5 Essential Jewelry Making Techniques from Tammy Jones

Jul 16, 2012

Not too long ago, Tammy Jones wrote a great blog over on Jewelry Making Daily about five essential jewelry making techniques for jewelry artists. And it got me thinking -- while my primary interest for jewelry making still remains with my beloved seed beads, there are so many great new jewelry making techniques to experiment with!

My first foray into a jewelry making technique outside of bead stringing or off-loom bead-weaving was when I decided that I wanted to learn how to make my own lampwork glass beads. The idea of melting glass over a torch hot enough to burn down my garage was a little intimidating, but learning those glass bead making skills was also really empowering! Once I realized that I could take a solid substance like glass and make it bend to my will over a three thousand degree flame, there wasn't a lot that scared me. (Except for the possibility of an explosion that would send a hundred pounds of glass shrapnel flying into my skin!)

Since then, I've played with wirework, precious metal clay, and mixed media jewelry. I also recently purchased my first butane micro torch for making chain, too. It makes me feel so accomplished to have actually tried these jewelry making techniques, even if I'm not very good at some of them.

If you're looking to expand your jewelry making skills, here are five essential jewelry making techniques recommended by Tammy Jones for anyone who wants to try something new.

Jewelry Making Technique #1: Soldering. The only experience I've ever had with soldering was putting together a couple of those make-your-own radio kits from the electronics store when I was kid. But since I've learned how to use a micro torch to fire precious metal clay, I'm starting to see how easy it is to move on to other jewelry making projects that use soldering techniques. (Don't tell my husband, though. I still haven't cleared a space in all of my glass lampwork and fusing supplies in the garage workshop to accommodate my new micro torch!)

Jewelry Making Technique #2: Wirework. Truly, wirework used to be the bane of my jewelry making existence, until I realized that all those little wrapped loops and eye pins can translate into some pretty spectacular wire jewelry. If you're new to wirework, start small by trying to make your own jump rings and ear wires. Once you have the hang of working with wire, trying projects that include some type of free-form wire bending will not only help you get the feel of working with wire, you'll be making some pretty spectacular one-of-a-kind wire jewelry.

Jewelry Making Technique #3: Metalsmithing. I have to admit, I've always been a little bit awed by jewelry artists who can do metalsmithing. The idea of taking something like metal and being able to melt it, fold it, cut it, and shape it into jewelry still seems sort of like magic to me. (Dangerous magic, but still magic!) The closest I've ever come to doing any metalsmithing was the time I signed up for a stering silver bead-making class at my local arts center, but had to cancel at the last minute. Still, I love watching my metalsmithing friends when they work at the bench, even if I don't think it's something that I'll ever get into.

Jewelry Making Technique #4: Metal Clay. One of the first jewelry making classes I ever took at Bead Fest Philadelphia was a precious metal clay class where we played with covering bisque beads and leaves with different forms of precious metal clay (PMC). Since then, I've taken a couple more classes and learned how to make easy rolled metal clay beads, used stamps and texture plates on some metal clay, and even made a few nice-looking metal clay rings with a butane micro torch. 

Jewelry Making Technique #5: Mixed Media Jewelry. Mixed media jewelry was another one of those jewelry making terms that used to send shivers down my spine. (And not in a good way.) But then a few months ago, I started playing with some wonderful inks for coloring metal beads and jewelry making components, and I realized that mixed media jewelry isn't nearly as scary as I thought it was! I've always loved mixing fibers and fabrics with my beadwork and beaded jewelry making projects. So now I can safely say that I really enjoy jewelry making projects that include resin, painting, fabrics, and fibers!

Are you one of those beaders that enjoys learning new jewelry making techniques? Do you love to push yourself to expand your jewelry making skills? If you want to keep up with what's hot (and what's not) in the jewelry making world, make sure you subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. Each issue is full of the latest and greatest in jewelry making techniques, tools, and supplies that you'll want to keep handy as you continue your journey with handmade jewelry. Subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine and spend some time this summer branching out into a new jewelry making adventure!

Have you tried a new jewelry making technique lately? What is it? Did you love it or was it enough to make you decide to stick with beads for now? Leave a comment and share your stories, tips, and recommendations for other budding jewelry artists here on the Beading Daily blog!

Bead Happy,


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on Jul 16, 2012 10:11 AM

I have recently begun working with Diamond Glaze and glass to create my own cabochons for my seed beading. I have also been working with wire to create fun rings.

on Jul 16, 2012 1:28 PM

You asked for comments on using other  techniques on this BEADING DAILY link: IMHO there are places for wire, soldering, lampworking, etc. elsewhere. I prefer to come here and reading about BEADING.

I hate to see this blog contribute to seed beads or beads alone cause the demise of a place to come for BEAD LOVERS. I think it is ok to advertise new books on other subjects of links to same  bu t please keep BEADING DAILY subjects on BEADS.

Again, JMHO

Aurora Mathews

Seed Bead weaver/designer

Hookfu wrote
on Jul 17, 2012 10:57 AM

Great article! I find myself wanting to learn some of the very techniques it described to make my jewelry better.

I respectfully disagree with Aurora Mathews.

While this is primarily a “Beading” forum, other skills and techniques have their place even if you are a strict “Bead Only” designer. I can’t think of any Jewelry designer who would not welcome one more tool in their toolbox, and that is what this article suggests. It is merely a suggestion to broaden you skill set. There will come a time in every designer’s career where they will wish that knew how to perform a certain technique to finish off a piece in just the right way.

Closing your mind to other techniques in like eating candy for every meal… yes it’s what you want, but eventually you will need more to continue to grow.

I completely understand if all you want to see is beads… but there are many more techniques and skills out there that can be learned and applied along with beads. It would be a shame to deprive those who want to learn those skills because this is a “Bead” forum.



aneva9 wrote
on Jul 17, 2012 12:01 PM

My 2 cents~  :)  My first love is 'the beads' also.  ...and I must admit, sometimes, I get a bit disappointed when I see too many 'other techniques' featured... all in a row... however, as Tony pointed out, these techniques are an asset to us seed beaders.  I mean, we don't want to always just weave peyote into a flower, or herringbone into a rope.  It is fun and creative to add these techniques into our weave.  ...and yes, there are other sites that cater to these techniques, but... for the most part, when a technique like this is introduced here on Beading Daily, in my experience, it always shows the technique implemented with beads.  This one is shows with the metal beads, that could be easily substituted with a variety of seed beads and shaped beads....  

and... sometimes, when I see the designs used with whatever technique is shown, it gives me ideas for other things even without that particular technique.  

All in All, it's all good.  It's all related to Beads, and that's what we are all here for.  

Bead Happy!


vonprehlyr wrote
on Jul 17, 2012 7:39 PM

I started out using seed beads and loom weaving but have branched out to include many other techniques. I have learned to incorporate beads into wire wrapping, previous clay and other techniques. I am now learning to metal Smith, something I have wanted to try for a long time. I am finding it difficult to saw on the line ( thank goodness for files). But I believe learning each technique expands my ability to create my visions. I still use beads-frequently, I just enjoy adding to my repertoire.