How to Make Beaded Jewelry

Homemade jewelry is back in fashion—not that it ever left, but we’re seeing so much of them these days that they’re practically a summer staple. It could have been the recession or just another come-and-go trend. In any case, it’s a great time to learn how to make beaded jewelry, whether to start a business, save yourself some cash, or just add a little something to your look. It’s a lot easier than it looks—here are some tips to help you start out right.

Create a workspace: This may sound trivial, but beading is intricate work, and you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible. Get a box with several small compartments to sort all those little pieces, and set up a space with good lighting (you’ll need it to thread small beads and see color combinations well). Line the space with soft foam or felt to keep beads from rolling off.

Make your own tools: If you’re going the DIY route, why not go all the way? Beading tools can be expensive, even overpriced, but most of them can be made with everyday materials. Use shells as bead scoops, test tubes to separate your beads, chopsticks to hold your strings—you’ll end up paying next to nothing where others shell out a few hundred dollars!

Invest in quality: That being said, there’s no need to be cheap—some tools are worth investing in right from the start. For instance, you’ll want a good pair of pliers for twisting and cutting. There’ll be a lot of that when you’re beading, so get one that’s light and feels good in your hand. Also look for good-quality beads and strings, the kind that won’t fray or break easily when you make mistakes.

Start simple: Don’t set your sights too high. Start with small pieces like single-strand bracelets and necklaces. They don’t even have to be functional; just string some beads and hemp together to get a feel of it and what the finished product might look like. That way you can see your progress right away, and you’ll be motivated to keep going.

Get inspired: Not all of us have an eye for color. That’s what TV and magazines are for. Look at what the celebrities are wearing, or browse online to see which colors are popular. Or if you’re making your own jewelry, stick to your favorite colors or those you know will look good on you. You can also take a cue from your wardrobe—if you have lots of red, chances are you’ll want a red hemp bracelet!

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