Inspired by several wonderful bead stores in Portland, and my general love for anything handmade, I recently began making jewelry. To begin, I’ve limited myself to earrings to try to master a few skills before moving on to more complicated projects. Here’s one of the first pairs I made using glass bubble-like beads and gold toned craft wire.
Using Bead Simple as a guide, I started a few small projects with inexpensive beads and craft wire. The largest expense was the set of three pliers I needed to purchase. I bought them online at Art Beads.
I began to keep my eye out for beads at second-hand stores. I found a wonderful jumble of beads in a bead box for $6 at Village Merchants on Division Street in Portland. I washed the beads and the box, sorted the colors, removed what I didn’t want, and added a few beads that I found at other stores.
Eventually, when I got better at some of the wire wrapping, loop making, and bead-pairing, I invested in some 14kt gold filled wire. I practice the designs with the craft wire, take the earrings apart, and re-make them with the 14kt gold wire. Many people also love to use sterling silver wire, which is a bit more affordable than the gold filled.
Here are some more earrings I’ve made:
I’m enjoying making earrings for myself, but I’m particularly loving making them as Christmas gifts. It’s really fun to make a pair of earrings with a particular person in mind.
If you’d like to get started making jewelry, don’t be intimidated. It does take a small initial investment (less than $50) and some practice, but it’s been a really fun little side hobby for me and a way to make handmade gifts for friends and family. I highly recommend Bead Simple to get you started.
Book: Bead Simple by Susan Beal. The list price is for a new copy is $19.95, but you may be able to snag a used copy if you keep your eyes peeled. I try to buy all my books at Powells. Pick up this book before you begin purchasing other supplies because Susan has really wonderful advice about what to buy.
Pliers and Wire: There are many stores to choose from. I’ve purchased all my wire and my pliers from Art Beads. They have the best prices I’ve found, and I’ve had good experiences with them so far.
Beads: I like to purchase beads in person, so I haven’t bought any online. It’s really fun to browse in bead stores and get lots of ideas you might not otherwise come up with. Like I mentioned above, I’ve found great beads at second hand stores in Portland like Village Merchants and many shops along N. Mississippi Ave. Other local bead stores I like include Dava Bead and Beads at Dusti Creek.
Classes: I haven’t taken any classes myself, but I know that many bead stores offer classes. Some community colleges and art schools also offer classes in jewelry making and bead designs, so if you’d like some more one-on-one assistance, it could be worth checking out.
Do you make jewelry? Have you taken on other hobbies in order to make gifts for friends and family?