Jewelry Making Tips I Wish I’d Known

by Autumn.
(United States)

Jewelry Making Tips I Wish I'd Known -  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

I was making a list for supplies shopping, and realized something: I should have saved those cards the silk thread comes on.

I normally wrap it around my fingers and store it in a box, but it took me…erm, several months to figure out the solution.

Here are some tips I wish I’d known when I first started making jewelry:

  1. Save the cards your silk/nylon thread comes on–and store the left-overs on them.
  2. Keep your metal scraps in a bucket/jar somewhere. After you’ve used all the pieces you can, recycle the rest. You may get a few pennies, but your studio and the environment thanks you.
  3. Resell materials? Look into tax-exempt.
  4. Shop online and in store for better prices. Coupons, sales, wholesales and promotions are your best friend!

Jewelry Making Tips I Wish I'd Known

See more great tips in the comments below.

And share your jewelry tips in the comments! 🙂

Autumn
Caring Crystals

FREE - Get 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks

Get Rena's 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks, plus the Jewelry Making Journal Newsletter - all for FREE.

We Respect Your Email Privacy

  • Karin Mac says:

    You are absolutely right about saving certain things! I saw cut my own jump rings and I am saving all the little bits of coil that are usually left. The silver ones go in a special recycling box right away, but the copper and brass ones I love to put in pretty jars for decoration until I have enough left to recycle those materials as well!

  • Noreen says:

    I’m Rena’s Mom. I craft with all kinds of materials and I need to store threads and twine. Here’s a way you can make your own cards for the bits of silk threads and other cords or twine. Cut them out of milk jugs – you can get a lot from one milk jug: Embroidery Thread Bobbin from a Milk Jug.
    Because they’re plastic they’re indestructible and you can make them any size – from tiny to very large. And the little slits on the ends of the bobbins allow you to tuck the cord or twine ends away so they don’t unravel.

  • Great tips, Autumn! Thanks for starting this thread!

    I wish I’d known that the 3-drawer plastic storage bins (like the ones I use here) would be perfect for most of my jewelry supply organizing / storing needs! I tried various awkward versions of boxes, bags, etc. before that, but they never really functioned for the way I work.

  • Margaret says:

    I wish I’d known how easy it is to make wrapped loops on headpins for earrings! I had it in my mind that it was difficult procedure but when I finally learned how to make them I wished I had known they were so easy.

  • Barbara says:

    I keep a bead soup bowl, and when I have an inch or inch and a half of wire left over from something I’m doing, I immediately hammer a paddle at one end if it’s a short piece of wire, or make a loop, pick a bead and make a quick wire-wrapped dangle. It goes into another dish.

  • Bev Ludlow says:

    Wish I’d known in my earliest wirewrap days to cut the end of my wire at a slight angle so it “nests” nicely into the curve of a spiral. After snipping the end, use your round nose pliers and “slip off,” the end of the wire a couple of times to smooth it a bit before beginning your coil. End result? A really nice, neat circle in the center of a spiral, rather than having a blunt cut end.

  • Lindsay Lee says:

    I wish I had known how fast jewelry styles change and how bead colors are often available for only one season. Printing a catalog is not an option when the beads or findings are not available in as little as six months.

  • Caron Lambert says:

    I wish I had known that you do not have to buy every sparkly thing you see. They won’t run out. Now I’m looking to donate or sell a lot of stock that I don’t think I’ll use. At first, it is best to buy what you need for projects rather than what catches your eye. Those bead shows are the death of me! It’s not about dying with the most beads. 🙂

  • Connie Burns says:

    When I started out making jewelry, I had no real idea what I was doing, so I bought lots of things I didn’t need or ever use. Eventually I started a Meetup group, and we regularly exchange things we no longer use or need. One tip that I use is this: when I buy supplies, especially beads and other small items, I put then into individual zip-lock bags, and enclose a small slip of paper with description and price per unit. Makes it a breeze to help calculate the cost of materials for each piece I make.

  • kathy kurke says:

    I wish I had known that there really is no “right way” and, more importantly, no “wrong way” to design a piece of jewelry. Just because your instructor suggests one way, does not mean your way is wrong. If you start thinking that way, you limit your imagination too much.

  • Kathy says:

    I wish I had known that until I realized what types of beads, wire, findings, etc., that I worked best with – I should not have bought the quantities that I did. I was so eager to try everything that when the discount days were advertised at the local crafts store, or coupons arrived in the mail – I would be like a kid in a candy store and would buy too much of everything. Now, I am making up a box for donating and I try not to add up any totals of what I spent on things that I won’t use. I also wish I had realized that online shops may be convenient and in some cases inexpensive to list items – but it is like hitting a major lottery to have your work be noticed among the hundreds – no thousands of other people creating handcrafted jewelry. I love making my jewelry – I am thrilled when someone likes a piece or purchases something – not for the money at this point because it would take QVC before I could ever recoup what I have spent – but for the validation of my work.

  • Lissie says:

    When I startet jewelry-making there was no Youtube. In fact. there was no world wide web eighter. But. If I was starting on jewelrymaking today. I would be delighted to know about all the wonderful jewelry making lessons you can find on youtube!

  • Lisa says:

    Always do your online shopping with a ruler in front of you. Bead sizes are hard to tell from photos and measurements can be difficult to visualise. Drawing the size out on a piece of paper can also help if you are shopping with a specific project in mind. When I first started making jewellery my first package of ordered beads was very disappointing!

  • Autumn says:

    Good tip Lisa. A bead gauge is useful too. Mine is a cheap plastic one from the local craft store, but it’s perfect for my needs. I can compare bead sizes to ones I already have, which helps a lot in determining if I need to buy wire.

    Keep a few samples of the scrap wire/thread/beads. They can help select what size item you need to make that item in your mind a reality!

    Find someone whose willing to give you honest feedback. Preferably someone who knows something about the type of jewelry you’re making. This would have helped me a lot in the beginning! It still does now, thanks JMJ and Rena!

    Ex-per-i-ment! You’ll only grow as an artist by playing outside your comfort zone. Experimenting helps you refine your technique and add to it.

  • Autumn says:

    Here’s one I thought of. Use pliers when hammering. For target hammering (a specific spot on the item), use needle or chain nose. I use needle nose pliers to help hammer clasps and jump rings, since I can focus on the weak spots without damaging the other areas.

  • Here’s a tip: when an order arrives before putting it away, calculate the cost including shipping (per bead, per inch etc.) then label it. I put the price and where I bought it (for restocking purposes) and most importantly, label what the item is! It is so much nicer to be able to tell a customer what stone is used or if something is sterling or plated! This helps determine a fair price as well.

  • Geri says:

    @Autumn:

    Re:
    3. Resell materials? Look into tax-exempt.

    I appreciate your tips. Pardon my ignorance though as I’m somewhat puzzled. Does this mean to purchase resold items? In other words, purchase second hand in order to qualify for a tax exemption? Thank you in advance.

    Geri

  • HELEN Ritter says:

    I was moving into a smaller apt. and going into a much smaller studio. I really had to trim my inventory. A year ago, I held classes at a senior facility to teach the residents how to make stretch bracelets. I made up 35 kits and donated all the supplies and the residents loved it. So when I was moving, I decided to take all my excess beads and donate them to the senior center and a nursing home. The administer gave me a tax paper so I could claim the donation on my taxes. The residents are so happy and so am I.

  • Kim pernia says:

    I wish I’d known that non-serrated alligator clips make great beadstoppers

  • MyCarolAnne says:

    Sandee Jene- I am a bead groupie and have beads up the wazoo. To store them I began using coin vial containers. These containers come in penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar size. I buy them by the one hundred lots to store my beads. Then keep size and or color a different storage drawer. Those plastic three drawer storage items. So far I have 17 drawers full of these vials of beads.

  • leslie hirschberg says:

    I learned to use a teeny amount of glue to afix a bead cap to a bead that has a large hole. That makes it easier to have a bead cap that doesn’t wobble or not be straight wheb I wire wrap it..

  • Lynn says:

    These are awesome tips. As a newbie, I wish I’d known about this site. I am addicted to buying beads and now have to organize them all. I have so many that I don’t know where I got them. Now I lay purchases out with the receipt and/or business card next to it and snap a pic with my phone. Have a cloud folder just for that. I’m sure I’ll refine it by category one day.

  • Linda says:

    Oh my goodness!!! That is so funny!
    Great advise for the beginner jeweler!

  • Yes, most important. I have stuck a clear plastic ruler to my computer monitor, it is really handy to be able to measure anything when I am at my desk.

  • >