10 Tips for Jewelry Making

beaded macrame choker
Second tutorial

There are a lot of things to remember when you first start making jewelry.  The terms, sizes, how long something should be.  It’s all enough to get the most determined beginner to go cross-eyed.  Here are ten things to make life easier:

1.     Be Organized

  • Bead Boxes, tubes, and labels are your friend.
  • Label everything. This will help you find what you need and make it so easy when you reorder.
    • Label should have:
      • Manufacturer name or name of gem
      • Size
      • Color
      • Reorder number if you order from an online source.
    • Keep Track
      • Whether it’s a database, spreadsheet or program designed for it. Keep inventory.
        • This will let you know if you have enough for a project.

Organization is key. In just about every case, you have to take your beads out of containers that aren’t reusable or pop them out of blister packs.  If you work with wire, use jewelry tags around the zip ties to keep track of the gauge.  If you work with metal sheets, label them with removable labels and place them in boxes with cloth between them to prevent scratches.  This will allow you to keep track of the grade and thickness of the sheet.  Don’t forget to label things that are plated, pure (Sterling or 18k), and also if something is nickel free or surgical stainless.

2.     Know what you want before you go to the store.

  • This is especially true if you like multitudes of styles and colors.
  • Have a list and stick to it.
    • This will save you money

We all love to shop for new shinnies.  They are everywhere, more so when you walk into a bead shop, bead section of a store, or go online to shop.  I am guilty of buying beads because they were pretty only to get them home and not have a clue what piece in which to place them.  If making a list is not for you, have in mind what you want to make.  This will also help.

3.     Make a sketch or fill a pattern

There is also graph paper out there if you like to keep your patterns on paper, and multitudes of tutorials on youtube and websites to get you started on how to weave beads, whether on a loom or off of one.  You can also find videos on macrame, stringing beads, and other types of jewelry making.

4.     Get a sturdy bead board, loom or measuring tape.

  • A bead board helps immensely in laying out pieces before you string them.
  • A loom, if you bead weave, must be large enough for any project.
  • A measuring tape is good for measuring pieces that have to free-hang, like chainmail.

Proper measuring tools and devices to lay out your pieces will help better coordinate colors for the piece that you are making.  It will let you switch beads, if need be, and also adjust the length.

5.     When measuring, remember to add in the clasp.

When first starting out, it’s easy to get wrapped up in getting the right amount of beads for the length and find out that it’s too long once you add the clasp.  Place these in the layout first.  In the case of bead weaving/stitching, just keep in mind how long the clasps are as you stitch.

6.     Painter’s Tape can be your friend.

In pieces that require beads to be spaced without beads in-between, use painter’s tape.  This tape is also wonderful for taping wire together for weaving it or making bales.  You can also wrap tools in this tape, if you wish to prevent marring of the wire you’re twisting.

7.     Maintain your tools.

Your tools are your lifeblood as much as the beads you use.  Keep sewing machine oil handy and fine grits of sanding paper.  You can use the sewing machine oil to oil the hinge of the tools, keeping them working smoothly.  You may never need the sanding paper, but it will come in handy if you have tools that get nicked easily.  Also, invest in a file set.  This is to periodically sharpen wire cutters to keep them cutting wire smoothly.

8.     Store your precious metals in tarnish proof containers.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  You can use airtight bags with anti-tarnish strips.  Keep a cleaning cloth handy.  This will help keep your pieces shiny and looking new.

9.     Craft in a place that promotes good sight and proper posture.

Your workspace must comfortable for you.  Your feet should be on a rest under your workspace to minimize lower back problems.  Your chair should have lumber support and be high enough for you to place your elbows on the workspace without having to reach up or have the feeling that they are hanging down.  Your workspace should have plenty of natural or OTT light.  OTT light is true light that show you the true colors of the pieces you are working.  Invest in a magnifying lens for the intricate work.  Take care of your eyes and they will serve you well for years to come.  Sit straight when you craft to prevent back aches, and get up and stretch every two hours for 10-20 minutes to keep your blood flowing and your energy up.

10. Don’t be afraid to talk to other jewelry makers.

The best way to learn your craft is to find others in your area or online to compare notes and refine techniques.  Don’t be afraid to join online jewelry making groups, go to classes, and also go to your local bead shop to see if there are others in the area that can help you.  The more you know, the more you craft grows!

Until Next Time, God Bless



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