If you ever asked yourself “couldn’t I do that myself?” as you looked through rows of bead bracelets, necklaces or earrings at a trendy boutique, the answer is “yes”. Beading is a creative and entertaining hobby that not only will have you produce unique, handmade items of jewelry, but will also be a great source of gift ideas for family and friends.
The first step would be to find a good local bead shop. While there are wonderful mail order catalogs and websites that will sell you all the supplies, nothing substitutes for the support and advice of experienced sales personnel. Ideally, this store would also offer a number of beginners’ classes that would help you learn basic techniques (if there is no bead shop in your town, some introductory books such as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beading will have to do).
Start with a simple project, such as a bracelet or basic necklace, and do not go overboard with expensive beads and findings (clasps, hooks, etc.). You might be wanting to use Swarovski crystal, sterling silver and semi-precious beads right now, but you can work up to that later. Some stores will even offer packaged starter kits that include a beading board (which helps you with project layout and measurements), some basic tools, beads, wire, findings and a how-to-book.
You should then set up your “beading space” – preferably an uncluttered, well-lit area. You might have to invest in a good lamp, maybe one combined with a magnifying lens. Remember, you will be stringing some rather tiny objects! Make sure you have plenty of containers to keep different types and colors of beads separate – nothing will spoil your joy of beading like having to hunt for a single bead in a jumbled pile. Beading stores will sell you various storage systems (including beading bags for the beader-on-the-go), but you can also experiment with inexpensive plastic containers meant to hold small hardware or fishing tackle.
Well, there you are ready for your first bead jewelry project! Don’t forget to protect your beading space from curious cats and toddlers. Happy beading, and have fun waring your hand-crafted jewelry!