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Last Updated on March 25, 2021 by Katherine
Have you ever thought about getting into jewelry making? Ever wonder what equipment you might need to purchase to fund your new and exciting crafting hobby? Maybe you’re considering a side hustle. Find the answers to these questions in this post!
Jewelry making is a great hobby. You can create your own unique projects that will have people instantly ask you where you got it. You can also create loads of gorgeous and custom gifts for your friends and family that they’ll cherish.
And if you’re keen on creating enough jewelry, you could eke out a decently paying side gig of it and pad your bank account a little!
So are you excited to learn more? Let’s look at the tools you’ll need, the beads you’ll want to stash, some clever tricks you’ll want to learn about, and some special jewelry-making techniques to consider.
The Beginner’s Guide To Pliers & Other Tools
If you want to source cheaper materials for many projects, I would recommend spending a bit of money on your pliers (you can find a decent starter set for around $30). Good pliers will last you years and you will use them with every single project without fail. Same goes for any other tool you buy, quality will always produce the best results for the most projects.
So let’s look at the tools you will need as they are common to most projects and cover some lesser known tools that might be useful for you.
You’ll want a good pair of these pliers as they will snip your wires and any closed split rings to open them up.
You’ll find several varieties on these, but these pliers are used to make loops in your wire. Round-nose pliers are often used to create eye pins, and they can be useful in wire-wrapping.
You can get the plain tapered ones or bail-making pliers that have three or more “steps” along the prongs.
I love using these pliers on projects because they allow you to grip your work without undue twisting of your wrist. You can also find a pair of bent tweezers as well.
Also called chain-nose pliers, these can either be straight or taper at the ends. I like to use them to grip my work as I create. It saves your hands!
Nylon Tipped Pliers
These lovely pliers will be of particular use if you intend to try wire-wrapping. If you have kinky wire, nylon tipped pliers can straighten everything out for you.
A bead reamer is a thick needle with a useful handle. A reamer can be helpful for beads with blocked or narrow holes. I have never tried to create holes in a bead, but my reamer can widen holes in beads without causing much additional damage.
If you are doing any bead weaving project, these needles are what you’ll use to create your project. They come in a variety of sizes, but the most common are size 10 and 12. The size of your needle will largely depend on the thread and size of the beads you want to use for your project.
Findings: Just What Exactly Are They?
Findings are what I like to call the “metal bits”. Typically found in gold and silver, we can also find them in less common metals like copper and platinum.
The base for pretty much any bracelet or necklace, I recommend using a wire gauge between 20-22 for a good versatile general wire, but if you’re working on a special project, you may need to consider a different gauge. For more information on wire, one of my favorite posts is Wire Jewelry 101 on Rings & Things.
For bead weaving, instead of jewelry wire, you’ll need beading thread. There are a few brands, but 0.15mm is probably the most common size. Wildfire by Beadalon is my favorite pick for beading thread.
I would describe a head pin as a pin that looks just like a nail, complete with a tiny nail head. You use head pins on the ends of jewelry projects, usually for earrings, but if you have dangle portions on a bracelet or necklace, you might use a head pin with beads to create that look.
Eye pins are most commonly used in dangling earrings. They look like a head pin, but instead of the flat nail head, they have a loop that is used to make connections between pieces of your project.
Split rings are another connector type finding, they are a ring with a split that allows you to pull it apart and connect pieces of your jewelry project together. You can buy already split ones or fused ones, good wire snips can cut them open easily enough.
Crimp Beads & Tubes
I group crimp beads and tubes together because you use them for the same thing. I prefer the tubes to the beads myself, as I find they are less likely to break. Crimp tubes are used to crimp wire ends on beadwork, which prevents your beads from sliding off the wire!
There are tons of different jewelry clasps out there. From lobster claws to ring closures, you will find something that will suit your unique project’s needs. My favorite clasps by far are the magnetic slide closures, but that’s because I favor multi-strand work.
Beads That Make Or Break Projects
There’re tons of beads out there, and I could probably dedicate a whole series of posts just to the bead varieties available. However, there are some very common styles that you’ll often use.
Sometimes you’ll find these classed as gemstone beads, either term describes the same type of bead. As you might guess, gemstones are used to make these beads. They come in a wide variety of shapes, but round is most common.
Pearls & Shells
There is nothing more classic than a pearl necklace and you can make a variety of necklaces using pearl beads. If pearls aren’t your thing, another option is to use shell beads.
Projects Using Pearls or Shells:
The most common producer of these beads is Swarovski, and they are some of my favorite beads to work with because they are so sparkly and gorgeous.
Projects Using Crystal Beads:
These tubular beads can vary in length, but are often smaller and often considered similar to seed beads, using them in smaller and more delicate projects.
Seed beads are tiny little beads, we use them in the smaller projects, particularly as accented pieces. I will often use these beads as accents in bead weaving or on earring projects as they work well in this role.
Essential Tips For Getting Started
Most projects require some basics, and these are some of my best tips for getting started and getting those first few projects done for you.
Map Out Your Project
I always recommend starting each project with a bit of a sketch or laying out your beadwork. This is key when you are working on a complex project, but I find it useful even on simple projects just to keep track of what my creative side wants for a result.
One of the trickier elements of basic jewelry making, the best way to get skilled at loops is to just practice them. To start your first loop, you need a length of half-hard jewelry wire.
Next, take your wire and bend the end at about a 45-degree angle or more and then take your round-nose pliers to grip the wire near the base of that bend and pull the tail of the wire over top of the pliers and around to make a loop. Use your wire snips to cut off any extra wire. You can continue to use your pliers to work the wire until the loop looks as it should.
Using crimp tubes or beads, you can create a loop on an end of wire. To create a loop, loop your wire end back on itself and stick it through a crimp bead or tube.
Next, I find using round-nose pliers to hold the loop steady useful, you’ll want to position your crimp tube or bead where you want the end loop to sit on the wire and use your crimp tool to close the tube or bead over your wire. No need for jewelry glue or anything else, you have a solid end loop now with no beads sliding off the ends!
Special Jewelry Techniques
Wire-wrapping is a style of jewelry-making that focuses more on the wire rather than the beads, though some wire-wrapping projects will have beads worked into them, but the wire is really what the focus is with these beautiful projects.
Example Wire-Wrapping Tutorials:
One of my favorite online retailers is Potomac Beads, and they have some amazing bead weaving kits and many online tutorials to help you make the most of your purchases. I haven’t quite gotten confident in this technique to branch out on my own, so I still use patterns, but there’s oodles of brilliant ideas out there on the world wide web.
Jewelry Making And Resin
Epoxy resin is a great way to completely custom your jewelry. You can make beautiful pendants with resin and even beads! I enjoy using resin because you can pick different things to go into the resin, such as glitter or paints to create some unique and beautiful pieces.
Project Ideas Using Resin:
Whew, that was a lot, but I hope you found the answers to questions you had about starting a jewelry-making hobby. I’d love to hear questions you might have, say hello in the comments down below and let me know, I would love to hear from you! Also, please share this content with your social network using whichever share button entices you and pin this post to Pinterest!
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