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How to Start Making Beaded Jewelry
Memory Wire Beaded Bracelet
Want to try an easy project first? The easiest first project is a memory wire bracelet like the one pictured above. Memory wire has a permanent coil, so it wraps around your wrist. You can buy it online or at any craft store with a beading department. All you need is:
- A packet of a variety of sizes of beads in matching colors.
- Memory Wire
- Wire cutters
- needle-nosed pliers
- a piece of paper folded like a fan (to hold your beads in order)
Step 1: Get Materials Ready:
- Pour your beads out into a plastic container or towel.
- Set the folded paper so that you can place beads in order in the crease.
- Cut your memory wire so that it goes around your wrist about 3 times. Take your pliers and bend one end back so that your beads won't fall off.
Step 2: Get Beads Ready:
- Decide what order you want the larger beads to go on your bracelet.
- Put these beads in order in the crease of your paper.
Step 3: Put Beads on the Bracelet Wire:
- Your bracelet will look better and feel more comfortable if you alternate larger beads with 2-3 seed beads.
- Start with 2-3 seed beads and thread them on the memory wire.
- Add a larger bead. Continue alternating 2-3 seed beads and a larger bead until you have about 1/4 inch left on the wire.
Step 4: Finish Bracelet
- Take your needle-nosed pliers and grip the end of the wire. Make a loop of the wire so it touches backwards.
- Be sure both ends of the bracelet don't have any sharp edges.
Your bracelet is done and ready to wear, give as a gift or sell!
Supplies and Equipment
The best thing about beaded jewelry crafting is that you don't need very many supplies and tools to start. Moreover, you might even have some of the supplies right now at home.The basic supplies to get started are:
- beads (purchased or use ones from broken jewelry you already have)
- something to string those beads onto (memory wire, stretchy beading string, or wire are three of the most popular choices)
What you tools and equipment you need to get depends mostly on what you are going to use to string your beads. The videos I include all have lists of different types of equipment needed, but you can do a lot with my three favorites:
- needle nosed pliers
- wire cutters
- scissors (which you probably already have!)
When I got started, I just borrowed my husband's pliers. Then he got me some of my own when I started using them too much!
If you aren't sure whether you will like this craft, you might skip doing wire and just use stretchy string at first that you can cut with scissors. When you do decide to invest in tools, you might want to get a kit of several together to save money. Here are the most important beginning beading supplies:
- needle-nosed pliers
- scissors (for string) or wire cutters (for wire)
- crimping tool (for putting crimping beads on wire)
- crimping beads (for sealing off wire beading)
- clasps (for attaching wire beading)
- clear nail polish or jewelry glue (for securing stretch beading elastic string)
Easy First ProjectsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Stringing Materials Pros and Cons
There are several ways to do beaded jewelry and each of the videos I include in this Hub show different techniques that you can use. Each technique for putting beads together has different advantages.
- Easiest to do and perfect for a first project, or for kids.
- Not as versatile, used mostly for bracelets.
- Takes more beads which can be expensive if you doing this to teach a group.
Stretchy Beading String
- Also very easy and is great for bracelets, necklaces, anklets or small rings.
- Cheap and easy for anyone to do, even kids.
- You don't need to learn to use crimping beads because you just tie the ends together.
- On necklaces but it doesn't lie as nicely as wire, and doesn't look at elegant.
- Not as strong as wire and breaks more easily.
Wire Jewelry Beading
- Looks the most elegant and professional.
- It takes a bit more skill in learning to use crimp beads to hold the clasps onto the wire (and tucking the ends of the wire under the beads.
- Needs a few more tools and supplies than other techniques, including crimping beads, clasps, wire cutter and crimping tool or needle-nosed pliers.
Other Stringing Materials for Beading
Anything which is like a string and which you can fit the beads you are using onto can be used to make beaded jewelry. I've used:
- narrow or thin ribbon (any type which is soft and can fit through the bead)
- thin hemp twine (good for larger beads and for making beaded bookmarks)
- leather strings (good for wooden beads and large glass beads)
- thin elastic (good for plastic or metal beads)
Wire and Beads
Another easy first project is making your own pendants using seed beads and wire. While manipulating the wire takes some patience and practice, it isn't easy to do.
- silver wire
- colored wire
- seed beads
- needle nosed pliers
- wire clippers
- 1-inch dowel (or handle about that size--look in your kitchen tool drawer)
- Leaving about 1 inch of the end of the wire sticking up, wrap the silver wire around dowel 5 times tightly. Slide off the dowel. Cut the wire about 1 inch from where you stopped winding.
- Wrap each of the ends around the circle of wire. Make a small loop (for hanging the pendant) with one wire, then continue wrapping. When you have the look you want, cut off the rest of the wire and use the needle-nosed pliers to press down the wire inside the circle.
- Take the blue wire (or other colored wire) and wrap it several times on the opposite side from the loop to make the roots. Hide the end of the blue wire on the inside under where you wrap the wire around.
- Make the top branch by threading a few beads on the blue wire, wrapping the wire around the top part of the circle (near the pendant hanging loop), threading the wire back through the beads and then wrapping it around the bottom of the wire (the trunk part). You will push the beads back towards the top as you wrap.
- Add more branches the same way, working on one side of the first one you did and then the other.
- Finish by wrapping more around the trunk if you want in order to get it thicker. Cut the wire and tuck it underneath the wrapped wire on the back.
More Wire Ideas
Like making wire pendants? Be creative with your beads and wire and you can create many more unique and interesting necklaces for yourself or friends. Freshwater pearls or stone beads are not expensive and can make a fun pea-in-the-pod necklace for an expecting friend, or a lovely bird nest like the one below.
Pea in a Pod
Bird Nest Pendant
Beaded Jewelry Poll
What type of beading projects interest you the most?
Organizing Jewelry Making
Bead supplies can get messy fast, and so you will save time if you keep your beading supplies organized. I use plastic boxes with dividers, but you can start by just putting beads in plastic Ziploc bags. I put everything in a larger plastic container, but you could also buy a beading cart.
Beads: Sort By
- size (seed beads, medium, large)
- type (wood, metal, glass)
Findings: Put in the same sort of boxes and sort by
- crimp beads
- jump rings
- earring hooks
- other metal supplies
If you buy your tools in a case, then you can keep them clean and orderly by replacing them in there. If you don't have a case, be sure to store them in a bag or plastic container.
Beaded Wire Pendants
Elegant Beaded Wire Pendants are selling on Etsy, but you can also make your own with:
- Jewelry wire
- Medium sized beads or crystal beads
- small needle-nosed pliers
You can use silver or gold wire for a traditional look, or try some of the many colors of wire that are available. Many people make nest bead pendants or pea bead pendants using crystal beads that match birthdays of their children or family members. After you make some for yourself, you can make some gifts:
- Birthday crystal bird nest makes wonderful gift for a mom or grandma.
- Teenagers might like a Wire Beaded Tree for their own birthday.
- Young girls might like to make BFF 3 peas in a pod pendants.
Have Fun with Beaded Jewelry Creating!
I do many different kinds of crafts, but creating my own beaded jewelry is one of my favorites. The best part is that after you've done a few projects and gathered the tools, you will have all the skills you need to repair your own broken jewelry too. Or do what my daughter does and take the jewelry she and her friends have and make recycle it into something new.
Do you have a creative jewelry beading idea? Please share in the comments below!