Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jewelry Making 101: The Supplies

sweater: Old Navy, shorts: Walmart, shoes: Forever 21

My jewelry: bead necklace and earrings by me

Today's outfit was originally inspired by this Michael Kors look from last year. My khaki shorts lost a button at some point during the winter. ? Not sure how that happens. Are there clothing fairies wearing my clothes when I'm not looking? Hmmm. Anyway, I had to change out for the white shorts and I had to add jewelry, cause that's me. I can't wear clothes without jewelry.

Jewelry Making 101: The Supplies

Here is part two of my jewelry making series. Some of the basic supplies you will need and where you can find them. Any of the metal findings can be found in base metals, silver, gold filled, vermeil - pretty much whatever catches your fancy. I usually use base metals because they are cheaper. If you can afford the best, go for it. I would say to start with the cheaper stuff until you get the hang of some of the techniques. If you want the higher quality findings, you will need to order them online. With the exception of silver, you can't usually find them at Hobby Lobby or Michaels.
     *Tigertail - this is a very fine multi-strand beading wire. Anything that will be completely beaded, with the exception of pearls, works best on tigertail. It is durable, comes in multiple colors and sizes, and is pretty inexpensive.
     *Chain - available in any number of different sizes, styles, metals etc. If you want chain in your necklace or bracelet, go for it. The beaded necklace above is half tigertail, half chain. Chain is more expensive, especially if you go with the precious metals, but it always adds a nice touch and makes your beads go farther and stand out more.
     *Clasps - any bracelet or necklace done with chain or tigertail will need a clasp. There are tons of options to chose from. I like toggle claps, but there are lobster claws, hook and eye, slide locks, magnetic, block and fishhooks. Different clasps work better for different projects. If you are doing a multistrand necklace, the slide lock is better option, for bracelets, the toggle is easier to work, hook and eye is usually cheaper, fishhooks work best with pearls etc. Just explore your options and pick what you love.
     *Crimp Beads - these are used to secure the ends of your tigertail. If you are using tiger tail, you have to have crimp beads. The ones with the loop on the end, here, usually work best. You put the crimp bead on the end of your tigertail, add your beads, and crimp the other end. (More details to come in the Putting it all Together tutorials)
     *Stretch Cord - this is typically for bracelets. A beaded stretch bracelet is probably the easiest beginning jewelry project. You'll want to get a pretty durable stretch cord, the finer the gauge, the less durable (more prone to breaking) the cord. It is also handy to have around for repairing bracelets or re-purposing broken necklace beads.
     *Earwires - obviously you will need these if you are going to make earrings. There are several options available. This is one time when I would say you probably want to avoid the base metals, especially if you have nickel allergies. Pick the ones you like. I usually keep a stash in gold and silver handy. Although it takes a little skill, once you get the hang of it, you can whip up a pair of earrings in minutes.
     *Headpins - you will need these for earrings at least. They are also used to dangle beads from chain for bracelets and necklaces. Just get a big ole package and keep them in your kit. You'll use them, I promise.
     *Jumprings - these are basically little circles of heavy duty wire used to hold things together. There is a little trick to opening and closing them and you will use them for pretty much everything except a stretch bracelet and the most basic of earrings.
     *BEADS! - anything goes, find what you love, go crazy. You can find great beads at the major craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels, local bead stores, old necklaces at thrift stores and garage sales, or online. I like Fire Mountain Gems especially for large orders. When I was selling my jewelry, I ordered from here because the more you buy the more you save. All of the links in this post are for Fire Mountain Gems. There are plenty of other places you can get beads, just keep an eye out. I've even bought the clearance jewelry from Walmart and used the beads for something else. 

Now that you know what you'll need, I can't wait to show you how to put it all together. We'll be doing tutorials on bracelets - stretch and clasped, necklaces - basic and statement, and earrings - simple and ornate. I hope you find this information useful.

Night, ya'll.


  1. I think it's so cool that you are doing this series and breaking down the essentials of jewelry making. DIY projects are becoming more popular and mainstream these days and it's bloggers like you who are helping spread the word. PS, I LOOOOVE the shoes!

  2. Thank you for the kind comment. These shoes are definitely faves - they were only $9 too!


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