Wire Jewelry Tip October 2: How to Set Up “Your” Workspace

By on October 2, 2013
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by Narlene Allen, Wire-Sculpture.com

Wire Jewelry Tip of the Day for October 2, 2013

How to Set Up Your Workspace

Many of you have expressed interest in getting started with your own wire-wrapping projects, but you’re not quite sure how to get started.  Today I thought we would take a few minutes and talk about the first step, How to set up your workspace and some of the tools that you might find useful.


Thinking about these things first, can save a lot of time and aggravation, as well as help you develop good habits; organizing both yourself and your materials and hopefully being able to remain organized as your talents grow.Plus, by pre-thinking your options you can also get an idea of whether or not you have something on hand you can utilize, or if you may have to purchase an item.

First of all: sit down with a pen and tablet and list just what you are going to need, as well as the things you need to plan for.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you begin your new journey into the exciting world of wire-wrapped jewelry.

Q. What area can be designated as a workspace?

Probably the most important thing you need is a space where you can work and store your materials. An extra room in the house would be ideal, but you may not have that option. A few key needs:

  • A space can you leave everything without worrying about it.
  • A flat work surface
  • Some type of storage container.
  • Electricity is a must, so having a handy outlet nearby is important too.

Q. What basics am I going to need?


  • Space & Work Surface: An area that gives you at least 6 to 8 feet will do for starters. Having a space that includes a blank area of wall would be great.
    • Maybe you have an old, unused desk that you could relocate to this area. No desk? How about an old wooden door?
    • Or, two half-size file cabinets. File cabinets give you lots of storage space and provide support for a door or table.
    • A folding table or hard surface table will also work for your first workspace.
  • Chair: A good, comfortable chair is a definite must! One with rollers is a plus, and it has to be comfortable because you are going to spend a lot of time sitting in it while working. Take your time and sit in each before making the decision on which is the most comfortable for you.
  • Flooring: Now if you have carpet on your floor, give some serious thought about obtaining some type of rubber mat to go under your work area. Why? Mainly for protection against loose pieces of wire that somehow always manage to find their way to the floor. Also, you are working with gemstones or cameos and having a mat gives a cushion against damage if you accidentally drop anything.
  • Lighting: Yes, good lighting is a definite must! Of course natural light is wonderful, but the sun doesn’t always cooperate. Overhead fluorescent lighting is fine, if it doesn’t put you in your own shadow.
    • Two of those arm-type lamps, one clamped on each side of your table, will give you plenty of illumination.
    • You might also want a helping hand with a built in magnifier to assist with your projects.

      Helping Hand with Magnifier

      Helping Hand with Magnifier

  • Optional, work surface on your work surface: A protective mat on your working surface can be invaluable. Now this can be whatever you like; some folks use a folded hand towel, others purchase a ‘beaders mat’ a One suggestion might be a woven rubber, shelf liner cut the whole width of your working area. This stuff is great because beads and stones don’t bounce around on it, wires don’t fly off to the floor and everything stays put. Plus, as it can be cut it to any size desired, or even cut into squares to take with you when I travel to shows.
  • Storage: You will need some type of storage system to organize and keep all of your supplies.
    • A suggestion might be a small plastic, roll-away unit with drawers used to store Christmas ornaments. Jump rings and findings are easily kept in plastic organizers within the units’ drawers, as well as directions and tools. This type of storage unit is great when you are starting out and only need a few supplies, and it can easily be moved anywhere.
    • As mentioned above, other people have found storage opportunities by utilizing previously unused furniture like a desk or hutch already in their home.  A beader friend uses lots of empty prescription bottles that she has all of us save for her.

      Bead and Gemstone Containers

      Bead and Gemstone Containers

    • Those filing cabinets come in handy! Your wire  can be sorted out into hanging file folders and labeled by size and gauge in one cabinet and plastic storage cases full of beads and findings  on the other side, in the second cabinet.  You can label the pull out drawers as to what is inside them, like cabochons, beads and findings.

      Designer One-of-a-kind Cabochons

      Designer One-of-a-kind Cabochons

  • Music and/or television: Of course we all have our own different types of ‘music to work by’. Whether you have a small, portable CD player/radio combination or an MP3 player, you will probably enjoy being able to go into your own creative zone by listening to your favorite music while you work.
    • Some people like having a small television too, as they watch instructional DVDs while working on projects that are new to them.

      Complete Jump Start DVD Series

      Complete Jump Start DVD Series

Q: What do I do next?

Answer: Jump right in!

Hopefully, these basic ideas will help you begin planning and then setting up “YOUR” own personal workspace. Items can be added as you need them, such as a vise that can be mounted on one side of your work surface for working with long strands of wire, or holding your ring mandrel, additional tool kits, rotary tools, unique pliers or torches  can also be added as you expand your skills.  You might need a battery charger for your wire twister , or  a  spot for your  self contained  workstation, not to mention a plastic container or two for your beads or wire scraps.

Automatic Wire Twister

Automatic Wire Twister


Everything has its own spot, and as you work you will establish what works best for you, to really personalize ‘your’  jewelry-making space.   Good luck – and happy wrapping!

Final Wrap Up:

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  1. avatar


    October 2, 2013 at 6:31 am

    I love the top part of the tool workstation. I now keep my tools in a rack designed to be a tape dispenser. I got them from Michaels.

  2. avatar


    October 2, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I do my jewelry making with much “assistance” from my three munchkin cats. Being able to quickly close up my work area is a must. I bought a cheap 9×11 cake pan with plastic lid, then cut an old velux blanket to fit the lid as a bead mat. The inside of the lid forms my work surface and the cake pan is my cover / cat gauard. A second cake pan with lid can be used if I need an additional tool storage area while I work.

    • avatar


      January 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      What a fabulous idea! I have two girl cat children myself and they love beads. Callie, my girlie girl will find a bead that’s been dropped on the floor, play with it a while and then hide it in “her” chair.

  3. avatar

    Peggy Powers

    October 2, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Free cigar boxes, accordian file holders, ground coffee containers, found furniture on the roadside (no I’m not a hoarder) all make great storage and work space. I find that a few permanent markers are invaluable…I don’t use mine for wire wrapping I have pliers for that. I use them to label the cigar boxes and the accordion file holders I use to hold my wire. All in all, it works for me and my budget, besides it kind of fun “finding” things for storage instead of spending a fortune that I don’t have for items made specifically for storage. Oh yes, I have to use a card table for my work space. Unfortunately I’m running out of space. I’ll try using some of the tips given above.

  4. avatar

    Donna Hollander

    October 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    A large tackle box from the hardware store, is the perfect size for a portable workstation. It fits pliers, ring mandrel and other large items in the top, wire in the bottom and smaller settings in those little trays.

  5. avatar

    Ellen Pfendner

    October 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    I keep my beads in sample jars purchased from consolidated plastics. They are clear plastic with white lids and come in many sizes. You can buy them buy the gross. I keep the jars on lazy susans (Amazon.com) lined up on a bookcase so I can get at the jars in the back. The book case also has lights and if it is really dark I have a flash light to illuminate the back recesses. The bookcase is stationed right next to my beading station which is a desk with a drop down work surface…..and drawers and a bookcase unit on top. This is all re-purposed den/office furniture. If I have company I can close up the desk and it looks neat!

  6. avatar


    October 28, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    I too like the top of the work station as I use dowels hung on my wall for the kumihimo satin cording spools and the leather spools, so I will also use the dowels for my abundant pliers I have in my collection. They are taking up a lot of valuable space on my work surface. I also use peg board but the pliers never seem to get back in their place. The blocks with the multiple holes had been working for a little while but that still takes up space on the work surface. This idea of dowels really will work to clear up my work surface to do what it is for, work. Why didn’t I think of that????? Duh…….BeBeAz

  7. avatar


    November 7, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I am retired and with limited income, so my daughter and I combined our resources at her residence. I get out of my home to hers about 3 days a week and we make jewelry together in the aftersnoons. It is our time together since we never had this opportunity before to enjoy a craft and each other. She has organized me in so many ways by labeling not only with type but also $ amt spent so that we can evaluate exactly how much each item has cost us and where to reorder. She has her desk and I have mine. She has purchased the large plastic pull-out drawer cabinets and labeled drawers as to beads, findings, & so forth. Amazon.com purchased of stackable containers that we can visually set on desk and pick out what we want. We have a notebook set up with a copy of the jewelry made and product w/#s required. This cuts out guess work and saves a many a headache and TIME. A plastic bucket with lid holds all of the jewelry equipment that is shared and stored next to copies for ease of access for both of us. Also, the “Worker’s Bench” featured today sits on each of our desk with the supply of our wires and pliers & misc items. Can’t do without this item. Hope this helps someone.