Tips from a First-Timer

Mar 11, 2014


I recently took on the exciting task of making my first piece of jewelry! Although I have previously dipped my toes into jewelry making I never made anything too intricate, and it’s been quite a few years! Therefore, it is safe to say I am starting fresh. For my first go-around I found a necklace that is very much my style from blogger Rebekah Gough, and liked the idea of having a pattern (found here) to follow.

As I worked through my necklace I quickly noted these tips to remember as I bead in the future!

1.  Have a defined work station. When beginning my necklace I spread everything out on my bedroom floor. Within the first thirty minutes I had a knot in my neck that prompted me to find a comfortable work space....which included a chair, a table, and much better lighting!

2.  Use a beading board. As I was sprawled out on my floor looking like a total beginner, I also had my beads laid out on magazines. As you can imagine, they were rolling all over. A beading board keeps all your materials in place and prevents runaways.

3.  Search for coupons and sales. By doing so I ended up saving 10% off my order from FusionBeads.com. Also consider subscribing to company newsletters so you will receive email notifications of sales.

4.  Don’t get ahead of yourself. Take time to plan. The first thing I did was invest a good amount of time to making a color palette. I found it helpful to copy photos of beads from their websites, paste them into a Word document, and play around to see which colors looked best next to one another. Make sure you have all necessary tools before starting your project to avoid stopping in the middle of your work.

5.  Buy more beads than you think you need. When my beads came in the mail I was beyond excited…until fear set in. It didn’t look like I was going to have enough. In the end I did, but next time I won’t waste my time worrying by cutting it so close. Left-over beads can always be turned into matching earrings or a bracelet.

6.  Examine your work often. Especially in this pattern, one single bead miscount can make a big difference.

7.  Have a beading counselor/mentor. Lucky for me I am surrounded by very knowledgeable beaders, my coworkers, who were happy to answer all my questions. While working on my project I also kept an issue of Jewelry Stringing open to Stringing 101, for basic technique instructions. You can also find instructional videos on BeadingDaily.com.    

8.  Don’t be afraid to modify an original design. By tweaking this pattern, I was able to add my own twist. I used a few different components than the designer including switching out chain for leather.

9.  Be adaptable. While progressing through the pattern I noticed a few glitches in bead counts. It was a simple fix and simply required looking back through the pattern and gauging from there.

10.  Relax, things aren’t permanent.  As much as we hope our first projects will run smoothly, it is a learning process. The nice thing about stringing is you can redo steps if needed.


Hopefully these tips will be helpful to any new beaders out there, or even those acting as a mentor to someone just starting out.


I have a question for you now: What is the most helpful piece of advice you have ever been given about jewelry making? Comment below and tell me yours!

Megan Lenhausen
Assistant Editor
Beadwork and Jewelry Stringing


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Comments

ehabersham2 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 7:25 AM

Very good tips for any level of beader.

on Mar 15, 2014 6:10 PM

Great article!  I wish it had been available when I started beading in 1997.  The best advice I received when I started beading way back then continues to help me to this day.  When I asked Julie, the owner of Beaded Bliss here in Northern California, why a size 12 needle was required in so many instructions (way too tiny and bendy), she said, "Don't put yourself through dealing with such a small needle if you aren't comfortable with it.  Use a size 10 unless you are dealing with 15s or multiple passes."  Since then, the size 11 needle has come out, which is perfect for me.  Tulip brand, by the way.  I use 12s when I need to, but otherwise...   And STILL to this day instructions call for a size 12 needle when it is not at all needed!