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Flotsam & Jetsam & our benches


#1

I’ve been hit with a need to clean and organize my studio before
settling in for my winter work. Every time I do this task I am
amazed and overwhelmed with the amount of little stuff I have
accumulated that once had supreme importance and now sits waiting to
be needed again. What to do with this stuff?

See to understand what I mean:

It is the start of projects left behind, a practice piece, an idea
that seemed good for a while & I may return to. Its 2 pair of
earrings and favorite stones I was going to make for myself, small
soldering or assembling jigs I no longer remember what they were
made for. A great idea that is still great, but I’ve moved on to
something else. Extra findings I made for a specific project & I
won’t have to make again. Its good ideas, and new techniques, lovely
pieces that didn’t fit the project I was working on, but may fit
another one. There are bits and pieces of inspiration, waiting to
inspire me when the time is right. ETC!

What to do with all this stuff!?? How do the rest of you deal with
these little pieces of good ideas, helpful snips, practice pieces?
How do you keep them organize and keep them from taking over your
bench and life?

Any good hints would be so appreciated for control of my piles of
little things.

Thanks.
Carla
www.carlamfox.com


#2
I've been hit with a need to clean and organize my studio before
settling in for my winter work. Every time I do this task I am
amazed and overwhelmed with the amount of little stuff I have
accumulated that once had supreme importance and now sits waiting
to be needed again. What to do with this stuff?

Hi Carla: Yep, we all have this, some more some less. I’ve simply
packaged mine up with labels on the boxes (in my case I use left
over plastic containers). I have one box labeled - “to be finished
someday”, another labeled “Hm, maybe now!”, and one labeled “Usable
scrap” - as for the findings simply put them in a container labeled
"Findings".

Now the big trick is to remember where you put these containers and
check through them periodically. Before making findings for your new
or current project, check your findings box and see if there is
anything in there you can use -

Sometimes, when the muse seems to have forsaken me, I simply go
through the usable scrap box and the Projects to be finished someday
box and before you know it, I’ve got the urge to either make
something with the scrap or it has inspired me to try an idea again,
or I suddenly am in the mood to finish the project started long ago.

Good luck, and when you finish cleaning up your bench, come do mine
:slight_smile:

K


#3

Carla,

I was just starting to do this on my own bench yesterday - funny
timing.

It seems a few times a year a small pile of odds and ends multiply
like springtime bunnies gone wild! Right now I’m intent on clearing
all the little bits of metal from fabricating, sorting and throwing
them in holding bins for scrap melting. Snippets of unknown solder or
solder-filled parts go in another, and then there’s the
project/experiment pile.

If I can quickly work through some of the pieces left undone due to
a more pressing project, then I work those into my schedule over the
next few days. I try to be ruthless with projects that don’t interest
me, were just for fun, or I’ve moved on from - those go in the scrap,
too. There are so many ideas that I want to try that are bouncing
around my head, I have to really pick the ones I want to do the most.
For the ones that don’t materialize, I have to trust that if I’m
really passionate about them, they’ll come back to me again and again
until I’ve actually created them.

Once in a while there’s a really cool piece that I don’t quite know
what to do with. That goes into a small storage drawer that I visit
throughout the year when I’m looking for inspiration - and great
projects can come out of those odd pieces!

If I take the time to clear everything off my bench, then I think
better, work more efficiently, and am happier. Less mess equals less
stress for me. :slight_smile:


#4

Carla,

What we may consider is a Flotsam & Jetsam swap. I guarantee you
that you are neither alone,in accumulation, and not knowing what to
do with the stuff. When I cease and desist to exist, I know my son
will come in here with a back hoe.

Hugs,
Terrie


#5

Carla,

I keep each of my jobs in a small Ziploc bag along with any notes
concerning the amount of time I have spent making it plus the
materials and cost of those materials. I then place the small
Ziplocs in a larger bag. I have a large bag of current work, one for
work that is not as pressing and then one where I just did not like
how things were going with the piece. As I find time after finishing
work in the current work bag I then look at the other pieces in bag 2
or 3 to see if I can work on them.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark


#6

Hi Carla,

I have a special box for such things. It’s just the top to an old
shipping box that some stones came to me in. On the outside I labeled
it “future stock”. I have separated each individual project into a
clear plastic baggie with a card inside describing where I left off.
If there isn’t a project, just parts I’ve played with I seperate out
similar materials, shapes or techniques. Here’s the critical
part…date it. If you don’t use it after a set period of time (my
limit is one year) it goes in the recycle box, that is if it’s made
of gold or silver. If it has no intrinsic value it usually goes in
another box that I use for inspriation whenever I get jeweler’s
block.

If you have unused findings, make a seperate box and organize the
parts. If you need a post and have a couple from a previous job that
never got used you won’t have to pay postage out the nose for one.
Again, date the material and label the price you paid for it
(including the postage). If you don’t use it after a set period of
time, put it in the recycle box. I have two recycle systems. One is
for gold, platinum and palladium (anything of high value). This gets
recycled more often, as it ties up my money for too long sitting
there. One system is for silver. The silver box may take 8-10 years
to accumulate enough value to make it worth sending out. I just sent
out my silver scrap this Spring when silver was over $12 and made a
couple thousand dollars! Some of that had been sitting around for 12
years!

Good luck,
Larry


#7

carla, put all your flotsam and jetsam into one wide box. be sure to
label it. then, when you are stuck for an idea, take out your box
and browse. do this when you are relaxed and have time for your mind
to wander…

jean adkins


#8

Carla,

Two types of jewellers, clean and organise everything once an hour
or find that special part by just remembering which year (or century)
it was created. Older stuff tends to migrate to the back corners and
dark spaces.

On my rare clean up binges its a shop vac, a refining pail,and a
Possible Keep box. About 2 seconds each to pass sentence. A week
latter the keep box suffers the same fate.

Jeff
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#9

Good grief, Carla! How ever did you get those photos of my bench?

Marty


#10

Hey Carla,

I’m an Altoid freak so I keep all those little Altoid boxes for all
those little projects and label them for reference. Can’t tell you
how many times when I’m stumped that I go through those boxes and
find just the right solution! The larger “projects” I keep in a bench
drawer. They make it into some projects as well. I have more ideas
than time to make them all!


#11
What we may consider is a Flotsam & Jetsam swap. I guarantee you
that you are neither alone,in accumulation, and not knowing what to
do with the stuff. 

We tried that with our local metals guild – everyone who wanted to
brought in a “I can’t finish this thing, you try,” project and
swapped.

There was to be a show of the finished pieces but it didn’t happen.

When I cease and desist to exist, I know my son will come in here
with a back hoe. 

Ah, well, you could prepare for him a bit. I read about this guy who
does letterpress printing – you know, where you have the little
metal letters you move around – and he took his whole shop, put it
into a container, a shipping container. It’s set up and usable as a
print shop right there in the container.

He said that part of his motivation for doing it is so that when he
dies, the “shop” can be sold as a unit, and it will be easily moved
to its new home.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#12
put all your flotsam and jetsam into one wide box. 

Judging from the picture Carla posted, that better be a big box.
First question is, is it an unfinished project or a failed project?
Second question is, If it’s unfinished, are you ever really going to
finish it? We have: containers for 18kt. yellow, 14kt yellow, white
of each carat, palladium white gold, rose gold, fine gold, 22kt.,
platinum, sterling silver and fine silver. a couple of stone boxes
(organized inside), a couple of findings boxes, compartmented solder
boxes, a box full of base metals (brass, copper, pewter) a drawer of
steel and aluminum, a box of usable scrap steel, a wood pile - exotic
hardwoods and utility, a bag of fabric (felt, suede and other), and
that’s just the big stuff. There’s no way to do that without some
system of organization - you’ll just get a big junk box that will get
bigger all the time. I looked at Carla’s picture, and my thought was,
"Put the silver in the silver box, put the copper in the copper box,
put the findings in the findings box. Any projects that are truly
going to be picked up again get packed “as a project” and put away."
No more flotsam, no more jetsam - well, there’s always a bit of it.
As always, it’s much easier to just have the system than it is to
pore through a huge, mixed up pile that has accumulated.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#13

Good subject!

I have sorted categories of tools, etc., into the plastic shoe
boxes. Labeled:

FINDINGS -everything in that group, chains, jump rings, claps,
french loops, spare wire, etc;

RIVETING - wire, tube cutters, hammers, little stands, wire cutters,
steel blocks - everything I would need for a project.

LAPIDARY - rocks, slabs, dop sticks, epoxy, polishing compounds -
Linde A, etc.

ROCK DRILLING - Tripple ripple drill bits, heavy glass bowl, tubing

EXAMPLES - Bracelets, pendants, rings, belt buckles, etc

MISC TOOLS - heavy cutters, big files, sheers, sanding material -
the best are the 3M sponge impregnated with diamond. The new colored
sheets are great for finishing - a fine mesh with diamond

NEW TOOLS - My students like me to select new tools for them, and
some have none to start, like saw frame, files, shears, etc. I N
PROCESS - just that!

FOREDOM MANDRELS - large case with the little lazy susan holder
fully stocked All these boxes are used at my bench = eventho I have
my small tools handy - finding a particular item is easier from the
labeled on the top shoe boxes.

I also take all these boxes in the file carriers purchased at Office
Depot - have a handle for pulling and wheels! I teach classes away
things I will need for a session. Also, picked up an attache soft
side zippered case, which is intended as a light weight portable file
folder. I have sheets of each gauge of sheet silver and copper and an
assortment of bezel material in this neat case. In a filing
expandable case with handles, all the wire is stored by gauge in a
separate labeled slot. This makes for easy access both at home and
the off site classes.

Cookie sheets - the kind with the half inch lip - hold many current
projects. These are easy to store and get the “stuff” out of the way.

Blowing my horn…in the February BEAD WORK magazine, there will be
a page advertising the Rocky Mountain Bead Society’s BEAD BAZAAR -
dates April 25 and 26, 2009. The featured Jewelry in the ad are mine.
Sorry it couldn’t be in color!

Rose Marie Christison


#14

I also put such things in small ziplock bags. I have a strip of
pegboard on one wall where they all hang neatly, in plain sight to
provide inspiration or guilt as needed…

zee
www.zeegalliano.com


#15

Carla,

This sounds like a worthy goal. What works best for me involves how
the “stuff” is sorted, as well as how they’re stored. Regarding
storage, I use a 9-drawer Axcess Drawer unit and swear by it. It’s
100% hard plastic with very shallow drawers (under 1"). Entire 9
drawer unit is only (inches) 9h x 9w x 14d. They also make 6-drawer
and 4-drawer units (taller drawers). Open front or closed front units
with label holders. Throw in an anti-tarnish sheet, and I’m all set.
Around $65. Also drawer dividers available.

http://www.brandsplace.com/0248-6862091.html

Regarding sorting, two deciding factors: First, projects that I’m
reasonably certain to finish I keep all of the associated parts
together in the dividers in the “in-process” drawer. Along with
these are specially purchased stone/materials (that are probably
only “special” in my mind) that I place in my “reserved” drawer (not
yet started, so they don’t qualify for the “in-process” drawer.)

Second, I sort everything else by shape or like kind. For example,
all round/oval bezels together, square/rectangle bezels, o-ring
shapes, ring shanks, flat pieces of sheet, domed sheet, bails,
clasps, partially fabricated pieces, and the ever-favorite “other”.
For me, each of my metals is easily identifiable visually, so I put
all of the sterling, 14ky and copper together for storage. When I’m
done sorting, if there are too many categories, I’ll combine some
categories, as needed.

Now that I’m in the habit of looking in the appropriate drawer
before pulling out other stock, I find that these misc parts are
getting used up. I’ll always have a certain volume, but hopefully it
won’t grow too much.

As I write this, I’m already thinking of improvements, but at least
it gets the little piles, plates, and containers out of my
workspace.

Good luck.
Jamie


#16

I will not send pictures of my bench. It has become a hazard and must
be cleaned before any work can be done safely. I have set aside
several days to accomplish this task after Christmas. Until then I
will shove all of the “Flotsam & Jetsam” into a plastic box so I can
keep working. Bobbie

Bobbie Horn


#17

Carla,

This sounds like a worthy goal. What works best for me involves how
the “stuff” is sorted, as well as how they’re stored. Regarding
storage, I use a 9-drawer Axcess Drawer unit and swear by it. It’s
100% hard plastic with very shallow drawers (under 1"). Entire 9
drawer unit is only (inches) 9h x 9w x 14d. They also make 6-drawer
and 4-drawer units (taller drawers). Open front or closed front
units with label holders. Throw in an anti-tarnish sheet, and I’m
all set. Around $65. Also drawer dividers available.

http://tinyurl.com/6enran

Regarding sorting, two deciding factors: First, projects that I’m
reasonably certain to finish I keep all of the associated parts
together in the dividers in the “in-process” drawer. Along with
these are specially purchased stone/materials (that are probably
only “special” in my mind) that I place in my “reserved” drawer (not
yet started, so they don’t qualify for the “in-process” drawer.)

Second, I sort everything else by shape or like kind. For example,
all round/oval bezels together, square/rectangle bezels, o-ring
shapes, ring shanks, flat pieces of sheet, domed sheet, bails,
clasps, partially fabricated pieces, and the ever-favorite “other”.
For me, each of my metals is easily identifiable visually, so I put
all of the sterling, 14ky and copper together for storage. When I’m
done sorting, if there are too many categories, I’ll combine some
categories, as needed.

Now that I’m in the habit of looking in the appropriate drawer
before pulling out other stock, I find that these misc parts are
getting used up. I’ll always have a certain volume, but hopefully it
won’t grow too much. As I write this, I’m already thinking of
improvements, but at least it gets the little piles, plates, and
containers out of my workspace. Good luck.

Jamie


#18

semi-forced bench clean up

As soon as the new kitchen cabinets are installed we will be moving
to a new (for us) house. The whole 2+ car garage is being turned into
my studio. This will better than triple the amount of room in which I
can create chaos. Believe me - I do chaos wonderfully well. To get
the move done I am going to have to pack up the existing – uh –
mess. I have promised myself that I will NOT just chuck everything
into large boxes ina random manner. I promise. I promise. I haven’t
entirely figured out the new layout but dividing the space into “what
gets done here” stations should help. I won’t need hammers in the
middle of the enameling area. The microscope does not need to sit
behind the ultrasonic cleaner. I think space divided by task will
"help" the mess. To the extent that I have room now, I find the
concept does help me know where to START looking for something. I
hope more space will mean more order. We’ll see. Divide and conquer -
the chaos that is.

Justine


#19
I hope more space will mean more order. 

Nah. it’ll just mean more clutter. But it will take you a little
longer to reach first critical mass.

When my shop was 1500 SF it would hold exactly 1500 SF of clutter.
Uncanny!

Now I have a tiny place…tiny mess.


#20
I hope more space will mean more order. 

Nope, Neil was right about the clutter fiting the space. And more
space means that the needed tool is always even further away.

Jeff
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand