How Has Jewelry Making Changed Your Life?

Dec 3, 2012

It's funny how learning one jewelry making skill can lead to so many others. When I first got serious about learning how to bead, I was mostly doing stringing and making earrings using head pins and eye pins. Then after my mother gave me a beautiful pair of Native American-style beaded earrings, I decided that I wanted to learn how to do bead-weaving and bead embroidery.

jewelry-making
The lampwork studio in my garage.
Of course, once I got started learning how to do bead-weaving, I discovered all those wonderful lampwork glass artists and their luscious creations. So, I decided to buy a single fuel torch and learn how to make my own glass beads. (We even bought our house because the garage had an insulated workshop that was not only perfect for setting up a glass torch and a kiln, but also had a huge picture window overlooking the mountain range across the river!)

Then, once I had the torch and the kiln set up, someone mentioned glass fusing to me. Well, I already had the kiln, and I was comfortable working with glass. Why shouldn't I learn how to make my own dichroic glass cabochons, right? Off to Vermont I went with my buddy, for a weekend course in fusing dichroic glass.

These days, I don't do much at the torch anymore, just because I'm so focused on my bead-weaving and my bead embroidery. But all those jewelry making skills that I've been learning for the past eighteen years have really transformed me and my ideas about art.

I don't know if it's just that another year is coming to an end, or if it has anything to do with the new jewelry making toy -- er, tool -- that I just bought for myself, but lately, I've been thinking about all the ways that jewelry making as changed my life and made it so much better.

making-jewelry
Some of my handmade glass beads, in a necklace, We're All the Same But Different.
Learning how to make my own glass beads, believe it or not, made me much more confident when it comes to learning new jewelry making techniques. I mean, if I can sit there at a torch that's hooked up to one or two tanks of potentially explosive gases, with a flame hotter than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and melt glass rods into beads, I can do anything, right? Of course, thinking like that is what led me to go buy a little butane micro torch so that I could try my hand at fusing silver wire into handmade chain. (And who knows where that will lead me next!)

Jewelry making has made me more open-minded, both creatively and in my personal life. I used to be someone who wasn't eager to venture out of her comfort zone, but I've learned through my jewelry making projects and travels that saying "yes" to new experiences really enhances my creativity, and gives me new jewelry making skills to add to my arsenal!

My dear friend Jane and I in Vermont at a glass fusing weekend class.
I've met some pretty extraordinary people through my jewelry making journey, as well. It always amazes me how much we all really have in common when we sit down to bead together. After all, if we can be brought together by a little pile of beads, can world peace really be that difficult to achieve?  I've met some of my best friends through my jewelry making journey, and whether we talk every day or only once or twice a year, we always seem to know how to pick up right where we left off!

Now, I'm not going to say that Handcrafted Wire Findings by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson is a book that will change your life, but, you never know. I never thought of myself as someone who was particularly interested in making wire jewelry or wire wrapping, but once I tried a few of the projects in this book to make my own clasps and ear wires, I realized that making your own jewelry findings can add an entirely new dimension to your handmade beaded jewelry! Now, when I need just the right clasp for a jewelry making project, I prefer to make it myself instead of buying a pre-made clasp. And ear wires? No need to panic if I run out, as long as I have some copper, sterling silver, or brass wire lying around!

You don't need a lot of fancy tools or equipment to make your own wire jewelry findings -- if you have a good set of jewelry pliers and a good flush cutter, that's enough to get you started! All you need is your copy of Handcrafted Wire Findings, on sale now in the Beading Daily Shop. Or, if you want to get started right away, Handcrafted Wire Findings is also available as an instant download, ready for viewing in just a few minutes on your favorite desktop or laptop computer.

So, how has jewelry making changed your life? Have you met your best friend through a beading class? Discovered something new about yourself? Changed careers (like I did)? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your story!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

gichuhi wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 10:30 AM

Amazing article. I began making jewelry as a hobby, and have learned a lot from beading daily. Now i am working on making it a full-time job, and teach others (disadvantaged from the society) along the way.

Lee Koopman wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 10:36 AM

I took my first wire wrapping class to get myself out of the house.  I was very depressed and suffering from PSTD after my son was killed.   I came home from that class with some awkward looking earrings and told myself "I really stink at this!"   But I went back.   I took more classes, got better, took more classes and ended up teaching at the Art Center to underpriveleged kids.   I"m definitly "out of the house".  I've done shows, met fabulous people and explored a side of me that I never knew existed, the Creative Me!   It's also changed the people around me.  I spend a lot of time sparking creativity in young kids!   I missed so many years............I don't want that to happen with others.

on Dec 3, 2012 10:41 AM

When I think of how beading has changed my life, the first thing I think of is all the wonderful people I have met from all over the world who I never would have known if it weren't for beading.  

Lynne Noel wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 11:07 AM

I've done many kinds of artwork and made a business from several of them.  I was completely self taught so my confidence allowed me to meander through several media.  I'm a late-comer to beading, starting 4 years ago when I saw Ann Benson's book, Bead Crochet, in the book store.  The jewelry was so beautiful I couldn't wait to get started.  I now know that I picked one of the hardest stitches as a beginner beader and it took me many attempts to make my first crocheted necklace.  I still didn't know all the stitches, wire techniques and beadweaving that was ahead of me.  Slowly I acquired quite a "stash" and I love trying new things.  I am currently planning to teach a class at my local art center and I'm putting together a social bead group that will meet twice a month. Clearly beading has changed my life, but the best part is I have an art form I can pick up and do without expending a lot of energy.  I am dealing with leukemia and have chemo that draws the get up and go right out of me.  I love being able to lie in bed and bead all day, maybe with a good audio book going.  I'm still being productive and learning at times when I could be doing nothing and being pretty angry about it.  And oh yes, I have several galleries selling my pieces of jewelry as they roll of the assembly line.  If you have a hard piece of your life to manage, try beading.  Maybe you'll throw yourself into it too and find a use for all that downtime.

SheilaB@3 wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 11:10 AM

I began making beaded jewelry in 1989, right at the beginning of the beading renaissance in the U.S.  Two years later, I developed a life-threatening health condition.  I was a college student at the time, trying to finish a BA.  All through the health challenge I could barely get out of bed most days and certainly felt unable to be creative or able to learn something new.  Despite that, I borrowed the few books available at the time, and spent what time I felt I could learning to weave with seed beads.  After life-saving surgery, I went back to school and work, and continued to make jewelry.  Turns out that though I felt like my brain was completely fogged, I learned a great deal in the short months I was sick and have been forever grateful for the many hours of pleasure and the $$ that I've earned selling my creations.  And just three four short years after that surgery, I fell and broke my left wrist (I'm right-handed).  I continued to bead since I could hold my beadwork even with the cast (yes, it hurt but not enough to stop me!). Turns out that using my hands so much while healing helped the wrist heal much faster.  My doctor actually asked me to come in and talk with a group of his older patients who were dealing with rehab for broken bones.  He wanted them to find something they liked to do that required them to use the bone that was healing even while still in a cast or boot.  I was more than grateful to share my story of quick healing.  And we all know it wasn't just the exercise I got from doing beadwork; it was the soul healing that came with it that really brought me through!  Love the magazine; keep the good stuff coming!

ispawlak wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 11:10 AM

My father and I were always very close - he was my best friend and hero.  Aside from being hilarious, he always encouraged me to be creative.  One avenue of creativity was jewelry design.  My father was very into gemstones and their properties as well as beauty.  Over the years, he had collected lots of different gems.  On special occasions he would take me to the jeweler and let me pick out my own design and creation.  It was awesome.

In July 2010, unfortunately he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I spent the majority of my time with him and to keep us occupied we became obsessed with stone collecting.  When he passed, I was devastated because we were on the verge of starting a new treatment, which we marked with a pair of tsavorite garnet earrings.  

Afterwards, while gathering his things I found all the parcels of gems we had amassed - A LOT!  I wanted to capture those moments of individual design and started making my own pieces.  Not easy!  Mounting, setting, metal work, my hat is off to you guys, but I am getting there.  There is nothing like making a gorgeous piece of jewelry and then sharing it with others.  I think that is what my dad felt.

Maybe I am chasing that same high, but whatever it is, I always feel closer to my dad when making a piece.

In fact, I was so consumed in the beginning a friend suggested I started selling it.  I took his advice and not only has it provided me with that connection to my dad, but also with others by knowing that they are making their own memories with my jewelry.

*Sorry! I didn't mean for this to end up this long!*

xoxo,

Irena

Celt1129 wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 11:47 AM

Making jewelry has cheered me up. Unfortunately I have a spinal cord injury in my neck. It makes it difficult to do quilting or stained glass which were my hobbies. With jewelry making I can work on it a little at a time then put it aside when the pain becomes bad enough that I have to lie down. I started by taking apart several pieces and remaking them into something I like better. I then began reading publications about different types of jewelry making.

When I read other blog entries of people who have used beading to cope with medical or other situations "I hear you sisters!" Love and light to all of you.

weavegibbs wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 11:47 AM

When I inherited a ton of beads from a friend I started a Monday night beading group.  We have learned so much from each other, what one couldn't figure out another could and I've met and become friends with people I probably would have never known otherwise.  The proceeds from my beading of the last year will go to a family whose young mother passed away from cancer so the gift goes on.

Laurkim wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 1:49 PM

Indeed it has! I have found women needing respite from infirmed  husbands at home. They through friends have met me a novice still, and wanted an hour to spend learning the basic skills I have. They see the beauty created and pleasure my friend and I are enjoying. I am without trying gathering people from everywhere to begin their adventure in our beading group. It's becoming therapy ! Long ago I was a nurse and now the human side of what drew me into the job I'm finding in beading. Helping people again. I receive your emails in Australia and am encouraged to explore all aspects of this fabulous hobby. Thank you to everyone. I started a a hobby site and encouraged several family to begin their own journey of self expression. It's wonderfully  infectious .

betst wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 4:59 PM

Nice article. Creativity and excitement can really change ones life. For 35 years I have been a potter but my joints in my hands gave out and I had to stop because of the pain. I have been doing bronze clay because my potter skills have really come in handy. The jewelry assembly piece has been a challenge but we are told that it is good to challenge ourselves mentally! It has been a challenge but a lot of fun too. I am looking forward to meeting more jewelers and learning more about the huge world of jewelry making. This should give me plenty of creative space to last the remainder of my life. Exciting , fun and challenging Thanks for your article. Betsy

JanM@52 wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 6:26 PM

For me, it's all about the wonderful friends I've made.

Valbeads wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 6:28 PM

A couple three years ago I was cruising aimlessly around my local WalMart in a "mart-cart" trying to find something that might interest me.  I an physically disabled due to a car accident leaving me with 5 herniated lumbar discs.  I came across a DIY jewelry kit and thought to myself, "why not?"  My first few efforts were nothing spectacular, but they weren't hopeless, either.  Encouraged, I took a beginner's beading class and learned a better way of making simple and wrapped loops.  I've taken a few more classes since then, and I haven't looked back.  I can even do my beadwork in bed when I need to lie down to keep the pressure off my back.  And I take them with me when I travel.  I'm now planning to open an online store!  It's very relaxing and soothing, and I've made so many friends on the Beading Daily Forum, some of whom I hope to meet on my travels.  Though I am crippled, I would say beading has definitely made a positive impact on my life.

bstone wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 6:36 PM

Yes; my house is messier (sp) because it is much more fun to bead than to clean house,

b

AngeliqueG@3 wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 10:06 PM

Hmm, how has making jewelry changed my life?  Well, let's see....  I started out learning how to make jewelry for my 11-1/2 fashion dolls.  I used to buy dolls from other people who made jewelry for dolls as well and would take it apart and redo it - making a totally difference piece of jewelry.  I was very good at it until one of my co-workers suggested making jewelry for people! I took a couple of classes, bought some beads and I was in business!  Of course, I did get addicted with buying everything I saw - but oh the beautiful pieces you can create!!   I love the way you can look at beads and begin to imagine what design you're going to make with them.  That's the magic of making your own jewelry.  I have met many wonderful people and made many friends from beading.  I've enjoyed reading and looking at other creations made by others.  I also began teaching others and have taught many who can share this talent with their grandchildren.  I don't have any children, but am always willing to teach anyone who wants to learn!  Making jewelry and teaching others is a blessing to share with everyone!

on Dec 3, 2012 10:30 PM

i was a smoker for 38 years.  suddenly i find myself in the hospital for 2 weeks .  learning how to make jewelry kept me busy .  i started about 2 weeks after i got home.  i was having a hard time with everything,  so i bought me a book and lots and lots of beads.  lol.  before long, jewelry making became more important rather than being upset that i had to do everything cold turkey.  it regained my sanity, then i started hitting several local bead shows which in turned made some wonderful friends along the way.

nightbeader wrote
on Dec 4, 2012 12:06 AM

Beading me has given me a better sense of my artistic ability.  I have met so many wonderful bead artists through my beading career.  Beading has helped me push my own boundaries is so many ways.  I will now travel by myself (if needed) to join bead clubs which was something I wouldn't have done 15 -20 years ago.  I love being known by my family and friends as the "Night Beader" and hope my bead embroidery pieces will be passed down through my family long after I am no longer on this earth :-)

Beadily yours

Susan Feldkamp

aka Night Beader of AZ

Evaleen wrote
on Dec 4, 2012 3:44 AM

Hi Jennifer,

I have tried to order Handcrafted Wire Findings for the price you quoted but it does not come up, can you help me?

Also, one of your Ladies had comment on the books spine causing it not to lay flat. I have a solution that may help everyone with this problem. Take it to Kinko's and have them put a spiral spine on is and it will only cost a few dollars. It is worth it and it is heavenly to have the book lay flat when working on a project.. I hope this will help everyone.

Thank You,

Kathleen

TDSollog wrote
on Dec 4, 2012 12:22 PM

Jewelry making is changing my life on a daily basis. I have Pulmonary Hypertension, http://www.phassociation.org/

and creating sparkly things from both repurposed and newer parts gives me another purpose in life. I am planning to use this as a way to make a living if I have retire early from my day job. I just wrote a post on my blog, and I would love honest critiques. Stay crafty!

Tiffany (aka: Saint Salvage)

saintsalvage.blogspot.com

jackie9 wrote
on Dec 5, 2012 4:50 AM

Thank you for sharing your life changing experience Jennifer.

I've been beading since 9 and beading was put on hold until about 2years ago. I quit my job & became work-at-home-mom. I have set up a simple beading studio in the studyroom, making & selling jewelry at local boutiques since then.

I'm a Beadwork magazine subscriber about a year ago. Now I've started a blog to share some simple crafting & beading with my followers.

<bondingbeads.blogspot.com

jackie9 wrote
on Dec 5, 2012 4:55 AM

I'm a avid crafter & beader. I've been beading & making jewelry to be sold at local boutiques. Thank you Jennifer for sharing this post. I've quit my job and now full time beading & making some pieces featured at BEADWORK magazine.

Do stop by my new blog @ bondingbeads.blogspot.com

BobbiWired wrote
on Dec 6, 2012 8:43 AM

I have been making jewelry of one kind or another since I was a teenager. I friend introduced me to wire wrapping in 1988 after a car accident ended my career as a graphic artist. It was merely an expensive hobby until 2007 when I took a leap of faith - left my job of 18 years, and opened a shop on Etsy, and worked on my craft full time. I have met so many wonderful people from all over the world through teaching wire work and beading. The hours are very long 16 to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, but very, very rewarding!! The leap was scary, but oh so worth it!

wrap happy,

Bobbi

Emilee0788 wrote
on Dec 6, 2012 11:10 AM

I know I am kind of late on commenting but had to share. I started 2 years ago making jewelry and this article is like a testimony of my beading life. I am getting ready to start a glass fusing class I saw at a local art studio because I am interested in making glass beads then who knows where that will lead. Maybe wire wrapping next. We'll have to see. So thanks for writing this article because I was starting to think I am the only one that was going through this similar journey. And yes I have made some of the sweetest and quirkiest friends on this journey. Thanks!!!!

on Dec 8, 2012 10:45 AM

While i haven't changed careers or so beading gives me so much. I suffer from Depressions and beading  gives me short time goals to achieve that make me feel better. It's also a way to focus on something pretty to keep my mind off sad thoughts because you have to concentrate. Due to my disease I don't sleep much and while I was afraid of that before I now cherish my early morning hours when I have the calm and time to bead. Not to forget: People are so grateful when you give them selfmade jewellry that doesn't look "homemade" at all.

P.S.: Great topic

SigridW@4 wrote
on Dec 8, 2012 11:01 AM

Hobby, became obsession, became a business, became a mission. I cant imagine my life without beads, and the many friends I have made through beading, and especially since I started the Traveling Bracelets blog. That has become something much more than I ever anticipated!!

ctutt wrote
on Dec 8, 2012 11:02 AM

In the 80s I became obsessed with dragons, and took a class in lost-wax design so I could make my own jewelry. That led to membership in a local art gallery. One day the owner asked me if I wanted some old seed beads [her mother had made beaded flowers in the 30s] and I ended up with hundreds of hanks in every color imaginable.

Of course I wanted to make dragons so I researched the cultures where dragon lore is prevalent. Not only did I make beaded ones, but based on my findings I wrote two books of short stories based on worldwide dragon myths and legends.

So, yes - beads have had quite an effect on my life!   ;~)

JillM@39 wrote
on Dec 9, 2012 6:10 PM

Beading has definitely changed my life. It inspired me to explore how creative I could be and what talents I had when it came to making jewelry. I am so open to trying new ways of creating jewelry and I am always taking a class to expand my knowledge. Thank you Helen Dietz, "The Bead Lady",  for sharing the beauty of beading.

DiAvila wrote
on Dec 11, 2012 5:30 PM

Your story is too much inspiring! Like you I changed my carreer, at least for now. I graduated as an educator of childrens, an teacher of literacy.  Since about two years ago, I started a hobby  to make jewelry bead. I bought some books, started with stringing technique, wire work and now I improving the beadweaving technique. I was doing both things - work with childrens and my hobby - at the same time. This year, more specifically in august, I finally abandoned my job to dedicate more time at this handicraft. Since I started working with beads, I realized that I have a artistic skill that I never know. Besides, I improving a lot my inglish, because almost every sites, books, and tutorials are in this language. And so, I'm very happy for this.

on Jan 1, 2013 2:13 PM

I don't know if it's changed my life, but it has made me more mindful of the creativity God has given me and the ways in which I can use it to change the lives of others. It's a fun way to spend time, too!