Make Your Own Beaded Jewelry
The Best Christmas Present Ever?
When my husband and I first started dating, he used to buy me really nice jewelry gifts. One Christmas he really spoiled me by buying me a blue topaz ring and bracelet. He set me up to expect something equally nice the next Christmas, especially since he kept talking his gift up for months (It’s something I think you’ll really like...”).
The big day finally arrived, and I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to open my extra-special present. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and discovered a big cardboard box with a set of DVDs, stones, coils of silver and gold-plated wire, and a lot of tools that I couldn’t even name.
“What is this?” I asked.
“It’s a wire sculpting kit. I know you like jewelry, so I thought you’d enjoy making your own.”
I am not a terribly crafty person (well, at least not in one sense of the word), so I just looked at him with my hand wrapped around the unidentified tool and my mouth hanging wide open.
And then the tears began to fall. I was so disappointed. Here I’d been expecting a beautiful gold and gemstone necklace, or maybe another ring. What did I get instead? Rocks and metal -unattached.
My husband felt horrible that I hated his gift. I felt horrible because I was acting completely ungrateful. I shoved the box under the bed and refused to look at it for months.
Then the Bug Bit Me
I still don’t really know what made me do it, but months after I shoved that kit under the bed, I got the urge to take it out and look at it again. There were cameos and pictures of wire looped and wrapped into all kinds of different shapes and types of jewelry.
I began to wonder. Could I make my own jewelry? Really? I took out the DVDs and started to watch.
I learned all about wire gauge. Gauge is how big a wire is. The higher the number gauge, the smaller the wire. In other words, 20 gauge wire is thinner than 16 gauge. I also learned that lower gauge wires are more suitable for intense manipulation. Higher gauge wire is more likely to break if you try to bend it or twist it a lot. This is the best information I learned from watching the DVDs. As for the actual wire-wrapping techniques, I didn’t learn much.
My first few wire-wrapping attempts were disastrous. I got better at it with practice, of course, but I discovered something: I didn’t really care for all the elaborately-styled wire wrapping. I much prefer the simple jewelry designs.
By this time, I’d exhausted the beads and stones that came with the kit and gone out to the local Michaels craft store to get more. I also discovered some great web sites that sold Swarovski crystal beads in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. And I even bought some beads and wire from Amazon. I was a bead-buying fool.
That’s when I decided to forget about wire sculpture and just create my own very simply designed beaded jewelry.
It's Really Simple
When you're just beading, you can use a pretty thin wire, based on your preferences. I like 20 gauge or even 22 gauge. Some beads have really small holes, so if you try to use a thicker wire than that, you will not be able to string the bead.
So, say you want to make a bracelet like the one shown to the side.
You will need:
- pliers - either the flat- or needle-nosed are good for wrapping the wire around the end of the clasp. I find that the needle-nosed pliers allow you to have more precision in your movements, though.
- clasp - I love magnet clasps. They are so easy to work with - well, as long as you keep the magnet side away from the wire; otherwise, the magnet will always be getting stuck to the wire, and that can hamper your work.
- wire - 20 or 22 gauge, as mentioned before - at least 9 inches to start. I usually make 7.5 to 8 inch bracelets, and this gives you plenty of wire to work with on both ends for looping around your clasp.
- beads - whatever kind you want - plastic, glass, crystal, stone - it's completely up to you, and this is one of the best parts (I think) about designing and making your own jewelry
How Many Beads Will You Need?
Well, that all depends on the size of the bead. One inch equals 25.4 millimeters.
If you're making an eight-inch bracelet with 6-mm beads (which is a little small, in my opinion, but if that's what suits you, go for it!), you will need about 33-34 beads, depending on how big your clasp is.
Here's All You Have to Do
- Decide on a bead pattern for your bracelet.
- Cut off a length of wire from the spool using your flush wire cutters.
- Wrap one end of the wire around the loop on the end of your clasp with your needle-nose pliers and secure it tightly by flattening it with your flat-nose pliers.
- Start stringing your beads according to the pattern you've already designed.
- When the last bead is on the wire, take your needle-nose pliers again and carefully loop the end of your wire around the unattached end of your clasp. Flatten the loop with the flat-nose pliers.
- Unclasp your bracelet and put it on your arm because it's ready to wear!
My Secret for Making Easy Bead Earrings
Do you want to know how to make earrings like the ones in this picture? You'll be surprised at how easy it is.
- Go out and get a package of stick pins and a package of earring hooks.
- String the beads on the stick pins according to your design.
- Loop the end of the stick pin around the end of the earring hook using your needle-nose pliers, and press the loop down with the flat-nose pliers to secure.
What Can You Do With Your Jewelry Creations?
I wear most of the jewelry I make myself. I've also given some of it away as gifts.
I've even sold some at small local arts and crafts fairs, and I've made a few sales of personalized gifts to people I know. I don't make a lot of money with my jewelry, but I make enough to support my habit.
You can also sell with sites like etsy.com or bonanza.com. I just opened up my store and am slowly adding inventory. When I get a good number of items in there, then I'll do some heavy promotion. I'm thinking about a small Facebook ad campaign.
I guess my husband (then boyfriend) knew me better than I knew myself. It turns out that I really did like that Christmas gift. I don't know that it was necessarily the best Christmas present ever, but it was definitely a good one!