changes, and the website was available… all the key elements of a good business name!

And I really like how it sounds too!

The “Studio” in StudioDax

30 04 2010

I love seeing where people work, so I thought I’d post a photo of my shop. Since I have absolutely no room, I converted a closet into a workshop, complete with worktop, side shelves, lighting and electric, some storage (never enough!), a hook for my flexshaft, and a pegboard backing for tools. I hope you find some of these ideas useful in your work area.

The Work Shop Closet

Just for reference, this is the neatest it has ever looked! At the moment, there is about 6 inches of surface visible – the rest has projects in progress piled up on paper plates!

Soldering Station At Rest

This is just a photo of the left side – I’ve got my soldering tools (tripod, torches, charcoal, etc…) located on the middle shelf. I dream of a bigger space – there is no room to keep my soldering and metalworking tools out – but it is a great set-up in a very small space.