What will happen to your stuff when you

Hello Allan,

I’m facing this question at the present, being diagnosed with a heart
condition two months ago. I have been considering leaving my husband
instructions as to what to do with my stuff, I wouldn’t want it to be
discarded. I’ve got a stockpile of cabs, beads, and while not a lot,
silver sheet and wire along with the accompanying tools and bench. I
just don’t want it to go to waste, but I too am not planning to check
out anytime soon! i’m thinking, a jewelry school or something along
those lines.

Vicki K.

When I (you) die, what will happen to my (your) tools and jewelry?
Many of us Orchidians are of an age when mortality is more in our
consciousness, but how many of us have made any real provisions
for the inevitable? 

This is anecdotal but may be of interest.

As an inveterate hoarder my house and workshop are crammed full of
stuff that is often intrinsically worthless but may be valuable to
others. Like that specially shaped piece of wood, or acrylic formers
from student days.

Two stories here:

Ten years ago, I had to clear the house where my family had lived
for 75 years, from my great-grandmother down to me in teenage years.
Only a small Victorian terrace, but crammed with stuff, mainly junk.
I swear it hadn’t had a proper clean for nearly 20 years! This was a
most depressing job, but I felt the need to go through everything I
could in the 3 weeks I had. One third went to auction, one third in a
skip which was regularly raided (good) by the neighbours, and one
third to my small house. There was a veritable archive of family
letters and photos, which I still have, also things like my mother’s
1964 salad spinner in daily use. Upshot was, I vowed to go through my
house completely every 2-3 years to save my daughter from this
nightmare. No, of course I haven’t…

The best thing from all this for my own work was finding a huge
number of obsolete keys which I used in a one-off exhibition piece
called “unchastity belt” - good to make, and important to me for many
reasons, including family memories.


My grandfather’s house tools are still in regular use too.

The other story: someone told me the local auction house had a kiln
for sale, and I left a bid which won (must have been the only bid) I
thought the lot was the kiln and a few tools, but ended up with the
entire contents of an enamelling jeweller’s workshop - a Mrs EC
Fraser who had been a student in the 1940s and had obviously died at
a grand old age. Everything from exquisite swiss riffler files, a
collection of about 50 bottles of lump enamel, loads of books, thin
sheet silver, semi-precious stones, asbestos ring soldering supports
(shudder) down to a set of spoon stakes still waxed, unfinished
plique pieces, and her (slightly spooky) spectacles. This turned up
for me during a lean period, and was a huge gift. I have christened
her “Auntie Etta” and her memory now lives in the workshop. Most days
I use a tool or materials from this treasure.

A longish story, but tools should always always be passed on to
someone who needs them. As Allan says, the local club or college, or
a professional colleague, whether sold or gifted

Despite the glorious mess, intrinsically valuable materials are kept
together in my workshop, and it is important to separate base metals
out when putting into “deep storage” at the backs of the cupboards.
As for finished work, though, that is a completely different thing,
and it will be interesting to read suggestions.

“Geniuses thrive on clutter” but unfortunately my clutter does not
make me a genius.


A thought for consideration…

My nephew got hooked on making glass beads when he was just 12 years
old. He was very fortunate to attend a school that had an excellent
arts program. Unlike his classmates, his parents couldn’t afford to
buy the expensive equipment needed for his hobby so he worked very
hard at part-time jobs to buy it slowly, slowly. Last year, a
retiring glass blower in his area heard about his work and gave him
two big boxes of left-over glass rods and stained glass. This has
had a huge impact on his creativity. He no longer has to worry about
making (for him) costly mistakes when experimenting with new
techniques or trying new designs. Two weeks ago, I rolled a small
piece of fine silver down so it was the thickness he needed to add
some precious metal to his beads. The silver probably cost me around
$7 but the look of absolute delight on his face was priceless. He’s
burrowed in his cellar trying out new things right now.

I urge those retiring in any artistic field consider finding a young
person (or persons) who is truly sincere about pursuing the same
craft and be generous about passing over your equipment and/or
materials. True artists, regardless of their age, have a deep
appreciation of good tools and good workmanship and you will be
remembered when they use them.

Historically, we boomers have lived in a period of unprecedented
prosperity and bestowing the gift of ‘freedom to create without
financial constraints’ to the younger generation is a nod of thanks
for this.

Lauretta Bell


...What should she do? Call Goodwill and have them take the whole

My husband and I have discussed this many times.

If I go first - my husband knows that all my sewing stuff, which
consists of some very high end sewing machines, silk fabrics and
such, will go to friend who also sews. She can then do with it as she
sees fit. She does not know she will get it!

If my husband dies first, all of his electronics equipment will go
to a local HAM club.

WHEN both of us are gone, in our will the mineral collection will go
to the Gem & Mineral club, with the statement that they can keep or
sell what ever they want and use the money raised for what ever they
want. Many times the club will get an item which was specified in a
will, but due to the way it is worded, the item has retained for
several years before it can be sold (the item, though nice - is not
really a quality piece). We have taken this into consideration in
specifying these items in our will.

Now that I am doing jewelry, we have also taken this into account in
a similar manner. All the tools and equipment will be donated to a
club that can use it or sell it on.

Adventures of an Aspiring Silversmith

I read about an innovative solution to this problem by an elderly
letterpress printer. Presses are pretty heavy, quite a burden to
leave to people to move.

So he took his entire print shop and put it into a shipping
container. Set it up as a functioning shop inside the container
(perhaps some windows were cut? I don’t remember that part). The
container is in his yard (rural, obviously), and he can use it
himself as long as he’s alive. After his death, the thing can be sold
as a lot, and transported by truck, intact!

Now there’s a clever solution for you!

I think I read about it in an issue of Galley Gab, a free
downloadable letterpress magazine, if you’re inclined to find it and
see the pictures.


I would be curious to know if jewelry schools/lapidary clubs around
the country already have documented programs/procedures in place to
deal with the donation of entire studio contents for the benefit of
some deserving students. Perhaps they have specific instructions
available that could be inserted into our wills to facilitate the
process, making it easier for an executor. I 'd be interested in
hearing from them.

JoAnn Dean

Hi JoAnn,

I cant speak for our local schools, but as a board member of a state
guild I would be more than happy to facilitate tools, materials, and
work to our membership and museums if possible…

MSG is a non profit in the state of Michigan that has been serving
its members since 1948. Since I’ve been a member this topic has come
up a couple of times. So far it has resulted in lists of items for
sale that have benefited the donar, which is perfectly acceptable. I
know of one or two institutions who have collected such objects as
well. I personally would be happy to help facilitate dispersement of
such items in collaboration with the donor with which ever
parameters they see fit.


Couldn’t I take it with me?

Roll me in my bench carpet and cremate me as they do in India. Bathe
me in my remaining alcohol and boric acid. Smear me in my left over
borax. Big stump can be used for fuel with the gas remaining in my
tanks to help hasten the deed. Clean up my nails with my leftover
sandpaper. Polish them with my 3M radial discs. Dress me in my shop
apron, and don’t forget my Optivisor. Hang my loupe around my neck
and put a pair of pliers in my hand. Hand out left over metals and
stones to guests who come for the show. Make some paddles to mix
drinks with flex shafts using my bench as the bar. Ring mandrels can
be used to keep unruly guest in line. Don’t forget to send the
carpet ashes to a refiner for recovery.

Haha. sometimes a little irreverence is ok.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Henderson, NV

Mike, Glad for the little bit of irreverence. I was beginning to get
a bit depressed about it all. I have made provisions for my stuff.
Neither my daughter, son, or grandson are interested in it, so it
will go to my granddaughter. She and I have spent many joyful hours
together in my studio, when she can take time off from her busy life.
She is one of, if not The world’s top female Rock climbers. You can
google Lisa Rands to see her accomplishments. She may be climbing
rocks now, but that talented grandchild will be doing great things in
making jewelry, and enamels when she feels the urge. And she will get
all the tools and equipment she needs, when I look down from that
happy place where we all hope we go. Sure hope they have a well
equiped studio up there waiting for all of the Orchidians who want to
continue to create beautiful things.

Alma Rands