How to Set Up Your Workspace
by Judy Ellis
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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

    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!


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    • Category: Storage
    • Technique(s): Tools, Storage, General Education