Sunday, November 16, 2014

Studio Hacks To Make Your Life Easier

I've developed some quirky solutions that make studio life easier for me and I started wondering what little tips and tricks others might have developed also.  Here, in no special order, are some of the ideas I gathered from various beaders and component makers.

*Natalie Fletcher-Jones of Peruzi has a hack I'm going to try out.  She uses toothpicks and a piece of polystyrene when glazing her ceramic beads.

*Organizing and corralling pliers and cutters can be a hassle.  Caroline Dewison of BlueBerriBeads, uses a wide top cup to hold all of her pliers. It's easy to see them all and it takes up very little space.  I've come up with a different solution to the same problem.  I upcycled an old divided desk organizer box, which gives me two rows worth of plier storage space and keeps them in easy reach as I am working.

*Glasswork artist, Susan Kennedy of Sue Beads, uses a clear drinking glass to hold her stringers in easy view.  She also came up with a simple but effective solution for cutting Murrini without it flying all over the place. She cuts her Murrini into a mug so they land in the mug and not across the room!

*Rhonda Waller uses a spool holder nailed to her studio wall to hold bead strands and completed items made from cord, to keep them from getting kinked or bent.  Jen Cameron of Glass Addictions also makes use of a spool holder.  She uses hers to store her colored wire as well as some of her tools.
*There were several hacks using spice racks.  Darlene Hilsenbeck repurposed a spice rack to store her beads.
I used to have this plastic stepped spice bottle holder in my pantry.  We're not storing our spices this way any more so I repurposed it to hold my ceramic glazes and stains. I have 2 sets of these.  Here's one of them.

*Lesley Watt of Thea Jewellery and THEA Elements keeps her wire spools organized on a mug rack on her worktable.
*Caroline Dewison keeps her frit orderly by storing it in cupcake cases.  The cases can be stacked to keep them tidy and together in one place.
*Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. When Edie Runyan Looper ran out of storage boxes for beads, she used an ice tray as a temporary solution. It worked so well that it is a permanent bead tray now. 

*Edie and a number of others, myself included, have found it useful to have a measuring tape attached to the edge of our worktables, to facilitate cutting wire, leather or cording to the correct lengths for our projects.

*Kristi Bowman needs plastic tubes of various lengths when she rolls out her copper metal clay.  She has found a handy source for these.  Instead of buying rollers made for clay (expensive) she gets them from TAP Plastics. These rollers come from longer tubes which Tap Plastics cuts to whatever lengths Kristi requests.  There are lots of diameters to choose from too.
*Metalsmiths, like Francesca Watson have huge pieces of equipment, like the rolling mill you see below.  Normally these machines are bolted to a table for stability.  However, they are not portable that way, so you can't bring them to a workshop you are teaching etc.  Francesca cleverly solved that problem by bolting her big equipment to pieces of wood and then using large c-clamps to secure them to her worktables. That way they're both secure and movable.
 *I recently reorganized my studio and added a sweater holder to the closet in that room.  I use it to store my extra shipping materials, since they are bulky, but lightweight, so they won't be too heavy for the sweater holder shelves. Its such an efficient and cost-effective way to add extra storage space.

 *And speaking of shipping, here are some tips from Diana Ptaszynski about how she pre-preps her shipping area before the big holiday rush. She spends an hour or so just cutting up bubble wrap, prepping her "thank you" freebies, writing out Thank You cards, and putting her business cards into her tulle bags. That way she can just sit down and grab what she needs, while she bags up multiple orders.  And anything that save stress during the hectic time that leads up to the holidays, is a good thing in my book.  I'm going to follow her lead tomorrow!

I hope you have found one or two helpful ideas in this post.  I'd love it if you would add to this list in the comments below!


  1. Some great ideas, thanks for sharing

  2. What great ideas! Thanks for sharing! I plan to implement some of them.

  3. Great post Linda, thanks for pulling all these ideas together! I like the spool holder idea, have some of them I got from my mom. I don't use a ton of wire but I'll have to dig them out. And the sweater holder, I don't have anyplace to put it but it's a great idea!!

  4. I love this post. It's great to read tips that I can use now or in the future!

  5. Thanx Linda, I appreciate your tips. I have one more to add. I repurposed old silverware trays by putting flannel on the bottom of the sections and use them for storing my pearls. Each section holds one color. I know that pearls should not be stored in plastic because they need to breath so I put the flannel in.

  6. Great ideas, since I still work at my kitchen table I found some plastic trays that measure 10x14x2 and put my supplies in them. Of course it helps that I have a cupboard with lots of skinny shelves that I can put these trays on when not in use. Think I will get a cup to put the pliers in and put that on the top.

  7. Great post! I needed a better way to store my wire spools so going to be looking for a spool rack. Thanks!

  8. What a fab, interesting post! Thank you for sharing all those ideas.

  9. These are all great ideas, not that I can use them all, but I can use a few of them, thanks so much!

  10. I have a 4 tier thread holder I use for storing my 24g & 26g small colored wire spools. It works pretty well and it sits perfectly on my book shelf that I use for holding other items.


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