Yankee Ingenuity: the "Make Do" Philosophy ...

... and the Spirit of Rough Magic

Our favorite tools: Old ball peen hammer, 19th century flat iron anvil, natural forming stone 

In 2007, when my husband Joe and I named our fledgling jewelry design venture Rough Magic Creations, inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, we were working with limited resources and had to "make do" with the Yankee Ingenuity our state of Maine is known for.

Little did we know how well chosen our brand name would turn out to be.

To learn basic skills before investing in costly sterling wire, we bought a practice roll of hardware store copper - and ruined the entire roll. Bought more rolls. Ruined them all. Bought more, and more, and kept buying and trying, until we taught that wily stuff who was boss. Then the unexpected happened: we fell in love. With copper. Nothing felt quite so at home in our hands as that humble and forgiving metal. 

We had found our favorite medium! But, to bless the rough material with a touch of magic, we needed tools.
 We made do. 
A geriatric ball peen hammer, long declared useless, found a new home on the bench Joe built from surplus lumber. From the discard bin at a local antique shop, we rescued a 19th century flat iron, its handle missing. Behold, an anvil!

For forming cuffs and bangle bracelets, we liberated a rock from our garden. The business end of a turkey baster and a scrap of discarded pipe turned into mandrels. For filing, I pillaged my manicure set. A handful of miscellaneous nails punched holes. Jelly jars held paints and brushes, and kept our beads and such organized.

And so we learned and worked and learned some more.

Over the years, we've added some dedicated jewelry maker's implements to our kit. Specialty pliers, punches, cutters, files are always ready to hand. Our workbenches hold tumbler, pickle pot, drills and bits, torches and honest-to-goodness mandrels. Spools of wire and chain add "decorative accents." 50+ supply organizers march along our shelves.

But you know what? With all those new things, we still find ourselves reaching first for those early "make do" tools. Nothing else feels quite so at home in our hands.