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Semi Annual Cleaning Of My Shop

I did my semi-annual deep cleaning of my shop over the weekend (pictures attached, more on my website). This means that every object was dusted, moved, the surface it sat on cleaned and the object returned to its proper location. Cobwebs removed and the floor vacuumed. Lost objects were recovered that I didn’t have time to find when they were lost. All chemical containers were cleaned and refilled. Solder pallions and propane were replenished. Now I am ready to get to work on Christmas stock. The problem is that silver is hovering around $30/ounce and gold over $2,000/ounce. I have a lot of stock in my two stores and raw material on hand to last a year. I am reluctant to work on any big projects unless they are already sold at an agreed on price. I guess it is time to learn some new skills that I have been putting off by doing the same thing over and over because it sells. Time to learn how to make a six prong setting and set a practice stone in it. Do a gypsy set. Cut that Afghan lapis that my son the war reporter gave me a couple years ago. Learn how to use my PUK 5.1. The list goes on. I am curious how others are dealing with $30/ounce silver and home confinement? Thanks…Rob


I hear you - several people have told me to use the ‘down time’ from the virus for doing some large projects. I dis agree, for my larger projects, they need to have a home before I start them. I find the destination inevitably influences my designs. Unless, you use the time to design a series, which can be scaled up of down in price depending on what someone wants. That said, I have cut back on metal work for this year and instead am focusing on lapidary work.
Also sign the time to build a bigger studio, adding 600 sq feet so I will have more storage and a place to run the larger rock saws

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I am doing a major cleaning of my shop as well. Deciding what to keep, what to throw, and what to leave alone. It is disheartening to be aware that I have jewelry in stock right now that I could scrap and realize more in scrap value than I spent buying the raw material. I spent the last two weeks developing a website, not my strongest talent. And preparing a slide show for a Virtual Craft Fair that is instead of my favorite and second most productive show. The Colorscape Chenango Show in Norwich, NY. Only to find out I can’t email my slide show to the Fair Committee because the file is too big for Spectrum to deal with. Luckily Son Greg knows what to do.

My plan is to spend more time with delft clay making a set of “Originals” for future pieces. I have avoided working much in copper but I am looking hard a building Tiffany Style Wall sconces. Maybe learning Gypsy Setting as well. MY son Greg is already better at it than I.

And I have more time to practice guitar and banjo for concerts and pub jobs I won’t be doing.



This covid diversion came along right as we were finishing the logistics of huge out of state move… 27 year studio move with 35 year residential move. The building we bought is an art deco, serious restoration project. It’s probably a year before i even get to unpacking and setting up my relocated studio. That creates a certain level of creative angst.

I’m envious of a more immediate mini rehab / cleanup that you’re describing.

Today is THE ROOF!! flat, garage, double art deco eyebrows, metal standing seam wrap around balcony…

Have fun and be extra creative! I’m envious of instant gratification when little things show immediate & obvious results.


Beautiful Space!!! I am moving my studio to the basement. I have outgrown my sunroom. I am going to miss the windows. So everything is in a mess.


I am curious how others are dealing with $30/ounce silver…

You raise your price. You may have bought your silver at $14/ozt but it is now worth twice that and you have to charge what it is worth.

I’m being more cautious with what I attempt (to avoid waste), am using thinner sheet when I can, may eventually get back into adding elements of filigree (larger appearance with less metal).

Silver was in the forties some time back which was survivable. It is the price of gold that is really inhibiting.

There was something on JCK about jewelry purchases being down 50%, so I think what you make has to be more compelling in some way. Or visible to a wider audience? Both?

Very nice shop! I envy your space.

Neil A

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I’m currently sharing shop space with my husband which is more like a 75/25% split with me getting the smaller piece! He is building himself a man cave and will be moving most of his hobby stuff out and freeing up room for me to expand a bit. I was going to use the down time to clean up but decided to wait until the move so I don’t have to move it twice. I love seeing pics of other people’s shops it gives me ideas!

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Along with cleaning my shop twice a year, I collect everything that I own twice a year so that I can inventory and clean it. When it goes back out to my stores, it is priced based on the current price for the metal and any changes in my labor rate, not the metal cost and labor rate at the time it was made. Anything made new is priced at the current metal spot and labor rate…Rob

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What are Tiffany copper wall sconces?

Like the tiffany stained glass style lamps only as wall sconces. The caning as it is called that holds the glass pieces in place is absent in the lamps. It’s done with copper foil method.

I love the beer on your big wood block. It’s important to stay hydrated.

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Rob- I spent a month deep cleaning and re- organizing our studio from top to bottom. Even down to polishing, oiling or waxing all of the tools and machinery. I emptied out every one of the 17 drawers and 4 cubby holes on my bench. Found a fortune in bench sweeps in places that I usually don’t clean. Tim even cleaned out the goo in the bottom of our sink recovery bucket. Eeeewwww!
As for coping wth metals prices… I sensed that this was coming and stocked up on gold, silver, (both fine silver and continuum) and platinum when the prices were lower in 2018-2020. As soon as I heard about the pandemic I bought even a little more because I knew that there would be a lot of economic and political uncertainty. We do custom work and keystone our costs, so we make more money when the prices are high. I stocked up because I had some art jewelry projects I want to do. My next move is to take in all of the buffing dirt, old buffs, used emery, floor sweeps, etc to our local refiner. We are still waiting for the sink gunk to dry out before taking everything in. We never take money for our sweeps but take the credit for them in fresh metals to make more stuff with.

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That’s a very old empty beer bottle that I use to shape some larger circles. I do enjoy emptying them once in a while. Thanks…Rob


I have spent the last five months learning ecommerce skills. An arts group I belong to won a grant to organize mentorship arrangements between experienced artists and new artists. I applied as a mentee and was lucky enough to be accepted and they matched me with a great mentor. My mentor has wonderful experience and ideas and is also a good task master. We meet by zoom once a week to check in on what has been accomplished. The program is 6 months long. So I used Covid time to professionalize my website with plug-in specialized apps, improve my social media, improve my photography skills, develop a recognizable brand for my work, recruit customers to model my jewelry, learned emarketing, listed my work on international online marketplaces, and a million other things related to ecommerce that I didn’t even know existed. I would have much rather have been in my workshop, but it was time well spent I hope and it certainly challenged those aging brain cells of mine.

Hi, I love the shop set up and space. Have you ever considered upgrading your florescent lighting to the LED version? They are more efficient and you don’t have the flicker of florescent, plus you have color control.

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Thanks for liking my shop. I already have 4 foot and spot LEDs throughout. They are great…Rob

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