How to Saw in the Jewelry Studio with Julie Sanford of Studio JSD

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Hi everyone I’m Hilary Halstead Scott
and I am really excited to welcome Julie Sanford to the Halstead studio today.
Welcome Julie! Julie: Thank you it’s fun to be here. Hilary: Oh we’re so excited to have you.
Julie is from Studio JSD in Grand Haven, Michigan. So tell us a little bit about
your studio. Julie: Well Studio JSD is, it’s a jewelry design place, a community, we
teach classes and workshops and jewelry fabrication; we bring in visiting artists
and we also have a bench rental program. We also have a gallery, so we can sell the
work of the artists in the community that work there. Hilary: Oh and it’s an amazing
location, Grand Haven is incredible. It is such a pretty spot. Julie: It’s fun. It’s a fun
beach town. Hilary: Yeah it’s a great like summer retreat location. And you also have like
some visiting master workshops from time to time as well right? Julie: Yeah, right yep we do we’re having Jerry Louie he’s a toronto-based diamond setter he’s going to be in town this May,
Richard Sally is coming, Michael David Sturlin, David Wong is going to be there
doing chasing techniques in September and a gentleman named Chuck Bruce is
going to be there doing some stone inlay this fall. So it’s a pretty full visiting
artist schedule; so we not only serve the local community, but more regional and
beyond that with programming at the studio. Hilary: Fantastic. And you can find lots of information about Studio JSD online. Julie: Mm-hmm. Hilary: And today we’re going to be exploring some sawing tips right? Julie: Yes. Hilary: Right. So Julie, you make these amazing pieces.
You’re wearing a gorgeous necklace right now. Julie: Thank you. Hilary: And Julie does such a beautiful job of putting piercing onto back plates it’s a big part of your style in
your collection. Is it a favorite technique of yours? Julie: Um it’s one of my
favorites. I have a lot of favorite techniques. Hilary: Yeah, it’s hard to pick, right. Julie: It is hard to pick, but it’s one of the favorites and sometimes it’s fun to just put a little surprise piercing in there,
so when you’re showing a piece to a customer and they see it, you know,
they’re surprised by it and they, you know, it’s fun for them to know that it’s
there and it’s kind of a secret behind the piece kind of thing. So I do a lot
of piercing that way. Hilary: That’s fantastic. And you are a great instructor at
piercing. I have been lucky enough to be in one of these classes and she is such a
good teacher. She is such a treat to work with so I really encourage you to check
out her classes. But sawing can be a little bit intimidating right? It’s one
of those things that can be frustrating you know, you break blades and your lines
end up kind of wiggly, so it can be tough to get started. Julie: Yes. Hilary: So let’s talk a little bit about the setup you need to start sawing; all of the essential tools,
and then we’ll get into some tips and tricks. Julie: Yes. So first and foremost the
essential tool is the saw frame and the blades. So you definitely need that to
get started. But you also need just a nice bench pin that you can support your
work on. I’ve seen people try to you know saw right at the edge of the table and
that doesn’t work so well. Hilary: You can also end up with slices in your table. Julie: Yeah, slices in your table, that’s not real helpful. So basically that’s what you need. And then for me I need lots of eye
magnification. Safety glasses are important, because saw blades can break
and snap; and I’ve never actually seen a saw blade go into somebody’s eye but
I’ve heard… Hilary: They do fly, they do fly. Julie: Yeah so appropriate eyewear is good. But really, you know, sawing is
just a really simple way to get into metalsmithing because you don’t need a
lot of fancy tools for it. Low-tech. Hilary: That’s true, that’s true. Let’s talk about saw frames for a minute because there are a lot of saw frames on the market.
And you can get an intro saw frame for like ten dollars and then all of a
sudden they go up to a hundred dollars or even more. So what’s really essential
in a saw frame and what do you need to get started? Julie: Right. Well a basic saw frame is going to…we should have brought one over here…can you grab one of mine? *laughter* So this is a basic saw frame and this is a good intro saw frame and they all have these three thumb screws that
you use. We, you know very rarely do I use this saw frame; and then adjust the blade
but then you load the frame and you tighten the blade by putting it in this
side. And then they can have different throat depths to them. So depending on
what you’re primarily cutting; if you’re cutting larger work then you need a
deeper saw frame so you can get into the material this way and cut to the center,
but sometimes a narrow saw frame is nice because it’s just, it’s
just easier to maneuver… Hilary: More agile, yeah. Julie:…and yeah you don’t have this back weight you know
throwing off the balance, you know a smaller narrower saw frame is
just going to be much easier and more well balanced. But then, you know, the
downside is that you can’t cut real big pieces with it so. Hilary: And, you know, one thing I know from when I got started, and I still experience this, my hand gets
tired. Julie: Yes. Hilary: And especially when you’re learning like your hand muscles aren’t
used to, you know, just kind of grasping and maneuvering and I think, especially
because you’re a little nervous and tense, like these muscles really do get tired. So do you have any tips on
how to kind of alleviate that, get used to it? Julie: Yeah, actually you shouldn’t be
gripping this too hard. And so the strain that I feel in my hands when I do
piercing is usually in the hand that I’m like gripping the piece with and holding
it steady. It’s not in the cutting hand. This is just a really simple, easy motion
and it, you know, it shouldn’t cause you any fatigue in the cutting
hand. Hilary: So that’s right, we just all need to relax. Julie: Relax. Yes, relax, go easy. Yeah. Hilary: And what other things do you see beginners kind of struggle with? Julie: A lot of times I see, well the biggest problems I see, and the frustrations,
comes from pushing too hard. So when you’re really pushing into the
metal, you can feel it catch, yeah catch a lot. And so, and you break blades, and you
twist blades and they break and so, pushing it. So really you just need to be
just very slow and steady, and just relaxed. And if it’s making a lot of
noise that means you’re pushing too hard. Hilary: Yeah you definitely get that “err err” Julie: Yeah and it starts to jump, you know the metal, and yeah it’s just really hard to control that way. So pushing it is the
biggest thing that I see and I just tell people to slow down and relax a
little bit. Mm-hmm. Hilary: What’s the worst that can happen? You break a saw blade. Everybody breaks saw blades, it’s okay, no big deal. Julie: Yeah! Yep don’t rush it. And sometimes as an instructor I kind of
have to remind myself that when I demo sawing, don’t do it at the same rate
that I do it. I have to go really slow and talk about it really slowly, so that
when the students that do it for the first time go to
their bench, they do it really slow. Because I’ve seen it; if I like cut at my
own pace, because I’m used to it, then I see students that try to just
rush through their thing. I’m like oh wait a minute, no no slow down. Hilary: Slow down. Take it slow, that’s right. Okay, well let’s talk about saw blades a little bit. Julie: Okay. Hilary: And saw blades we just mentioned, they break a lot. Julie: Yes, mm-hmm. Hilary: And, you know, there are a lot of choices. And we see these numbers 4/0, 2/0 Julie: Mm-hmm. Hilary: We say that is four aught blades, two aught blades right? Julie: Yes. Hilary: And what kind of blades do you recommend? Because there are so
many it gets to be overwhelming. Julie: Right. I Yeah there are different brands of
blades. And some are better than others, some are more expensive than others, they’re tempered better, they’ll flex more. But even in an inexpensive pack of saw
blades, I mean you can get a lot of use out of it so I would not shy away
from inexpensive if that’s what you can afford. And then the size of the saw
blade; Typically I use like a size number 4. It’s a very small, thin blade and I can
get really precise lines and designs in there. But you can go and if, and a 4 is
fairly small, so the 04 is small and then 03, 02 are usually the most
popular ones. Hilary: Okay that’s fantastic. Alright, so sometimes those saw blades
get stuck right? Julie: Yes. Hilary: Yes, so do you use cut Lube or beeswax, or do you have any
recommendations? Julie: I use everything. I use cut Lube, I use
beeswax. There’s, you know, different manufacturers of those different kind of
paraffin based waxes. And then even the end of a tapered candle. Or I have these
like, you know, just odds and end little pieces of candles that have broken off, those work too. Hilary: Those little candle stubs. Julie: Just regular candle wax! But yeah Hilary: Yeah, you don’t have to get real fancy with all this stuff. Julie: No, but I do like the beeswax because it smells like honey. Hilary: It does smell good. Julie: And yeah. Hilary: Beeswax smells pretty good. Julie: It’s organic, it’s nice. Hilary: Alright, well let’s talk a little bit about saw positioning. So if you’re sitting there with your bench pin
and you’re getting started with your saw blade, how do you recommend that people
kind of get started into a piece of metal? Julie: Okay, so let me go ahead and start one up for you. So these are tiny blades, what are
these 04s? Hilary: 04s yeah. Julie: So when you first get the saw blades, they are wound,
all bound up by the dozen; and they’re really, really tight. And it’s really
hard to get those blades out of there. And sometimes it’s frustrating, you
try to unwind it but that doesn’t always work. So one easier way to do it and, okay
so here comes my magnification because I can’t see the 04 saw blade teeth on
there without my optivisor. And one way to get into the saw blades is to grab a
plier and then you find the saw blades, and you pull the saw blades out from the
center. So let me show you what that looks like. First I have to see the
direction of the blades. I don’t want to pull it where the teeth all catch. So
pull it so it’s smooth coming out. And if you grab one from the middle, if you can get one. Hilary: You can get a little grip in there huh? Julie: Yeah. This is the easier way trust me. You just slide them out like that… Hilary: That’s a great idea. Julie:…from the center. Hilary: Mm-hmm. Julie: So the wire’s not catching on them. And then after you pull a few out, it loosens
up and then they come out much easier. And then that’s how I get it, I don’t
even try to unwrap the little thin binding wire on there. Hilary: And that’s smart, to just have like a few loose on your bench so if you break one you can just
grab another. Julie: Yeah. Yep yep. And then with the, you know, with students too – I’ll put a
few on their bench so they don’t feel bad when they break a blade. And they
don’t feel like they have to come back up and ask for another one they just
know that blades are there and they’re, you know, made to be used. Hilary: That’s right, go through blades. Julie: And yeah yeah, they’re disposable so. Hilary: That’s right, okay, excellent. And how is the proper, what is the proper
angle to kind of start sawing at? Do you want to be really upright, or do you want
to be a little bit tipped forward, what do you recommend? Julie: I start up right. So let me load this into the frame. So I could load it into this knew concept frame, this is a
great saw frame. Hilary: And loading blades take some practice right? Julie: Yeah. Yep, it does take some practice. If you’ve got a saw frame like this I can show you how to
how to load that. So with this one the blade teeth should be
pointed down toward the handle. So there’s an angle to the to the teeth and
they should be angled down to the handle and out. Hilary: I have to pull those
blades right up to my eyeball to see them, but they are a little bit slanted. Julie: Yeah, yeah sometimes you have to get just kind of feel the little barb and how it catches on your
fingers. So with this one you just load it up this way and then you just flip
the lever to tension it. And, oops that wasn’t even in there, let me try it one more time. Hilary: And it’s worth taking your time when you’re loading your saw blade. Don’t try and
rush it; you don’t have to be in a hurry. I am not very good at loading saw blades,
so sometimes I have to do it several times and keep checking; because it
really does save you time in the long run to get it in there properly because
you’re less likely to snap a blade. Julie: Yeah. And it should ring a little bit yeah *ping ping ping ping* Hilary: That sound. Julie: Yeah, with this saw frame sometimes these fine little blades, it’s a little fussier to get them in because there’s a little
pin that it has to grip it. So a thicker blade it’s gonna grip in there a little
bit easier. But yeah, so that’s how you load up that one. And then to get it started, and
when I’m piercing I like to tip my bench pin. So when I came in here the
bench pin was this way; I like to pierce with it flat like this. Rather than at an
angle like that. Hilary: And it helps with that hand fatigue a little bit too I think, huh?
When you have a flat surface, you can really…Julie: Yeah, yep. Hilary:…get a good grip. Julie: And I can hold it on
there; yup I can hold it on there really good. And then when I start it I usually
put my thumbnail against the edge like this and then guide my blade just
right along the edge. Hilary: Straight up and down. Nice and easy. And it’s amazing how that saw blade will
really just start to move through the metal when you kind of got the right
position. Julie: Yep. Hilary: Yes, really starts to glide through almost…until it gets stuck. Julie: Well, and it shouldn’t get stuck. So when I was talking about, okay, let me get back in
there; so this is the way it should sound *sawing noises* and that and not that *rough sawing noises* Hilary: That grinding, is too much. Julie: Yeah, yep. Hilary: Alright so do you spend quite a bit of time teaching sawing and
piercing at Studio JSD? Julie: Um I teach sawing and piercing in my beginning fabrication
classes. And you know that’s just like one of the first things that
we learn how to do in the metal. Well, I guess the first thing would be textures
and metal, and then and then we go into the piercing and sawing. Hilary: And is that
fabrication class on a weekly basis or how does that work at Studio JSD? Julie: At Studio JSD we have five week sessions. So the students would come for three hours once
a week for five weeks. And then we have a fabrication one and then a fabrication
two and then a fabrication three. Hilary: That’s great preparation. I mean you must be
teaching a lot of techniques in that class. Julie: Yeah, yeah it’s all technique
based we work through a couple of projects but just you know working
through the techniques. Hilary: That’s great experience for students. Be sure to check out studio JSD; all of the offerings there. And for people who can’t
make it to Michigan, Julie do you teach anywhere else? Julie: I do. I teach, I used to
teach and travel a lot more to teach, but now that the studio is, you know, really
planted in Michigan, I’m there a lot. But I do still go to Milwaukee and
teach at the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee; and then I do get invited to
private studios every once in a while and I’ll go travel then and do them. Hilary: Fantastic. Well check out Julie’s website for all of the offerings at
Studio JSD and her class schedule around the country. Julie thank you so much for
being with us, we’re so happy to have you here. Julie: Thanks for having me. Hilary: Alright, thanks everyone. Julie: Thanks.

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