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.


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!

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. 


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!


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.


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.


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.


Wax Carving Tools

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


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. 


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.


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!


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.


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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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!


Corkie + Emily

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Posted by Corkie Bolton on

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.


Why is email marketing important for us jewelers? Because we do not own our audience on Instagram (or Facebook, or even Etsy!) If something happened tomorrow to your Instagram account, and dare I say: it VANISHED... how would you get in touch with your customers/followers/community? THIS is just one important reason to start your email list and start it today! For the longest time I was hesitant to send emails, I always worried I would be bothering people. “Gosh, Corkie is so annoying emailing me her beautiful jewelry once a week!” (said no one ever.) The truth is there will be people that don’t want to get my emails and that is okay, they are not my “true fans”. A True Fan* (we will call them TFs for short) love your work, and support you no matter what. They will show off the jewelry they bought from you and tell their friends all about you without prompt. Getting our email marketing going will help us develop relationships with our TFs, so let's get to it!

Choose An Email Service

There are many options out there but I want to discuss my personal experience! I have used Mailchimp in the past and I've just switched to Flodesk.

What Flodesk is doing for me that Mailchimp was not is they are giving my emails personality (to match my jewelry!) I need that as a maker, but I don’t have time to design everything myself. With Mailchimp I could insert my logo, images and text boxes but it was a little ... boring. This article isn’t meant to be an in-depth comparison of the two services but I wanted to explain what I was missing out on and how Flodesk has become a solution. One thing worth noting is that Mailchimp does provide free email service if you are under 2000 subscribers (which my jewelry list certainly is) BUT Flodesk is only $19 a month unlimited (with my referral link) and if I’m going to convert more jewelry sales because my emails are AWESOME it seems worth it. Below is an example of a recent email I sent with Flodesk.

But Corkie, I Don't Have Time!

I hear you, I am also super busy being a mom, running Metalsmith Society and my jewelry company. I am not exaggerating when I say I can design an email in ten minutes using Flodesk. You can simply duplicate a previous email you sent and then change the pictures, links and content. I recommend creating a few different emails with slightly different, on brand formats and then use them again and again. We can all find ten minutes a week and it's definitely worth it!


Create Your Offer

Often times businesses create an offer to incentivize customers to sign up for their email lists (this is totally up to you!) However if you do plan to offer something, before you start collecting emails be ready with your first email and introductory offer. I think it's best to have an email ready to go, that way after someone signs up they hear from you right away. I've put together a few offer ideas specific to  jewelry businesses:

  • You can offer a discount code on their first purchase. Some marketers don’t like the idea of giving a discount because you train your customer to shop with you only with discounts but bottom line, when you release those new limited edition studs your TFs are going to shop regardless of a discount!
  • You can offer a code for free shipping or an upgrade to expedited shipping. This could be really effective around holiday shopping especially!
  • You could offer a gift with purchase. A free polishing cloth is a nice idea (I actually do this anyways with every order but it could be a nice offer.) You could offer another gift such as a tote bag that has your brand on it. The question I’d ask myself is, do I have a really rad logo that someone would love to carry around? The cost of a tote could be less than giving people 15% off (depending on your price points) and more memorable. You could partner with another non-jewelry company (someone whose brand’s values align with your own) to offer their product as a free gift - “Each purchase will arrive with my favorite organic lip balm from <insert awesome brand>”. Perhaps you can work out buying it at a wholesale cost. It will promote both of your brands so it is a win win.
  • You can give a “first look” to a new collection release. I'm sure there are a few methods to this, but you can share a URL early to your subscribers that is not yet public. Or some people create a password protected page and give their subscribers the secret password. I just make my shop live, email my subscribers and then announce it on Instagram hours later, giving those subscribers a heads up and the first chance to shop.

This is an example of the pop up on my website corkieboltonjewelry.com

Where to get people to sign up (if you have less than 10K followers on Instagram)


  • Linktree in your profile. You can make a form (this form is created in Flodesk or your respective email marketing website) and then link the URL! If you aren't familiar with Linktree they make it so that you can have multiple links in your Instagram profile, pretty nifty!

  • Pop-up on your website. They are effective, and if someone is maybe on the fence about their first purchase and they see you are offering a percentage off or free shipping it might convert the sale!

  • In person. At a show you can place a sign-up book out and encourage people to sign up. You could even say "hey, I'm offering 10% off orders when you sign my guest book! I'd love to stay in touch about future collections!"

  • Opt-in button when they make a purchase. Shopify for example has the ability to let customers check a box at checkout. If this is an option on your site, take advantage! You could also send a personal, follow up email after a customer makes a purchase and put a call to action button to join your list within that email. 

  • Post about it on Instagram! This gives you a chance to talk about your introductory offer and how much you would love to grace your follower's inboxes! You can do a call to action in the caption - "hey guys if you are interested in being added, comment below and I'll shoot you a DM!" This gives you a chance to chat with folks and send them a sign-up link.

If you do have 10K followers (congrats!) You can create a sign-up page on Flodesk and then link in a story and have people "swipe up" to join your list.

What To Do Once You’ve “Got Them” 😂🙏🙌

Once someone clicks that "subscribe" button, I recommend setting up an automation to immediately deliver a welcome message or whatever introductory offer you promised. Flodesk allows you to create what they call a workflow, this is an automation that will not only send your offer to your subscriber but you can also create additional emails and set up a time frame for them to be delivered. For example a week or month after your introductory email, you can send a follow up email where you share a bit about your jewelry making process. Not all of my emails are about selling, I want to develop a relationship, help people identify with what my brand is all about and showcase what makes my work special! When I can get to know my customers a little bit better it brings me a lot of joy!

Final Thoughts

Building an email list can seem overwhelming but you got this! It takes time, but if you are consistent about reaching out (I recommend minimally sending two emails a month) your customers/followers/community will get in the habit of engaging with your emails and look forward to them! You will now have another way to get in touch about:

  • Holiday shipping deadlines.
  • New collection releases.
  • Sales and subscriber only promos.
  • Educating about your materials/packaging/policies.
  • Tell your story in more depth.

You can do this with any email marketing provider but I do recommend Flodesk. Full disclosure, I do receive a little something something if you sign up using my referral code but having used them for over two years, I fully stand behind them and you will get locked into a $19 a month rate! Normally it is $38 which is still a steal. That rate is for unlimited emails to unlimited subscribers, wowza. You can also try it out for a month free!

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Posted by Corkie Bolton on

If you are a small, independent jewelry brand (I'm a one woman show 🙋‍♀️ ) your Instagram page is often your PRIMARY MEANS TO ADVERTISE YOUR WORK. I know one thing I have struggled with is what to post about (besides the jewels, lol.) When I first started my @corkieboltonjewelry page I was all. over. the. place. Yes, I would show you my jewelry but I would also show off my lunch, a random selfie and other strangeness that were truthfully not "on brand" and had nothing to do with my work. Then I went to the other extreme, my grid had to be PERFECT, every post was "here is a thing to buy." That got super boring and also tiresome to keep up. So now I am in the middle of those two extremes, and I think that is where we should all be. I want people to get to know me, because I am the person behind my work so I show glimpses into my life (but I ask myself "do people care what I had for lunch?" probably not, lol.) I balance these posts with photos of my work, but also progress shots and explanations of how things are made. People LOVE THAT. Customers want to get to know you and they are curious to see how your work is made! With all that said, here is a list of ten post ideas for your Instagram feed if you get stuck in a rut! 

1. A video of you working on a piece.

Video seems to be having a moment on Instagram right now! Putting together a quick 5-30 second video showing off what you do to create a piece can really captivate your audience and get them more invested in your process.

2. Share a self-portrait and tell us a few things we may not know about you.

When your followers can connect with you on a deeper level, it makes them want to support your business. Sharing where you went to college, your beloved cat's name or the fact that you are a crazy plant lady along with a wonderful picture of your face can deepen your connection with your audience.

3. Share an image of your studio space.

It's where the magic happens! A creative person's workspace always fascinates me and I know others will be interested in yours as well.

4. Tell us how you got started making jewelry and show a piece you made a long time ago.

One of my favorite posts I did a few years back was a picture of rings I had made in high school. A #throwback piece can show how far you've come, how an idea has evolved and allow you to tell your origins story.

5. Share a tip about how you create your work or run your business.

Perhaps you have an interesting and visually appealing way of setting up your pieces for soldering, or you are an organizational genius and you share how you store your gemstones! Doing a little tip can benefit your audience (since you likely have other jewelers following you) it can inspire others and is generally a great post for engagement.

6. Show us your favorite piece to make and tell us why.

This is an opportunity to highlight a piece you love, and you can talk about the inspiration, how long you've been making it, whether it comes in other variations or ask if it should be made in other variations ;)

7. Share a video of your favorite jewelry making technique and talk about the technique.

We are back to video again, perhaps you do a hammered texture and you want to show off covering the surface of your piece or you want to demonstrate setting a stone. Even super simple techniques are FASCINATING to people that do not make jewelry. It is more effective at showing that your pieces are handmade than using #handmade lol.

8. Tell us the name behind your brand and show off your packaging.

Perhaps it is your name (again,  🙋‍♀️) explain why your business is your name. In my case because I am that one-woman-show that designs and fabricates everything. You can also talk about your packaging, think about when you're shopping and how much packaging can draw you in to a particular brand. If you use eco-friendly packaging and this is something you want your brand to be about and connect with those that care about that you can highlight it!

9. Show us your best seller.

When you talk about a piece that has done well, it is an opportunity for your customers that have bought it to chime in! You can talk all about what makes the piece great. Bonus points if you have a customer pic to share WEARING YOUR BEST SELLER.

10. Image of raw material and educate us on what they are.

Sheet metal, wires and gemstones are pretty interesting before we even do anything to them. This is a great opportunity to educate your followers about what you use to create your work and why. What draws you to particular gemstone? Do you use recycled metals?

It can be really hard for me to post daily, and I'm sure it is hard for others as well! Hopefully this article gave you some ideas for posts! As jewelers we do want to show off the pieces we have for sale but we also want to work in some storytelling!

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Posted by Corkie Bolton on

Every week on Metalsmith Society I explore a different tool used in jewelry making for #tooltalktuesday! It has been a wonderful opportunity to deep dive into different tools and discuss with members of our community! Some of these posts are sponsored, without this support the page would not continue to run daily. So thank you for your support of our sponsors in 2019, when you purchase from them (or my Amazon links) you are supporting the page! Here is my list of the top nine #tooltalktuesday posts of 2019:

Luxi Polishing Compound

These silica-free polishing compounds are free of animal fats, contain no hazardous materials, and are made of an alumina oxide abrasive in a water-soluble binder (which makes them safer to use). They're designed with vegetable fats and you can use less (saving you money) since the compound stays in place on your buff. The residue is easy to remove because they are water-soluble. @riogrande sent me the LUXI Sample Bar Assortment (Item#: 331111), which is an awesome and inexpensive way to try them all! Always use a dedicated buff for each compound to avoid cross-contamination! Determining which compounds are "best" is subjective but if you want a simple 3-step process, I recommend starting with the gray LUXI (Item#: 331090) an aggressive compound that will do scratch removal and pre-polishing. I used a 4” tight muslin buff (Item#: 330147) on my Foredom Bench Lathe. You can also use a yellow treated buff which is more rigid, allowing you to get more aggressive with your polishing. Next, I used the blue LUXI (Item#: 331095), which I also used with a tight muslin buff. It's also a pre-polish but brings you closer to your final polish. Lastly, the white LUXI (Item#: 331097) with a balloon cloth wheel (Item#: 330651). This got me my final mirror finish! The videos speak for themselves but LUXI is definitely an awesome option for polishing! For your flexshaft you can find the yellow treated, tight muslin and balloon cloth wheels in 1” versions that you can use with a screw mandrel from @riogrande. Also, the Asian Blue, Green, and Purple are formulated to work better at lower speeds and temperatures, so they are ideal for someone like me using a Foredom Bench Lathe (it's slower and not as hot as a polishing cabinet). On full speed, I did get a great finish using Gray, Blue, and White, so feel free to experiment!

Purchase the sampler here.

See the post here

Bench Anvil Kit

This kit gives you two bench pins, a small flat anvil area for stamping, two bracelet mandrels (oval + circle), a standard ring mandrel and THREE bezel mandrels (circle, oval + square). So if you are looking for a lot of versatility and an all-in-one type tool this one is great! Please keep in mind the clamp opens to a maximum of 2.25” so measure your intended workspace prior to ordering! This tool is perfect for travel and small spaces. I love that you can attach it to most tables and then pack it away if need be (do me mindful hammering on this could mar a table). I found hammering and forming on it secure. You do need to make sure the clamp is as tight as possible before you hammer aggressively :) I also had an opportunity to work with an additional mandrel set comprised of 8 different sized mandrels in parallel, stepped, and tapered shapes. They are specially designed to fit the Bench Anvil Kit, giving even more working possibilities out of it! I’ve been using them for earring wires and hoops!

Purchase the kit here.

See the post here.

Whaley Sliding Hammer

This amazing tool is super useful for stone setting, it allows you to stabilize as you hammer. You select a punch and screw it into place, then it slides back and forth inside the hammer. I got a wide variety of punches and I hope to experiment more and show off some other things the hammer can do. For setting it allowed me to strike with the right amount of force but remain in control 😍 My close up videos are sped up, but meant to show how awesome this tool works to get my bezel closed. Afterward I protected my stone with painters tape and filed it, down. I’ll likely follow up with a silicone wheel. 

Purchase the Whaley Hammer here from Otto Frei and use code MMS719X to save 5% off your purchase and support the page!

See the post here.

Foredom Flex Shaft Handpiece Holder

This is a tool that I’ve had for many years which I don’t use as much now that I have a polishing machine but if you are solely relying on your flexshaft for polishing it’s amazing because you can turn yours into a mini polishing machine!! You simply attach the clamp to your bench (the opening can accommodate no thicker than about 2.25” ) and slide your handpiece in ( it’s compatible with For use with Foredom H.30, H.30H, H.30SJ, H.43T, H.44A, H.44B, H.44T and H.44HT Handpieces) now you’ve got yourself a lathe! You can grind, deburr, carve, sand and polish your work but now you have the control of holding the piece with both hands. You can adjust the height to a comfortable standing position, which I love. The only downside is polishing can get a bit messy, always wear eye protection and a mask. Protect yo’ self! I love this thing. I used to use it a ton as a wax lathe. 

You can purchase the holder here.

See the post here.

Joyce Chen Ultimate Scissors

When I need to trim bezel wire or a thin backplate, these are my go-to scissors for the job! I have also used them to cut bits of solder or other wires. They are extremely sharp! I found out while researching this post it is due to the carbon content in the steel, it is double or even triple the amount compared to normal stainless steel scissors. They are also formulated to be corrosion resistant! People use these scissors for cutting things like bones and branches 💪 They retail for about $21-$26 so I think they are a reasonable price for a long lasting, multipurpose scissor. I personally would not go thicker than 22g sheet when cutting with these! As someone who also does a lot of crafting and gardening these are just bomb scissors to have around! 

You can purchase the scissors here.

See the post here.

Whaley Hand Vise

This simple hand vise created by Whaley Studios has a hole in the center so you can easily hold long wire or tubing. The handle has a flat side that not only allows you to firmly hold the hand vise against a flat surface, it also prevents it from rolling away. The grip is ergonomic and the chuck to loosen and tighten is easy to use. This is my go to tool if I want to coil a shorter piece of thick wire around a ring mandrel to make some stacking rings, or if I want to manually twist wire. It’s also great for straightening out a piece of wire. You can do this by attaching one end to your regular vise, and the other end to the Whaley hand vise and then give it a nice tug. This would also be great for holding wire and tubing while filing or polishing. 

You can purchase the vise here from Otto Frei and use code MMS719X to save 5% off your purchase and support the page!

See the post here.

Japanese Rubber Finger Guards

Japanese Rubber Finger Guards from Otto Frei they are actually infused with bits of leather to add to their durability but still have the feel of rubber. My use for these has been to protect my fingers while sanding small objects. They fit well enough and aren’t bulky so that I can grip smaller objects. If I’m just sanding something for a second I wouldn’t bother with them but when I’m doing those marathon sanding sessions, these are a game changer. You could also use them to protect your fingers from coming into contact with patina or flux. Or when your fingers are gripping something repetitively these will make those jobs more comfortable. They come in different sizes I actually have the small and medium and I like the small for most of my fingers and the medium on my thumbs. I can’t speak to their longevity as I’ve only been using them a few months but they are pretty solid! Can’t imagine having to trade out my first two for awhile. They are sold in packs of ten for $6.95 so not a huge investment if you want to give them a go.

You can purchase the vise here from Otto Frei use code MMS719X to save 5% off your purchase and support the page!

See the post here.

SmoothSet Bezel Pusher

These acrylic bezel pushers created by Flow Studio Supply I’ve had these on my bench for many months now and wanted to share my experience! The premise of these acrylic pushers is that you can use them to set your bezels and they won’t scratch your stones! @flowmke2 was thoughtful about the design, they made two sizes, there is a pointy and curved end (in addition to the straight sides) and they have a bright label so you can easily spot on them on your bench! What I have found them the most useful for is shaping thicker gauges bezel wire around stones and the initially pushing down of a bezel! 

You can purchase the bezel pushers here.

See the post here.

Hakko Fume Extractor System

One of my goals for 2019 is to have more conversations about improving our health in the studio. I realized that although this system is an investment, it was time to step my game up! This HAKKO unit is very light (7.5 pounds) which I like because it’s easy to move around. I have one duct but it does have the option of using two. It features three suction speeds and if you watch my videos you can get an idea of how loud they are, I like how quiet the loudest setting is, If I needed to speak over it or have it on for longer periods it doesn’t bother me! The best feature of this system is its HEPA filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air, is a designation used to describe filters that are able to trap 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns). It captures dangerous solder fumes (along with any other chemical, patina, white out etc. fumes) and actually RETURNS CLEAN PURIFIED AIR BACK INTO YOUR STUDIO 🙏🏻❤️

You can purchase the system here.

See the post here.

Thank you so much for tuning in every week for #tooltalktuesday! If you have a tool you would love to see covered please comment below, or let me know on Instagram! If you are looking for other tool recommendations please visit my #TOOLTALKTUESDAY page!

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