Category Archives: How-to jewelry making

Craft Store coupons, deals, and free offers

 Coupons for:
Michael’s  ( )
AC Moore  ( )
Joann’s Fabric  ( )
Hobby Lobby ( )
Deals and free offers at Dick Blicks Art supply (

Beading Commandments (applies to all crafts)

Commandments of Beading

1. Do not give beads to babies and small children.

2. Make sure there is NO lead in children’s jewelry

3. Please use a wire guard.

4. Be good to your tools.  Use them appropriately.   (The right tool for the right job.)  Keep them clean, sharp, etc. (I have trouble following this rule;  so many tools have additional uses.  I keep doubles and triples of some tools because I need one pair to take care of and use appropriately while destroying the others!)

5. Don’t use hammers and pliers for crimpers.  Use one of the many crimping pliers available.

6. Don’ copy other’s designs.  Use them as a learning experience or for inspiration.

7. Work over a surface with walls or lips so spilled beads don’t send you into tears when they end up in the rug or roll across the floor.  If they spill…oh well, **it happens.

8. Never take credit for another’s design. Copying is fine, but don’t claim it as your own idea if asked. Ideas are meant to be shared, but give credit where credit is due.

9. Always spread your wings and try different techniques, tools, and ideas.

10. Have fun.

11. Share your work, wear it, use it, [for gifts (always put a few business cards with gifts)], show it, and sell it.  The reason we bead is to create beautiful things, so let the world see  what you’ve made.

12. Add your comments here.  Thanks for sharing.


Choosing A Color Scheme: Tips & Ideas

Choosing A Color Scheme: Tips & Ideas

One of the most challenging aspects of creating a beautiful piece of jewelry is choosing a color scheme that “works.” Whether you are going for a bold look, subtle, romantic, autumn inspired, or modern, it can be difficult to choose colors that convey the feeling you are trying to express and that work well together. We have all seen beautifully handmade jewelry pieces that would have been spectacular if the colors had not been a little “off.”
Golem Studios Ceramic Pendant
So how do you go about deciding on a color palette? The easiest way is to take whatever your focal bead is, and coordinate around it. For instance, if you are making a necklace around a gorgeous Golem Studios pendant, then look at what colors are present in the pendant itself and use those colors in your design. You can use red Toho seed beads, blue Czech glass beads, etc. Even if your focal is a solid color, use that solid color as your starting point and build around it.
Swarovski Color Carousel

If you are a fan of Swarovski Crystal, there is a great tool at your disposal: the Swarovski Color Carousel. Choose your main color, and this color wheel will automatically generate harmonious colors, contrasting colors, even the appropriate pearl color. As an example, I chose Siam as my main color and was then told that Ruby, Burgundy, and Garnet are harmonious colors. Erinite and Emerald are contrasting colors to Siam, and the appropriate pearl is Crystal Burgundy. Even if you are not using Swarovski Elements, you can use this tool to generate beautiful color stories.

Sample Color Palette

Other websites to check out include and Both of these sites are free and offer thousands of color palettes for you to look through. The palettes have been sorted by theme, popularity, etc. so you can quickly narrow down your selections. There are so many choices in just these two sites alone, you will surely be inspired by a color scheme.

© Design Seeds

A third website to check out is Design Seeds. This site takes a photograph, picks out all the colors from it, and gives you a handy color swatch palette to work off of. Seeing the colors in the photograph is really inspiring and gives you a better idea of how they will work together. Once you have chosen your colors, you can then purchase beads to match. When picking out the beads, I like to have a separate browser window open with the color palette displayed so that I can easily see if the beads I am considering match my color scheme.

Another great way of arriving at a color scheme is to take a piece of fabric, scarf, shirt, or dress where you really like the colors and use those colors for your jewelry design. An added bonus is that if it is a piece of clothing you are working off of, and you know you look good in it, then you know your jewelry colors will look good on you too.

Finally, a tip I learned from a fellow crafter was to go to the paint store and pick up some paint chips. You can then use these to develop your color schemes. You might also find the free booklets offered at paint stores helpful too. These usually have “designer” schemes pre-arranged and you can pick out the one that appeals to you.

Hopefully these ideas and tips were helpful!  
– Julie

Jewelry-Making Essentials, Part Two: 23 Everyday Items For Your Jewelry Workshop01-24-2011 by TammyJones

Ah, January. Resolutions have everyone on their best behavior, eating better, learning new skills, saving money, being earth friendly. . . . My friend Chocolate and I can’t help you with the “eating better” part, but I’m happy to say I do have some ideas that will help you learn new (jewelry-making) skills, save money, and be earth friendly, all at the same time.

Shop Smarter = Save More
I love finding new and unexpected uses for items I already have, and spending a few days with master metalsmith Lexi Erickson in her studio recently brought to my attention how many everyday items we jewelry makers repurpose for use in our craft. Shopping “outside the genre” is a great way to save money (try buying white ribbon both in a fabric/craft store and in a wedding shop, and you’ll see what I mean), but it also cuts down on having to buy more stuff, which most of us already have way too much of as it is.

  Lexi’s saw with her sparkly bike-grip saw handle.

Lexi shared her jewelry-making essential tools on Friday, and while watching her work some magic in her workshop, I made note of these everyday, unexpected jewelry-making essentials she used while making handcrafted sterling silver jewelry:

1. Keep pickle hot and ready for your jewelry in a Crock-Pot.
2. Cute bicycle grips make a perfect hand-friendly topper for your tool handles. Get a cute sparkly one with ribbon streamers like Lexi’s, and no one will mistake your tool for theirs in a class—they’ll just wish it was theirs!
3. Sharpie markers: Draw designs on your silver or copper sheet or wire with a Sharpie—the ink will rub off when you’re ready for it to. Sharpies also double as a mandrel and are the perfect size for forming ear wires.
4. Bar Keeper’s Friend is a pumice that teams up with (5) Dawn dish detergent and (6) a kitchen scrubber or (7) a toothbrush to clean and finish sterling silver jewelry after soldering, pickling, and liver-of-sulfuring.
8. Baking soda works well as a pumice and cleaner, too.

Bar Keeper’s Friend (a pumice) pairs up
with Dawn detergent to clean silver jewelry.

9. A plastic sandwich bag is always handy; use it to keep scraps of metal types separate, to store different gauges of wire (write the gauge on the back with a Sharpie), your saw blades, polishing wheels, solder, as a backup container around liquids that might spill, even over your hand as a makeshift glove for dirty jobs like painting on liver of sulfur.
10. Milky Way mini candy bars: Lexi never really explained why these were necessary, but she’s the expert, so I’m taking her word for it. ;o)
11. Use old paintbrushes to apply liver of sulfur to add patina to your silver jewelry.
12. Ammonia, used with Dawn, dissolves oily, greasy buffing compounds from metal. If you’re removing Tripoli, use a toothbrush or a brass brush.
13. Cotton swabs and (14) toothpicks make great removers, too. Use them in your flex shaft with Tripoli and rouge to get into hard-to-reach places and then use clean ones to remove stubborn buffing compounds from high-polish metals.
15. A pencil makes a good solder pick in a pinch—just be careful not to catch it on fire! A pencil can also be a mandrel to coil metal.
16. Boiled eggs: Slice one in half and store it with silver in a bag from #8 to get an attractive patina without using liver of sulfur.
17. Just like the bags from #8, mini candy or mint tins can be used to store any little bits and pieces you need to keep track of without investing in expensive storage pieces.

  Lexi keeps various solder types in color-coded
Altoids tins, but I’m a Godiva Chocolate Pearl
girl (of course). These tins are vertical and
taller, making them good for wire, saw blades,
needles, etc.

18. Wad up toilet tissue and send it through a rolling mill with sheet metal for a beautifully unique texture.
19. Fabric scraps also impart great texture on metal when passed through a rolling mill. Coarse fabric doubles as very fine sandpaper or polishing cloth. Crocus cloth from auto-supply shops can be torn in strips and used for sanding or thrumming.
20. Textured-paper greeting cards, gift wrap, wallpaper samples—all of these can transfer beautiful textures to your metals when you run them through a rolling mill.
21. Window screening/mesh: You can use metal screening for its textural qualities in a rolling mill, and plastic screen doubles as a strainer for holding small parts when pickling, liver of sulfur, enameling, and more. Don’t use metal screen in pickle. Plastic screen is available.
22. WD-40 is good to keep tools oiled and whirring along smoothly.
23. Beeswax makes a perfect lube for saw blades.

What’s your favorite everyday essential for jewelry making? I’d love to read about it in the comments below!

Jewelry Making Essentials Part I- Confessions of a Jewelry Tool Junkie

Okay, I admit it: I love jewelry-making tools. Even if I don’t use them all, I love having them in my studio. I’m perfectly happy hanging out with my steel and wooden buddies.

Nothing upsets me more than to be happily working on a project and then realize I don’t have the proper tool to finish, so I’ve taken care of that little problem by purchasing the best-quality tools I can afford and taking good care of them. I clean them after each use and keep them oiled.

Every studio has its everyday tools—pliers, files, saws, hammers, etc.—but I thought I’d give you a look into my studio and show you my babies.

Basic Jewelry-Making Tools
My basic tools are the ones in my bench I use daily, such as:

  • Pliers: Allcraft German Ergonomic pliers are my favorite; they do the down-and-dirty bending that is needed when using 18-gauge sheet or 6-gauge wire.
  • Saw: My favorite jeweler’s saw is the Knew Concepts saw designed by Lee Marshall. It’s more expensive, but with this saw I was able to use one saw blade for over a month. No kidding. You will save in saw blades what the saw costs in the first few months.
  • Cutters: My favorite cutters are Xuron; I have a blue-handled pair for solder and orange ones for wire.
  • Files: There is only one file for me—any of the Grobet files are lifetime files. Clean and brush them and they will take care of you. I’m still using my original #2 and #0 6-inch files I bought twenty-five years ago.
  • Hammers: I’m addicted to Fretz hammers for the delightful textures, and for planishing, Allcraft makes the best hammers and stakes.

That takes care of jewelry-making basics, but what do I use for fun? That’s the best part!

Lexi’s custom jeweler’s bench  

The Jeweler’s Bench
Though not always considered a tool, my favorite thing is my jeweler’s bench. Mine was specially made for me in South America, with drawers on one side, bookcases on the other side, and just the right height. Because we travel a lot and move around the world, this one breaks down into five sturdy parts. It has a place for everything. It’s good to have a jeweler’s bench or special table for jewelry where you can reach what you need quickly and where, if you don’t finish a project at one sitting, you can leave things, and they’ll be there when you get back (unless you have a cat like mine).

To get a jeweler’s bench custom made for you, check with your local high school woodworking class. There might be an advanced student who just needs a project.

  Lexi’s guillotine shear

Specialty Jewelry Tools
Probably the second-most used tool in my studio is my guillotine shear. It cuts perfectly straight lines, doesn’t crimp the metal, and is a lifesaver for cutting metal squares and 6-inch strips for cuff bracelets.

Another tool I couldn’t live without is a rolling mill. I have a Pepe 90mm and an old Polish mill that’s probably forty years old. I chose to get the flat rollers instead of the wire rollers because wire is cheap, and I usually have a good supply of wire on hand. A rolling mill can reduce the thickness of a 16-gauge piece of metal down to a 24-gauge thickness in just a short time. I keep a supply of thicker silver on hand, usually 18-gauge sheet, and just roll down what I need. It’s also the best way to impart texture onto the metal, so I also keep a big Rubbermaid box on hand full of interesting papers, screen, netting, fabric, etc.

Lexi’s torch and soldering setup  

My favorite torch is the Smith Silversmith, also known as the HandyHeet acetylene/ambient air. I have a variety of torch heads, from #00 for soldering jump rings to #2 for annealing. For consistency, ease, and safety, I think a Smith torch can’t be beat.

  The Fretz stake set from Santa

I’ve probably sold a bunch of bezel scissors to our readers after mentioning them in my Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist articles. They cut a perfect bezel each time and have saved me countless hours of filing and fitting. I can’t recommend them enough.

I was really good last year and Santa brought me the Fretz mini stakes. Oh happy, happy, joy, joy! They are wonderful for forming small shapes. I haven’t worked with them much–I just sit and drool over them right now–but stay tuned.

Best New Jewelry Tool: Tube-Setting Burnishing Tool
The best new tool is a tube-setting burnishing tool. I like the elegant sparkle that a tiny diamond or sapphire adds to a piece. With this tool, you just drop the tiny little faceted stone into the tube, level it, and then run the corresponding size tool over the top of the tube, which will fold and burnish the metal over the stone. Voila! It cuts time and aggravation, and it’s available from Allcraft Tools.

The tube-setting burnishing tool makes
quick work of setting small stones.

Regardless of the jewelry-making tools and all the booms, bangs, and whistles you have, the most important tools to bring into your studio are common sense and creativity. It’s also important to have a good collection of jewelry-making instruction and inspiration, all of which is on sale in our store right now in the form of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs to teach you what you want to learn and inspire you to do what you love.

What’s your favorite jewelry-making tool? Let us know in the comments below!

P.S. Check out our free eBook about jewelry-making tools! And don’t miss Jewelry Making Essentials, Part Two: 23 Everyday Items for Your Jewelry Workshop.