Have you ever wanted to try making beaded jewelry? While starting a new crafting hobby can seem intimidating, it is easy and affordable to acquire the basic supplies and tools you need to begin stringing beads.
Beginners and experienced crafters will find endless variety in available beads and findings. Whether it's a casual turquoise pendant on a leather cord, a glittery charm bracelet, or a strand of colorful beads, your new jewelry will come with the added satisfaction of saying, “I made it myself.”
Read on to learn how to get started creating jewelry.
Essential Jewelry-Making Supplies
For easy beaded jewelry, the only tools you will absolutely need are pliers, wire cutters, and scissors. But, keep in mind that the supplies you'll use will largely depend on the design. We've compiled a list of commonly used materials and tools below.
Two types of pliers will allow you to bend metal findings—such as clasps, jump rings, and crimping beads—to your exact specifications.
Needle nose pliers are excellent for gripping, bending, and manipulating. For softer fine metals, you can also find nylon-tipped pliers to avoid scratching the surface. You will also need round nose pliers. These are often used to create loops in metal wire. Lastly, sharp wire cutters will make your life easy. Often included in sets of jewelry tools, a precise instrument known as a flush cutter will make close and careful cuts.
Jewelry findings are a broad category that includes different kinds of clasps, spacer beads, and crimp beads. These metal bits and bobs help shape and hold together your beaded jewelry.
Luckily, several basics to get you started are very affordable. Lobster clasps, barrel clasps, and toggle clasps are easy to use for your bracelets and necklaces. To attach the clasp to the end of your beaded strand, you will need a crimp bead or tube. Made of soft metal, these beads string onto the end of a thin wire or string strand. Once the clasp is added, the strand is threaded back through and the crimp is crushed in place with needle-nose pliers. Lastly, jump rings are often useful for attaching charms to chains or strands.
String and Wire
The options for crafting jewelry are endless. Beads can be strung on leather or waxed thread for a natural look. You can also use stretchy elastic thread for slide-on bracelets or beaded strands with some give. A common and sturdy option is jewelry stringing wire. This comes in various colors, finishes, and gauges that are soft and flexible.
To plan your project, take into account the size of the holes in the beads you plan to use. This will be crucial—it's frustrating to get halfway through your planned necklace to discover your central element does not fit. The size of the beads must allow for your chosen string or wire, as well as the crimp beads and findings you have available.
If you enjoy manipulating metal, try creating charms to hang off a chain necklace or bracelet. Buy chain in your desired thickness and cut it with wire cutters to your desired length. Then use jump rings (or the base of the clasp itself, depending) and needle-nose pliers to attach a clasp. To make charms from your beads, you will require flat head pins or eye pins. Slide on the beads and then use your needle-nose and round-tipped pliers to create a partial loop. Slide the loop through the chain, complete the loop with a twist, and voila—a charm.
Beads offer endless variety. Glass, plastic, precious stones—there are options for any jewelry style. The term “seed beads” refers to some of the smallest glass creations, which can be used on their own or between larger styles. Local glassmakers often make and sell one-of-a-kind funky creations or adorable novelties (such as these tiny bees). Even vintage beads can be found in bulk; you can continue a jewelry circle of life with your new creations.
Storage and Planning
You will require a method to store all of your new beads. Bead storage boxes come in packs and help organize even the smallest beads and findings. A plastic storage box with dividers can also be helpful—as you work, you can pick and choose from a palette of colors. Another helpful innovation is a bead board. You can lay out your beads and measure length as your project takes shape. Visualize, create, and craft—the world of jewelry making is at your fingertips.