It's tempting to have a matched set of jewelry-making tools. But, I like the fact that the handles on my most-used tools are all different. When I had an all blue set I had to stop concentrating on my project to identify the wanted tool by its shape and function. Now when it's time for me to change from chain-nose (red handles) to round-nose (zebra-striped handles) pliers I only need a quick glance at my work surface to identify what I need next.
For National Breast Cancer Awareness Month you may want to get a mammogram. When I went last week I asked for and received a pink sponge-like mat for beading which had been used to cushion the coldness of the machine from your skin. One side is spongy and secures your beads and the other side is sticky and keeps your mat stationary.
I have these huge fingers and they really aren't made for the tiny, intricate work needed for some of the work that has to be done on some jewelry.
Even going into some of the packages that items come in can be a challenge for me at times.
Take tube crimps. I don't care who you are, they are TINY! I have tried (and miserably failed) to open the pack and pour a few out. Usually the whole bag dumps and inevitably some go bouncing/rolling into the land of the lost.
That doesn't work for me at all.
I did find a simple tool the other day when I was trimming my nails. My wife bought one of those cheap manicure sets awhile back. In there was a tool I have never used. A cuticle trimmer. I am not real sure what a cuticle is but I do know that the ''V'' shape on the end does a wonderful job of getting into the bag and picking one or two tube crimps out. And the rest stay in the bag.
If that's all I used it for it would be worth it but it will get a lot of small parts/pieces for me when I only need one or two.
I have a suggestion to make wire loops more even. I slip a cone (item H20-2256FN) over one side of my round-nose pliers (it fits perfectly). I mark the cone with my wire cutters, then I make all my loops at that mark. It works well. Maybe you can make a cone set with markings on it. I don't think anyone suggested this before.
I use plastic shrink tubes used to cover electrical repairs which are easily found at hardware stores to cover my needle and bent-nose pliers. I cut a small piece for each tong and blow dry it to fit snug. They last for a project and can be easily removed. They are also very inexpensive.
If you use tweezers with very fine points, you know that the points seem to try to get bent. I found a way to prevent this when I went in for a flu shot last fall. The shot came with a plastic cover over the needle, which I grabbed before it was tossed in the wastebasket. It is a perfect fit for my tweezers. The cover is usually thrown out, so a request is probably all it would take to get your new tweezer cover. Just make sure that they know you want the cover, not the needle.
I make beaded angel pins using the straight bar pins and could never find a nice way to display them. Had a very pretty, but smallish piece of velveteen material and a thick square of styrofoam. Glued some of the material onto the foam, wrapping it around neatly to the back. Now I just push the pin straight down into the block, arranging the brooches attractively. This either lies flat on the table, or can be placed at an angle using an old typing stand.
I use an old computer lap desk for working with seed/Delica® beads. The 'flock' finish keeps things from sliding around. I removed the wrist pad and glued down a short plastic ruler and a fridge magnet (the business card size companies give away as promotions) black magnet side up to hold needles, metal beads, etc. Finally, took a length of foam weather stripping with sticky adhesive on one side and stuck it down following the top outside edge of the lap desk. When beads spill, as they always do, the foam 'lip' saves them from rolling onto the floor. We also made one for a friend using plywood, homemade bean bag attached with wide tape Velcro® and fine-knapped fabric covering the top.
Using foam insulation boards (from DIY stores) and 3M stick-ups, it is possible to "paper" walls with these "boards/panels." The glue on the stick-ups will not remove paint or wallpaper.
Needing to see what pendants, etc. you have to work with is easy IF they are pinned to the panels with 1" brads--call them inspiration boards, if you want ...
Also, the glue (on the 3-M picture tabs--IF you use enough of them) will hold up a panel with finished jewelry so that you can see completed items quickly. I use 10-12 stick-up tabs/panel, otherwise one might find the filled panel on the floor.
For showing my jewelry I use window screens. Stand them up, put the prices down the wood side, and hang your earrings. After, I just set the 2 screens I use back to back, drop them in a large black bag, and put them aside 'till the next showing.
To safely clean jewelry, put a small amount of Dawn Foam soap in the palm of your hand, sprinkle baking soda on that and rub your jewelry in this mix. Then, rinse off with warm to hot water and dry with a soft cloth. This will take tarnish off of sterling and it is chemical free. This solution won't harm metals or hard gemstones. It also brings luster back to pearls. Thank you for your great information and fantastic website.
I use the heat shrink tubing that normally goes over exposed electrical wires to place over pliers so they don't scratch the metal. I just use a hairdryer to shrink it nice and close to the tools so they never scratch the surface of wires or beads.
If you spill beads, stretch a knee high nylon across the opening of a vacuum hose and secure the nylon with either tape or a rubber band so that there is a little bit hanging loose that will suck up into the vacuum hose end . Then "vacuum" up the beads. Hold the vacuum over a dish when you turn it off and all the beads that were sucked up into the nylon will fall into the dish. Really makes it easy to pick up the beads!