Insiders Guide - Vaune Mason
How did you get into making your own tools? Is there a shortage of quality tools out there?
To make jewellery you often need specialist tools or tools that no one makes. Sometimes you can’t afford to buy a new tool, so you fix an old one, or make one up from something else. I wouldn’t say there is a shortage of quality tools – more that there are a plethora of badly made ones!
For a lot of people, it’s hard to know where to source tools for special things, like jewellery making. Most high quality tools need to be imported at quite high cost, and it can be tough justifying that big whack of cash when you are just starting out in the jewellery world.
What kinds of tools do you need to make tools?
A grinder, some carborundum stones, a gas torch, water or oil, sandpaper and potentially some handles. You also need safety glasses and ear muffs if you’re making a racket.
Do you go to workshops or have teachers that you learn new tool making techniques from?
I learnt my skills from other artists; we often skill share like this.
What’s your favourite tool?
My little stone setting punch that I cleaned up from an old centre-punch.
What’s a hallmark of a well made tool?
It should feel good in your hand, nice to use, and be “just the right tool for the job.” I also think a well made tool should be beautiful, but I guess beauty might be in the eye of the beholder in this case.
Where do you source metals and other materials?
Precious metals come mainly from a bullion merchant in Auckland and from a specialist metals dealer in the United States. I also use a fair amount of scrap metal, which I source from dealers in Wellington, and old tools for refurbishment or for turning into new tools from second hand shops.
Are there any places in Wellington to shop or scout out funky old tools?
Brennan Building Recycler opposite the Warehouse in Lyall Bay is my favourite.
When you break a tool, does it not really worry you because you know how to fix it?
I try not to break tools, but I can usually fix them or turn them into something new. Certainly I don’t worry about not having the know-how to clean up an old tool, or giving a tool a good service - so my tools are in pretty good order!