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Productivity tips and tricks?

Hi Friends, I don’t recall ever having seen a thread specifically
along these lines over the years, but thought I would open it up. I’m
trying to improve my productivity to have enough inventory so I can
consider doing a series of shows without having to return to the
studio every week. Typically working on one of a kind pieces, one at a
time, I realize that won’t work. I don’t really want to become a
“production house.”

I have a vibratory tumbler, which is starting to see more use, but
I’m wondering what techniques you folks out there might have picked
up, or developed, that have made a difference in your output. Of
course, working on a dozen of one thing would improve efficiency. For
example, how do you keep a dozen bezels for a dozen different stones
properly “assigned” after having pickled them?

Kind of an open-ended question to see what might pop up in

Thanks in advance,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

While I’m not taking as much advantage of it in jewelry to date as I
ought, I’ve long seen the benefits of “economies of scale” in other
types of fabrication. Depending on the project, I like to do between
2-5 of an item; it takes maybe twice as long as doing one, depending
on number, and yet isn’t so much like a factory to be unpleasant. I’m
beginning work on some jewelry to which I hope to apply the same
principles now, to start making some money doing hand-fabricated
pieces and not just real production.

When I’m working on a number of projects, I like to keep the bits for
each one in its own separate place, like a jar, a ziplock, etc.

-Amanda Fisher
Electric Celt ™

   trying to improve my productivity, how do you keep a dozen bezels
for a dozen different stones properly "assigned" after having
pickled them? 

Dave, I work in series, usually 12 at a time, often similar shapes,
the same size cabs, etc. I lightly scribe numbers 1 through 12 on the
inside of each bezel before soldering and the matching number on the
backing piece under where the cab will be set and with a fine line
Sharpie on each stone. Saves a lot of time when you get everything set
up to solder and assemble and doesn’t come off in the pickle. If I get
interrupted, I have a bunch of empty Altoid tins and put each set into
one, then put all into a plastic shoe box.

Donna in VA

Hi Dave, I usually make a small run of hand made rings and brooch
pins, kind of contemporary Celtic design. I could of course cast them
but that defeats the purpose as I advertise “handwrought.” Usually I
would take my sheet of gold and mark on the designs (10 rings, 10
brooches) then I would chase (repousse) the designs all at the same
time then mark and drill all at the same time then pierce them, etc.,
etc. I bring them all along the steps together even if I have an
order for 4 or five. With response to many different bezels in the
pickle pot. I have plastic compartments that sit into my pickle with
many holes drilled to let the pickle in and out. Ed Dawson

Maine Master Models


 do you keep a dozen bezels for a dozen different stones properly
"assigned" after having pickled them? 

When I have a lot of small components, bezels, etc., that may all
look alike, I scratch a Roman numeral on the inside, and put a
similar mark on the stone or label that component on a sketch. This
is a bench tip used by carpenters over 100 years ago. Just look at
the beams and joints in an old house…

Doug Zaruba

Dave: when I have multipul pieces that I am working on and each has a
seperate and unequal piece assigned to it I usually just mark both
matching pieces with a small scratched letter or number. To mark
stones I use a sharpie pen on the back of the stone or keep them in
marked containers. The scratched in numbers are very light and polish
away in the finishing process. I also suggest you check out the
magnetic tumblers and see if they will suit your needs. I use mine on
all my castings and am very pleased with the results. They leave a
really nice burnished finish. Frank Goss

Hi Dave,

For example, how do you keep a dozen bezels for a dozen different
stones properly "assigned" after having pickled them? 

You might try collecting the bezels in the correct sequence on a
length of copper wire before pickling. If some of them a small enough
to slip through the center of others, put the bezel on the wire &
give the wire a twist or two to keep the bezel in place.


Dave, I start anywhere from 5 to 10 pieces at a time. Somewhere on
the piece where it won’t show in the finished work I use an etching
pen to put a number or letter. Then you can mark a bag or box or
paper cup with the same number/letter to keep your stones in. It has
helped me a lot.

Deb Karash (working as fast as I can to get ready for my first
Philadelphia show)

Hi all, I use a crock pot with a plastic lid for pickle. On the top
of the lid I keep a small pyrex beaker for very small parts; rivets
etc. The beaker fits on top of the lid in the raised circle and the
rising heat is sufficient for these small jobs.