(Or, Where To Get Stuff)
I'll start with the local Bay Area suppliers, and then move on to the national suppliers.
That will be followed by a list of Santa Barbara area suppliers.
If you have suggestions for other local (or national) suppliers that would be of use, let me know.
Just to be clear: just because I mention a supplier here does not mean that I endorse them in any way,
I'm just gathering information.
Local Bay Area Sources
Otto Frei Jewelery Supply
126 2nd St, Oakland, CA.
Otto Frei's the closest of the big suppliers. They're also good people. They ship quickly, and have pretty much everything. They specialize in high-precision European tools. Watch their sale pages. Good deals can be had. You can drive to Oakland and pick it up, (about an hour from Mission, depending on traffic) or you can have them ship it. Generally just one day to most of the Bay.
I'm working on a map of Bay Area suppliers.
If you have a favorite local supplier, please let me know.
View Bay Area Metalsmithing suppliers in a larger map
Closest one is 3625 El Camino, Santa Clara.
General Hardware & tools. Some lumber and metal. The good news is that you won't wander around lost for 3 weeks looking for the exit. They really do have a decent selection of basic stuff.
1800 Monterey Highway
San Jose, CA 95112
Address could be 1900, and phone could be (408) 494-4242
Large scrap metal dealer. Generally have lots of random aluminum on hand, but in *big* sizes.
(Like inches thick, angle, that sort of thing.)
505 East Bayshore Road
Redwood City, CA 94063
Large scale steel supplier.
Angle iron, tool steel, etc.
More for the blacksmiths than the jewelers.
5241 Stevens Creek Boulevard
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Your import tool superstore.
If you need quick and cheap, this is your spot.
If you want it to last, keep looking.
I do occasionally buy things there, especially if I'm going to Frankenstein it into something else. No point in paying top dollar for something that's really just spare parts.
The Sawdust Shop
320 Martin Ave, #B
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Serious woodworker's supply store, with membership available woodshop on site.
If you want quality woodworking supplies, try here.
Somewhere in San Leandro
An entire company dedicated to supplying chemicals to artists. A wide range of patinas, and chemicals to make patinas and etching mordants.
These guys do have the real stuff, but think carefully before you order.
What do you need, how much of it do you need, and how will you get rid of what's left when you're done?
National Jewelry Suppliers
(In no particular order)
There's only one real jewelry supplier in the Bay Area. Anything else will probably come from one of the larger national mail-order houses. Most of them respond very quickly, and can get you your items in a couple of days. Easily quick enough to have it for the next week's class.
The biggest of the big suppliers. They have specialty catalogs for tools, findings, enamels and display goods. They're generally a little on the high side of most prices, but they have everything, they have it in stock, and they ship right now. They're very competitive on staple items. 3-4 days transit via UPS ground. Exclusive supplier for Bonny-Doon hydraulic press equipment.
(website currently down, but coming back soon.)
New York City.
Outstanding source for hammers and stakes. For the longest time, they were the only source for high quality hammers, and they still have the best line on them. Smaller, family owned company, and good people. They're out of NYC, so it takes a while to get stuff out here to us, but they can get the weird stuff. For example, they're the only US supplier of the gold foil for Kum-Boo and Damascene. They're also where I get the 'stainless' polishing compound that does such a number on polishing our hammers. If you need something truly strange, contact them. Chances are they'll be able to help. They also do student discounts. Transit time varies, but generally over a week via ground.
Indian Jeweler's Supply
They started out supplying the 'southwestern jewelry' trade, and their stock selections still reflect this. Sometimes this is a good thing though: they have a unique supply of stamps and forming diesets with soutwestern motifs. (All those stamping punches we have in the studio with the southwestern motifs came from IJS.) They're also a very good source for silver, especially large section wire. Their tool selection tends towards the simple and rugged, but I can't see that as a problem. Transit time about 3 days via ground.
New York City. I've only dealt with them in person, at tradeshows, but they have a wide variety of metal shapes and chain, as well as a very wide range of patterned sheet. They also stock reactive metals (Titanium & Niobium) and pewter.
They've been around for years, and the east coast types swear by them.
Philadelphia, PA. I haven't dealt with them in years, but they were, and probably still are, a very good source for metals, as well as general tools. They also stock bronze sheet & wire, as well as pewter.
The only reason I haven't bought anything from them lately is that I'm on the other side of the country. They've been around for 100+ years, and are a fixture of the east coast scene.
Providence, RI. They have a website. I've seen it. I just can't find it at the moment.
Specialty supplier of pewter, they'll do anything from very thin, to the 1/8" slabs I used for the early spinner vases. I've used them for years for my pewter, and I suspect they're where most of the other suppliers are getting theirs. Their pewter is actually tin and antimony, if I remember correctly. Modern pewter contains no lead.
The Contenti Company
515 Narragansett Park Drive
Pawtucket, RI 02861
Larger scale jewelry supplier. Well regarded among the East Coasters. I haven't had cause to deal with them in years, but that's just an accident of geography.
201 Hancock Avenue
Very large scale jewelry and precision manufacturing supplier. They have one of the widest range of jeweler's supplies and tools, as well as a very wide range of files and etc. They have an entirely separate catalog of files and cutting tools for the tool and die trade, which gives them a better reach into cutting tools than normal. When I wanted half-round swiss pattern files 8" long, I went to Gesswein.
101 S. Airpark Rd, Ste A
Cottonwood, AZ 86326 USA
If you want reactive metals, this is where you go. They've got the widest range of Titanium & Niobium sheet, wire and findings available, as well as anodizers and supplies.
A small company run by metalsmiths, supporting the metals community. I've known Bill (now retired) Deb and Michelle for years. Good people, with good stuff. Highest possible recommendation.
National Suppliers of Other Useful Tidbits
(This is a catchall category for non-jewelry suppliers who nevertheless have useful stuff)
American Scientific Surplus
This is definitely my sort of store. An eclectically random assortment of scientific castoffs and cutouts, you never know what they'll have. I've seen everything from Sherman tank parts, to Jacob's ladders, to stereo microscopes, to Russian weather balloons. Imagine a science museum giftshop's closeout store. On steroids.
They seldom have anything that a traditionalist would recognize as being jewelry related, but they have all sorts of things that the scrounger in me has put to work, both as tools, and in jewelry pieces.
Just browse their catalog, and let serendipity club you over the head.
MSC is the Rio Grande of the machine-tool and industrial supplies biz. They have everything, they have it in stock, and they ship right now. They're not always the cheapest, but they're usually pretty competitive. Their website is good, but make sure you get 'the big book'. Their hardcopy catalog is terrifying. It's about 4 inches thick, hardbound, with 500,000+ items. They have tools for tasks you've never even conceived of.
Along with their little brother Enco (below) they're one of the major places I get the more 'industrial' of the supplies we use in class, like the screw-machine length (short) drill-bits that work so well for the precision drill. They're also a great place to get tools to make other tools, or to get parts to fix tools. (They don't stock specific spares, but they do have bearings, screws, and other things that can be used to fix serious tools.) Definitely worth knowing what they have, and pondering how their stock might assist you. Anything from small screws, to the lathes to make the small screws, they have it.
The 'lite' version of MSC, they stock a more limited range of less expensive machine tool supplies than MSC, although they're both owned by the same holding company, and mostly ship from the same warehouses. (The closest shipping point to us is in Fernley, NV. Generally 1-2 days ground) Cheaper than MSC generally, but they don't have the high end stuff. Their sales flyers are worth reading when they show up. (Daily, it seems.)
National locations. Closest shipping point: LA
McMaster-Carr is sort of like a cross between Small Parts and MSC. They're a serious industrial supplier, and they have everything. Their stock tends more towards the sorts of supplies that university 'mad scientist' shops would need, rather than the machine-shop supplies of MSC, but there's a lot of overlap. Their website is good, which is useful, since it's the only way to do business with them. They have a hardcopy catalog that's more frightening than MSC's, but it's absolutely unobtainable. They won't send it out to just anybody. Make that they won't send it out to anybody. A current McMaster catalog is the holy-grail of tool geeks. (I don't even have one.) Since the advent of the web, they're much easier to deal with, since you don't need the sacred catalog. They're very responsive to web orders, but that's really how they want to deal with you. Note that they don't even list an 800 number. If McMaster doesn't have it, it may not exist.
Small Parts is dead! Long Live Small Parts!
They were bought out and gutted by Amazon in 2012. The domain now points to an Amazon order page. Amazon still maintains some of their range, but not nearly what it was.
They still have small nuts and bolts. It's at least worth a look, especially if you're ordering from Amazon anyway, or have prime's free shipping, but if you're willing to dig, you can probably beat them on price and selection.
Source for small jewelry scale screws as well as taps & dies. I haven't used them, but the voices of the interwebs recommend them above what's left of Small Parts. Take that for what it's worth.
Albany County Fasteners
I have dealt with ACF. They're a larger industrial supplier of all sorts of screw products. But they do carry smaller screws, down to about 2-56. Quantities from one to thousands.
I don't know for sure where they are, but the eastern time zone says Midstate NY, at a guess.
I haven't dealt with MicroFasteners either, but in all the ranting over the demise of Small Parts, they were mentioned as a good supplier for micro and specialty screws & etc.
Recommended by the interwebs. Take it for what it's worth, but the website looks promising.
Local Santa Barbara Sources
I haven't lived in Santa Barbara since 2010, so these may be a bit out of date.
If you're a Santa Barbarian, please help me keep them updated.
316 Haley St., Santa Barbara.
Pat (the owner) keeps a small selection of hand-tools, abrasives and findings in stock. He also usually has sterling casting grain available. Call before you head down there. His tool selection is entirely random, and is based largely on what he needs to keep in stock for his own work.
Paul Brombal Coins
3601-A State St., Santa Barbara. (Near Ontare)
Scrap silver/gold for casting.
I've never dealt with them, but I've had many casting students get sterling coins there to melt down for casting. Make sure you're getting sterling coins rather than fine silver coins. I understand they also have scrap gold rings available as well. This is usually a cheaper route than buying casting grain, but please be aware that you will get better results by using fresh casting grain, especially in gold.
32 E. Victoria. (Downtown, just north of State)
General 'serious' art supplies. They don't have anything specifically for jewelry, but they're a good place to keep in mind as a scrounging resource.
187 S. Turnpike. (In the Vons shopping center at the bottom of Turnpike. Across the 101 from the Wake Center.)
The Art Essentials folks bought out the old craft store in the Von's shopping center, and are working to rehabilitate it. General craft supplies and framing. Very little specific to jewelry, but lots of things that can be turned to your purposes. They also have what appears to be a decent selection of beading supplies, and jewelry tools of the sorts that beaders would need. (light pliers & etc.) This is the closest store to the Wake Center that might have what you need.
Michael's Arts & Crafts
183 N. Fairview, Goleta. (Fairview Shopping Center)
Another general crafts store. Light pliers for beading, and some beading supplies. Roughly comparable to Craft Essentials, it's a place to keep in mind for scrounging.
Art From Scrap
302 E. Cota, Santa Barbara. (Way downtown)
Apparently started as a recycling project, Art From Scrap has grown into a sort of...well, I'm not sure what. Their inventory is entirely random, based on whatever cool looking things floated by this week. Their selection is geared more toward 'make cool art with the kids out of recycled shiny things' rather than jewelry, but definitely a place worth putting on your list of scrounging haunts. I strike out nine out of ten visits, but that tenth trip is golden.
(They have a phone. Who knew?)
1207 State St, Santa Barbara. (Kitty-Corner across from the Granada, just up from Anacapa.)
How does one describe "random"?? I spent about 5 years in town before I knew the place even had a name. Definitely a store for scroungers, stocked by scroungers. The owner roves around going to business auctions, and coming home with whatever looked good. The selection is totally random. I've seen everything in there from industrial sewing machines to jeweler's benches, to press tooling, to silk damask and Swarovski crystal. They usually have small base metal stamped shapes, in handy jewelry scale sizes. I make a point of stopping in every time I'm anywhere near. There will rarely be anything specifically jewelry related, but you just never know, and it's always worth the time to check. The place is an absolute madhouse, organized by compulsive packrats. Take the time to peer and pry. I've found some real treasures lurking in the shadows. Their back door opens onto the city parking lot below the Arlington, the one behind SoHo.