Monday, May 26, 2014

Making Jewelry & Travel

How do you make jewelry when you are on the road? If you are like me, I can't stop making. There can be many reasons. I may be making a sample for a new class, there might be a art show in my not too distant future, I might be experimenting with a new design, and the reasons can go on and on. But right now in my life, I need to be making jewelry for the simple reason of sustaining my jewelry making business. Because of this when I take a trip for business or pleasure I have devised ways to
to take it all along. Fortunately I love my work and really isn't ever completely about work. I may have a deadline, now and again, but I'm always having fun.
     So you are going to benefit from my efforts to figure out what works and what doesn't. As a metalsmith, it is pretty obvious that it is impossible to work on the road, unless you are visiting another metalsmith that you have a pretty good relationship with, and that will allow you to work in their studio. Put simply a metalsmith needs tools and a work space. So I get all of my metal components for my projects finished before I head out. On the road I work on my beadwork or wirework. Everything packs up small and is really portable. This requires packing tools, supplies, and a work space.
     Tools for beading are pretty simple, scissors and a few needles, done. Wirework is tool intensive, and for that I take three pliers, wire cutters, a file, tweezers, a crimp pliers, and a crochet hook if I bring a crochet project.
I have found a travel pouch that is the length of the longest tool and has a zipper all round on the top with easy access. In the lid is an inside zippered pouch that I can tuck a finger file, the file handle, and the crochet hook. Take you time in find the ideal pouch. It's out there. This one that I am using was described as a shaving kit.
     If you are worried about carrying tools on an airplane, here is the link to the TSA (Transportation Secruity Administration) Traveler Information page. You can carry pliers, scissors less than four inches long, and a finger file. Now if I were to leave the finger file in the handle I have for it, I could not carry it, because sharp objects can be no longer than seven inches. With the existing rules today, I'm good if I take the file and handle apart. In talking with my students over the years since 9/11, there is an amazing amount of confusion about what an airline passenger can carry on the plane. If you are in doubt, it is very easy to find out before you head to the airport and feel secure about what you are carrying with you. If you are really in doubt, put that item in your checked bag and it will be waiting for you at your destination. For heavens sake, you can put a hatchet in your checked baggage. If you are totally paranoid, ship the questionable item UPS to your destination. It has been thirteen years since 9/11 and we need to update our thinking about travel and what we can carry. Things have changed a lot since that tragic day. Stay current with a quick visit to the TSA site. Oh and, scroll down on the page, it is a long page. That way you will get all of the information you need.
     Part of getting my outfits all together for my trip, is also put together my jewelry making projects. "Travel Kits" we will call them. I have learned over time that I really only need enough Travel Kits to keep me busy for the actual travel time, the flight time and the sit around time, and maybe one more if there happens to be a delay. (Yes, they do happen.) When I reach my destination you will be too busy visiting, eating, touring, or working, if you must, to be sitting around making jewelry. All of the Travel Kits go into another pouch along with any findings I anticipate I will need for the projects. I see ladies pack boxes and boxes of beads for a trip, because they can't decide what they want to work on. I say keep it simple, lighten the load, and take the time to create Travel Kits. Added bonus, when you get home you have all of the projects organized to keep working with no fuss.
     So this adds up to a pouch for tools, a pouch for Travel Kits, and a plastic box with a latching lid that will double as your work area. The plastic container that I have found is 11 inches by 7 inches, and is 1 3/4 inches deep. This is the third plastic container I've tried, and this one is a keeper. Once you have found the ideal container cut a bead mate to fit the interior of the box. I simply cut a square out of each corner and tucked the bead mat inside. The sides fold upward all of the way around the box. The best "surprise thing" about this box I am using, is the lid will snap off while I'm working, making the box easier to fit anywhere as I work. The lid can double as a place to contain all of your supplies, but out of your way. When working on the tray table on the plane and the guy by the window wants out, just close the lid, stand up, let him out, and continue beading until he gets back. Don't even need to miss a stitch.
     I'm aware there are many products available for travel and the jewelry maker. I'm not trying to be in
competition with any of that. These are my low tech. solutions for keeping it simple. I hope you have picked up a tip or two. The travel box and pouches fit easily in my carry on when traveling by air. If I'm taking a
road trip, all of this works well too. In fact, I love a road trip when I don't have to drive. For me it's a "beader's perfect storm." After years of traveling (in my past life I was a flight attendant for 33 years.), I'm at a point where I try to drag as little as possible around and still have all I need to entertain myself, and pass the time if need be, on the road. If you have any great travel solutions, add them in the comments below. It's always fun to hear what great ideas other people have come up with.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Put Your Jewelry on a Pedestal, Here's How

Do you need a quick jewelry display to feature one of  your most excellent pieces? If you only need one, this can be finished in an hour, tops.

My jewelry is currently in a juried gallery show in St. Charles, IL, Molten Glass and Metal Show, running January 11 through February 15, 2014. For that show, they requested display items, to best show off your work. I've always bought commercially available jewelry display items and then recovered them with a taupe faux suede fabric. This created  a distinctive look, yet understated to show the jewelry off .

The bracelet displays I had been using were a half round that displayed two or three bracelets comfortably. For this show I thought is would be nice to showcase the bracelets and brooches that I was sending individually. What to do . . . ? I thought it would be interesting to have cylinder pedestals at different heights. The local sources I visited didn't have what I had in mind. I did remember, however, that I had seen round gift boxes at the "dollar store". I got two heights and got busy covering them with my signature fabric.

First I made a pattern. Really I did my measurements and cut directly into the fabric. For you I have made a pattern that you can copy onto paper and adapt to your specific measurements.
Tool List: 

  • Scissors, Ruler, Tape Measure, Exacto Knife, Pen, Pencil

Supply List

  • Round Box
  • 1 Yard of Fabric, probably much less. If you are covering one box, a scrap will be large enough.
  • Spray Glue - 3M General Purpose
  • Card Board - 1mm thick
Cut the long fabric strip, cut 1/2 inch "V" notches on one side of the long length and straight slit notches 1/2 inch deep in on the opposite side. Spray back side of the fabric and the exterior of the box with spray glue, and roll the box carefully the length of the fabric. Match the bottom of the box to the "V" notch side of the fabric. Now slowly and carefully fold the "V" notch tabs onto the bottom, and the straight slit notches into the interior of the box. 

Turn the covered box bottom side up. This will now be the top of the display cylinder. We will now create a cover for what was the bottom of the box. Using the box as your pattern, draw around the box onto the 1mm card board. Cut the card board circle out. Draw around the card board circle onto the back of your chosen fabric. Free hand draw another line 1/2 inch from the line you just draw around the box. Cut the fabric circle out. Cut 1/2 inch straight slit notches about a half inch apart all the way around the fabric circle.
Spray glue on the back of the fabric circle and the card board circle. Carefully position the card board circle into the center of the fabric circle, and glue down. Fold notched tabs over to the back of the card board, one at a time. Glue to the top of the jewelry display.

For those of you that have done this type of fabric covering, this brief how to will have you on your way. I want to give you detailed instruction, and have written a four page PDF file for those of you that need a little more information. In the download there are loads of photos and step by step instructions from start to completion. You can purchase the PDF download at my Etsy Shop or on my 1 Bead Weaver web site.