1. Choose what type of jewelry interests you most.
It can be really overwhelming when you first decide you want to try your hand at making jewelry because there’s such a broad range of possibilities! Just as you wouldn’t expect to learn to crochet, knit, hand-sew, quilt, and embroider all at once, it’s unrealistic to try to tackle every type of jewelry making when you’re first starting out. Instead, choose one kind you’d like to make first and go from there.
Perhaps you like wearing beaded jewelry best, or maybe you prefer the simple look and personalization of metal stamped jewelry. Maybe you want to work with leather, clay or glass. Choose one medium to focus on first, knowing that you can always try something else later… and in fact, the skills may even build on each other and you’ll have an easier time learning a new technique because of what you can already do!
2. Master a few basic skills.
Whether you’re planning on working with beads, clay metal, or another type of jewelry first, there are a few skills you’re going to want to know for just about every project you make. Most projects, for example, will require that you have a basic knowledge of how to open and close a jump ring properly and form a simple wire loop. Once you master these skills, they transfer to whatever type of project you’re creating.
3. Invest in good quality tools.
For your first attempt, it may work okay to just “borrow” the wire cutters and pliers from your household toolbox. But the reality is, the better the tools you have to work with, the easier the process will be and the better your project will turn out.
At first, it may seem like a bit of an investment, particularly when it comes to specialty tools like metal stamps. But in the long run they more than pay for themselves when you’re able to create rather than buy your jewelry as well as make jewelry to give as gifts and/or sell to others. Once you have the necessary tools in your stash, it’s usually very inexpensive to make any particular piece.
4. Learn the terminology.
What’s the difference between and head pin and an eye pin? Is 12-gauge wire thicker or thinner than 20-gauge wire? And what are “findings” anyway? You’re going to need to know! Before you purchase anything, make sure you know what it is that you need. It’ll save you the time, expense and frustration of having to return and exchange the wrong items. There are lots of great resources to help you, like this beginner’s guide to working with wire or this basic intro to metal stamping.
5. Get your hands on some supplies, literally.
There are countless options for where to purchase jewelry making supplies. Online shops like Goody Beads, Lima Beads and P&J Tool Supply have wide inventories, and you can also always find just about anything you’re looking for on Etsy.
Before you choose your favorite online vendors, though, I’d encourage you to find a local craft store and literally get your hands on some of these tools and supplies. Look at them, touch them and choose exactly what you want.
I’ve ordered things before that ended up being not at all what I expected just because of my lack of experience. For example, I didn’t have a concept of what a 4 mm bead really looked like, so when I ordered a whole pack and they showed up, I was shocked at how tiny they were. Go get your hands on some things and familiarize yourself with them.
Later, once you get into a groove and know what you like working with, by all means go for the ease of ordering online, but I still personally love the experience of seeing things for myself before I buy.
6. Have and organize a dedicated work space.
There’s nothing more frustrating for a crafter (or their family!) than having random supplies strewn everywhere. If you can’t find what you need, you waste precious time that you could use for creating.
Choose a room of the house — or at least a certain table, desk or drawer — that you can devote just to your hobby. Once you have it, sort your supplies and label, label, label. There are all kinds of jewelry making storage ideas like inexpensive bins and boxes you can get that already have dividers in them to easily store various beads, findings, and more. Figure out a system that works for you and stick with it. That way you’ll always know what you have and it’ll be at arm’s reach when inspiration strikes!
7. Scour the web for inspiration.
Sometimes a great idea for a new jewelry piece will just come into my mind. But more often than not, when it comes to making jewelry, I get inspired by what I see.
Look all around you for inspiration. Check out the jewelry for sale in your favorite clothing and accessory stores. Browse around on Pinterest. Find a few favorite bloggers whose style you like and check out their jewelry archives. And, of course, search right here on Craftsy for ideas! There are over 2100 bracelet projects on here alone, not to mention that there are over 11,000 total jewelry projects including necklaces, earrings and more.
Sometimes, you’ll find a great tutorial that you want to follow step by step, or you may just find something that appeals to you and you want to tweak the colors, size, or style a bit to suit your own preferences.
8. Take a class.
Is there something specific you want to learn? Take a class and let an experienced instructor walk you through the process! You’re already in the right place. Craftsy offers all kinds of classes, some of which are even free, where you can learn a variety of jewelry making skills. You can take a basic beginner level class or choose a course about a specific technique like wire wrapping, working with resin, or soldering. You might also be able to find a class at your local craft or specialty bead store where you can learn in person.
9. Don’t get discouraged.
Like any other skill, making your own jewelry has a learning curve. The first wire loop you try to create is going to look like a hot mess. And that’s ok! Because the second one will look better and by the tenth one you’ll feel like a pro. Don’t let one difficult or failed project ruin your enthusiasm. Just keep trying, keep practicing, and remember that all skills take time to develop.
10. Take risks!
Don’t be intimidated to try a particular skill because you think it looks or sounds difficult. I always love having the opportunity to let friends play around with my metal stamping tools and see just how easy it is to create their own personalized pieces. So many folks are intimidated by the idea, but with the right tools, they’re amazed what they can do!
Also, don’t limit yourself to a certain style, color or size of jewelry. Play around with your supplies, try new things and see how you like them! Experiment with different materials and see what happens. Some of my favorite pieces are things I wasn’t even sure I’d like when I started making them. The sky’s the limit…reach for it!
Good luck as you embark on this fun new hobby. Once you start, you’ll quickly see that it’s totally addictive! Don’t say I didn’t warn ya! Be sure to submit your own jewelry creations right here on Craftsy too so we can see what you made!