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SPECIALITY PLIERS FOR MAKING JEWELRY

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

Corkie Bolton
 Jeweler, educator and founder of Metalsmith Society.

*This article contains affiliate links that help me to continue to create daily, free content on jewelry making for all.

Pliers, a jewelry making essential with an overwhelming amount of options. Have you ever looked at a pair and had no idea what it's purpose is?!? We've all been there! 

This article is sponsored by our friends Gesswein! They sent me some awesome pliers from a company called Xuron. What I love about Xuron is they are made in Maine, the quality is excellent but the price points are middle of the road. They are much nicer than economy pliers but affordable. Okay, let's do this!

Hard Wire Cutters

The tool I didn't know I needed, these are perfect for cutting steel binding wire! Previously I would cut my binding wire with a cheap pair of flush cutters that were quickly getting destroyed (when you cut steel binding wire with steel cutters the blades get messed up over time.)

These also cut both sides of your wire pretty flat so if you wanted to use them on silver or gold and quickly get two relatively flat sides, they work great!




Maxi-Shear™ Flush Cutter

A pair of flush cutters is an essential in my book. I have owned many, many pairs and this one from Xuron is a work horse! They can cut up to 12g wire on soft metals. For example brass, copper, silver and gold. Did you notice the little ™ on the name? That is because the blade edges bypass each other in a shearing motion rather than striking, resulting in clean square cuts with no spikes. Your blades stay sharper and last much longer than conventional nippers because there is no edge-to-edge impact.

Xuron Metal Shear

A heavy-duty pair of scissors that can be used for cutting sheet metal up to 20g thick. Iif you are a fan of using sheet solder you can use these to cut your own solder chips! They also cuts jump rings leaving a flat end on both sides. I was able to cut through a coil of 20g jump rings and it left both sides pretty flush not quite as perfect as sawing through them slowly but this saves a HUGE amount of time. There is also a built-in return spring which always brings the blades back to the open position.

Xuron Flat Nose Plier

Flat Nose pliers have jaws that are flat and wide for bending, forming, grasping, holding and flattening wire and other materials. 

Xuron Short Nose Chain Pliers

These Short Nose Pliers are similar to the Flat Nose in their shape however they have shorter jaws. These would be primarily used for closing jump rings, and bending smaller items. For many jewelers we may not find a need for these smaller flat nose pliers however I do like how easy they are to maneuver and because they are on the smaller side they make working with smaller pieces easier. If you’ve tried to close a tiny jump ring with a really large pair of pliers you know what I mean 🙋‍♀️ 

Xuron 90° Bent Chain Nose Pliers

Prior to writing this blog I had never owned a pair of bent nose pliers and now that I’ve used them I can confirm that the bent nose makes picking up jump rings quicker. If you make a ton of chain I could totally see how investing in a pair of these would save you time when you learn to quickly pick up a ring with one hand and then close the ring with the other! The other benefit of the bent jaws is to reach hard to reach spots and allow you to see your work without the handles getting in the way of your line of sight.

I am going to continue to add to this article as we go over other speciality pliers! Thank you again to our sponsor Gesswein for making this article possible. They are offering our community 15% off any of these Xuron pliers with code MSS13 this promo will end 9/1/2020.  Support of our sponsors helps support the page!

You can also support the page by becoming a Patreon.

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MY FAVORITE RESOURCES FOR MY BUSINESS

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

Corkie Bolton
Educator, jeweler and founder of Metalsmith Society.

*This article contains a few affiliate links, support of these links allows me to continue to provide free content on the daily! 

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite resources for both my jewelry business Corkie Bolton Jewelry and Metalsmith Society! 

APPAREL, STICKERS AND OTHER MERCH.

STICKER MULE

This awesome company creates my vinyl stickers and magnets. They also have packaging, labels and hot sauce?!? Can't vouch for the hot sauce but the stickers, service and speed of delivery is AWESOME.

Whether you are a jewelry business, gemstone dealer or other maker throwing a few stickers in an order is an awesome touch. You can get a $10 credit when you use my link!

SHOP NOW   

PRINTFUL

I have been using Printful since I offered my first coffee mug with the Metalsmith Society logo two years ago! They are my manufacturer of drop-shipped items. This means when you place an order they create your item and ship it directly to you. Here are some pros + cons:

Pros

-You make no investment in stock, you simply create a digital mockup, place in your store in whatever colors and sizes you would like.

-They carry some great brands that have transparency about their factory practices.

-The order is shipped directly to the customer and it makes selling internationally a breeze.


Cons

-I don’t personally inspect orders prior to shipping and mistakes happen. Crooked prints, incorrect items etc. (however with photo proof they send replacements.)

-You are paying a higher cost.

-Since you have no stock you can’t do size exchanges, your only option is to buy the customer a new shirt which I often do because I don’t want anyone to be bummed out with a shirt that doesn’t fit.

For a jewelry brand this could mean selling a coffee mug or tote bag with your awesome logo. It is a great way to provide additional merchandise and ways for your dedicated customers to support you! Printful works with Shopify, Etsy, Big Cartel, Squarespace and many, many more. Doesn't cost anything to sign up, you only get charged when you get an order!

SIGN UP

BONFIRE

Let's say you want to raise money, either for your business or for a charity by selling t-shirts or other merchandise...Bonfire allows you to do this with ease. They are AWESOME. The way it works is you create a campaign (the average is two weeks) then you use your social media and email list to let your followers know you are selling items. At the end of the campaign Bonfire ships each order directly to your customers and you get paid. You don't have to invest in inventory and there are no additional costs, they just take whatever their cut is for each item sold. The quality of the print is SO good. Can't recommend them enough! This is a great way to raise money and diversify your income during the COVID-19 epidemic! Use my code and you get an extra $1 per shirt sold on your first campaign!

START A CAMPAIGN

CHECK OUT MY STORE

TOWER PRESS

Tower Press is a women owned, small business that does branding, design work and much much more. I have had them create all of my enamel pins, they have created patches for me, holographic stickers and sticker sheets. They are awesome to work with and create beautiful things!

CHECK THEM OUT

EMAIL MARKETING + WEBSITE

FLODESK

Email marketing is SOOOOOO important. My only regret in business is that I didn't start and utilize my email list sooner for both my jewelry company and Metalsmith Society. I have a whole article on email marketing you can read here.

Flodesk is my favorite email marketing provider I've tried because the emails are effortlessly beautiful. That saves me so much time! You can get grandfathered into a $19 a month rate ( 50% off) when you use my code!

START A FREE 30 DAY TRIAL

SHOPIFY

Shopify has been my preferred e-commerce hosting provider for two years now. I wrote an article about my experience here. There are many choices out there that frankly, I have no experience with but I have found Shopify to be an awesome option for those selling products. To get people to your Shopify website you want to use your email list and Instagram! Shopify has a nice integration that allows you to tag products on Instagram which I have found led to an increase in sales!

START A 90 DAY TRIAL

PACKAGING + SHIPPING SUPPLIES

MOO

I'm obsessed with MOO, they are a local business here in Rhode Island that prints all my business cards, note cards and promotional items. I love their gold foil options and I also love the matte finish option on the business cards. I don't use the word "love" lightly! Orders are quick and customer service is fantastic, anytime things haven't been perfect they have worked with me.  As jewelers I think it is a nice touch to add a little card with purchase that describes how to care for your jewelry and/or a thank you note that maybe even mentions sharing their purchase on Instagram. You can get 25% off your first order with my code!

SHOP NOW

ECOENCLOSE 

I love this eco-friendly company and use their custom boxes, rigid mailers and bubble mailers. You can order a sample kit to get started and it's definitely worth it, they have all types of recycled and recyclable options to make your shipping more eco-friendly. They also have custom branding options!

SHOP NOW


RIO GRANDE

I get asked all the time about my beautiful packaging for Corkie Bolton Jewelry.  I love the soft touch boxes from Rio Grande and the velvet pouches both with hot foil impressions on them. Purchased in volume these lovely packaging options only end up adding a few dollars cost per order and I think they are well worth it.

SHOP RIO GRANDE HOT FOIL

STULLER

Stuller also has AMAZING packaging options, I get my custom printed polishing cloths from them. I include one in every order ;) For the added cost of a few dollars I'm providing a really nice tool for my customers to keep their jewelry looking amazing and they think of me every time they use it! Win win!

SHOP CUSTOM PRINTED

DYMO LabelWriter XL

I have been using this thermal printer (no ink) for two years and it is AMAZING. Before I had this I would print out shipping labels, cut them out and tape them, which once it got to a certain volume of orders was very annoying. This machine plugs into my computer and integrates super easy with Shopify. It saves me trips to the post office when i can print my own USPS labels and drop things in the mailbox.



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GUIDE TO ORDERING CHAIN AND FINDINGS

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

This article was sponsored by Halstead Bead. Sponsored posts allow me to continue to create tons of free educational content so a huge thank you to them!

Sometimes ordering chain, jump rings and clasps can be confusing when ordering online and not seeing them in person. I think many of us have ordered something and it ends up being the wrong size sometimes even comically so! For today’s post brought to you by @halsteadbead I am going to highlight the info to look for to make sure you order the right stuff for your next project! First let’s take a look at chain, I’ll use this Sterling Silver 4.7mm Heavy Cable Chain (item 21712) as an example. The 4.7mm refers to the link width diameter, for a long time I had assumed it was the link length! What I love about Halstead is they also provide the thickness of the link in MM and in gauge AND they include a note about the size jump rings that will fit inside this particular chain (a feature they have on their best sellers) so going back to this example they include a note that the inner diameter will accommodate 17 gauge jump rings or smaller. LOVE THIS.

Here is a comparison of some of the different size chains available at Halstead. TIP: When you do order chain, order a little extra and save a sample on an index card along with the stock # and size so you have a visual reference when you need to reorder.

Next let’s take a look at jump rings, there are two main considerations when ordering: the outside diameter and the gauge of the jump ring. The gauge is important especially if you plan to thread the jump ring onto a chain, you want to make sure it will fit! Another consideration is some jump rings come in various hardnesses. This matters if you plan to close the jump ring but not solder it. If I was going to close a jump ring and not solder I’d want a hard jump ring for added strength. However if you are soldering it, it will become dead-soft again anyhow once you heat it.

Halstead has this awesome chart you can refer to when selecting the temper of your jump rings!

Lastly when you’re looking at clasps, like these awesome lobster claws, what I like to do is take out my brass calipers and open them to the length of the clasp so I can envision if it’s an appropriate size. 

I hope some of these tips about chain and finding are helpful and if you do have any follow questions don't hesitate to reach out

Huge thank you to Halstead Bead for sponsoring today's post, they are not only an awesome, family owned small business but they care about education and community. Our favorite things around here! They are a great place to find a wide variety of chains and other findings! There is a $50 minimum for orders to the US + CA and they also ship internationally with a $250 minimum. 

Thank you for checking this out, if you haven't already join our community on Instagram.

If you love the content and want to support, become a patron!

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WAX WORKING AT HOME

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

This post contains affiliate links with Amazon. Almost all the items are listed with small business PMC Supplies. Items purchased through these links support both Metalsmith Society + PMC Supplies. 

For many of us right now working in our studio may not be an option due to shelter-in-place orders or social distancing. Wax carving is an awesome and inexpensive way we can continue to work! I created a list of items in my Amazon Storefront, some essential tools for carving wax at home, some of which you may already have! To reiterate, I always try to promote items from small business jewelry tool suppliers whenever I link to Amazon.

Creative Wax Carving: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Craft with 15 Jewelry Projects by Emilie Shapiro

If you have never done any wax carving all you need is this book! Even after having ten years of experience under my belt I found this book had a bunch of neat tricks and tips I'd never considered. It also has a bunch of fun project ideas! This book has recently sold out so look for a library or second hand copy!

Wax Assortment

You will need some wax to carve! Wax comes in many different shapes and colors. For those curious about the difference between the colors this is from the manufacturer's website: "Green: A very hard wax, it can't be flexed. Ideal for sharp edges and for intricate carvings and delicate engraving. Purple: General purpose, hard with some flexibility. Blue: Less hard and more flexible than green or purple." I like this set because of the variety of shapes and thicknesses.

PURCHASE HERE

Wooden Bench Pin with V-Slot and Clamp

This clamp on bench pin adjusts between 1/2" to 2-1/4" (be mindful to protect a nice table if clamping any bench pin onto it!) This will be your work area!
PURCHASE HERE

8" Double Ended Half Round Wax File

If you plan to get into wax carving a wax file like this is essential. This is the file you will use to quickly shape and remove material. 

PURCHASE HERE

Set of 6 Wax Work Files for Cutting Carving Wax

It's nice to have some smaller files that can fit into smaller areas. These being wax files are pretty aggresive and won't give you super refined surfaces but helpful to have in your toolbox!

PURCHASE HERE

Sandpaper Assortment

Sandpaper is fantastic for wax work, especially some of those heavier grits. This set comes with 3 sheets of each grit: 120/220/320/400/600/800/1000/1200/1500/2000/2500/3000.

PURCHASE HERE

German Saw Frame With Saw Blades

Wax carvings often require cutting the wax with our saws. They make special saw blades that are spiraled for wax work but honestly you can use regular saw blades, just make sure you use bigger ones like sizes 1-8. They often provide more control but they take longer to cut than the spiral ones.

PURCHASE HERE

Alcohol Glass Burner Lamp

I learned on one of these lamps. For the best flame, use methyl alcohol fuel. Replacement wicks are available. You then use this lamp to heat steel dental tools or wax carving tools. With those tools heated up you can add balls, shape things, attach pieces etc.

PURCHASE HERE 

Wax Carving Tools

You can use ones like this with your alcohol lamp! They are made out of steel.

PURCHASE HERE

Battery Operated Wax Pen

Wax pens are SO helpful for wax work and if you aren't ready to invest in a plug in model you can get a battery operated style. 

PURCHASE HERE

Foredom Wax Carver 

This is an investment but SO worth it if you are serious about wax carving. I love mine and have used it and taught with it for years! Love that is has variable heat settings and different tips.

PURCHASE HERE

Wolf Relief Wax

Lastly I have to mention this GAME CHANGING relief wax. You use this hard red wax to attach pieces, create balls and prongs. It is awesome. i dip my wax pen right into this and it's awesome!

PURCHASE HERE

Excel Blades Self Healing Mat

This is a great surface to do wax work on! Especially cutting thinner wax sheets with an Exacto knife. I love the measurements and also find it's a great surface to generally have in my studio when working with metal as well.

PURCHASE HERE

Your flex shaft is one of your best wax working tools if you do have access to one.  You can use sandpaper in a split mandrel to smooth the inside of wax rings. You can use small ball burs (1mm) to grind details and hollow things out. There are also aggressive wax burs you can purchase that will rapidly remove material.

Here is a signet ring I created in wax, complete with prongs.

I then had it cast in silver and set this gorgeous London Blue Topaz. Check out the ring here.

I really hope this list of tools is helpful and if you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out! Please shoot me an email at corkie@metalsmithsociety.com.

If you a beginner definitely check out my FREE BEGINNER'S RESOURCE

If you'd like to support Metalsmith Society checkout my Patreon Page.

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STAYING PRODUCTIVE AND SELF-CARE DURING COVID-19

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

During this uncertain time I wanted to share some ideas to help makers in our community stay busy and also stay positive! Emily of @emilymarquisdesigns brainstormed with me to create a list of ideas/activities if you are socially distancing/quarantined  during this COVID-19 outbreak. 

*Please note the links for books/Flodesk are affiliate and help support the page.

Staying well:

  • FaceTime with friends, loved ones and jewelry friends! Check in with people and let them know how you are doing! We are all in this together!
  • Make a gratitude list and share it with others. 
  • Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning, organize and tackle home projects that you've been putting off.
  • Tend to your houseplants and yards.
  • Get outside.
  • Find ways to get some exercise, it will help alleviate stress!
  • Read “The Cartiers” and “Stoned.”

For your business:

  • Practice taking videos of your process and editing them.
  • Go LIVE on IG.
  • Host an online trunk show on video.
  • Invest time in a web presence you may be slacking in; Pinterest, Reddit, TikTok, your own website!
  • Teach one of your favorite techniques to your followers.
  • Research the best local hashtags for your brand. 
  • Do a complete inventory of your business.
  • Organize your stone collection into design or de-stash.
  • Reach out to a friend or favorite designer about a design collaboration. 
  • Bring cohesion to your branding, packaging, and marketing.
  • Work through Alan Revere's Professional Jewelry Making.
  • Ask another artist to do a trade for a piece you envy. 
  • Design forms to organize your process. A custom order form, invoice, to-do list.
  • Read a friend's back history of IG posts and leave thoughtful comments. 
  • Practice script and drawing if you're interested in engraving. 
  • Pour ingots from your scrap and mill into your favorite stock wire and sheet.
  • Clean your studio and collect all the “dirty” stuff to send to the refiner. 
  • Shoot a tip or tutorial for Metalsmith Society :)
  • Work on your email marketing, think of ways to collect emails and write content! Check out Flodesk, they make beautiful emails and have easy automations.
  • If you have pieces that have been sitting in inventory, consider taking new pictures with them and then post to your feed, instagram stories or shoot out an email.

Please share ideas with us, we are all in this together!

x

Corkie + Emily

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