The New Jewelry Hobbyist
Welcome to jewelry! Fashioning adornments of one kind or another has been a human pastime since our earliest days. The oldest known jewelry ever found by archeologists is over 100,000 years old. Jewelry making is very ancient indeed. That antiquarian jewelry was similar to where most new hobbyists start. That is, they made simple beadwork. Modern industry produces a wider variety of tools and materials, but the basic ideas haven’t changed much in thousands of years.
Assuming that your hobby will begin at the beginning so to speak, there are seven key tools you will need. The essential five are listed first.
1. Wire cutters. Like the name sounds, use these for cutting soft wire and chain.
2. Round nose pliers. Make simple loops and eyes with these.
3. Flat Chain nose pliers. These are square, smooth-faced pliers for closing rings.
4. Flat nose pliers. Also flat-faced, use these pliers for crimping and holding.
5. Tweezers. Especially used for tying knots, tweezers often have a bead scoop.
6. Bead stops. These keep the beads from squirting off the wire or thread.
7. Bead board. A grooved work surface with trays to catch and hold beads.
Since many early jewelry projects involve beads or findings, put these at the top of the shopping list along with either wire or another material for stringing the beads. It is a good idea for beginners to avoid using precious metals before they get the hang of it. There is nothing wrong with using a kit for your first project either. A beautiful, finished project makes the beginning hobbyist hungry for more. A variety of jigs, are available for bending wire into more elaborate shapes, too.
More Advanced Projects
Several kits of basic tools are available for under $50, but if your budget allows, a much more complete basic set of high-quality jeweler’s tools runs from $350-$500 at Otto Frei. Beading projects come in all shapes and sizes from simple to advanced but beading isn’t everything. Like all hobbies, jewelry design and manufacturing runs all the way from easy projects to professional production and most techniques start simple. The new hobbyist doesn’t have to start out with a casting kiln or CAD-CAM systems. A reasonably complete jeweler’s workshop costs many thousands of dollars to put together.
On the other hand, many local jewelers will have done just that, so if you want to try lost wax casting, you can work in wax and pay a professional to do the casting for you, just as you would use a professional company like Fast Fix, your Tucson Jewelry Store, to repair or resize your finished pieces. It isn’t necessary to do all the heavy lifting yourself right out the box. Ask around.