Cookies and Gleam - Artist Jeff Fulkerson

Artist Jeff Fulkerson

Cookies and Gleam

So, you’ve got your mouth all set for a warm, home-made chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. What could be better? You start mixing the batter, and about halfway through the recipe, you realize you don’t have any eggs! You’re sunk.  A little pre-planning and you wouldn’t find yourself in this predicament.  The same principle applies to jewelry making.

Before you start a project, make sure you have all the materials and tools necessary to complete your project. While you may be able to run to your local 7-11 at all hours to pick up eggs, most of us can’t run down to the corner jewelry supply house and pick up what we’re missing. I know it takes planning, not my strongest suit, but it’s well worth it because when you have that flash of inspiration and you can’t wait to get to the bench to begin creating, it’s nice to have a stock of your most-used metals and tools.

Take a moment to sit down and review what you like to make and what stock you like using and make sure you have it all on hand so that when inspiration strikes, you’ll be ready.  Let me give you an example.

Without a doubt, the most popular class I have taught over the years is the ring class.  EVERYBODY wants to make a ring!  And I love making rings. So, what are my ‘ring’ needs? As for material, I usually make a thick bezel, so I need to have 22, 20, or 18 gauge fine silver on hand. I like 22 gauge sterling silver for my back plates, and I usually make my shanks out of 2 layers of 22 gauge or some 8 gauge ½ round wire and 16 gauge round wire, so I want those on hand also. And I need a cabochon, of which I have a bunch!

Tools? I have all the tools to make a ring as I’ve been making them for years, but here’s my list. Bench block, bench pin, saw, files, drill/flex shaft, ring mandrels – tapered and slotted, rawhide mallet, stamps, rivet hammer, flush cutters, files, solder set up, and polishing equipment.