Small or Shared Studios: 5 Ways to Make the Most of Cramped Craft Spaces

by Rachel Kalina

Inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci is credited with saying, "Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind; large ones weaken it." Considering his name is still a common reference centuries after he lived, let's take a cue from da Vinci and recognize that you don't need a giant or "perfect" jewelry-making studio to make the work you love. Whether you're faced with a tiny room or a shared space, you can carve out a niche that will allow your creativity to flourish.

Take into account the following five tips when planning or updating your jewelry-making studio.


1. Form and function. Particularly if you have a space that's also used as an office, guest room, living room, etc., the way you "storganize"–store and organize, my favorite made-up word!–your jewelry-making tools and supplies should embrace the two principles of form and function. For example, if you're working in a living room, use your supplies as decor. Fill antique glass jars with your beads and display them on a shelf. Arrange your completed or in-progress necklaces in a pretty shadowbox, and hang it on the wall as an ever-changing art piece. (Bonus: Your guests will be able to "ooh" and "aah" over your visible projects.) Or, gather a collection of Victorian jewelry boxes to adorn your coffee table while also storing jewelry-making findings.


2. Go vertical. Use your walls to free up floor space. Again, shadowboxes offer many options for display and storage that limit dust. If you'd rather not showcase your in-progress works, spotlight inspiring ephemera, strands of beads, samples of chain, or a collection of vintage brooches that are waiting to become necklace components. Alternatively, you could place decorative hooks directly on the wall for hanging strands.

Also incorporate shelves that match your room's decor or even cheap wooden cubes that can be painted. Store jewelry-making supplies in small patterned boxes, jars, or bowls on the shelves. A framed cork board covered in linen or a metal magnetic board on the wall can serve as your command center. Hang your recently purchased strands of gems or chains on it, along with magazine clippings and photos, for jewelry-making project inspiration. Turn a ribbon holder into a wire spool holder and attach it to the wall. There is even a wall-mounted desk that may be folded out only when you need it for your jewelry-making work surface.

3. Hide in plain sight. Make your furniture do double duty. Use an ottoman, storage bench, or coffee table to hold jewelry-making supplies. Secret away boxes of sheet metal and brass stampings in a cupboard or cabinet. Make the unit work for you by adding pegboard or corkboard to it so tools can dangle from the inside of the doors. Some cabinets come with pull-out desks, too. A bookcase outfitted with a simple tension rod and curtain allows you to organize jewelry-making tools (or not!) however you like, and then hide them from view with a quick tug.

4. Get a mobile plan. Portable tool caddies and folding tables are wonderful for when you have to be flexible about your work surface or quickly tidy up. Trays are great for keeping works-in-progress with their essential materials, and they can be easily transported. Drawers with wheels and other units that allow for mobility will be an asset when you need to open up your work space or use it for another purpose.


5. Have a system. If you organize your beads, tools, and metals by color or material, you'll know in which general area to find them even when they are out of view. A small or shared space is likely to benefit from regular cleaning and sorting, too. Wrangle your works-in-progress into a large tray or basket once a week, and determine whether anything can go back into its rightful place.

Enjoy your space, keep thinking of innovative ways to improve its use, and remember that it's your creative time spent there–not the floor plan–that makes it a studio. —Rachel

Once you get your jewelry studio space in order, let your home-based jewelry business take off with tips and advice from jewelry business expert Cathleen McCarthy. In the How to Sell Jewelry Online: Collected Net Profits, 2010-2011 eBook, you'll get a compilation of 14 popular and helpful Net Profits articles on topics like:

  • Google and search engine optimization (SEO)
  • using social media sites Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to sell your jewelry online and off
  • photography and Flickr
  • selling jewelry at craft shows
  • taking mobile payments
  • and more!

All that in one convenient, instantly downloadable eBook! Download yours now.

P.S. You remember Rachel, right? She did a lovely Mother's Day kid-friendly button bracelet project for us. She is the owner of The Wood and Watch jewelry company and the editor-in-chief of ParentGuide magazine. She knows how to wield a flame to shape metal; loves to travel; and is passionate about art, antiques, and environmental conservation. Learn more about her at

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