Saturday, November 12, 2011

How to Get Started Making Jewelry

I have a lot of people ask me how they can start making jewelry. They love jewelry and they have a creative side, and they'd love to combine the two.

It's not as hard as it used to be

Fortunately, it's not as hard as it used to be when I began. There's a wealth of material out there now, in both books and DVDs. If you go to, all you have to do is a search for "how-to" and then a technique you think you might like to learn. There are some exceptional ones out there for every skill level.

The best way

You're not going to be able to jump right into making soldered jewelry without training of some sort, like a college class or some beginner workshops. There are a lot of different facets required for this type of work, and you have to learn to use a lot of equipment safely. It just helps to have a live body nearby to guide you, so you can observe in real time and ask the questions you need answered.

When formal education isn't an option

If you don't have the time, the money or live close enough for this to be an option, there are other things you can do. There is beading, wire work, resins and polymer clay. You can even find free online videos for many of these things. Also consider getting magazine subscriptions. Some places offer online subscriptions for the same price as print. These are nice because you can print out just the projects you like, and you don't have to be storing a whole magazine. You can even pick up a whole year's worth of back issues on one CD!

There is another alternative called "bridge jewelry" that is generally made with metal clay (Precious Metal Clay and Metal Art Clay). This is where you start crossing over the line into fabricating metal jewelry and can be accomplished with a minimum amount of tools. Even though it's kiln fired and you have no kiln, you can  have it fired at a local pottery. For less than $100 buy a small trinket type of kiln that can be fired with a plumber's portable propane bottle or with a butane torch that is used in restaurants, usually for making creme brulee.

Is any of it free?

Several places I point people to is and Both have free online video and printed projects, ranging from beginner to intermediate in a variety of mediums. If you type in "jewelry tutorials" in Google, you'll have more tutorials, many free, than you'll have time to explore. Just start with one that you really like, and make sure it's from a reputable source. Two I recommend are Rio Grande and Ganoksin I've seen some things on video from amateurs that are just dangerous, so use careful judgement when trying to learn from free video postings.

And that means...

Don't expect perfect results the very first time. You'll get better with each progressive project though, and with experience you learn how to turn your goofs into serendipitous exploration. Yeah, I know that's a big and pretentious word, but any of my students know that when I yell out, "Serendipity!" in a workshop, it means it's a learning experience. Just read that as, "I did a goof and I'm going to act like it's the greatest design focal point anyone has ever seen." And actually, when you look at it that way, you'll get away from your preconceived ideas and start making things that are truly original and fabulous. Yes, you'll make mistakes, just as we all have, and you'll learn from it. I'm still learning from my mistakes, and I've been doing this for a loooooong time. I don't want to say how long because that will give you an idea of my age!

Occasionally, you'll run across a kindly soul who will mentor you, either in making jewelry, design or learning business skills. They've been down your road at one time, and if they're willing to impart knowledge, listen to them. They're worth their weight in gold!

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

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