Making handmade jewelry is easy and fun. It’s a great stress reliever that can result in unique jewelry you can show off or give as gifts. To get started, all you need are a few supplies and the desire to learn a few basic skills. First, you will want to gather the following materials, which can all be found clearly labeled at most craft stores:
• Flat-nosed pliers
• Round-nosed pliers
• Wire cutters
• A bead palette
• Eye pins
• Jump rings
• Plastic organizer for beads
• Crimper tool
• Wire guards
• Jewelry wire
The pliers, cutters, and crimpers are the tools you’ll be using. They can be found combined in packages for about $15 and up. The palette will cost you about $7, and the wire, pins, jump rings, clasps, and crimps are about $2 each per package. One package of each will get you started. These pieces are called findings, and base metal findings are sufficient for a beginner. Later, you may want to explore sterling silver, gold, or platinum. The beads themselves can be pricey, so I recommend sticking with glass or natural stones. A $25 investment could get you enough beads for several pieces. Use your judgment and don’t go overboard. You don’t want to be overwhelmed with too many choices.
Once you have your supplies organized and laid out in front of you, start picking out some beads you like. Arrange them on the palette according to what kind of piece you want to make. The palette will have measurements, necklace and bracelet guides, and cups for the beads you’re working with. Once your project is laid out, you’ll want to start assembling your beads. There are two easy ways to do this: using jump rings and eye pins or by stringing beads onto the wire.
If you want to do a strung piece, you would cut your wire, string a crimp then a wire guard onto the end. The wire goes around the guard, and back through the crimp. Use your crimper tool to first divot your crimp, then fold it flat, and fold it once more onto itself. Illustrations of this process can be easily found online if not contained on the crimper tool packaging. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is! From here all you need to do is string your beads in the pattern you’ve laid out, and add another crimp and bead guard to the other end. Use jump rings you attach a clasp and you’ve just made a piece of unique jewelry!
Using jump rings to string together sections of eye hooks with beads takes a little longer than stringing, but gives you more options as far as style goes. Pick a bead or several, and arrange them on an eye pin. You’ll then bend the wire at a 90° angle, hold your thumbnail firmly to the inside of the bend, and use your round-nosed pliers to make a circle identical to the one on the other end. If the excess is too long, simply cut it using the wire cutters. Getting the hang of how long it needs to be only takes a tiny bit of practice. You’ll be able to measure it with the naked eye after only a few tries. Again, to clarify these instructions, search for some illustrations. It’s much easier than it sounds! Once you have all your bead or beads secured on eye pins, hold a jump ring securely with your flat-nosed pliers, using one hand. With you other hand, take the round-nosed pliers and twist the jump ring open. Put two of your eye pins through the open jump ring, and close it. You’ve just strung two sections together. Repeat, throw on a clasp, and you’ve got your own piece of one of a kind jewelry!
Look through pieces online to get pattern ideas, or take the time to find a beaded jewelry book that has several styles you like. Any good book will have illustrations for stringing, crimping, opening and closing jump rings, and closing eye hooks. Knowing you can duplicate much of what you see after just a few hours of practice will get you hooked fast, and you’ll find yourself returning to the craft store for more supplies sooner than you’d think. Good luck!