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It’s the Little Things

finishing findings finishing tools handmade polymer clay beads jewelry finishing Julie and Blu

Friday, February 21, 2014

It’s the Little Things

When you first learn to create jewelry, you may only have a limited supply of beading and finishing materials, but as you get more proficient in your beading experience, you begin to look at the other things that you can add to professionally finish your jewelry. When you first begin, just finishing a necklace or a bracelet with a clasp and a crimp bead may be just swell. It holds and does the job you intended it to do.

This perfect example of exposed crimp beads and bad clasps shows how although the necklace did as it was designed to do, it was pretty butt-ugly. The clasp is a badly designed screw type clasp and it is held on both sides by a poorly improperly closed jumpring. The crimp beads aren’t even folded over properly. They are mangled onto the wires. Wow, what a bad finishing job all the way around!

I just dug out the worse possible example I could find from my first days of making jewelry. Just knowing general principle is not always the best route to success. I won’t even talk about the 3-strand cable that I still have most of my 1,000 foot roll.

Let’s talk about the design.

Beading Wire

You know that there are several types of beading wire for every job. You also know that they come in a variety of cable strengths depending upon the job. Since this post isn’t about the wire, I am only going to give you a couple examples, and we will come back to the proper wire for the job in a later post.

 

7-strand

21-strand

48-strand

No where do you see 3-strand on the list. What was I thinking? Besides that I have this much money, how much can I buy?

Crimp Beads

Again, this is not about crimp beads either, but you should know that there are different types of crimp beads, and the better quality that you buy, the better they will perform for you. The ones used in the example above are brass gold plated beads.

See last week’s post on the proper Tools of the Trade for more information on crimping pliers.

Clasps

What was I thinking? I was thinking that if I had a clasp that was screwed together, it would stay closed for the necklace I was stringing. Well, I was wrong. The screw clasp that I bought was not nearly of a quality that would hold up when it was worn. It was loose, and it had a tendency to unscrew itself because it did not sit tight. Additionally, if you do not know how to open and close a jumpring, then learn before you start sticking them on everything you make. I so failed in this lesson! Every beading magazine and book has a simple instructions page that shows how to open and close a jumpring. I don’t know why I thought pulling them apart would work.

Again, this post is not about clasps, but we will talk about them later.

 

Finishing Touches

This post is about finishing your pieces in a professional manner. I dug out one of my first necklaces because I was looking to show you how much better things look when they are professionally finished. It means, you must dig into your pockets and get out enough money to buy some crimp pliers, crimp covers and some of nifty wire guards.

Between the crimp cover and the wire guards, your piece of handcrafted jewelry will escalate in worth because it is beautifully finished.

Crimp Cover:

This C-shaped piece of metal is hollow and the ends are open. You set it in your crimp pliers and gently close it onto your crimp beads. This makes a smooth, round bead as part of the end of your piece. This cover comes in a variety of plated and precious metals. It comes in several sizes, and it is too inexpensive to scrimp when stocking your designer’s stash. I use it with regular round metal beads on the ends of most of my pieces.

Wire Guard :

This U-shaped piece is hollow on the closed ends and has a channel that your wire will run through as you make your clasp loop. The guard is designed to protect your wire from fraying if the metal you are stringing it through is even the slightest bit rough. These are so inexpensive that you should have hundreds of them on hand. They come in a variety of precious metals and plated. They are designed to match clasps and other findings. They add strength to your piece, and they provide another layer of security that your design will hold together.

As you learn to create jewelry and you buy better tools and supplies, you designs will increase in value. Like anything else, it is a learning experience. If you are sure that you want to continue to make jewelry, then invest in your hobby in order to turn it into a small business.

 

Enjoy!

Julie and Blu

PS – Buying handmade beads will also help your designs stand out from the crowd!



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  • Julie Cleveland on

    It’s almost shameful to show anyone those “before I knew better” pieces :)

  • Pamela on

    Great post, Julie. I’ve mostly reworked the pieces from “before I knew better”. The little things add so much.


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