Tools and Materials for you Success
A few days ago I discussed several things you can salvage from your garbage and recycling bins that make great materials for up-cycling projects. Aside from collecting these items (like clear plastic containers and cardstock from product packaging) there are certain tools and materials that I highly recommend for your journey into making jewelry.
I would say the most important set of tools for anyone who wants to make jewelry is a good set of jewelry-making pliers. Many years ago when I first started learning to make jewelry I started with some household pliers because I didn't know the importance of having good tools. Needless to say, the household pliers were difficult to work with and they even left ridges on my wire. When I finally purchased a set of pliers specifically for making jewelry, I was surprised by how easy and effortless it really was. One of the things I look for when I buy pliers are an ergonomic grip. If you love making jewelry as much as I do, you will be using those pliers quite a bit so invest in pliers that will not make your hands hurt. I would also look for a kit with different types of pliers. Make sure it comes with round, flat and bent nose pliers as well as wire cutters. Usually you will save money if you buy the set versus purchasing them separately
Another product I am very fond of and recommend to everyone is a small hole punch. It's just like a typical hole punch, but the hole is a lot smaller so it is perfect for turning your recycled pieces into pendants, earrings and other jewelry components.
Besides these tools, I also have some materials that I keep using over and over because they are so good. One of my absolute favorites is Ranger's Inkssentials Glossy Accents. Throughout the years I've bought many types of glazes and top coats for my craft projects, but I'm completely in love with this brand. It creates a highly shiny top coat without being sticky and it almost looks like a resin coating. The applicator tip is also very precise so you don't even need to use a brush with this product.
Lastly, you will also need some jewelry making basics like wire, chain, headpins, eye pins, jump rings, clasps, earring wires and some beads. A lot of these materials can be purchased in a combined kit and I recommend that for beginners, this way you can begin your jewelry-making without breaking the bank.
Have you been making jewelry for long? What are some tools and materials you can't live without? Let me know in the comments below!
Finding Materials & Storing Them
Starting any hobby usually requires a small investment up front. Fortunately, making recycled jewelry is an inexpensive hobby that can actually save you money in the long run and you only need minimal tools and materials to get started. The best part of making jewelry from recycled materials is that most of your materials will be free and they're very easy to find. I will be doing a series of posts on how to get started. In this first post, I'm covering where to find things you can recycle into jewelry and how to store them.
In my journey making jewelry from recycled objects I've developed an eye for things that make great jewelry components. You would be surprised at what you can do with an empty hummus container or yesterday's newspaper. My favorite materials are cereal boxes, plastic food containers, plastic bottles, junk mail, magazines, catalogs and old calendars. As you start making jewelry from recycled objects, you'll develop a sense of what makes good material for your projects. You may even find that some things (like tissue boxes) already come with really pretty colors and designs. Take advantage of all the effort companies put into their product packaging. So many items already have beautiful colors and pictures that you can use in your projects that you won't have to do too much to have an interesting outcome.
With all of those materials, I know the question is going to arise as to how to store them. I keep my materials sorted based on size and composition. When I find a good plastic container for upcycling, I wash it, remove the labels and cut it into squares or sheets so that I can then store the pieces in a box for when I'm actually ready to do something with them. This helps me stay organized because I don't have tons of empty containers in my crafting space and it's also nice because when I'm ready to make something I can go straight to the fun part and skip the initial prepping.
For cardstock items, like nice tissue boxes, I flatten them out and store them in a scrap booking container. If I plan to use them for image transfers, I'll usually make the image transfer right away so that it doesn't take up as much space. Since image transfers are thin, you can store them in a smaller container and keep them stored until you're ready to use them. This also helps save time because the process of making an image transfer can sometimes be a little lengthy (especially if you have stubborn paper that doesn't rub off easily). Making your image transfers ahead of time and storing them will make it so much easier when you want to use them.
Other things that you may want to collect are things like small bits of ribbons, buttons and old jewelry. I usually store these types of materials in jars or a small container. This of course depends on the amount of materials you have. If you have hundreds of buttons, then a container with a lot of compartments is probably your best bet (like a bead organizer). Also if you have a lot of old jewelry for recycling, I would suggest a bead organizer. You can clean and take apart the jewelry and separate all of the beads and components to make it easier to use once you're ready to make jewelry. Again, prepping and organizing will make things easier so that when you're ready to sit down to make your recycled jewelry you can get right to the creative process and skip all of the sorting, cleaning and prepping.