Easy Steps to Metal Jewelry Making with Guest Blogger Gwen Fuller Youngblood

Metal jewelry artist and instructor Gwen Fuller Youngblood

Just like bead-weaving led me to learn how to make my own lampwork glass beads twelve years ago, my jewelry making adventures lately have made me interested in learning how to create my own metal jewelry-making components. These days, it's hard to walk into the jewelry-making aisles of any big box craft store and not be fascinated by all the tools, hammers, and materials available!

Because I'm still just getting started with my metal jewelry-making experiments, I'm thrilled to be able to introduce you to Gwen Fuller Youngblood, a wonderful jewelry artist and teacher, who is here to show you how easy it is to get started making metal jewelry. In today's Beading Daily blog, Gwen gives us the rundown on the basic tools you need to get started making your own fabulous metal jewelry.

One question I get a lot is "What tools do I need to get started with metal?"  With just a few simple jewelry-making tools and materials, you can be on your way:

Sheet Metal:  I recommend 24-gauge copper or brass sheet metal.  The gauge measures the thickness of the metal.  The higher the number, the thinner the metal, i.e. 24-gauge is thinner than 22-gauge, but thicker than 26-gauge metal and wire.
Metal Shears:  For metal beginners, I recommend metal shears instead of a jeweler's saw for cutting metal.  Shears make cutting metal simple and easy – just like cutting paper.
Shape Templates:  Trace shapes onto the sheet metal with a Sharpie. Shape templates are available at office supply stores or hobby stores, or Google "shape templates" online. It's also good to keep some alcohol swabs or rubbing alcohol on hand to remove traces of marker from your metal.
Bench Block and Pad:  A block of hardened steel is used to support your metal when hammering the metal.  The pad muffles some of the hammering noise.  An old mouse pad can be used.
Plastic Mallet:  Flatten sheet metal when needed by placing it on bench block and tapping with plastic mallet. The plastic mallet will not mar the metal.
File:  Use a file to smooth the cut edge of metal. Buy the best file you can afford.  I recommend a #2 half-round file. You get two files, a flat and a round, in one file. The number refers to the coarseness of the file:  #2 is a medium coarseness, #0 is coarser, and #4 is finer.
Chasing Hammer: Use the small "peen" side to add a "hammered" texture to the surface of the metal. Watch your fingers!
Hole-Punching Pliers:  Create holes in metal to connect your metal pieces using cold connections. These are handy to have around, and they're easy to use, too!

Chances are, you've already got some of these jewelry-making tools in your stash already. Want to learn how to use them? Come back tomorrow to see how easy it is to use these tools to create a pair of mixed metal earrings over on the Beading Instructions blog!

Are you inspired yet? I'm ready to head over to my bead table and break out the sheet metal pieces and metal shears I got during my last beading tool splurge! For more great inspiration, you'll want to look through the pages of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. Each issue is full of beautiful metal jewelry and jewelry-making projects, tips and reviews of great new jewelry-making tools. Subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine and see where your creativity takes you next!

Have you experimented with metal jewelry-making yet? Did you take a class, or just decide to play with metals on your own? Leave a comment and tell us about your experiences!

Bead Happy,



Gwen Fuller Youngblood has explored a variety of creative outlets, from cake decorating to quilting to lampworking, until she discovered jewelry making using wire, metal and fire. As an instructor, Gwen loves the interaction and camaraderie of the classroom.  Her mission is to make metalworking techniques accessible to everyone, so that students learn more than they expected and have fun doing it.

Gwen loves to share her knowledge and creativity freely, with a dash of humor and lots of caring patience.  She is privileged to share her talents with students in her own studio, Metal Art Lab in San Antonio, and studios across Texas. Also look for her classes at Bead Fest Santa Fe.

Please visit her website, www.metalartlab.com, for current class information.

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