Tuesday, 25 October 2011

What do I need to start jewelry-making: getting to know your basic jewelry tools

When deciding to make your own jewelry, there are a few tools necessary to get started. Some of these may sound familiar, but most will be new to you. In some cases the tools being used are ones that can be found around the house. However, the tools mentioned here are versions specifically made for jewelry making.

Beading boards or beading mats: These are helpful items that can help you design and measure any jewelry piece. These can be purchased in jewelry making kits that are available at art stores.

beadboards pics by Beadalon

 Crimping tool: Crimping pliers are used with crimp beads and stringing wire in order to secure a necklace or bracelet. This will allow your beads sto stay in place. This is especially handy when making illusion necklaces or bracelets.
crimp tools pics by Beadalon
Flat nose pliers: Only one set of flat-nose pliers is necessary for everyday jewelry making. Unless you are working with jump rings, then you may need two flat-nose pliers. Ensure that the pliers' jaws have no serrations to avoid damage to the wires you are handling. You can also use flat-nose pliers for crimping. However, this is only recommended when using tubular crimp beads.
flat-nose plier pic by Beadalon
Round-nose pliers: Are used for making loops in wire, bead links, and making jump rings. This is typically used when handling hard wire or soft wire for your jewelry piece. This tool is not necessary when working with bead strings.
round-nose plier pic by Beadalon
Wire cutters: wire cutters are used for cutting wires or bead strings. It is important to use wire cutters when cutting hard or soft wire. Using this tool,will prevent wires from having sharp edges.
wire cutter pic by Beadalon
Beads: beads come in all shapes and sizes. Deciding on which type of beads to use will depend on the size and weight you want the jewelry piece to be. For practice, you can purchase a jewelry making kit which come with beads in various colours and sizes. So, for beginner jewellers, beading kits are a good way to familiarize yourself with different types of beads.

Stringing wire: bead stringing wires are sold in different lengths. Beading kits normally come with wire that is enough to make short necklaces and bracelets.

Important things to note is the flexibility of the wire. 1) The most flexible wire is the most expensive. 2)The number of strands determines it's flexibility. The higher the number, the more strands it has and the more flexible the wire is. A 19 strand wire is typically used as an all-purpose wire which can be used for heavier beads. A 49 strand wire is very flexible and creates a delicate drape around the wearer's neck even with lighter beads. So, if you prefer the best flexibility and strength use the 49 strand wire. Take note: the strand number is generally printed on the wire product labeling.

Bead strings pics by Beadalon
Memory Wire: is hard wire pre-shaped as a necklace or bracelet. The beads are strung into the wire and the ends can be bent to stop the beads from falling.
memory wire pic by Beadalon

Optional items:

bead stoppers: are used to clamp onto bead stringsto stop the beads from falling off while bead stringing. This is an optional item.
small scissors: there are scissors sold specifically for jewelry making, but most scissors will work fine to cut off excess wire.

pendant: these items could range from beads, precious stones, gems, etc. They hang as a center piece for a necklace, keychain, or even bracelets. It is not necessary to use it when making your first jewelry piece. You can make jewelry without it.

The list may seem overwhelming especially for someone who has never heard of these items before. But don't fret! Most art stores carry these tools so bring the list with you and ask a store clerk for help.

Familiarizing yourself with the basic jewelry making tools will allow you to save time, money, and frustration when making your own jewelry. Now you just need to learn how to bead.

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