Friday, June 8, 2012
I thought I would talk about jewelry benches since I am now in the market to purchase one after seven years of working from portable hard plastic tables.
Hubs and I have moved to North Carolina this week and are excited about our new adventure into finding permanent residency. I have lugged around 3 portable tables to each of our temporary digs, using them to set up my makeshift jewelry studios.
NO MORE! (major happy dance, here...)
I have made a decision to work as efficiently and as ergonomically correct as I can from here on out, especially as I notice my neck and shoulders becoming stiffer and more painful after a day of creating. I have a room dedicated as my studio now, and when we purchase a house, a large studio room will be a must have item on the checklist. But I want to get a bench now that will carry me through the rest of my creative career. After sticking with it for seven years, in some pretty rustic conditions, I feel confident that my decision to be a jewelry designer is permanent!
I have been looking at benches on the internet and I have had to think long and hard about what is important to me. Plenty of storage, bench pin and mandrel holes, a desktop organizer and a great metal catch tray are my main considerations, along with an ergonomic height that is right for me and a great chair. I love the idea of three deep lighting, and I am also concentrating on making sure that my 'jewelry cockpit' is one that will last my lifetime, so I am willing to pay a premium if the workmanship is top notch.
I know I would saw more if it were convenient and comfortable to do it, and now I am re-engineering every aspect of how I want my studio laid out for optimum comfort and convenience. The most important determination that a jeweler must consider in pricing is their labor cost. If I can optimize my workspace so that I can cut my labor down for doing production work, then my jewelry can be priced more competitively at the retail level.
I have also been scouring Craigslist and Ebay for used benches, but they are really hard to find and most of the ones I have found won't ship; they must be picked up. So, after much discussion with Hubs I think I am going to get a new one.
Since most benches are so heavy, they have to be truck freighted in, and that is going to push the price up anywhere from $175 to $250. I have been letting that sink in some today, and trying not to hyperventilate too much about it. And this feeling shows me I still have issues about taking my work and my career seriously. This opened up quite the can of worms for me today, and I recognize that this is a hurdle that I have to clear if I am going to continue to grow my business in a healthy way.
Ah... creativity is such a teacher, isn't it? I am constantly amazed at the lessons and insights I learn about myself by bending metal!
I have found a great video by Mark Nelson at Rio Grande about what to consider when purchasing a bench that I want to share with you. If you have a favorite bench or anything you want to contribute about jewelry benches and workspace considerations, please do!