Accessorise your clothes with your own, unique jewellery. Make an original gift or build your own business out of making and selling your creations. Beads, thread, wire, a few basic tools and a little practice are all you need to begin creating jewellery items. There's no need to spend a fortune on your hobby: cheap beads are fine for costume jewellery. Use your ingenuity to transform buttons, ribbons, wire and clay into objects of desire. Soon you'll find yourself making jewellery items for a few pounds that look as good as shop-bought pieces.
Plan your design. You could design something as simple as a necklace of similar beads, threaded on a length of nylon and knotted together. After some practice, you might progress to an elaborate tiara, requiring advanced silversmith techniques. Draw out your design on a piece of paper, remembering to take into account the size of the finished product. Use graph paper for more intricate designs. As a beginner, you may enjoy learning your craft with a basic earring project, suggests How to Make Beaded Jewelry.com.
Choose your beads. Buy new beads, collect and reuse those from old pieces of jewellery or make your own from clay, paper, silver or heated glass. Semi-precious stones or gemstones range from simple colourless rock crystal to deep red jasper, or choose from pearl, crystal, plastic, wood, porcelain or metal beads. Once you are more experienced, try heating glass or enamel in a kiln to make your own beads. Use a bead board to set out your chosen beads and stop them rolling around while you complete your design or make alterations.
Collect the connecting pieces, called findings, for your jewellery item. Ear hooks attach earrings to your ears. Head or eye pins, looking like thin nails, hold a few beads; usually for earrings, according to Tammy Powley in her book “Making Designer Gemstone and Pearl Jewelry”. Jump rings connect clasps, and bead tips finish off the ends of bracelets or necklaces. You might need chain, wire or thread for stringing necklaces. Use the right stringing material, whether silk for pearls or memory wire for bead bracelets, for the best results.
Check to make sure you have the right tools. Flat-nosed pliers help you grip and bend wire, so you can open and close jump rings. Use specialist round-nosed pliers to make loops and curls in your wire. Choose wire cutters that allow you to cut neatly, and use shears for memory wire. Keep a jeweller’s file handy to smooth the sharp ends of cut wire.
Practice the techniques you need for your project using spare materials. You may need to practice bending wire into wrapped loops to add dangles to necklaces, make clasps or join beads together. Learn to open and close jump rings neatly with pliers, knot thread to string beads or practise clamping bead tips onto the ends of necklaces.
Complete your jewellery item by joining all the components together.
Experiment freely: Beads are reusable. Try out designs using cheaper materials before completing your final version using precious metals and gemstones or pearls.
Look for a jewellery-making course near you. After as little as one day you could take home a necklace, earring and bracelet set.
Hang newly made necklaces and earrings on hooks or a rail overnight to allow gravity to pull them into neat shapes.
Personalise a set of cuff links for a special present, suggests the Guardian.
Tips and warnings
- Experiment freely: Beads are reusable. Try out designs using cheaper materials before completing your final version using precious metals and gemstones or pearls.
- Look for a jewellery-making course near you. After as little as one day you could take home a necklace, earring and bracelet set.
- Hang newly made necklaces and earrings on hooks or a rail overnight to allow gravity to pull them into neat shapes.
- Personalise a set of cuff links for a special present, suggests the Guardian.
Things you need
- Plain or graph paper
- Bead board
- Bead findings
- Beading tools
- Kiln (optional)
- Hook or rail