My advise on studio design: Consider alternatives!
I was lucky to be able to visit quite a number of studios and
workrooms prior to designing my own studio. That proved a great
It was here that I learned just how frugal and creativee jewelers
are in design and construction of benches and equipment! Amazing.
The jewelers I visited stressed the need to design and build a
studio based on what I would be making and the technology I chose to
make it. Most things can be done more than one way. Like a home,
furnish a studio or area according to its planned purpose.
I saw one studio in the back of a van, one in a small mobile home,
and one so small and efficient, it was transported in the trunk of a
My own priorities were safety and then, saving money and space,
Later I discovered the real meaning of simple and practical.
I researched safety needs for each technology I planned to use.
The major change I had to make was to separate etching area from
plating! DEADLY TOGETHER!
For me, it worked best to use separate benches for soldering, wax
work, and general metal work. I am considering yet another area for
stone setting, after having spent more than a little time on my hands
and knees with flashlight.
I built my benches from scratch or adapted from old furniture or
store counters/counter tops. Easy to find in an urban area! I built
up, stacking, I fought the urge to have big, bulky equipment that
would be seldom used. Local second hand stores are great sources of
fans, lights, storage units, and now and then, a motor or odd tool.
For me, the more light, the better, and safer.
In the U.S.it is illegal to use propane from a large non-disposable
cylinder within building - unless the tank is outside of the
building, with gas piped in. In the event of a disaster with an
illegal inside tank, your homeowners’ insurance would be void. I
don’t want to even think about their use in an apartment!
You might want to research other local fire codes to learn which
materials are able to keep you safest - as in the new sheet concrete
material used in house siding as a backing or surround for a
soldering area, and insulating/bricks for soldering surfaces. Plan on
fire extinguishers, warning signs, and special placement and
storage of hazardous materials, such as, oxidizers, acids,
flammables, etc, (in their original containers that can fall and
break in an earthquake or other '‘event’) Locking cabinets, or metal
cabinets, plastic buckets in which to place glass bottles as an outer
protection are so wise!
Plan enough space to insure tanks the space they require for
chaining and turning cylinder valves comfortably, and protecting
the hoses from damage. Electrical systems need to be evaluated for
adequate cord sizes, heavy duty, multi-plug gizmos, and extension
cords – not the kind used for domestic appliances,
One of the most important things I did in my studio was to put in a
sink. I constantly need to wash my hands or a piece/
CLEAN AIR: A cabinet for buffing is a MUST. Even a cardboard box,
if necessary. I open windows and use fans to push and pull at
opposite ends of the studio. The kiln is vented to a window. I
placed things that presented the most danger from fumes closest to the
windows and fans.
My studio is off limits to kids and dogs, and most of my family so I
built barriers to keep them out.
LASTLY, COMFORT. A coffee warmer, or insulated pot, a cooler in
hot weather for drinks, and a tv/vcr and stereo with tape player
Telephone with speaker is handy!
I enjoyed the process of designing and building, The evolution of it
has been a great satisfaction. Sometimes it is as much fun as making