Clearing Out

Confession #1:  I have read Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.

Confession #2: I am a tool junkie.

Confession #3: I am a paper packrat.

Each year, for almost as long as I can remember, I resolve to be more organized, more focused, and to stop using the floor as a filing system. And each year, I fail. OK, let’s not say “fail”. Let’s say that each year something more interesting or important comes up.

Confession #1: KonMari-ing

Regarding confession #1, in the midst of the exhortations to throw out everything that does not give you joy, I found some useful advice. For me, the approach of clearing out one category of stuff at a time is working (well, so far). As does the rule that when you start to clear out a given category of stuff, you must gather all of said stuff together in one place. It really does force you to face up to how much stuff you have, and makes it easier to realize that maybe you don’t need or even want all of that stuff.

However, there are definitely categories of stuff which do not induce joy, but which responsible adults should hang on to. Tax returns, for example (Marie’s general rule of thumb for papers: discard everything). No joy there, but I’m not going to tempt the wrath of the IRS by throwing them out. Cleaning supplies as well. Does it give me joy to hold a bottle of 409? Not really. But having a greasy stovetop is not going to give me joy, either.

Confession #2: Tool Junkie

This is supposed to be a blog about jewelry making and gemstones, so let’s get back on track. I cannot recall ever encountering a tool that did not at least inspire curiosity, and a well-designed tool does truly give me joy!  Before I actually purchase a new tool, though, I do have to have a  conversation with myself that that goes beyond “Want it!” and considers whether or not it will really help me be more productive in making the kind of work I make and whether or not I can justify the expense.

Sadly, I have not been able to justify the expense of a laser welder even though it is definitely a “want it” and would definitely help with my complex soldering projects. But they are $15,000 on up. Sigh.

In clearing out my tools, I was only willing to part with three items: a bench vise, a bench shear, and an anvil.

All of these, I’m happy to say, have a new home with another jeweler. I have no doubt she will create wonderful things with them.

Here is just a small sampling of tools I kept.

A recent joy-inducing tool acquisition: a small vertical bench vise. The angle can be adjusted through 90°, from vertical to horizontal. I generally use it for holding mandrels (cylindrical rods around which I form and shape metal).

I parted, reluctantly, with a bench vise because I had three of them. I kept the big one and the small one (pictured above) and let the middle-size one go.

My jeweler’s saw. The fine blade works under tension and is capable of cutting surprisingly thick sheets of metal. Yes, the blades break easily and wear out quickly – they are usually sold a dozen at a time!

The bench shear was not a tool I ever used much – for my needs, I always found that cutting sheet metal using my jeweler’s saw was the right way to go.

The anvil, which has a flat surface for hammering metal, a horn for forming/holding a ring or bracelet, and a square hole to hold a forming stake was replaced by more specialized tools. I have a steel bench block which is smaller and more convenient to keep on my work surface  – it is used all the time. I invested in a GRS Benchmate system which has various gizmos for holding work in place, I consider it indispensable when I am stone-setting. As for the stake-holder I find that the only forming and forging I want to do these days is on a very small scale, and I have a few specialized miniature forming stakes, and a holder designed specifically for them.

One of my miniature forming stakes.

I haven’t yet mentioned my favorite category of tools: hammers. Those are worthy of an entire blog post, and I’ll write about them in future.

I have no desire to reform my tool addiction. I don’t want to change. Tools represent craftsmanship. They represent making. They transcend time.

Confession #3: Paper

This is a tough one. There is a hideous amount of paper in my office and all of it either represents something that at one point in time was necessary for me to keep (receipts, instructions, warranties) or something that I thought I should look into one-day-if-I-ever-get-the-time-which-is-probably-going-to-be-never (business development ideas, improvements to my website, resources I might need one day) or something that is interesting (gemology, a how-to article, new discoveries).

Because my filing cabinets were full, I bought various other devices for sorting papers, and when those were full, I stacked papers on the floor. Sad but true.

I have thrown a fair bit into the recycling hopper. Like the papers related to a Blackberry phone I had 10 years ago and which never worked very well. And yes, it is giving me joy to reclaim the floor and see surfaces starting to clear!

As for the rest, let me introduce you to my all-time favorite piece of office equipment, the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500. Scan it and toss it, baby. Of course this is only a good plan if you backup, backup, and backup again your computer.

Fujitsu Scan Snap_Amazon
Fujitsu ScanSnap – no, I do not receive any credit or cash for telling the world I think this is a wonderful device!

Valentine’s Day Special Offer

This Valentine’s Day I’m offering these 14kt yellow gold earrings at a 20% discount. The are normally $210, and until February 14, 2019 they will be $168.

vday 2019

You can shop other designs at

Thanks for reading!