Playing Safe in The Studio

You have only one body so don’t let something that you love doing cause it harm. Protect and cherish it! Most studio safety issues really aren’t from an accident with a tool, rather they are little things that accumulate over time that involve your eyes, ears, skin, breathing and muscles.

As an artist your eyes are one of the most valuable assets you have. They need to be protected from injury and strain. Safety glasses are easy to have around and they are comfortable to wear. A magnifying headpiece such as an Optivisor will act as both a shield and help protect against eye strain. Lighting is a safety feature that is often overlooked. A good bench lamp will allow you to see and work on your projects without strain.

Your poor ears, so often overlooked safety wise and so very important! The long term whine of your flex shaft or polisher, the ringing of metal as you create your next beautiful piece, even loud music as you work. The effects don’t show up right away but they definitely build up over time. Earplugs, earmuffs with foam or for very loud projects both, will keep them safe and let you hear all the ohhs and ahhs over your work.

Keeping your skin safe is easier. The best way? Be mindful with what you are doing. That graver slip can hurt! Using Finger Pro safety tape helps you get a secure grip on items without being as restrictive or sometimes as dangerous as gloves. A good flame retardant apron is a good item to have; it helps protect you and your clothes. Keep your studio at a comfortable temperature, to hot and you sweat. Sweating increases the blood flow on your skins surface and may increase the absorption of chemicals into your body. Washing your face, arms and hands after working will also remove chemicals, dust and other items that can cause problems.

Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation, the very best way to protect your lungs from the dust and fumes in your studio. Keep in mind, some heating and cooling systems recirculate the air over and over. An exhaust fan is a great help. You can protect further with a good particulate respirator, one with a N95 classification. The N95 means 95% of particulates are removed. Dusting your shop often then washing the cloth and work clothes separately from your other clothing will also help.

Our bodies really weren’t made to sit for long periods of time. So, every hour or so get up, walk around, stretch out, you will help your back and your concentration. Make sure your chair is the right height for where you are working. Some items in the studio are heavy so make sure you use correct lifting techniques. Get help to move that 100lbs of Kerr investment!

A couple of quick general safety tips: If you have long hair keep it pulled back. Make sure your electrical system isn’t overloaded. Keep your work area tidy with items stored safely. With safety, there is no excuse not to take proper precautions. Protection is inexpensive and easy to get… please use it, we do care!

-Leah Alden Jaswal

Playing Lost and Found with Time

Playing Lost and Found with Time


Time is the one thing that we don’t carry at Seattle Findings, and how I wish we did. Working full time, commuting, family responsibilities, all the necessaries in my life take time. Time I would often rather use to create. Finding time is possible; if you love it create time for it.

Give up an hour of television, workout 4 days a week instead of 5. (Take those stairs at work!) Schedule a time to work on your projects, just as you would a DR’s appt, and then do it. Plan what you will be working on and make sure that you have the supplies that you need. Of course you can’t always plan everything, however when you do plan things it’s so much easier to make sure that the plans come to fruition. Organize your work space. The old proverb “A place for everything and everything in its place” says it all. Searching for misplaced items is a huge time waster. Stop the time thieves, too much time online? Negative people or friends who don’t understand the need for you to work? Turn of the computer and seek out a workspace where you can create. No need to become a hermit, concentrating on your art now allows you more time to socialize later!

When you are waiting in line or for an appointment have your sketch book with you and design away.

30 Minute RingsTry one of the 30 minute books. 30 minute earrings, 30 minute rings, 30 minute necklaces all by Marthe Le Van. Most of the projects require minimal tools and each one has 60 projects inspired by top artists. The projects in these books take a short time to complete, yes really only 30 minutes! They are simple enough for a beginner but also offer exciting challenges to the seasoned veteran.

Above all make jewelry a priority in your life, treat it like you love it. I think that you will be surprised by the amount of time you will find!

-Leah Alden Jaswal

Organizing Your Workspace


Keeping all your tools and supplies organized at your bench or workspace can be a challenge. All those drill bits, burs, hammers, saw blades, bits of sheet metal, wire, beads, and stones! I spoke to professional organizer Linda Deppa for some tips on keeping it all under control. Give these ideas a try and see how they work for you!

First, keep the things you use most frequently within arm’s reach. If you have to go far to put your tools away, you’ll be more likely to skip it and leave them in a pile on your bench! A small tool organizer can keep things together on your bench top without taking up a lot of space. Racks or drawers right next to your bench are great for storing tools nearby.

Second, maximize your vertical space. This may mean installing some shelving on your walls. I have a bookshelf right next to my bench. Not only are my reference books easy to grab — and easy to put away — but I can keep stackable storage containers of stones, beads, and components together within easy reach.
Third, Linda recommends storing like with like. For example, organizing stones by color and then by size in your containers can help you find them quickly and be ready to get to work sooner.
What organizational tips do you have? Feel free to leave comments and let us know what works for you!

Special thanks to Linda Deppa of Uncluttered Professional Organizing for the organizational tips!

-Lani Dearmin

Your Most Important Tool

One of the most important tools a metalsmith, jeweler, student or hobbyist can store in their tool box is organization! Without having your priorities, budgets and timelines laid out, you may run into more snags and miss opportunities had you been a tad more organized.

Everyone thinks differently, so everyone organizes differently too! I am a list maker, some people prefer a pocket calendar, you may prefer to use several different methods to help you get your “to do”s done!

Before you can begin organizing and investing in sticky notes, take a minute to think about what sort of tasks and time tables that you have to do and which ones are most important. Some jewelers really like to keep track of their work with job envelopes. They are easy, come numbered or blank and are big enough for jewelry and a few notes!

But how do you keep track of a million small things? Try grouping your small things into chunks or sections, then prioritize those sections to have some order. Your order does not have to be chronological, as long as the system you set up, works for you.

One last tip; after you have tried out one method or several, take a few minutes at the end of the week or the end of your list to evaluate how well your strategy worked. If you ended up not completing your To- Do list take the time to figure out why before you move on. Taking the little extra time to keep yourself organized will save you time later, money, and headaches!

Tune In Next Week for Tips on Safety!

-Amelia Upton