Twenty Hints and Tips for Successful Jewellery Making
Designing and making jewellery is an increasing popular, enjoyable and rewarding hobby. All the needed materials and tools are widely available and many projects can be completed using only a few simple inexpensive items. A wide variety of kits can also be purchased and these contain all the required materials for the project. Ideas and inspiration for your own designs can be found in books and magazines or online. You could also browse jewellery shops and websites for ideas and inspiration.
Whether you are new to jewellery making or not there are many small hints and tips that can help make certain aspects easier. These can also be useful in helping you gain insight into new methods and ideas. Beading and jewellery making forums such as Bead Buddies or Beading Daily can be great sources of information as well as help and tips from other beaders and jewellery makers.
Hints and Tips
- Wrapping two or three layers of masking tape around the ends of pliers will stop them marking wire and other components.
- A mouse mat makes a good non-slip surface for jewellery making and holding beads. Its soft spongy surface also means that there is no risk of scratches or other damage to the findings, beads or finished piece.
- Nail clippers make useful and easy to handle wire cutters. The larger type are best and although they do wear out with time they produce a neat clean cut and can fit into most small spaces. They can also be used to cut nylon thread and are easily available to buy.
- If using super glue for any jewellery making projects opt for the type that comes in a bottle that dispenses one drop at a time. Alternatively or for very small amounts of glue, place a drop of glue on a suitable surface and then use a needle point to apply it as needed.
- If you spill beads they can be quickly and easily collected by using a hoover with a pair of tights or stockings over the end of the pipe.
- A bead reamer can be used to enlarge the size of the holes in many beads. Care must be taken to work slowly and for some materials such as glass or crystal only small increases may be possible. Wood and plastic are generally more hardy to this technique. If you have a suitable vice, wood and plastic beads can also be easily drilled to enlarge the hole size. Other materials such as glass and gemstone require specific drill bits and techniques.
- If you wish to make many identically sized loops use a marker pen to mark the pliers at the right spot. Lay the wire for each loop over this mark and create your loop. If you use one size a lot you could use a permanent marker.
- Ideally jump rings should be opened using two pairs of pliers. This decreases the risk of any distortion of the ring's shape and makes it easier to close them neatly.
- When closing jump rings push the ends slightly together at the same time to stop any gap forming.
- If you wish to hide the joins in jump rings small beads or crimp tubes can be glued over the join using a tiny amount of super glue.
11. To cut two or more lengths of chain the same length, thread the end links onto a head pin and let them dangle down. This makes it easier to cut them all the same. Another method to use is to count the chain links rather than using a ruler to measure the chain.
12. Use drinking straws to store necklaces or lengths of chain. This will prevent them from becoming tangled. Chain lengths can be joined temporarily using a jump ring or short length of wire.
13. Use rubber bands to secure the ends of reels of wire and cords and stop them unwinding.
14. When stringing beads always leave a gap of a few millimeteres before attaching any findings or finishing the piece. This allows the beads to move and lessens any risk of them being damaged or breaking due to tension. This technique also decreases the risk of the stringing material snapping due to being placed under pressure. If there is no space for the beads to move the finished piece may also not bend correctly to be worn.
15. Bead boards are very useful for planning out designs especially when you do not have a definite idea of how you want it to look. They are also a very helpful tool when planning more complex patterns and seeing how this will fit into the final length or how many of each bead you will need.
16. When using a thin thread with large holed beads, placing a smaller bead inside the hole will help to stabilise them on the thread. These can be glued in place if needed.
17. Finish elasticated pieces of jewellery or longer length necklaces with a knot rather than clasp. This knot can then be glued inside a bead to create a continuous pattern. This can be great for children's jewellery or for people who struggle to fasten jewellery clasps.
18. Calottes (sometimes known as knot covers) create a neat and practical way to finish jewellery pieces. These can be especially useful when thicker cords have been used or for multi-strand pieces.
19. If you do not have a set of nylon jawed pliers wire can be straightened by holding a folded piece of soft material between your fingers and thumb and then pulling the wire through.
20. Lengths of twisted wire can be created easily using a hand drill. Fold a length of wire in half and secure it to a vice or other fixed point. Fix a hook (the small type found in DIY stores are fine) into the drill jaws and then put this through the loop created in the other end of the wire. Turn the drill slowly to twist the wire.
© 2014 Claire