Creating a More Ergonomic Work Environment in My Studio
Posted by Lisa Ramos on
In my previous blog article on April 14, 2021 " Step into My Studio - Where the Creations Happen " I took readers into one of my favorite places to be, my home studio in Clayton, California. Since then I have added a few changes to my studio, focusing less on ascetics and more on ergonomic works spaces. The idea of creating more ergonomic work spaces started after noticing my shoulders and neck aching daily. The ongoing discomfort was getting in the way of my creative process and I needed to make some immediate changes to my studio. In this blog article I discuss how I developed a more ergonomic work environment in my studio, ultimately reducing hip, back, hand, neck pain and eyestrain. This is how I created a more comfortable and healthier creative space...
Image 2: GRS Microscope and Slide & Lock Original Bench Tool-Holding System
GRS® Slide & Lock Original Bench Tool-Holding System
As I have said many times in my blog articles, it is all about the equipment - it really is for me. I have been working at a desk for over 30 years. After changing careers in my forties, becoming a designer came with preexisting body wear and tear - arthritis hips, lower back pain, blurry eyes and neck pain. Also, being a long distance runner for twenty plus years certainly hasn't help. Working around my body aches is an ongoing daily challenge for me I have accepted. My jewelry station aka at the bench spot is where I hand make all of the shimmering MONOLISA jewelry designs. At my bench I am doing a multitude of tasks - sawing, drilling, shaping, sanding, hammering and carefully setting stones. I love sitting at my bench and creating, but my body often pays the price for it. So, I had to figure out ways to minimize my body aches and pain - I am in my fifties and have no time to waste:-) After researching ideas, I decided to purchase the GRS® slide and lock original bench tool-holding system. It has been a great addition to my studio. Let me share with you all the cool things it does.
Image 3 - GRS Sawing Plate
The system is ideal for my work environment, allowing me to easily raise or lower my benchwork - resulting in positioning my work at the appropriate height. My working position can now adjust to the top, middle and bottom with an eight inch of vertical travel - I love that and it only measures 12"L x 6"W x 2"D. What I really like about the system is the attachable accessories options, ultimately giving me more ergonomic choices - a sawing plate, bench pin, fishmouth chamber and standard block shelf to name a few. The sawing plate (image 3) allows me to easily saw metal pieces with my righthand at the appropriate eye and hand position - alleviating awkward positions and being more naturally relaxed. My neck already feels better!
Image 4 - GRS Engraving Block Shelf used during stone setting.
My bench pin, used to steady hands or tools can easily be at any level and change positions based on my task type. The system allows me to quickly change the GRS accessories and onto my next task - saving lots of time. I also purchased the GRS standard block shelf to set my engraving block on and it is a game changer (image 2 & 4). Being comfortable and positioned properly for setting gemstones is essential and often doesn't come naturally for me - it is much better now with this shelf. The shelf allows me to comfortably sit and set stones with a microscope at the correct distance. The heavy gauge of steel shelf doesn't take up too much room in my shop and measures 7"W x 7"D x 6-1/2”H. Another plus, the GRS Slide and Lock System I use has two mounting plates, allowing me to keep two positions placements vs one. The GRS Tools YouTube Channel provides high quality detailed product videos, ideal for watching prior to purchasing their equipment. Their videos also provides user friendly information regarding equipment setup, maintenance, and troubleshooting. GRS Tools has been around since the 1960's and continues producing superior jewelry tools.
Foredom® Dust Collector overview with metalsmith and educator, Melissa Muir.
Collecting Dust at Your Bench
I hate dust and there is a tone of it when creating jewelry pieces. Being a jeweler is a dirty job, literally. Wearing a mask during those dusty jewelry tasks is great, but I need more protection for my eyes and lungs. Save your lungs and reduce the dust in your studio with the Foredom® Dust Collector (product video above and image 1). The user friendly machine collects dust effectively during messy tasks of polishing, sanding, and grinding metal. It measures 15-1/4"L x 15-1/4"W x 19-1/2" and pre-filters ninety nine percent of debris. It sits nicely on the floor next to my bench and doesn't take up too much room. It does make noise, but it definitely beats filling up my lungs and eyes with metal. A bonus, it has a remote switch function (image 2) I stick right on my bench - turn it on and off as needed. The dust collecting system does an awesome job keeping the dust away and my studio cleaner.
Image 5 - Foredom® MADCH-6 Fishmouth Dust Collection Accessory.
Fishmouth Accessory with Shield
I use the dust collector with the Foredom® MADCH-6 Fishmouth accessory that has a protective shield (image 5) - I wish I had discovered this sooner. The accessory shields the dust and at the bottom collects the dust through a vent. The comfortable padded side arms makes grinding and sanding jobs a breeze. I also use the small Dust Collector Hood accessory that easily attaches to The Foredom® Dust Collector system for tasks I require doing outside of the chamber. I continue purchasing Foredom® tools because they are high quality and never let me down when it comes to my dirty job. The company also has very useful videos about their products on the Foredom YouTube Channel - how to use the tools, trouble-shooting, maintenance and about add on accessories.
Image 6 - Foredom Micromotor
When I first started designing jewelry I purchased a FexShaft. I knew very little about micromotor systems and regret not exploring. The more I started designing jewelry I found my hands constantly wrestling with the FlexShaft due to it’s heaviness and awkward feeling hand piece. So, I got a Foredom® K.1070 micromotor high-speed rotary handpiece system (image 6) for my studio and love it. I really appreciate the light-weight of the Foredom micrometers, the quality and user friendly designed machine. The contoured-grip makes it very comfortable while working and easy to use. It comes with a 3/32' (2.35mm) collet with a variable speed control of 0–38,000rpm. The device can be controlled by your foot or manually. It also has a Micromotor reciprocating hammer handpiece that is ideal for setting stones. My wrestling days are over. The micromotor allows me to be more relaxed while designing, resulting in better quality work and less body aches.
Image 7: Adjustable lamp and Aylio seat cushion.
Adjustable Lamp For My Workbench Stations
My previous purchase of an adjustable lamp for my workbench just wasn't that great and knew down the road I would find a replacement. Then I finally discovered a better quality adjustable lamp by one of my favorite online shops, Jewelry Arts Tool Shop . The adjustable lamp has a white LED clamp lamp with a 5" diameter lens and a 1 3/4x magnification adjustable arm flip-up lens cover (image 1 and 7). What a game changer and great addition to my studio. The Jewelry Arts Tool Shop Tool Collection is designed by instructor Jeanette K. Caines. Every product I have purchased which is a lot, never disappoints. Every month I visit their online tool shop seeking for newly released products - I can't wait to see what they have next. I previously raved about my favorite tools from their collection back in 2021 blog article - Lessons I Learned Making Jewelry - Great Teachers & Resources.
Alleviating body stress and developing more comfortable creative spaces in my studio is a work in progress. Currently, I am on the hunt for a more comfortable work chair and haven't found the right one yet. In the meantime I am using the Aylio orthopedic foam coccyx cushion (image 2 and 7) on my chairs to alleviate lower back pain and arthritis in my hips. I have tried a few cushions, but this one is my favorite. I have been using this brand for over 6 years - worth every penny. The gray velour cover is machine washable and very soft. I love the cushion so much I have four of them which I keep in my studio and vehicles - I always use one at my art shows. I never leave home without it! Lastly, I am working on replacing a fixed table with an industrial rolling cart to avoid moving heavy equipment when needing to use it - not good on the back. That is all for now. I better get back to the studio....until next time.
Related Blog ArticlesStep into My Improved Studio - Where the Creations Happen
The Evolution of Design - Part 2
The Evolution of Design - Part 1
"Inspiration happens when I least expect it!”