Senior Friendly Jewelry Crafts: Any ideas?

by Sarah R.
(Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada)

question-mark-originalI have volunteered to teach a jewelry craft to a local seniors group. I am looking for project suggestions. The project would have to be cost effective as I am donating the supplies but also be easy for a senior to do.

For example;  no small beads. Anyone have any ideas?

Any input is appreciated as it is the first time I have done anything like this. I figured this would be the best place to look for advice. Thanks in advance everyone!

Sarah R
Sarah Reid Designs
Sarah Reid Designs at Etsy

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  1. I’m teaching a series of jewellery classes at a high-end retirement residence right now. My first class was a simple memory wire bracelet, with a “pearl soup mixture” – a dish of pearls in a variety of sizes and colours, and a few other focal or sparkly beads thrown in for interest. I co-ordinated the bead colours so that they all looked pretty together. I closed off one end of a pre-cut bracelet, then they just chose their beads and beaded. They could do as many as they wanted. I closed off the other end when they were done (as the memory wire is stiff), and added dangles to the ends for them.

    For my second class, we’re doing co-ordinating memory wire necklaces. Things will just progress along in steps. Memory wire works well because they often have trouble with clasps.

    They end up with a pretty, individualized, modern-looking, but simple piece of jewellery.

  2. Leslie Schmidt says:

    Tamara: This is a great idea for seniors, just stringing the beads. Are you being paid for teaching these classes, if I may ask, and how much per person or group? It has been suggested I do this for a group but I don’t know if they pay, the person pays or how you get your expenses covered. I can’t afford to donate my supplies. My mother lives in a care home and they do crafts weekly; she is still wearing a bracelet they tied on made with simple pony beads in coordinating colors a year later. I wonder if stretchy bracelets would work with seniors. What else do you find is easy for others to make at senior centers? Like Sarah, I would appreciate advice on this.

  3. Sarah R says:

    Thank you Tamara, memory wire is a great idea! I can keep the cost down because I already have a ton of memory wire too. It will work out well with tools and simple techniques. I will definitely be using this idea.
    Also Leslie this seniors group offered to pay up to $50 for any materials I would supply but I opted to donate the supplies as I have tons of beads laying around that I don’t use. I’m sure many groups would be able to offer you something to host a class. Or even if you had a cost effective project that you could charge just a few dollars per person as material cost. Good Luck!

  4. Hi Leslie and Sarah,

    I think different places would offer different situations regarding payment. For this situation for me, they are paying me a teaching fee, and I asked for 20.00 per hour, which was no problem here (it’s quite a high-end residence). I also let them know how much per project made (bracelet, necklace) the supplies cost. For me, 5.00 per bracelet was what I charged, more for necklaces. I give them an invoice with the teaching fee, and the materials cost listed. If they don’t know how many exactly will attend, or how many pieces will be made in the class, I just leave a blank and fill it in there at the end, and add it up. Easy, and it works well. If they buy something different from me individually, that isn’t part of the class, they pay me directly. For instance, I had a few pairs of very simple, inexpensive earrings made up to co-ordinate with the bracelets, and one lady bought two pairs of those.

    We’re also pursuing the idea of doing jewellery repair/remake there. Lots of seniors have broken jewellery that they’d love to have fixed (if it’s something I can do), or if they don’t like the design, we can take the piece apart and even they can maybe restring it into a different piece, or I can do something for them. The activities co-ordinator is really gung-ho about this idea, and has half a dozen of her own pieces of jewellery set aside to remake. 🙂

  5. Helen Ritter says:

    I have taught different classes at a high end senior residence and two nursing homes. I volunteered my time and all the materials. We have made earrings, which they later sold at thier holiday bazaars and stretch bracelets. Some of the residents were physically challenged but did a great job. It was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. Whatever you choose to do will be greatly appreciated, believe me.

  6. That is so nice! How about an easy stretchy bracelet with Stretch Magic Cord? You could take some destash beads and make several bowls of bead soup for each table – maybe spread out some magazine pictures of bracelet trends that are hot now. You may have to help with the knots to secure, but it would be a simple project & they would have something they could wear that day and it would keep your cost down. Good Luck!

  7. Leslie Schmidt says:

    Thanks for the information, Tamara. Great ideas. Another thought I have is ribbon bookmarks. These are easy to make and don’t require a lot of dexterity. I buy ribbon at the dollar stores (great colors and nice ribbon for less money). Cut a 10 inch piece (this leaves room for folding the ends), fold the ends twice (it tucks in the frayed end better), I use mini binder clips to hold it until I put a crimp end on the ribbon using chain nose pliers, then add a charm or a beaded headpin charm with a split jump ring (split rings hold the charms on better than a regular jump ring) and it’s good to go. Great for gifts, fundraisers, etc. Can be themed to the ribbon color (aqua and sea charms or beads; brown and sports beads such as footballs, soccer, basketballs, etc.) and made for guys and gals. You can get inexpensive charms at Wal-Mart. I buy Christian crosses as many use these for their Bibles. Will explore all these ideas at our local care centers. I need to be busy and make some money, love teaching and love people.

  8. Sheila Meador says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I am a volunteer computer instructor at 2 local senior centers in county parks. I also live close to a nice retirement home where I go for AARP meetings. I make jewelry to sell (I have a business license and pay taxes), and I’m always trying to come up with places I might approach to sell or teach jewelry. I’m also interested in doing jewelry parties. This is something I need to follow up with since I already have developed a relationship with these groups.

  9. i just came back from a jewelry retreat with friends. One woman shared a “bead soup” project that might be perfect for seniors. It’s fun and easy to do, and can work with many kinds of beads. You need several pieces of about 10″-12″ each of thin wire (28 ga or thereabout) for a bracelet. String one bead most of the way down the wire and twist the wire around itself a couple of times to create a stopper. Add a bead, fold the wire back over it and again twist the wire. Continue until you run out of wire, leaving a tail at each end. Here’s a visual so you will hopefully know what I mean: The wire will look almost like a strand of christmas tree lights, with each bead sticking off the wire on its own little piece of twisted wire. make several strands in this way.and then wrap the strands around each other to create a bracelet. After each person makes her bracelet,you may have to do the joining for them. Just twist the tails together to make one cabled wire, add a clasp, and make a wrapped loop with the cabled wire. The result is a very full bead bracelet that requires little skill and is lots of fun to make while chatting and visiting. Longer strands make necklaces, little strands doubled back on themselves can make earrings. I hope this gives you an idea you can use!

  10. I am in an area with many retirement “villages”, senior residences and nursing homes ranging from high to more moderate income. I would like to start doing jewelry making parties, but I don’t have a clue how to get started. Any helpful hints would be greatly appreciated!

  11. Hi Nancy, you’ll find lots of tips and ideas for teaching jewelry making and doing parties in this section:
    Teaching Jewelry Making.
    I wish you every joy and success with it – it’s really rewarding to help other people learn how to make jewelry! 🙂

  12. Sarah Reid says:

    I just wanted to thank everyone for their helpful tips and ideas! I decided to make up kits for a memory style wrap bracelet and matching earrings. I tried to keep the smaller beads to a minimum but I did include some in the kits as spacer beads. Thank you Rena for your great article about putting together kits for jewelry parties. That helped a lot! I had a good selection of beads in each baggie and thankfully each lady had more than enough for the project.

    I made enough kits so that I would have a few extra on hand just in case. I had 15 ladies come out to the craft morning. It was a great turnout considering the temperature had quickly dropped and it was -38 that morning.

    I really enjoyed teaching a class and volunteering my time spending the morning with such a nice group. It went so well that I offered my services as an esthetician to come in before Christmas and give mini manicures. I hope this inspires more of my Jewelry Making Journal friends to get active in their communities with their jeweley businesses.

    Merry Christmas!,

  13. PhyllisC says:

    This is Terrific! I do craft shows, and biker ( motorcycle) shows, where I sell my jewelry & other beaded items, almost every weekend. At this last show I made a simple flyer offering to teach people how to make their own beaded jewelry, bracelets, or necklaces, or earrings, just about anything beaded for 2 hours, 2 bottles of wine gift from me) and all the information I could share! LOL.. I had 2 different women set up classes right at the Show, prepaid and everything, and no flyers left at the End of the Show! It was amazing! Since then, I have now booked a total of 5 “wine & bead” parties, and I have them set up geographically so I can do 2 per day, and one the next day. I can only do them on weekends( in the summer ) TOO HOT in Florida to be outside, and my only requirement is Air Conditioning, and comfortable seats. I go to them, and my first class is this weekend. I am taking kits I made to sell at the shows ( good sellers), and will also set up some of my Unique Jewelry for them to get ideas, and/or purchase ( smile) at the end of the class! I pay for the wine ( built into my fee) and have a disclaimer about responsibility and no one under 21 to drink. I’m not selling the wine,& it is purely optional, but it is a nice “touch” and seems to be well received. If the wine isn’t opened, I will bring it home ( & then I can have a glass, lol). I will let you know how it goes! I’m very excited about added this new avenue to my life love of beading! Any ideas, suggestions, etc., of course are welcome & Rena, you ARE a treasure to share all this with us! I am hoping o expand this venture into more classes, as I love to teach!

  14. Michele Rappoport says:

    I’d try a painting class with alcohol inks on ceramic tile. Very inexpensive materials. Not a lot of strength required. Good vision not necessarily required. Have fun!

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