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.

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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.