Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Welcome back! If you haven’t already done so, take a look at Part 1 of this Series for the introduction to Making Your Own Jewelry. Then keep in mind that I’m telling you what I know based on my experience. Another jewelry artist might take you down a totally different path based on their interests. Wherever you go for guidance on this subject, this time of pandemic is offering you an opportunity to learn something new. As you begin this artful journey, you may not feel very creative, but be patient. Your confidence will grow as you learn different approaches and techniques. Your creativity will take you in the direction you are meant to go. Your uniqueness will be embedded into each creation!
Here’s my personal equation on learning to make Jewelry: Tools + Materials + Technique + Practice = Beautiful Jewelry! If you’re still with me, here are the next steps to take on your journey to producing your own beautiful pieces of jewelry!
Where To Buy Your Tools & Materials Are there discount ways to buy what you need? Prices are going to range from dirt cheap to horribly expensive. I’ve chosen the middle ground and that’s working just fine for me.There are some tools you cannot take a chance on and go cheap. A successful jewelry crafter will buy good pliers, first and foremost. Wire cutters are also very important. But you don’t have to spend a fortune. Who are the best suppliers in terms of quality and pricing?
When I decided to get serious with my craft, Wubbers brand provided the most important hand tools I needed. They have been worth every penny and their warranty has been solid. One pair of pliers wore out prematurely due to a defect and they replaced them quickly when I provided photos of the problem. I didn’t have to mail back the product either. Over the years, I have invested more in my tools because I know I won’t have to replace them for many years or ever.
Who will you buy from?
I know there are thousands of great suppliers out there. Once I find someone I can do business with, I tend to reorder. If they have bad customer service and don’t trust my word when I report something wrong, I don’t do business with them again. Through other crafters, I have found Jewelry Supply and Rings & Things have been good resources for me. I usually buy my wire from Ebay. I have also purchased supplies from YouTube teachers.
DON’T follow my lead on these questions. Seriously, I don’t have all the answers. As experienced as I am, there is so much that I don’t know. The BEST answers for you will come from watching teachers on Youtube and joining Facebook groups that support jewelry crafters. These are also the people who can teach you what you need to know, make recommendations on quality, and point you towards reliable resources to buy from. Don’t forget to ask people you know! But remember… they only know what they know… LOL The bottom line? If it’s important to you, get a variety of opinions.
Who Will Teach You?
There are no rules for jewelry crafting but there are techniques to learn. I learned everything I know online, at no cost. My experience on finding good teachers has varied. You may find yourself getting frustrated with visibility or explanations. My advice? Sometimes it is just better to move on and find another instructor as there are so many available. Ask someone you know. Be diligent and you will find an instructor that speaks to YOU. Just follow along on until you’re ready to be on your own. I still go back to some of the same videos I’ve saved and treasured for their content and the instructor’s teaching style.
YouTube Videos - The Mother Lode For Learning
When I started out, I didn’t even know what to look for. I started by watching the “what tools to buy” videos (link provided in Part I blog post) that included demos of using each tool and what material was needed. Demos on essential techniques, like this one from Jewel School, helped me narrow down the field of techniques I wanted to learn first. I searched for videos that explained a particular technique in detail and I was off and running! For me, it was like learning a new language. Seriously. I loved the newness of it all.
Here are some helpful hints for navigating jewelry making tutorials:
Don't feel rushed to "do". There are many avenues to take so "time will tell" what is yours to do.
Subscribe to YouTube Channels of the instructors you like. You can always come back to them.
Save the videos you aren’t ready for yet but have an interest in. Later on, they can be tough to relocate.
Helpful Hints for learning a technique:
Watch the same YouTube video until you think you are ready to make your own piece
You may have to rip things out and start over several times.
It really is as simple as mimicking someone else. After a while you will find your own way of doing the techniques and maybe even tweak them a bit to better suit you.
The links below reflect some of the skills I have learned along with several of my favorite teachers. These links are all good starters for jewelry making and I will share more of them in future posts as we explore individual techniques. Here is just one example of what we’ll cover in this series. Intro to wire weaving, another love of mine, from Beaded Jewelry Diva.
Here are several of my favorite teachers I recommend to beginning jewelry makers:
Jill Wiseman of Jill Wiseman’s Designs was my first teacher on YouTube and taught me just about everything I know about bead weaving. It is still my first love and I still haven’t learned all the techniques she has offered. I’m still jiving on what I’ve learned so far! I highly recommend you watch her basic skill videos and don't be intimidated by anything. One of my very favorite (advanced) techniques- of making a beaded cellini spiral is one that I learned from Jill. In fact, I have one on my website! From the very basics to the wide variety of stitches, she is a Master! Or should I say Mistress?
Kelly Dale of Off The Beaded Path is another wonderful teacher of beading techniques. She teaches all levels but really appealed to me as a beginner. What I respect most about Kelly is her online YouTube public service at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. She did hour+ live daily demos from March until June. During that period, I followed her series in bead embroidery and was able to create a beautiful bracelet from what I learned. Coincidentally, as I have just introduced Kelly to you, she has just announced the release of an e-book for that incredible series. I encourage you to watch her announcement, to get the details on this valuable book, and to catch her excitement! Her e-book would be perfect for you no matter what level your experience.
Facebook - Where Q&A Abound
There is an admirable extent of knowledge within Facebook groups that focus on specific techniques like peyote stitch, bead crochet, kumihimo, wire weaving, etc. The list is endless! I truly believe that there are thousands of Groups I will never discover in my lifetime. Jewelry crafters join these groups to learn techniques, get ideas, and dialogue with other members. A number of technique-focused Groups provide free or low-cost beading patterns to follow. Some groups offer supplies for purchase or exchange. Others revolve around particular jewelry artists who like to demo their artistry.
Many of the Groups I’ve joined have offered a wide spectrum of jewelry making experience they enjoy sharing. A great benefit of these groups for me is getting questions answered on resources, materials, tools, and techniques. Most often I prefer Facebook over Youtube whenever I have questions. Answers can arrive quickly because there is usually someone who happens to be online. Another benefit? You will get more than one answer and, therefore, a better perspective with options to consider. I have picked up some valuable tricks from these folks!
Several Facebook Groups I Belong To
Groups are offered on Facebook depending on how their algorithm tracks your interests. That can be a problem for someone like me who is interested in everything!. I often save them with the attitude of “some day, I’ll get there”. As this Series develops, I’ll share what I have been drawn to and you can decide if that Group is for you. Here's just a few for now...
Until Next Time
Once I have learned a technique well enough, I like to choose my own colors and textures. I don't buy kits because I want my pieces to be unique and I enjoy creating them "to my satisfaction". My approach, of course, may be different from yours. Both Kelly Dale and Jill Wiseman sell beautiful kits if you want to try that route first. Several of the Facebook groups have kits available as well.
I hope these tips will help you move ahead and begin the search for YOUR adventure in jewelry making. Don’t forget to reach out as you get more curious. Youtube & Facebook have most, if not all, the answers.
I send you a warm welcome to the joy of jewelry making! Enjoy your upcoming Holidays as you strive to STAY WELL & WEAR A MASK.
Next time, I'll post on Working With Beads in one or more of these areas: Weaving, Embroidery, Crocheting.