Jewelry-Making 101

 Meet my friend Jess.  She’s generous, smart, and has a huge heart for other people.
She also has a fantastic sense of humor, which is why she won’t kill me for posting this picture…{I hope!}
Can you say 80’s Dance Party?!
Anyway, the other thing about Jess is that she’s good at a lot of things, one of which is making jewelry.
Despite all the many creative things I like to do, the one thing that’s always intimidated me is jewelry making.  I’ve done my share of “string a bunch of beads on some elastic” bracelet projects, but real bona-fide jewelry with jump rings and head pins and clasps…I had no idea {I didn’t even know the names of any of those things until today!}  A few Christmases ago, Jess gave me a little starter kit with some basic essentials and tools because I had expressed interest in her hobby.  I looked at it wistfully, but had no idea what to do with it.  So it sat in my closet.  The following year, my hubby gave me a jewelry starter kit with a book full of ideas and directions.  The only trouble was, they didn’t give me the supplies to make any of the things that were in the photos.  How is that supposed to help?  So there they sat, side by side in the closet, until today.
This morning, Jess and I, along with our good friends April and {the other} Jess and all of our kids went to a super-fun place called Storyville.  It’s a part of a library and boy is it cool…it’s like a little village with all kinds of hands-on stuff for kiddos to do.  But more on that later; that deserves its own post.  Anyway, here’s a quick pic…this was the one with the most people looking at the camera.  You can see we were outnumbered 6 to 4.  :)
Anyway, we had a fabulous time.  Jess and I had carpooled, and on the way home, her daughter Rose and my Noah were watching a movie in the car.  When we got back to our neighborhood, they put up a revolt and demanded another movie.  Rose invited herself over to our house and Noah seconded the idea.  That’s when Jess looked at me and said, “oooh!  Want me to go home and get my bead stuff?”  That was all this Artsy Mama needed to hear.  I told her we could just use all the things I had sitting in the closet and go from there.  I decided my first attempt should be earrings…she assured me they’re the easiest.  I picked out 3 beads for each one and told her I wanted them to dangle at varying heights.  We used a necklace I had as an inspiration; it had a center chain and all the beads hung off of different links {jump rings, I’m told}.  I ended up having to use silver beads too because one of the beads I’d chosen had too large a hole for the head pins…but I like the effect of the silver a lot.  Here’s the finished product…  Jess made one and I made one; can you tell which is which?  Me neither!
Then, I told her about the cool birds’ nests I’ve been seeing literally everywhere in blog-land lately.  I think they’re just adorable and I’d really been thinking of having hubby order me one for Mother’s Day…but at the time I was thinking of getting it with just one “egg” for Noah.  Then I saw a few samples and decided one egg looked kind of dopey.  Anyway, I was just curious to see if we could figure out how to do something like what I’d seen.  Here’s the nest I made with some craft wire and a tool…shoot, I already forgot what that one was called.
I happened to have a few beads in the kit from hubby that were a perfect robin egg blue, so I popped those in.  It’s not as good as some of what I’ve seen other people make, but not too shabby for a very first effort, right?  At least that’s what I’m telling myself. ;)
So here’s what I learned from my introduction to Jewelry making.
1. It’s hard!  At least at first!  I’m used to picking artsy things up kind of quickly, but I felt like I was all thumbs.  The concepts and design weren’t the trouble, the actual physical execution was.  My jump rings kept coming back open and everything fell apart.  I had trouble bending the wire into a circle…I forget what that’s called too.  My bead kept twisting around and making it hard to bend the wire how I was supposed to.  It’s tedious work and you have to be very meticulous and patient.  Neither of which are my best qualities.
2. If someone makes you homemade jewelry as a gift, make a big deal out of it.  Jess has made me things before and I’ve always loved them, but now I realize how much effort and time and love go into a handcrafted piece!  So be sure to “ooooh and aaaaah” a lot and maybe offer to pay them too. :)
3. If your wife makes jewelry and shows it to you, make a big deal out of it.  After all that effort, a “that’s nice” just doesn’t cut it, guys!
4. Jewelry making is rewarding!  I love that you can totally, totally personalize it and make just what you want.  Plus, it’s cheaper than buying it and you get a cool, very useful finished product.
5. You will get better with practice.  At least I sure hope so! ;)
So, a big THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU to my patient friend who introduced me to my biggest intimidation in the crafting world, walked me through it step by step, and promises to keep being a resource.  We need a Michael’s date soon!
Hope you all have a fabulous day and hope you have fabulous friends like my Jess{es} and April to share it with!
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2 comments on Jewelry-Making 101

  1. Janelle
    April 28, 2011 at 3:00 AM (4 years ago)

    I love the nest! I will ooh… and aaahhh… because it really is good, and I will say amazing given it’s your first attempt. I used to sell handmade jewelry (before I had my daughter) and I tried to make a bird’s nest ring… ONCE. I only made one because after that, I didn’t want to repeat the process again :)

  2. Terry
    May 9, 2011 at 9:21 PM (4 years ago)

    Yeah, that bird’s nest looks amazing. Now I have to go try my hand at that. I just started to make jewelry too and it IS hard, isn’t it, lol. I’m glad you had someone to guide and encourage you because your stuff turned out great. I also like the earrings (I hate doing earrings).


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