Blowtorches: For Grownups Only

I taught my first metalwork class at a women’s ministry in Cincinnati. It was an innercity class, but because everyone was welcome, my classes were a diverse cultural mix of jewelry makers. 
They were women mostly: working women, housewives, retired, and on fixed incomes. They were old and young and from the suburbs and the city. My students were all types of women (and one guy) but they all had one thing in common. They’d never picked up a blowtorch before. 
Of course, I could say that about most men and women, both then and now. First, some rulesI started my first blowtorch lesson by handing out a list of rules. I don’t remember them all, but I do recall rule number 1: Grownups Only!

I also remember that I came to my blowtorch rules after teaching many of my ministry students the fine art of cutting with a jeweler’s saw. During those lessons, I saw some of my students at their most juvenile and many of them refused to learn. The ones who did, became blowtorch aficionados as well, risin…

Beginner's Jewelry-Making

You, an artisan? Imagine that, creating metalwork, enameled or sculptured wire fantasies? Wearable art? 
It's true, many new students begin with the more demanding artisan skills, but you'll have a better chance at success if you begin simply. 
Lofty goals have their place but a complicated first-time project can be the road to easy frustration for a novice jewelry maker. Keep your grand ambitions, but start out with a few simple ideas in mind: Get used to working with your tools. Develop dexterity. Have a little fun.

Start with these simple projects for beginner's success that will give you a dash of confidence. You can grow into a true artisan from there.
Buy some cheap tools Don't start out with expensive Swiss-made tools. If it turns out that jewelry making isn't for you, you'll be stuck with expensive toys. You can find basic jewelry making tools at a local craft shop or buy them online.
PliersWire cuttersRound nose pliers Start with simple beaded earrings

Get to Know Your Wire

Wire GaugeSelecting the right wire gauge can be annoying for a beginner. It's not a skill most people learn in school or on the job. Most beginner wire jewelry makers are gauge novices, so don't let it bother you.
Here are a few things to remember:
1. The bigger the number, the smaller the wire. The smaller the number, the bigger the wire.
2. If you can buy only one size wire to begin crafting jewelry, make it 20 gauge. It's sturdy and fits most bead holes except pearls.

3. If you're still confused about gauge, buy an inexpensive wire measuring device.
Hard, Dead Soft, or Half Hard
Working with wire is the best way to figure out the differences between hard and soft wire. To get the experience, you have to start somewhere, so here are a few tips:
1- Hard wire is Less malleable (able to be manipulated), but it will keep its shape better than soft.
2- Dead Soft is more likely to do what you want it to do, but it doesn't hold its shape as well as hard. If you hammer wire it h…

Quality Control Counts in Jewelry Making

Your Seal of ApprovalWhen you create beautiful, artsy jewelry it's exciting indeed, but don't forget the quality control. That's the necessary, must-do boring part of creating handmade jewelry. 

The idea of QC brings to mind inspector #6 affixing a seal of approval before the widgets leave the factory. It's pretty much like that, except it's your jewelry, your inspection and your final seal of approval.
Set a High Bar No one is perfect. Sometimes things just break, but like Inspector #6, you must set high standards for every piece of jewelry you make. You should inspect every detail to make sure your jewelry meets those standards. Then if a mishap occurs, you can honestly say “Things like this rarely happen with my jewelry.”
Your customers might not tell you Quality control is important whether you make jewelry to sell to others or to wear yourself. If you don't care about your own jewelry, consider your poor customer.
Imagine her wearing the fabulous necklace you c…

6 Reasons Why You Need A Jewelry-Making Theme

Stay Tuned For The Artsy/Funky Jewelry Show
Think of your jewelry as a TV show. Think about your favorite TV shows. Remember why you've watched what you've watched over the years. You know the characters by name, Earl, Raymond, Lucy, Meredith, Superman, and Mr. Spock, and Meredith Grey. You tune in to the right channel at the right time, depending on your mood. When you're watching television, you check the Guide in search of the theme that suits your mood and that's what you turn to.

Think of your online shop or arts and craft booth as your very own television show. Think of your jewelry as the funny or abstract or whimsically fresh theme that brings customers back time and again. You don't have to make every piece of jewelry based on a theme, just enough to make your point.  Six reasons why you should have a theme1. Your theme can be you, the concept or ideas you return to time and time again when you create your jewelry. With themes to fall back on, the ideas keep…

Selling Little Pieces Of Yourself

When you say "handcrafted," some people hear "homemade"

Not everyone has the heart to appreciate jewelry created by a person they can meet face-to-face.  When you say "jewelry" to many jewelry consumers, they think of big fancy stores and expensive shiny stuff. People who prefer big fancy jewelry stores (aka fancy-jewelry-store people) don't want to think about how their jewelry was made. They don't want to consider that they're craving the same mass-manufactured, machine-stamped baubles owned by millions of women (and men) worldwide. 
Fancy-jewelry-store-people don't want to think about the third-world workers somewhere in the metal extraction, diamond-digging, or assembly process. Those same people may always see your beautiful handcrafted jewelry creations as "homemade," but that's okay. Forget about Fancy-Jewelry-Store-People Accept it. Not everyone will buy what you sell, so concentrate on the ones who will. There are ma…

Wire Jewelry - Make it Funky

Excerpt from The Nice Lady's ebook

Chapter 1 - Calling Out Your FunkyFunky Defined... just in case you didn’t - different but cool/ - passionate, soulful, of or pertaining to funk I’m not the official Funk Authority. That would probably be the late James Brown. The man practically invented funk back in the 60s. He sang about funk. He danced the funk. In fact, I can hear those Funky horns in my head as I type these words.

I’m pretty sure old James was talking about getting Funky on the dance floor; but his song, “Make it
Funky,” is what came to mind when I was trying to decide the theme and title of this book.
Of course, I don’t remember James Brown‒or anybody else‒calling out jewelry makers to surrender  to their Funky style. Since I’ve been teaching my Funky way of making jewelry for a few decades now, I decided that I had to be the one to do it. No rules My teachings don’t follow anybody’s rules except the ones I thought up over …