Jewelry making is an ideal way to start earning a little extra money from home. You don’t need to spend a lot to get going. Initially, your circle of friends will be your customers. Your friends will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on and so on.
Though you may start with a kit or two for the learning experience, you can’t rely on kits if you want to make money selling your work. People will pay more for one-of-a-kind pieces. Plus, the mark-up on kits is quite high because another artist has done the design work for you. In other words, you can both charge more and keep your costs lower if you design your work yourself. This is how to maximize your profit.
A good place to start is by flipping through magazines and catalogues. Clip jewelry photos that appeal to you, along with price information if available. Get a notebook and fill it with the pictures.
You’re not going to copy them. This is just to give you ideas and get your creative juices flowing. The pictures will also come in handy when you can’t quite figure out how to do something you have in mind – kind of like your own illustrated how-to book.
There are two easy to learn jewelry making methods to consider: beading and wire sculpting, also know as wire wrapping.
Beading requires little skill other than a good sense of design and the materials are inexpensive.
Wire sculpting or wire wrapping is not that much harder to learn, but since you are dealing with gold, silver and genuine gemstones, the materials cost a bit more. But the markup is much higher.
Tools and Materials
Here’s a list of tools you will need to start:
1. Jewelers’ wire cutters – If you can only afford one pair, get memory wire shears. These are designed to make clean cuts on tough memory wire, so can also be used for softer wires.
2. Chain-nose pliers (sometimes called needle-nose pliers) – Very versatile for picking up and grasping small items, bending eye pins, closing jumps rings, even closing crimp beads.
3. Round-nose pliers – Used for creating loops on beaded head and eye pins. Can also be used for winding your own jump rings and as the second pliers you’ll need for closing jump rings.
4. Optional pliers – Wire-looping pliers which have several graduated circumferences to allow you to form perfectly uniform jump rings and loops (in place of the round-nose pliers mentioned above). Crimping pliers which have little notches to allow you to both flatten a crimp bead and then bend it to form a rounded finished look (instead of the flat crimp you get using the chain-nose pliers).
As for materials, I recommend some assortment packs of beads in coordinating colors, some decorative metal spacers, seed beads in both silver and gold (These can serve as spacers and beautifully set off your other beads.), tube-shaped crimp beads (Buy the best you can find – these are what hold it all together!), head and eye pins.
Other than that, let your choice of project be your guide. You might want some silver or pewter charms. For earrings, you would need ear posts or wires or clip-on bases. For bracelets, you need memory wire or stretchy cord or beading wire and clasps. For necklaces, memory wire or beading wire, clasps and perhaps pendants.
A bead board is a good idea too. Its ruled tracks help you measure and lay out designs for bracelets and necklaces; as well as to corral the beads you are working with at a given time.
For jewelry projects and articles on how to start and run a craft business, visit http://www.theartfulcrafter.com
Submitted by, Eileen Bergen, a teacher and later a vice president for a major financial institution. After being downsized, she has been running a successful craft business as well as The Artful Crafter website.