Be forewarned making jewelry can become and is addictive. Not only is it wonderful handwork but should be considered a gateway drug for becoming a beadaholic and collector of the trade. My stash is in my will it is so big! You have been warned!
1. Decide what type of jewelry interests you the most.
When you first decide you are interested in making jewelry it can seem and feel overwhelming. Trust your gut you know what type of jewelry you love. There is a broad range of possibilities. You cannot expect to learn all the different range of techniques at once. Do you like simple beaded jewelry? Perhaps you like jewelry that makes personal statement with messages stamped in metal? Or strung beads or bead weaving? Pick a medium that excites you and start there. What you learn will help you build your tool chest and every tool you put in your tool chest will dove tail and make it easier to learn another.
2. The basic skills.
No matter which medium you choose, whether it's metal clay, beading or wire working, starting with the basics is always a good idea. There are a few skills you will need to know in almost every project. Making a wire wrapped loop, learning how to crimp and how to properly open and close a jump ring to name a few. These basic skills will translate to almost each and every project you take on. So build on the basics.
3. Learn the terminology and language of jewelry making.
What's the difference in a simple loop and a wrapped loop? Or what's the difference in a head pin and an eye pin? Depending on how good a memory you have you may want to start a notebook of the terminology. It can have cut out photos and sketches not just definitions. This notebook can become a great reference tool over time because as you progress you can return to these entries and add your favorite places to purchase them or what your favorite size is and where is the best place you have found to date to purchase them. All kinds of pertinent information can be added, but it all starts with the basics.
4. Invest in good tools.
In the beginning when you are just starting out you can just use the needle nose pliers and generic wire cutter from the household tool box, but if you are going to move forward and really learn it is a very good idea to purchase good quality tools. This will make learning much more easier, which will translate into a better out come in your project, which means you will feel better about the results and this will effect how you feel about the overall experience and lend itself to further inspiration. It's all related. It can seem like a bit of an investment but like buying good shoes you'll never regret the purchase down the line. Good tools makes all the difference especially when you are learning. Good doesn't always mean the most expenses. Do some research and talk to others who have more experience and read tool reviews. There are lots of them out there.
5. Purchase some basic supplies.
Does your town or city have a bead store? Time for an outing! If not the internet is literally teaming with places to buy supplies. I'm hoping you have an independent bead store as it is really nice to be able to hold things in your hand before making a purchase. Buying online is a wonderful option but it would be nice to know if that pair of pliers is too big for your hands and there are many different sizes and styles of grips on pliers. Then there are different gauges of wire or the different sizes of beads. Do you know how small a 4mm bead is? You might want to before you purchase them in any quantity. The local bead store is a wonderful way to get help when it comes to just these types of decisions. Plus you'll be supporting a local, usually family and often women owned business that deserves your support. The big chains have a lot of offerings and actually a lot of good offerings like Beadalon anything, but some of the other supplies are of lesser quality so it is nice to have some one to ask questions to. If you have to go online I would like to suggest Rio Grande, or Halstead for starters.
6. Set up a dedicated space.
Having a place to work is important. Even if it is a little nook or corner of one room it is important to have a dedicated space devoted to your new hobby. It is important to keep all of your supplies in one place will make life easier and save you time than having to look for and find everything every time you are ready to devote some time to creating. Mark out your territory!
7. Organize from the start.
Part of the investment is in tools and the part is organization. You can start with inexpensive plastic containers and bins but it will make life much easier. There are so many readily available such bins and containers on the market even shoe boxes and small tins come in handy. Just smack a label on their and you'll know where to find what when you need it. Otherwise you will spend half of your life looking for the other half of your life! So just do it from the get go, be organized.
8. Take a class.
If you are lucky and do have a local bead store they are always offering classes. When you take a class you will begin to find and build your tribe. Other people who do and like the same things as you, and many of them will know more than you and share! It is wonderful. Now a days there are amazing classes from some of the top teachers in the industry teaching online classes, have downloadable content or DVD's for sale. I would recommend Interweave as a leader in just this sort of content and then there are wonderful places like Craftsy too.
9. Discover the jewelry making communities of online blogs.
There are many different and wonderful blogs that you can learn an amazing amount of information on. I have a decent list started on my own home page so check some of them out. I follow several blogs like http://www.beadingdaily.com. There are some great blogs out there where blog hops are offered and you can just click and go from one to the next to see what other people just like you are making and doing. Many offer free tutorials and many very useful tips and tricks you may not have known about. There are also all kinds of groups on facebook where the jewelry people meet and hang.
10. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
So many people will not ask questions because they don't want to look stupid. That's just plain silly. Always ask! The only stupid question is one that doesn't get an answer. You would be surprised just how generous people in the jewelry making community will be if you simply ask. You would also be surprised how often people will willingly share what they know and how much time this will save you. There are many experts easily available on the blogs and FB groups. When I was starting out there wasn't any of these wonderful knowledge centers available. Take advantage ofthis. Get connected, you don't even have to leave home and you can visit them in your pajamas!
11. Seek inspiration.
What inspires you? Is it the beauty of nature? Is it seeing what other people are making? I love finding new things that I have never seen before. Don't wait for inspiration to find you, search it out! I live in a beautiful place and that is not by accident. I find that natural beauty fills me with inspiration. I also surround myself with super creative people of like minds. This is truly inspirational and makes life wonderful. It will lift you up and inspire you to learn, share and connect. It is a wonderful cycle. Reach out and look for inspiration! I can spend hours on pinterest and search the web each and every morning over my coffee. It is a great way to start the day.
12. Be brave and take risks.
By this I mean do not be put off from something if it interests you. Take the chance! Don't let fear stand in your way. How will you ever learn or know if you are going to enjoy something if you do not try? Be brave and take the step to learning what you want to know. There is great rewards and joy to be had.
13. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
We actually learn far more from our mistakes than we do our successes. The idea is to LEARN from your mistakes so you do not make the same mistakes again. It is important to strive to always make new mistakes! Learning the right way to do something doesn't always happen on the first try. Try try again. Mastering new skills is a very worthwhile investment of your time.
14. Think and do in increments.
This is very much one of the best tips on this list despite it being towards the end of the list. If you make 20 minutes a day to try something new you would be surprised at what you are able to accomplish. Once you have mastered new skills taking things in bite sized chunks (increments) you can take it even further. I have been making jewelry for over 30 years and I still work in increments. I practice new skills this way every day. We all have very busy lives and making time, even a short time is a very effective way to learn. I am learning wire working and bead weaving right now. I practice for a few minutes each day and my improvement can easily be measured. It is inspirational to be able to see the improvement you are making and when you are working in increments it is easy to gain this perspective. Try it!
15. Don't get discouraged.
Your very few first tries may turn out to be pretty bad. Some you may get first time out, but more often than not it will take you some time. Be realistic! Don't beat yourself up or waste your time thinking against yourself. Shut that inner critic up and give yourself a break and know that you may waste a few crimps along the way. So plan on it. practice it and certainly don't waste time being discouraged!