Jewelry artisans time and money saving tips

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Original Post

There are people who don't need these tips, I guess they have enough income that the convenience of ready made outweighs the savings but I thought it would be nice for those of us who have more time than money to have a place where we can post tips we've come up with. Here are five to start with:

1. Buy the best, most ergonomic tools you can afford, it will save your hands and wrists. Carpal tunnel is both painful and more expensive than good tools. You can also work more smoothly with them.

2. Buy in bulk when you can. Sterling silver wire, for instance, costs $33.50 an ounce here in town but around $22.00 at a couple of sites on the net. However, if you buy 3 to 6 rolls of the same gauge and hardness it goes way down from there. There are at least two sites that offer free shipping on top of that savings.

3. Make your own head pins. If you're using sterling silver this is very easy to do with a torch and saves a lot of money, plus there's a nice feeling knowing that you'll never be stuck for head pins.

4. Ditto for ear wires, fast and easy to make, and you can tailor the design to suit the earrings.

5. When using wire to wrap beads: lay out the design on your necklace board until you're satisfied with it and then string the beads directly onto the spool of wire and work off of it. This is contrary to most of the advice I've seen, which almost always tells you to cut the amount you need for each bead, but it works very well although it takes some practice. This method allows you to keep the design in focus and cuts way back on wasted wire.

These methods do not interfere with the value of your work but will allow you to produce more jewelry for the same money.

Does anybody else have any tips they are willing to share?

Posted at 6:56pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT


babyjewels says

keep some artistic jewelry wire on hand for practice. There are fun things I like to try (like herringbone weaves) that aren't worth doing with sterling the first few times.

Learn to make your own clasps. Another money saver along with earwires.

Go to the library for books on wirework or beading or whatever your craft before heading to barnes and noble. You may find you don't even want the book after reading it.

hmmm. I'll have to think of more.

Posted at 7:06pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT

totemic says

Some good tips - especially the suggestions about buying bulk, getting quality tools, and having practice wire on hand!

I used to make my own earwires but it's so much easier to buy them - I do make most of my own clasps though. If I find something unusual that fits a certain design I'll go with that clasp instead (some clasps can actually inspire a whole necklace/bracelet to fit them).

The best tip I can offer is that you break your project(s) down into stages before you begin - if you have any similar components make them first then proceed to the next component. That really saves a lot of time. With chainmaille I always open a whole bunch or rings and close a whole bunch before I begin.

I kind of agree with your step 5 too glitter, but I find the spool to be a hindrance, so I usually cut off a few feet and work with that - then cut off a new length when the first is used up. Still saves time and wire but you don't have the clumsy spool to deal with (though you do have to make sure the wire end doesn't whip around and poke you in the eye! I tend to keep it looped around my side and under my arm...)

Posted at 7:18pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT

BlackStar says

Don't be afraid to ask questions. There is a huge amount of info out there, and here, just for the asking. Those answers can save you time and money.

Posted at 7:27pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT

Yes, BabyJewels, your tip on books and magazines is excellent. Also, be aware that some magazines "recirculate" articles, quite often without renumeration to the author. I like your tip about using less expnsive wire to try out techniques, too, although I use copper for this. Silver at market price is somewhere in the neighborhood of $11.50 to $12.50 while copper runs around $3.00 a pound. Copper can also look very dramatic.

Clasps! I can't believe I forgot to include clasps. Duh! Yes, you can make your own clasps that are more in keeping with the theme of your project and the cost is so much less. Also, when making your own you KNOW what they're made of. I have several necklaces with clasps that I believed were sterling but a magnet reveals their true nature.

Hi Totemic, it used to be a bother to me too, but since I am on a very, extremely tight budget I made myself do it. I've learned to work around it now and can't imagine going to the trouble of tying off the ends.

Speaking of coils and using this method, if your wire is wound around itself to hold it in a coil, straighten it and use twist ties to hold it closed instead. It won't tangle or bunch up and you can slide the twist ties back as you use the wire up.

BlackStar(love that name, btw) you are so right! The best way to learn about something is to ask someone who knows. There's probably several hundred years of experience on this board.

Posted at 7:41pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT

And criminy, I also forgot to mention jump rings. I've been making my own for a good while now but just started opening them and putting them through a tumbler with stainless steel shot. WOW. What a difference. They're smooth as silk and they "click" when they're closed, just like they should. I wish I'd done this ages ago.

Posted at 7:44pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT

totemic says

I don't think I'd have the patience to make my own rings - I just go to the Ring Lord as they have an awesome selection (shipping is high though!)

I think I'll be getting a tumbler soon - a friend of mine ran my Intergalactic Warrior Bracelet through hers and it has such a lovely glow! She got an inexpensive tumbler and bought her shot at some sort of sportsman place - apparently some people fill their own shotgun shells and the shot there is MUCH cheaper than from a jewelry supply place.

Another tip - save your silver scraps! I inhertited a bunch of scraps and when added together with scraps I had been saving for years I got over $300 in credit frm Rio Grande (shopping spree!)


Posted at 8:42pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT

vault17 says

money saving tip:



jk. they are a great place to find good deals on supplies like findings and chain. sometimes even better than the net. for example, i just went to one this weekend and got 25 prs. of sterling silver lever backs for 25 bucks. way cheaper than rio.

Posted at 8:52pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT

Getting a tumbler is a great tip. I got my Dad to make me one from bits in his shed which saved me lots of money and it works perfectly. So, yeah, get your Dad to make you stuff!! Or someone.

Also make components (ear wires, etc.) in batches - as large as you can cope with because it does get very boring, but it saves time to do a large batch of them together in terms of cleaning up. Then you won't need to think about it again for ages either.

Posted at 8:56pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT

work in stages, i know that has been said, but it has really helped me.

do one thing to several pieces and then work on the next step and so on.

Posted at 8:57pm Oct 2, 2006 EDT