If you’ve every wandered into a jewellers to peruse the selection of incredible rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings on offer, then you might have been struck by the craftsmanship that goes into making it. The creation of these premium items, spun carefully from gold and precious jewels, requires a considerable amount of dedication to the craft – to say nothing of the raw materials involved.
But this is just one end of the spectrum – it’s possible to create practical and beautiful jewellery using far humbler materials, and without spending decades in a hot workshop. Craft jewellery is something that’s growing more popular with each passing year, as it allows us to create items which are precisely tailored to our taste – and have tremendous fun while doing so. But it can be difficult to know where to get started with this art form, and once we’ve gotten going, it can be easy to make the same mistakes as everyone else. Let’s try and prevent this by running through a few simple rules.
Try lots of different approaches
When you first get started with jewellery-making, you might have a very specific idea of what you’d like to achieve. On the other hand, you might not have the faintest clue what you’re doing. In either case, it’s a good idea to experiment with a few different styles before deciding on which one interests you the most. Once you’ve gotten going, you can always flirt with other art forms further down the line.
That said, if you’re going to make the best possible use of your time, then specialisation is vital. The more time you spend perfecting one specific sort of jewellery, the better you will be. If we consider the people who are truly exceptional in their field, then we see that most of them concentrate on one specific thing and do it really, really well. Chopin, for example, specialised in pieces for solo piano – and did it better than anyone before him. While there’s some merit in occasionally branching out to avoid your work becoming stale, for the most part you’ll want to focus your practice on doing one thing really, really well – whether it’s beaded necklaces or metal-stamped earrings.
Get the fundamentals right
Let’s consider another musical analogy. All drum beats ever performed, so the theory goes, can be broken down into elemental components called rudiments. These rudiments range from the simple straight beat to more exotic rudiments like the paradiddle and the ratamacue. By mastering these rudiments (there are around forty of them), an accomplished drummer is able to summon all manner of exotic drum beats without a second thought.
And the same is true of virtually any skill you can think of. When you first start with your jewellery-making, you’re sure to encounter simple tasks that you might not be very good at – to begin with. When it becomes clear that you’re going to be doing these tasks again and again, you might be tempted to avoid them – particularly those you don’t immediately form a knack for. This is a mistake – master these simple rudiments (whether it’s looping a wire or threading a needle), paying particular attention to any errors you make along the way.
The same is true not just of the skills you’re going to learn, but the knowledge you’ll pick up along the way. If you don’t understand a given term, then be sure to learn it until you do. You’ll save yourself a great deal of time later on when you’re puzzling over the difference between gauges of wire, and you’ll minimise the chance that you’ll waste money on the wrong sort of supplies.
Get the right tools and supplies
When you first get started with jewellery-making, it can be tempting to cut corners when it comes to the tools you’ll be buying. While this temptation is understandable, it can often prove misguided, since poor-quality tools will often lead to a lot of wasted time and frustration. As time goes by, a good-quality tool will pay for itself – as you’ll be able to make individual pieces very inexpensively. You’ll be able to find all of the necessary craft supplies online.
Keep your work environment tidy
If you’re going to be productive, then you’ll certainly need to maintain good housekeeping standards around your working environment. This is often more difficult than it seems – particularly if it’s something you’re not already good at. The best approach is to start as you mean to go on. Invest in a set of miniature drawers to store all of your tools and components, and then label them properly. That way, it’ll be easy to keep on top of the clutter as you go on!