JETS Tools is starting a new line of interview articles where we will present you our favorite jewelry makers and designers who will talk about their craft and their favorite tools. You will be able to learn how they are choosing and using the tools to create the amazing pieces they come up with.
Our next guest is Pearl Blay - a jewelry designer and a blogger at www.thebeadinggem.com who creates online tutorials for handmade jewelry making.
As an artist, what's your inspiration and how you find new ideas for work?
My inspirations come from many sources. Nature is my favorite. I am drawn to flowers in particular. Sometimes a popular design like the "Tree of Life" wire pendants inspires me to create a different element based on the same general concept and technique. That was how I came up with the "Vase of Flowers" pendants I make as seen here. I also firmly believe in "playing" with materials. Often a design will evolve that way.
Occasionally, I am intrigued with designs others have done. I then try out the techniques myself to create my own designs. Problem solving also inspires me with new ideas. After spotting nail polish and wire flower tutorials on Youtube, I not only attempted making my own but went on to solve the durability issue by encasing these delicate faux flowers in resin for pretty earrings.
As a jewelry designer, how important are tools for you and how are you choosing them?
Tools - the right ones - are very important. I choose them mainly for their function. The tools have to make my tasks not just easier but possible! I work a lot with wire and do some metal work. So what I want are tools which let me form elements quickly and consistently. Tools which individualize designs are also desirable. I also choose metal tools which give me the greatest use and are well made and durable. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with many plastic tools either. I am always on the look out for new and innovative tools which show potential for jewelry making.
What tool/s are you using the most in your work and why?
Pliers are my most constantly used tools. The chain nose, round nose and bail forming pliers are important for all kinds of wire work. I also used broad nose and bent nose pliers for general jewelry making as well as for chain mail work. Like many wire jewelry designers, I like using the humble crimping pliers not for crimp beads, but to tuck down wire tails! I also depend on my hole punching pliers to make quick holes in metal components. Other favorite tools include the wire coiling ones. As resin jewelry is another favorite medium of mine, I rely on electric tools to help me sand and polish my pieces quickly. I use either a manual tool or an electric drill to create holes in resin and polymer clay pendants and earrings.
How are you selecting your tools before buying them?
First of all, the tool must work well. I also consider how much use I will get out of a particular tool before I purchase it. It doesn't make sense to buy a tool that I would seldom use.
What's your most favorite place to buy tools – online or in stores and why?
I buy both online and locally. Mostly online because many tools are just not available locally.
What do you think tools and supplies sellers are lacking and what would you advise them?
Tutorials on how to use tools properly are often lacking. Tips and tricks incorporated in tutorials would not go amiss either - sometimes jewelry designers find other uses for some tools such as the crimping pliers mentioned above. Some tools require practice and that needs to be made clear to new users. Some years ago, I saw a very negative review for a 3 step looping pliers on a popular selling site. It was clear the buyer did not understand how to use the tool and had not practiced with it. That review actually inspired me to write a tutorial on how to use one! Inspirational designs created with tools are also incredibly important as these motivate potential users to buy the tools.
I have seen many disc cutters but they are always for round discs. Different shaped dies would be welcome as it will save a lot of hand sawing!
You can always find Pearl on her web page http://www.beadinggem.com and her Facebook Page.