Getting Cheap or Free Supplies for Making Jewelry

by Rena Klingenberg.

Here are several ways to get cheap or free supplies for making jewelry.

As with most free things, you’ll need to invest a bit of your time and cleverness instead of money to acquire a stash of free jewelry components and tools.

Here are my top suggestions for getting free / cheap supplies for making jewelry:

Repurposing Trash into Treasure

Use found objects, discarded items, and other odds and ends to create jewelry.

That’s what Karen Kelsky did when she created her 100% Recycled Paper Art Pendant:

Photo 1: Karen sourced her metal from this discarded cable bundle.

Photo 2: Her colorful paper came from this bread bag filled with paper scraps.

Photo 3: She shaped and hammered some of the wire into this lovely spiral pendant shape. Then she attached some of the paper scraps to it and applied gel medium.

Photo 4: Voila! A gorgeous pendant with the look of stained glass, created from discarded scraps and hung on a recycled cord. No one would ever guess its humble origins.

Take Apart Your Jewelry Creations
that Aren’t Selling

If you have some jewelry items in your inventory that haven’t sold after several showings, you may want to consider taking them apart (if they can be taken apart), and re-using the components in fresh designs.

Use Up All of Your Scraps

After every jewelry making project, there are almost always bits and pieces of things left over. . . a couple of beads, an inch of chain, short pieces of wire, and so on.

Why not turn these scraps and oddments into supplies for making jewelry?

As an example, here’s a quick photo of small pieces of leftover wire I’ve turned into things like connectors, hooks, clasps, dangles, pendants, coils, split rings, etc.:

Nearly any spare parts can be used in some way in making jewelry – especially if you think past how these leftover components were originally intended to be used.

Often you can find a totally new way to use a small scrap, so that it contributes a wonderfully unique, creative touch to your handmade jewelry.

Let People Know
What You’re Looking for

Your friends, family, co-workers, local businesses, etc. probably discard items every day that you could use in making jewelry.

Let everyone know about your “green” approach to jewelry design, and what kind of items you’re seeking that could be used as tools and supplies for making jewelry.

Most people (and businesses) would much rather have you repurpose their discarded stuff than add it to a landfill.

Once you get the word out, prepare to receive all kinds of interesting objects that have potential as free jewelry supplies!

Keep an Eye Out for
“Grab Bags” and Bulk Clearance Lots

In Keeping Prices Affordable, Tracy details how she made two gemstone-and-wire pendants for a total of less than a dollar.

Her components came from a “grab bag” deal, plus frugal shopping at Home Depot and the 99Cent store – enabling her to keep her finished jewelry prices low while still earning a fair profit.

Finding Jewelry Supplies
in a Place with No Suppliers

Jean BH lives a in a place where there are no jewelry suppliers. But that doesn’t stop her from making jewelry.

Here she reveals her methods for finding materials to use in her jewelry making: Jewelry Supply Resources in Foreign Places.

Free Jewelry Tools

Can’t afford jewelry tools?

In this fun discussion about What Unofficial Jewelry Tools Do You Use?, jewelry artists reveal their “unofficial” tools – ordinary household items that work quite well for making jewelry. (Be sure to read through all the comments at the bottom of that post.)

Have Your Customers Supply
Some of Your Jewelry Components

Here’s a great way to make a leftover dangle earring wearable, and offer a custom jewelry service that makes your customers very happy: Custom Jewelry Design Niche Idea.

Comments:

More Ideas
by: Karen Kelsky

Thank you for featuring my Blue Earth Recycled Pendant! I created that for a recycled art fair here in Eugene. As I was working on it, I discovered many sources for recycled and scrap materials. Many towns, like ours in Eugene, are blessed with a re-used art supply center. Ours is called MECCA (Materials Exchange Center for the Creative Arts), and people bring in all sorts of potentially usable scrap fabric, beads, cable, paper, ephemera, decor items, etc. for others to come in and buy for a couple bucks. Check if your town has one!

Another place I found terrific materials is our building supply recycle site. I found bird netting there that I turned into a really cool cuff bracelet:

 

Cuff of Netting Seeds and Vintage Kimono Thread Recycled Modern

And then local Goodwills and Salvations Armies always have tons of scrap yarn, beads, paint, glues, wire, paper string, and other items that I use constantly.

One thing I depend on recycled materials for in all of my business is in packaging. I am determined to use only recycled paper, etc. for envelope stuffing to protect my jewelry when I ship it. It’s the right thing to do, AND it keeps more money in my pocket!

Thanks again for including me!

Great sources, Karen!
by: Rena

Thank you for mentioning the re-used supply center places. Our small town has a place like that called simply “Salvage”. About 2/3 of the building is devoted to lumber scraps and building construction leftovers, and the other 1/3 is filled with bins of fabric remnants, odd spools of lace, ribbon, sequins, etc. . . and boat-loads of buttons!

Also, I love that netting bracelet – it looks lightweight and comfy, but stylish enough for people to comment on it and ask what it’s made of!

Other Sources
by: Anonymous

I would add garage sales and flea markets.

You have electrician, but if you see houses being built drop by and ask for scrap wire. I also ask the cable truck, telephone truck, etc… when they are in the neighborhood fixing things.

Thanks!
by: Amy

There are really great ideas! Thanks for sharing everyone!
Amy
http://amybeads.blogspot.com
Making Jumprings
by: Gloria – Especially For You Designs

I needed to make a specific sized jump ring and didn’t have anything that size. I went to the hardware store looking for something the size I needed. Nails. They were the perfect size and so cheap. Now I just grab the size I need, wrap my wire and have dozens of jump rings in moments.

that reminded me!
by: Karen Kelsky

The comment about nails reminded me that I found an amazing source of mandrels for jump rings of every size imaginable, plus wire-working in general, in old mismatched KNITTING NEEDLES that are sold individually for about 10 cents apiece at the goodwill. they go up to about 3/4″ wide, and down to as tiny as an embroidery needle, and they’re really smooth so the wire slides on and off easily, and long so they’re easy to handle. I make my Japan Renaissance Gems and Lovebubbles earrings using those. http://paperdemonjewelry.etsy.com

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