Every month we are looking at a new craft that you might like to try yourself.
This month I have chosen jewelry design and one site I recommend for some very cool, easy to follow articles and videos is Jewelry Tutorials HQ. In fact Jessica from the site will be appearing here in the coming weeks with a tutorial for us all to have a go at.
In order for us to learn about jewelry design this month I thought it would be nice for someone with expertise to share their experience and knowledge with us. I was very pleased therefore that Sarah Liberty Booker from the gorgeous Etsy store Loving Liberty Jewelry agreed to come along and answer a few questions.
Without further ado then, here is Sarah and her guidance on taking up this very diverse craft.
1. Sarah, welcome and thank you for taking the time for this interview. Firstly then can you tell us what was it about jewelry design that particularly drew you to it?
I have had fun at different times throughout my life following what was in my mind, my little artistic journeys. I used to love digging through my mother’s big wooden jewelry box and being fascinated by all of the chains and pretty sparkles. When I was in elementary school my neighbor was working for an accessories business. She would bring home boxes and boxes of supplies to put together jewelry and then be paid by the piece. When she was done she would toss all the left over pieces in a big box and put it out by the trash cans. I would salvage the pieces, create my own jewelry, and then go selling it from door to door in my neighborhood, and even at school! It is a funny memory I must admit, but it made me so happy that my neighbors and school mates liked what I made. Not to mention paying me for it!
By the time I was in junior high school I had developed insomnia, and I could spend hours in the garage through the late night hours creating my masterpieces…(laughing) In high school my tinkering with jewelry making continued. I started working in a cafe and the owner gave me a corner to sell my creations.
I didn’t then return to jewelry making until much later in my life, but it still tickled me to pieces that people liked the things that I was making, and wanted to pay me for it! So I guess I’d have to say that I’ve been drawn to jewelry designing because it has always been a creative outlet and morale booster for me at the same time.
2. For any beginners out there, what would you say is the best way to learn about the craft – classes, books, tutorials etc?
For me jewelry making has always been about experimenting and having fun. One day when I was visiting my aunt, and hadn’t made jewelry in awhile, she just handed me a box of supplies and said “Go for it! Don’t think about it too much. It’ll ruin the fun.” So I rummaged through the box and pulled out her beading tools, findings, and wire, and started to line up the beads in a pattern that looked attractive to me. I reintroduced myself by making a simple necklace. The next day we were off and running to the craft and bead stores. I couldn’t stop. I welcomed myself to my new addiction!!! The most fun I have had learning is getting together with people who already make jewelry.In my opinion it’s fun to learn from friends because you’re more readily at ease, and probably already in a relaxed setting. I’ve had many a beading evening with friends and a glass of wine, or fresh hot batch of cookies. We learn from each others ideas and experiences.
Books are great resources too! If you don’t want to go out and spend a lot of money, you can get a lot of great deals at www.amazon.com, or by checking out books and videos on the techniques you want to learn from your local public library. I’ve also found www.youtube.com to be an incredible resource for learning everything from how to use a bead crimping tool properly, to how to make patterns in polymer clay by using a pasta machine. Sketching out your design ideas are fun too!
3. There are many different materials that can be used in jewelry design, please could you give a few examples, e.g. beads, precious & semi-precious stones, polymer clay etc. Also maybe some pros and cons of using each one or what your personal choice is and why?
I enjoy using semi precious stones. Especially some that are bright from being color dyed. A PRO for this is that the dyes can enhance the natural patterns in the stones, and make for wonderful statement pieces. Especially if you can find larger and odd shaped stones to use for the pendant. One CON on color treated stones that I have found is that the color can be affected, as in fading, if left under fluorescent lighting for too long a period of time. So if you become a seller of your craft, be mindful to make sure that they are not displayed directly under this kind of lighting. Proper packing can minimize this effect.
I also extremely enjoy making jewelry with polymer clay. I still have a lot to learn because the techniques for this medium are endless, as well as what you can create with just your own imagination! Those are definitely the PROS. I think one of the CONS of working with this medium for some will be that while labeled as Non-Toxic, it does give off a distinct odor while baking. Keeping your crafting room or kitchen properly ventilated is important in general, but especially for those who have sensitivities to odors. It is also important to use dedicated crafting items such as baking trays or mats, tools, crafting ovens, etc. when using polymer clay.
4. Where are some good places to source supplies and findings?
Oh the joy of finding findings!!!!! There are a few findings, depending on your designs, that will be considered your staple items. Other supplies and findings will lead you into new crafting adventures and fun. Be open to new sources. I love shopping online for supplies and findings at www.firemountaingems.com You can even purchase what they call “The Bosses Bag” to get a surprise mix of both beads and findings. It’s sort of a treasure hunt in a grab bag, and no two bags are ever the same! I have even taken a tour of their facility located in Grants Pass, Oregon. It was amazing! They also have a rock solid guarantee on all of their products making them a very reliable source!
There are also many International Sellers on eBay. Try sampling a couple of items from a few different vendors before committing to large orders. I’ve found this to be a good idea because the quality of the items that you purchase can vary greatly from Seller to Seller. However once you find the right Seller, and the quality of supplies that you are looking for, you might just be a repeat customer. You may also be able to find a Gem and Bead Fair nearby by conducting internet searches. Or even discover that your local craft store can do bulk orders for you!
1.) Practice, practice, practice!! You will hone your skills and perfect your craft this way
2.) Be patient with yourself. If you find yourself becoming frustrated or losing your joy, take a break, work on another part of your design, or make a fresh start again tomorrow. You might just be tired and don’t realize it.
3.) Build upon your skills. Start with simple techniques. Once you feel comfortable with the one, then move on to the next. Don’t try to learn everything at once. Your jewelry designing can become a great source of joy, and even become a very therapeutic activity for you.
Oh!!!! Here is a 4th and very important tip! ALWAYS have the right tools. I highly recommend starting out with a tool set. It’s a very frugal way to get several to start out with. As you learn which ones are the most useful to you, you will be more willing to spring for the better quality ones. These can generally be found in your local craft store, and the best priced if your local craft store accepts coupons!!!!
6. Any other sources of information/advice that you can recommend. Say online courses, books, blogs etc.
A very neat resource that I have recently discovered is www.craftsy.com Not just for jewelry designing, but for many other fun crafts and hobbies as well. Some of their video tutorials are even free. Also they have an App for Smart Phones and Tablets, making learning easily accessible and mobile at the same time! Once you purchase a class, it’s yours to keep. You can go back and review or replay the video segments as needed. You can leave photos and questions for the instructors who will give you helpful feedback, and even make your own important notes right in the videos time line to refer back to as well!
Thanks for your time Sarah and I hope everyone enjoyed this great interview and that some of you will now take your first steps into jewelry making – please let us know if you do, we would love to hear about what you make.
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