Olivia Marie's Top Two Jewelry Making Tools
They might not be what you'd expect...
Metalsmithing requires a vast array of tools. A basic jewelry studio set up consists of torches and a workbench, hammers, files, and drill bits: dozens of different types of burrs, polishing buffs, magnification devices, and more-much more.
With all this specialized equipment in my workspace, it may surprise you to learn that my most prized tools are not even unique to the craft of metalsmithing. In fact, the two most instrumental items to my practice are probably present in the home of anyone reading this article. If you haven't guessed what I'm referring to yet, the vital contraptions of which I speak are none other than the humble pencil and it's trusty companion; a blank sheet of paper.
Before I sit down at my bench to carve wax or fabricate metal into a three dimensional form, I work through my vision in a sketchbook. Here are a few examples of my sketched designs, next to photos of them as completed pieces:
When ruminating upon a new idea, I often sketch it from multiple angles or in various positions. This helps me to evaluate different possible methods of actually making the piece, and informs my plan to bring it to life as a physical object.
Sometimes I draw two or more designs for comparison. In the case of a custom ring, for example, a client may have a rough idea of the aesthetic they are seeking, but need help realizing the particulars. Examining a couple options side by side can assist them in deciding what they prefer versus what to rule out.
My client chose the second of the two options below.
I sketched the piece to scale, based on the true sizes of the stones that it would incorporate, to help illustrate the proportions of how it would lay on her finger.
Another advantage of sketching, and the last I will explore for now, is the clarity it provides me as I move on to the actual metalsmithing phase of creating my work. If I photocopy my sketch and print it out on adhesive paper, I can trace the exact contours of the design with my saw blade.
The left photo below depicts this technique in use as I cut out the back sheet for the Lucent Crescent Pendant (pictured right) from a flat sheet of silver with my saw blade. There are few feelings as satisfying as watching a metal version of my vision materialize from its paper likeness on my bench pin.
In these musings, I've only delved into the art of sketching as as it relates to my jewelry making process. However, I enjoy the act of sketching so much that as my business grows and time permits, I would like to focus on a series of works on paper. Perhaps in the future I will revisit this topic with more contemplation on the under appreciated power of the pencil.