If you are a jewellery making beginner, it is sometimes hard to know where to start. These tips and tricks for beading beginners, whether kids or adults, will help you get through the maze of beads, findings, tools and designs.
Attend a Beginner’s Class
No matter how many books you read, or websites you visit, nothing beats the hands-on approach when it comes to learning a craft. By all means keep reading, but by attending a couple of beginner’s classes, the information in books and on websites will make so much more sense.
Most high schools offer jewelry making classes as a part of their night class programme, or contact your local bead store. Workshops will cost anywhere from $15 up, and materials will need to be purchased on top of that. Ask how much materials are likely to be before you book, and check if you are allowed to bring beads from home. Some people will allow it, while others expect you to buy beads from their store only.
I know it’s tempting to keep your fabulous designs to yourself (especially if you are planning on selling them at a market), but sharing ideas is a great way to learn. Get a few friends together, or join a beading circle where you can make jewellery alongside others. You will be amazed by how much you learn just by being around other jewellery makers, and just as you share your ideas, they will also share their ideas with you.
If you don’t know any jewellery makers in your area, join a jewellery making chat room, or post your ideas on our Arts and Crafts Community Board.
Every time you finish a piece, take a photo of it and put it in an album. It’s not only fun to look back on past designs, but it can help re-inspire you when you are stuck for fresh ideas. If you plan on selling your jewellery at markets, you can use the album as a sort of catalogue which people can order from.
It’s also a good idea to cut out pictures from magazines and catalogues. While you won’t necessarily copy the design exactly, it will give you fresh ideas and inspiration when you are truly stuck.
Buy in Bulk
Can’t you just hear your mother saying that!? When it comes to jewellery making, bulk buying really does make a difference. Granted, you may want to buy individual beads to feature in a special piece, but buying beads and findings in packets is a much cheaper option.
There are various brands of beads which you can buy in bulk packets of specific colours. Each packet gives you a selection of beads in different shapes, sizes and shades, but they can all be co-ordinated together. I always have packets of basic colours on hand, and then add a few special, more expensive beads to individual pieces.
Findings (clasps, crimps, hoops, rings…) are also much cheaper bought in bulk – in fact in most cases they work out to be half the price or less. If you don’t think you will use 100 ear wires, get together with some friends and buy your findings together.
There are literally millions of different beads throughout the world, and thanks to the internet, you can buy almost every one of them. No two stores offer the same selection of beads, so shop around and find brands, designs and styles that you really love.
Good Storage Containers
When I first started making jewellery I made the drastic mistake of buying a cheap plastic container from an emporium type store. I thought it was perfect, with little compartments to separate the beads and findings, but what I didn’t realise was that the walls of the compartments didn’t go right to the lid. When I closed up the box and threw it into my bag, all the beads jumbled around and I had to resort them all from scratch.
There are some great storage containers on the market now, and some even have room for tools and wire reels. Just make sure the compartments go right to the top – it will save you hours of resorting!
Invest in Good Tools
As the saying goes, a craftsman is only as good as their tools – and for jewellery making that is especially true. You don’t need to have every tool available, but the ones you have should be good quality, and actually do the job they say they will.
To start with invest in a pair of long nosed pliers, round nosed pliers and wire cutters. (Don’t be tempted to cut your wire with scissors – you’ll wreck your scissors and leave frayed ends on your wire). Crimping pliers are also good to have, but long nosed pliers will do the job in the short term.
Tools vary in price dramatically, but generally speaking you get what you pay for. Expect to pay upwards of $20 for a pair of good quality pliers, or look for sets which sometimes work out a little cheaper.
There is no right or wrong way to design jewellery, so be brave enough to step outside the square and create something truly unique. The good thing about making your own jewellery is that you can wear it for awhile, and then when you no longer like it, simply pull it apart and use the beads again. It is always the brave pieces that get noticed!