Tuesday tools of trade

Hot on the heels of Fall we are headed back to the northern hemisphere to meet up with the lovely Renee from decoratethediva in Canton, Ohio, US, where she's taking us through the tools of her trade. Renee makes beautiful and unique jewelry ranging from eco friendly & nature pieces through to modern, retro & romantic vintage works of art. Better whisk out your scarf though, I hear those northern nights are getting cooler this time of year ...

Renee, would you take us through the tools you use in your creative process?

When I create a piece of jewelry I want it to be a keepsake, so I use quality materials that will last. My choice for tools should be no less. To start, my basic hand tools are the flat nose pliers, the bent nose pliers, the round nose pliers, and several pairs of good wire cutters. I could not do my work without them - of course, ergonomics is important so I find tools that fit me and work easily.

I use flat bead containers to store my beads and have them organized on shelves for easy access and clear labels that help me save time as I search for that perfect piece to bring each project together.

I set my work area in a way that once I am inspired I can work for long hours. I have a good comfortable desk chair that swivels from my computer to my work table and lighting is very important. I prefer the natural light from my big window.

My work area is kept clean and tidy by using little cups that I have collected over the years and my tools are in a rotating caddy organizer.

Once I've created my masterpiece, I have a work area for photography. When you sell over the internet you must appeal to the eye. A decent camera and lighting help to bring out the beauty in your artwork, enhancing details and eliminating shadows. Sometimes you have only seconds to convince someone to stay in your shop, I think clear professional looking photos have that power.

As far as materials go, I prefer sterling silver, copper, brass, gold fill, wire and chain to make most of my jewelry. I use soft touch stainless steel cable for my necklaces and nice sturdy toggles. I've hunted high and low for good quality stones, glass and vintage materials. Sourcing for my materials comes from online, local bead shops and bead shows. I have also put many hours into studying gemology so I know what I am looking for in quality and can recognize my stones when I purchase them.

Are you able to give us some sort of indication on the monetary outlay you've had in setting yourself up with the equipment that you have?

I took over our fourth bedroom and made it into my office. I've been collecting beads for many years. To put a number on it at this point would be hard. I will tell you at first you have a lot of money out of pocket, and then you start to turn the corner of self sufficiency. I have several thousands in beads and findings in my office right now. There's also my photography equipment, laptop, printer, packing supplies, a desk and tables to add onto the amount. It can get pretty pricey selling jewelry because the materials and tools are expensive.

Is there much care and/or cleaning required to keep your tools in optimal working order?

I'm a very clean person and like to clean all my beads before touching them, it makes more work for me but i'd rather sell clean items. I use hand santitizer constantly. It's important to me that anything I touch will be germ free for the person who wears it. I'm sensitive to dust and grime on my skin and treat all my customers as if they are also. As far as cleaning my tools there is no need to because I have clean hands. Keeping my cutters sharp is important. I can't really sharpen them so buying new ones every year is my only choice.

Is it necessary to wear any kind of safety equipment when creating your jewelry?

Nope ... it's not necessary but wearing my glasses protects my eyes from metal clippings when I cut the excess after wire wrapping a stone or glass.

This last question is really one for 'wishing' and it's fun to ask it ... If you could own any kind of tools that aren't related to your own craft what would they be?

I'd love to own my own pottery wheel and kiln to make pottery.

Black Onyx and Red Glass Hearts Necklace


Decorate the Diva said...
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Decorate the Diva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Decorate the Diva said...

You would think I could post a comment at least. Third time is a charm!
Thank you so much for letting me share this! You made it look awesome! ~Renee

Annette F Tait said...

this is a great insight into your work and passion Renee!
your jewels and photography are top quality and it shines thru your etsy shop, and here!
thanks for sharing

Red Chair said...

Renee, what a beautiful workspace you have -- it reflects the lovely pieces you create! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into all the work that goes into your jewelry! -Heidi

IsabelAmyo said...

It's really great to see your passion. It's really generous to show us a little about your work desk.
(I dream about it, I must work around the house because I lack the space just for me !
Bravo for the quality of your work, your heart is in for sure! Isabel

Victoria Webb said...

Love Renee's work and it's great to read about her process and see her (organized - unlike mine) studio!

Star of the East said...

Fabulous interview!
Very organized workspace, thanks for sharing!

Kendra Zvonik said...

Fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

Waterrose said...

I love all of your work, but that last piece is stunning. Thanks for the glimpse into your world!

WolfeWoman said...

I am in awe of your organization! I've always loved your jewelry and the way that it is presented, too. Thanks for the peak into your world.

3 squares said...

loved learning a little more about you and your fabulous work!

twolefthands said...

I loved this interview! I admire your work so much and your work space is so tidy! I adore the seed bib necklace, absolutely stunning! Great job Renee and Kerrin!