Tag Archives: workshop

My Top 5 Favourite Jewellery Tools

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the absence been very busy! But here I am finally settled into my new jewellery workshop. I’m going to give you a wee tour of the top 5 of my favourite tools – new and old! – which I use everyday in creating my jewels.

zoe-davidson-jewellery-workshop-orkneyI’m always fascinated by new tools on the market, always eager to find those which save time or make a job a little easier. Since accumulating tools over the years, I’ve noticed that there are some tools which I can’t let go of. Some which I use everyday and am so glad that I paid the money for. So I’m going to share some of these tools with you and maybe you’d like to share some of yours?

  1. The Fold-Forming Hammer

foldform-hammer-zoe-davidson-jewellery.jpgThis was the first tool which has stayed with me from the beginning of my jewellery journey. At first I was a bit skeptic and was unsure if this was going to be worth the money – thinking maybe I’d change my style of work. But no! Nearly every piece I create, this hammer is helping me. It stretches the metal to create my folded-forms and has a comfortable ergonomic handle. So this definitely has to be at the top of my list.

2. The Slip-Joint and Accessories

slipjoint-zoe-davidson-jewellery-orkneyIf you have the traditional pendant drill/flex-shaft, you all know how much of a faff it is to change the drill accessories. You have to get the wee spanner, unscrew the cap nut and change the accessory – but I spend most of my precious time looking for this tiny spanner! Now things have changed for the best. I decided to invest in a ‘Slip-Joint’ which attaches to the end of the pendant drill. I have to say – this is one of the best things I have purchased. Just a simple press of the lever and you can pull your accessory out of the collet – no spanner – no faff. Saves a lot of time. Yes it was quite a big investment but it was definitely worth it in the long run. Would recommend it to anyone.

3. The Sand-Paper Rolls

sand-papers-zoe-davidson-jewellery-orkneySimple and easy to use these little things are. They are used in your pendant drill and come in various grades. I used to have a split-pin mandrel, wrap sandpaper around it then fix it with binding wire. Again, a lot of precious time wasted. Whereas these little paper-rolls are next-to-nothing and do the job perfectly well. I say – another amazing buy!

4. The Pliers

pliers-zoe-davidson-jewellery-orkneyI love my pliers. Have all types – nylon, parallel, cutters, round and so on. The nylon pliers (front right of picture) are quite a new purchase and are the most useful. Mostly, I use these for making ring shanks because they don’t mark the metal! Even better, the nylon pads are replaceable so you can go on using the same frame for ages. The parallel ones (front left) are handy too in straightening wire. I also bought a pair of Tronex Flush Cutters (left of picture), they are the sharpest wee things and the term ‘flush’ means it cuts at a right angle so leaving you minimal sanding to make the cut straight.

5. The Face Visor

visor-zoe-davidson-jewellery-orkneySanding and polishing can be a messy job. Bits of compound and particles spitting onto your face is never a nice look, especially if you’ve got customers coming through your door everyday! So here, we’ve got the face visor. So good. Forget about those safety specs – why not just save your whole face!? Make sure you look for ones with decent padding around the headband – just makes things a little more comfortable. They’re great too because you can simply lift up the visor up over your head when not in need! The visor plastic sheild is also replaceable so can be used for a long time.

Hope you enjoyed my favourite tools in the workshop and please don’t hesitate to share yours in the comments!

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Visiting Sheila Fleet’s Workshop

Nearing the end of my Christmas holidays in Orkney I decided to take up the courage and organise a visit Sheila Fleet’s workplace. It turned out the whole visit was AMAZING. They were all so down to earth, honest, helpful and lovely! Unfortunately Sheila Fleet, herself, was away South doing some work-related things. However, her son, Martin, was kind enough to show me the ropes of the workshop as he works there himself.

Makers at work

The workshop was a nice traditional bungalow building out in the middle of nowhere. Inside it was so modern! You would step into the shop first of all, where all the jewellery were all nicely displayed in glass cabinets, then walk through into the office. It was a really friendly atmosphere, like Martin said “we are all family”, and I could see that. Martin brought me through into the workshop where maker’s huddled at their benches happily making. First off, I was shown how pieces were made from start to finish with the help of pictures and pre-made jewellery and moulds. Then I got passed onto a highly organised ‘Dave’, the guy in charge of the lost-wax casting process.

Series of photos showing how jewellery is made

After this I stood by one of the makers, Bryce, and asked him endless questions about jewellery, techniques, my work, etc, as he sat there polishing almighty gold and silver on giant machines. This was utmost helpful to me.

Maker soldering silver band together

I then watched the 2 young enameling girls scooping tiny grains of glass onto silver. I learned so much from these girls as I have never tried enameling before.

Applying enamel to silver

Finally, after hours of learning and watching, a woman who works on the displaying of the jewellery, Christine, was helpful enough to show me, in detail, how she goes about displaying the work to its best potential.

Jewellery in the making

This experience was a huge learning curve for me and taught me tricks of the trade. I recommend all designers to go out and meet other makers as it can open your eyes to so many things.

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