Jewelry Making Poll

Jewelry Making News, Tips, Tutorials, and Reviews

Archive for November, 2005

11/30/05 | Poll: Jewelry Metal

Our latest poll involved the type of metal that jewelry makers utilize in their designs. Although many beginning jewelry makers start out with simple bead stringing projects, eventually the time comes when they make a foray into using either base metal or precious metal in their designs. Some designers even use metal exclusively or as the focal point of their jewelry.

Here are the results from the poll, which turned out pretty much how you would have expected:

The majority of designers polled used Silver Metal in their designs. This is no surprise since the wire of choice for wirewrapping is often silver. It is easily workable, and comes in various malleabilities (half-hard, completely soft, etc.). It is also readily available everywhere, and though not extremely cheap it won’t break the bank to get started.

While silver is very popular for wire projects, when you start to get to silver findings and other smaller objects, people start to take a look at either silver-plated or silver-colored findings. Because wire is so thin and relatively easy for companies to draw out, the cost isn’t as great. When you get to findings which contain more silver metal and may also be partially handmade, the price starts to go up quite a bit. It can be a bit disconcerting to buy these tiny findings that cost more than a dollar a piece! With silver charms and larger silver pendants, the price truly starts to skyrocket unless you buy in bulk.

For that reason, many people turn to base metals such as nickel, brass, or pewter when it comes to anything that requires bigger pieces of silver. And actually, base metal wire is a great way for beginners to start off, or even for more advanced jewelry makers to practice a new design or technique. We keep a few spools of base metal wire at various gauges from 20 to 30 around the house for this reason. I am a bit surprised that more people didn’t say they were using base metal in the poll, but that’s perhaps chalked up to the fact that they use BOTH base metal and silver in designs, so they just picked silver since there wasn’t a choice that included both.

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Glass And Splinters

I don’t have much experience making jewelry that utilizes handmade Lampwork beads. We just haven’t worked our way up to using them in designs yet, but that’s not to say we haven’t admired them from afar! These minutely detailed glass beads are created by melting various types of glass with a torch onto some sort of mandrel(?) and then incorporating tiny color swirls, dots and other neat shapes. I have no idea how it’s done really. I just know that the end result is pretty awesome.

Glass and Splinters Studio makes some really fantastic looking lampwork beads, which they bill as “contemporary torchworked beads”. The company is run by Lorraine Allan who has set up shop in South Australia. Having had a lot of experience working in the glass industry along with her husband for many years, she eventually tried Lampwork Glass and really got into it:

I became interested in making lampwork glass beads in 1997 after doing a weekend workshop with Peter Minson in Victoria, Australia. This led me on to enrol in a silver jewellery course for 12 months which I incorporated my glass beads into the pieces I made. Since 2001 I have put all my other glass making aside to concentrate fully on lampworking beads. Watching the glass melting and flowing in an open flame, is the most relaxing work I have ever done with glass, I don’t think I will ever stop!

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picture of Figure8 Jump Ring

If you’re a jewelry designer you surely know about the costs associated with buying silver findings such as jump rings and connectors. The other day, after running out of Figure 8 type connectors, I decided to try and make a few unsoldered ones just for kicks. It turns out that they’re really easy to make. Granted, this is not jewelry rocket science but you might be interested in this beginner’s tutorial if you wanted to try making your own silver jewelry findings.

Homemade Figure 8 Jump Rings

David Weiman, Lapidary JournalWe’re starting up a new section of the site that will focus on interviews with jewelry professionals and other people connected to the business of making jewelry. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, since Jewelry at Bloglander focuses on the beginning jewelry maker who will definitely benefit from the opinions and knowledge of the more experienced members of the craft.

For our inaugural feature, I got a chance to interview Dr. David Weiman, who is the Marketing Director for the well known magazine Lapidary Journal. Being a licensed psychologist, he knows a thing or two about the psychology of selling jewelry! He also contributes articles and commentary for Colored Stone, Step by Step Beads, and Step by Step Wire Jewelry. Check out the interview for an in depth look at how to market and sell your jewelry:

Interview with David Weiman of Lapidary Journal

Summary: Wide variety of simple necklace, bracelet and earrings projects plus basic techniques
Price: Cover price - $4.95
Product Rating: 3.5/5
Pros: Plenty of useful photos in how-to projects. Fairly cheap.
Cons: Occasionally unfocused. Only 6 issues/yr. Lots of ads.

The Bottom Line
This is a good beginner magazine to get when you’re first starting off beading or making jewelry. Clear and detailed instructions plus a handy “basics” guide. More advanced jewelry makers will probably only glance at the projects for ideas.

Bead Style Magazine has 6 issues a year. The magazine is devoted to beginner jewelry and beading projects, usually 6-10 full step-by-step project articles of which a few contain 5-10 “mini-projects” related to the article. Sections include a Fashion Forecast, Reader Tips, Project Articles, What’s New section, Beader’s Glossary, Basic Techniques, Calendar, and Shop Directory. Approximately 100-130 pages long

When we first started out making our own jewelry, we had almost no idea where to start. There are millions of books out there that contain projects and how-to guides but so many of them were far beyond our abilities at the time. So we decided to give BeadStyle Magazine a shot and subscribed for a year’s worth of issues.

In the beginning, this was an excellent way to get ideas on how to make simple projects. The magazine’s focus is indeed on the beginning beader and jewelry maker. Most of the projects require only the beading materials and simple wire techniques, such as Making a Plain Loop and Simple Wirewrapping.

Once in awhile there are projects that show how to do slightly more advanced things like making and hammering your own clasps out of silver wire but for the most part they stick with stringing colorful beads together.

Look for Bead Style Magazine on Amazon

One of the most overlooked parts of this magazine is the handy "Beader's Glossary" and "Basic Techniques" section at the end of the magazine. The Beader's Glossary gives you a sort of visual guide to the different types of tools, stones, beads and findings that are featured in that particular issue of the magazine in case you have any doubt as to which ones to use. The Basic Techniques reference contains several step-by-step jewelry techniques with photos. Though the pictures are small and it's extremely brief, these were very helpful when we didn't know what the heck we were doing.

As time went on, however, we found that we weren't paying as much attention to working through all the actual projects rather than getting design and technique ideas. In addition, we found that because of the HUGE variety of styles touched upon, we would in general only be interested in maybe 2-3 of the 30 projects in the magazine. But that weakness is also it's greatest strength; you're bound to find at least ONE project in each magazine that strikes your fancy.

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