Studio Notes: 10 Tips for Steady Hands When Making Jewelry

Nothing worse than quaking hands when you’re making jewelry and trying to stick a tiny bead on a tiny headpin.

$#@!%&!

Or set a tiny gem in a tiny, tiny setting.

*%&#!*

Our hands become a blur in front of our eyes, especially when we first start out making jewelry. For the last two years, though, I’ve been adding smaller and smaller details to my jewelry and love my rock-steady hands. They’re like, reliable, but they took time to create.

Want your own set of steady hands for making jewelry? Check out these tips:

1.      Practice. Train your brain, eyes, and hands to work together.

2.      Magnification and lighting are your friends. If you can’t see what you are doing, you can’t see what you are doing.

3.      Coffee is not your friend. I drink half coffee/half decaf.

4.      Avoid alcohol when you want steady hands. Don’t OD on sugar. Eat breakfast. Don’t skip lunch. Or dinner.

5.      Never work angry. Or while freezing cold. Don’t be afraid that you will never be ready for that show in time.

6.      Relax your hands and your whole body. Breathe.

7.      Get support. Rest your work on your bench pin or work surface. Tape your work to your bench pin. Rest your hands, fingers, or arms on a steady surface when making jewelry. Use your bench’s arm rests. Use a bead board with grooves in it. When soldering, use a third hand, soldering tweezers, chunks of fire brick, T-pins, even holes to stabilize your project–anything to stop everything from moving around.

pink sticky wax for making jewelry

Pink sticky wax is handy for picking up small items.

8.      Use other tools to move and position tiny components–such as a brush, toothpick, soldering pick, or small, pointy wad of sticky wax. I use a fine-tipped paint brush to push solder chips into position on my fluxed sterling silver projects.

9.      Avoid using tweezers. Squeeze too hard and whatever you are holding could go zinging off into outer space.

10.  Plan on dropping tiny things, and then prepare. Work on a tray or a bead mat when making jewelry to catch the tiny things. Use double-stick tape. Put a rug under your work area to prevent things from bouncing out of sight.

You probably have your own tips for keeping steady hands when making jewelry. Want to share? Let me know in the comments below.

–Betsy

 


Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. In the March and April issue, she will be reporting on writing grants, Kate Wolf’s wax carving class, and 3D scanning and printing. You can reach her at betsylehndorff@gmail.com.


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