Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools

If you’re like me, you have a variety of the same jewelry-making tools to choose from on any given day, for whatever that day may bring. Always at the ready: a few pair of round-nose pliers, a myriad of flat-nose pliers, wire cutters that can handle different gauges, and so on.
Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools

Recently, Helen Driggs wrote about a few new jewelry-making tools she’s in love with:

Excerpted from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist July issue:

“EuroTool’s Pro Shear is a thrifty alternative to metal snips or Joyce Chen Shears and will cut through 20 gauge sheet with ease. Mind your fingers, though — all snips and shears fail to discriminate between metal and flesh.”

Here’s a quick design made using these shears as I just had to try them out!

Zen-Pod Pendant

by Tamara Honaman
Zen-Pod Pendant by Tamara Honaman

Although I love to saw and pierce and get lost in that process (really, I do!), sometimes it’s nice to get the bulk of the shaping done quickly and efficiently, then get to the fun part of embellishing. As was the case with this design, as there is no piercing, no weird angles, and only a few bubbles and bumps to work around, I decided to give these shears a go! Overall, working on this piece turned into a nice Zen-time in the studio.

Materials

Metal sheet, 24 gauge (copper was used in this design)
Lillypilly sheet, 24 gauge
White Gesso
Pigment markers (Prismacolor were the primary markers used for this design)
Two-part resin
Compression rivet (4mm)
Eyelets
Jumprings
Eyepins
Headpins

Tools

Shears
Flat-nose pliers
Round-nose pliers
Chain-nose pliers
Wire cutters
Jeweler’s files
Sanding blocks or similar rotary-tool accessories
Paintbrush (to apply gesso)
Eyelet setter
Rivet setter
Mallet or hammer
Hole punch (2.0 and 1.5mm) or drill bits and rotary tool
Anvil or bench block

Create the main focal piece.

Step 1
Paint gesso onto the metal sheet; allow the gesso to dry. Sketch or transfer an image onto the gesso.

Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools. Apply gesso to metal sheet then sketch a design onto the gesso.

Step 2
Color in your line drawing using pigment markers.

Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools. Color in your line drawing using pigment markers.

Color to suit your planned design.

Step 3
Using shears, cut out the pattern.

Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools. Using shears, cut out the shape of your focal piece.

Use files to remove any sharp edges and to refine the shape.

Create the base of the pendant.

Step 4
Place the focal piece onto the second piece of metal sheet then sketch a new shape, allowing a border around the main piece, to create the base of your pendant. Cut out the new base shape.

Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools. Sketch a shape for your base piece.

Use files to remove any sharp edges and to refine the shape.

Add finishing touches.

Step 5
Apply resin to the surface of your focal piece; allow to cure overnight.

Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools. Apply resin to protect your artwork and add depth to your design

TIP: Adding resin seals your artwork. Resin also adds depth to your design. You can build up walls around the focal piece using tape, then continue to add more layers of resin (and add inclusions!). Keep in mind the overall depth so you don’t exceed the length of your rivets and eyelets.

Use files to remove any sharp edges and to refine the shape.. Keep an eye on the depth of your piece so you don't exceed the length of the stem of your rivets and eyelets.

Putting it all together.

Step 6
Determine rivet placement.

Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools. Determine where you want to place rivets and make a mark.

Punch or drill holes according to the size of your rivets and eyelets; add a hole at the top of the pendant so it can be suspended, later.

Set an eyelet to offer a nice finish to the opening at the top of the pendant.

Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools. Set an eyelet to offer a smooth, professional finish.

Repeat to set all rivets and eyelets according to your design.

Jewelry Studio: You Can Never Have Too Many Jewelry-Making Tools

For this design, I used the lower eyelet to add another element to the finished design. Feed an eye pin through the eyelet then form a loop on the straight end of the eyepin. Add the second element to the loop to finish so it dangles and in this case, offers balance.

Use jumprings or similar idea to suspend the pendant from a cable, chain, or neck wire of your choice.

Zen-pod-pendant by Tamara Honaman

NOTE: The neck wire used in this design was made on Now That’s a Jig. For more on using this tool, check out Brenda Schweder’s videos:
Making & Designing with Simple Single Links on the Now That’s a Jig!
ABC’s of Wire Wrangling Using Now That’s a Jig!

I strongly believe one can never have enough tools. And I’m really happy to have added the shears and wire gauge collection — these tools will be well used and I love all the projects also included in the collection!

Tammy
Editor and Web Producer, Interweave Bead & Jewelry Group

Have a favorite hand tool in your studio? Please comment below to see which tool ranks highest among us!


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