With Christmas just around the corner, you may be thinking about gifts for friends and family. Instead of rushing through the busy shopping centres, why not make gifts instead? Personalised, handmade jewellery is not only a thoughtful and beautiful gift to receive, but it is also an absorbing hobby that will give you many years of pleasure. As with all new hobbies, start with something simple; a pretty necklace is a quick and easy make that will get your jewellery-making hobby off to a sparkling start! Here are five tips you may find useful.
Beads, beads, beads.¦
Bugle beads, faceted Chaton beads and crystals, Japanese glass beads, natural shells, wood beads, beautiful blown glass Lampwork, pearls. Choose the type of bead you want to work with and then plan your design.
Think about the weight of the bead and the sort of material you need to use. A good quality polyester thread could be perfect for tiny seed beads, but not robust enough for a heavier glass bead. Weightier beads, such as glass Lampwork, would benefit from a macrame thread with a high nylon content for added strength. Wooden beads and painted china or ceramic beads would look great on a leather cord, or a silk ribbon, emphasising the boho-chic style of these natural materials. There are so many options, allowing you the opportunity to make jewellery that is perfect for your recipient (or, indeed, for you).
Caps, clasps and jump rings
You’ll need to think about how you want to secure the necklace. Adding a clasp is necessary for necklaces that sit on the collarbone or above (necklaces too small to pull over the head). There are many different jewellery findings available, some require little more than tying onto the beading thread, such as so-called lobster clasps and end caps. Other, more ornate findings, may require the use of a jump ring to connect the beaded thread and clasp.
Tools of the trade
If your choice of findings requires a jump ring, or if you want to attach a charm or pendant that needs to connect to your necklace by a jump ring, then you will need to invest in two pairs of jewellers pliers. Opening the jump ring is quite simple; gently open the ring by pinching each end with pliers and pull one end towards you and push the other away from you (creating just enough space to attach the ring onto the finding, or through the pendant). Close the ring by pinching the ends together. Do not attempt to pull the ring apart outwards, it is almost impossible to return the ring to its original circle shape and will be difficult to realign the ends.
Knot the thread well! Using two strands of thread will give your necklace added security against snapping and allow you to insert small (but significant) knots in between each bead. This helps to keep the necklace strong, well-spaced and prevents beads grinding against each other and becoming damaged when worn. When attaching the necklace to the clasp, take any remaining thread back through the necklace. This avoids a messy and irritating stub of thread left hanging and gives the necklace a more polished and professional look.
Tools of the trade #2
Plan out your necklace by pinning the design out on a cork or foam board. You can then plan the finished design with ease and check the measurements as you go (avoiding the risk of making something the wrong length). A bead loom is a great tool for more intricate designs involving multiple strands of beads or woven friendship bands. Both methods will allow you to work on your necklace-making whilst keeping the thread tension taught and the finished results in view at all times.
Enjoy making your own jewellery and be prepared for many compliments and commissions!