Design Layout Tip

Designing stock pieces for my jewelry store has never been more fun than it is now that I have a laser welder in my shop. When I was learning to use the laser, one of the trainers gave me a fun tip for assembling my designs that I love to share with other jewelers.

When laying out a design to be welded, I always reach for Funky Foamcraft foam sheets that have one super sticky side on which to adhere the components. I keep a box of component parts on hand that I use to dream up my creations. The box is filled with hand-hammered recycled 14k gold sheets, cast pieces that exemplify rock formations in my area, branches cast in-house from our native tumbleweeds, and various gems and pearls. When I’m feeling inspired, I sit at my benchor sometimes at my kitchen table at nightand organize the pieces into abstract designs, then take a photo of them.

If I’m still happy with the designs the next day, I transfer the components to the sticky foam paper (1) and photograph them to document the pattern (2). On the pattern shown, I have sketched the outlines for additional gold pieces that will be required to back the pearls in the design, so I can cut them out using the photo as a reference. I will later add posts to the gold sheets and mount the pearls in place.

The beauty of this is that I can weld right through the sticky paper, keeping my designs in place as I work through the various joints. If my jeweler is doing the welding for me, he can use the photo as a guide in case any of the components move or shift during the processensuring that the finished design (3) looks exactly as I had intended it to.

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The award-winning Journal is published monthly by MJSA, the trade association for professional jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers. It offers design ideas, fabrication and production techniques, bench tips, business and marketing insights, and trend and technology updates—the information crucial for business success. "More than other publications, MJSA Journal is oriented toward people like me: those trying to earn a living by designing and making jewelry," says Jim Binnion of James Binnion Metal Arts.
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