Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jewelry Making 101

Alright, before we make a project there are a few things you need to know about jewelry making. Number one being: it can get very expensive very fast if you aren't careful. So I'll start out with a few tips on things to buy, and then I'll teach you a basic project.

First tip: Don't run out and buy a "jewelry making kit." Sure, the deals seem irresistible, but take it from someone who knows, you end up with a lot of stuff you never use. There is, however, one "kit" that is tremendously useful. It contains these 3 tools:
You'll notice one of these tools is not like the others, I've gone through a few of them. You can buy them separate, but you can usually get the set fairly cheap. It is used for bending jewelry posts mostly, but is also handy for bending wire or simply holding things in place.

Tip two: MICHAELS! I can't express that enough. They have the best prices, best quality, and largest selection of beading supplies. Their Bead Gallery beads are my favorite and they go on sale quite often. Where I bead in large quantities, I don't buy anything if it isn't on sale. If you plan to just do a few projects you can afford to spend a little more sometimes.

Tip three: Know the difference in beads. Crystal beads are beautiful but cost a fortune. Glass beads and some plastic beads are what I use, as well as some wooden ones. With plastic beads you need to watch for lines of excess plastic running down the side of the bead and other things that make them look cheap.

All right, now that we have that cleared up, let's make a baby bracelet. In my opinion they are one of the easiest and most overpriced pieces of jewelry out there. The first thing you are going to need is stringing wire. I love the 7 strand wire. Measure and cut a piece of wire just long enough to reach comfortably around your baby (or older child's) wrist.
The next thing you are going to need are crimp beads and jump rings. Don't get intimidated, you'll find them in the findings area of the bead section. They are well marked. The crimp beads are small, in this case, silver, bead looking things that mash down to keep your wire crimped in a loop. With the jump rings there are two kinds. I recommend getting both. One looks like a small key ring, and the other is just a metal ring. They come in all different sizes, so just gage them by the project you are doing. You are going to want them to be relatively small for a baby bracelet, but don't get them so small that you can't work with them.
Now, you are going to take your wire, one crimp bead, and one key ring looking jump ring. Put the crimp bead on the wire, then the jump ring.
(Sorry about my pictures, I really should have had my husband take them, he's much better than I am!)

Next you will bend the wire back through the crimp bead until it just barely comes through, leaving a small loop of wire around the jump ring. Then use a pair of your pliers to flatten the crimp bead.
(This has to be the worst picture ever, again, my apologies!!!)

Now you're ready to string your beads. It really comes down to your personal style/taste. You can make basic, generic bracelets to give as gifts using colors like pink, white, purple, yellow, etc., or you can make a bracelet designed for a specific child and outfit. My bracelet is specifically for my niece Sophie to wear with her Little Mermaid swimming suit, the outfit of choice these days! Don't worry if it takes a couple of times stringing the beads to get the pattern and look that you want. I've been doing this for a few years and I still strung my beads three times.
When you are done with the beading portion, make sure you leave about a 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch to work with. You are going to repeat the same steps that you did at the beginning, putting the crimp bead on, then the key ring looking jump ring, loop the wire back through the crimp bead and flatten.
Now all you have left is to add the other jump rings and the clasp. I like lobster clasps and used to use small ones for my baby bracelets. This is an option to keep the bracelet looking "dainty," but because I have a difficult time working the small clasps I have gone to using only large ones. So, add a jump ring and lobster clasp to one end, using your pliers to open and close the ring, and the remaining ring to the other end to hook the clasp to. YOU'RE DONE! Hope you had fun.

8 comments:

  1. Funny thing! I showed the bracelet to Sophie and told her it was from Aunt April to go with her swimsuit, and she said, "Oh boy!"

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  2. I wish I had a little girl now...

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  3. jewelry making
    I always enjoy reading about the artist's process because it develops a deep appreciation of all the work that went into each bead or component.Thanks for sharing your tips those tips are very useful for me when creating something new.

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