With all this extra time at home so many of our students are asking advice on how to carry on with their favourite hobby in their own space.
So we are starting our NJS blog with a guide to setting up your own wonderful workspace until we can welcome you back into ours. Lots of our tutors aren't able to use their usual workshops during lockdown so are improvising with home set ups of their own.
Your workshop doesn't need to be enormous. In fact many jewellers actually work in a space just over a metre square - the rest is just storage. Because you are the only person using your space you don't need to separate your areas in the same way we do at the jewellery school. You might be lucky enough to have a whole room, shed or garage you can dedicate to making but even a cosy corner somewhere can make a great work space. Ideally your space will be somewhere you can leave set up for making but if you haven't got this luxury then a bit of sensible storage really helps.
^This home workspace belongs to NJS student Alex. A pretty space set up in a little alcove with plenty of light and ventilation from the window. Lots of storage, a sturdy workbench made from a piece of kitchen worktop and plenty of personality make this little space a very tempting place to work.
The most important thing you need is a sturdy surface to use as workbench. You can buy ready made benches online or even find plans to make your own but a second hand desk or table can work really well too. If you don't have space to set up a workbench then setting up a temporary space at your kitchen table or work top is a good alternative. The most important thing is that is is solid enough for you to be able to saw and hammer to your hearts content. Ideally it will be high enough to be comfortable to use for sawing (about kitchen worktop height). If you can't raise your table think about lowering your chair. You can use a clamp bench peg if you need to remove it when you are not working - use a piece of leather or cloth to protect your table. You don't have to have the traditional jewellers semi-circle cut away. It can make life a little easier but is by no means essential.
You will need a good light source to see those little details. If you can then work with natural light - set up near a window or position a mirror to reflect into your space. If you can't get a good source of natural light (or you like to work in the evenings) then a daylight LED lamp is the next best choice.
^ This gorgeously bright workspace belongs to our wire-work tutor Judith Brown. The clean white space is perfect for her delicate designs. If you don't have a lot of natural light having white walls and desktop helps to keep things bright.
> HEALTH & SAFETY
If you are sharing your workspace (or kitchen table) with other people, children, pets or inquisitive partners you need to make sure everyone is safe. Sharp and dangerous tools should have a place to be safely put away when you aren't using them. Any chemicals need to be sealed and stored safely - ideally in a locked cupboard. If you are soldering then make sure you have a heatproof surface to work on and plenty of ventilation. If you want to use a large jewellers torch with tanked propane or acetylene you will need to let your house insurers know. For most silver work a handheld butane chefs torch is a safer and more manageable option. Again, make sure it is stored away from little fingers and prying paws. Keep a first aid kit - including, antibacterial wipes, tweezers, plasters, burn cream and eye wash to hand and if you are soldering make sure you have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket nearby and that you know how to use it.
^ Tutor Alys Powers messy workbench. With a separate lockable space you can be as messy as you like but you still need to keep yourself safe. This space has good ventilation from the nearby window and has a first aid kit and fire extinguisher by every door.
> INTERIOR DESIGN
Your workspace should be somewhere you really want to be. Make it an inviting space - whatever that means to you. A nice view, a comfortable chair, a vase of fresh flowers or collection of inspiring objects and images might help to make your space feel 'yours'.
^ This space, belonging to jeweller Sophie Erica Clark, perfectly suits her style of jewellery. A simple converted garage, it's slightly brutalist architectural charm reflects her interest in historic buildings and industrial construction.
Wherever you are working right now, make sure your space makes you happy. If you need any advice or help with setting up your space the NJS team are always happy to help and we would love to see some photos of where you are working right now.