How Has Jewelry Making Changed Your Life?

It's funny how learning one jewelry making skill can lead to so many others. When I first got serious about learning how to bead, I was mostly doing stringing and making earrings using head pins and eye pins. Then after my mother gave me a beautiful pair of Native American-style beaded earrings, I decided that I wanted to learn how to do bead-weaving and bead embroidery.

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The lampwork studio in my garage.

Of course, once I got started learning how to do bead-weaving, I discovered all those wonderful lampwork glass artists and their luscious creations. So, I decided to buy a single fuel torch and learn how to make my own glass beads. (We even bought our house because the garage had an insulated workshop that was not only perfect for setting up a glass torch and a kiln, but also had a huge picture window overlooking the mountain range across the river!)

Then, once I had the torch and the kiln set up, someone mentioned glass fusing to me. Well, I already had the kiln, and I was comfortable working with glass. Why shouldn't I learn how to make my own dichroic glass cabochons, right? Off to Vermont I went with my buddy, for a weekend course in fusing dichroic glass.

These days, I don't do much at the torch anymore, just because I'm so focused on my bead-weaving and my bead embroidery. But all those jewelry making skills that I've been learning for the past eighteen years have really transformed me and my ideas about art.

I don't know if it's just that another year is coming to an end, or if it has anything to do with the new jewelry making toy — er, tool — that I just bought for myself, but lately, I've been thinking about all the ways that jewelry making as changed my life and made it so much better.

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Some of my handmade glass beads, in a necklace, We're All the Same But Different.

Learning how to make my own glass beads, believe it or not, made me much more confident when it comes to learning new jewelry making techniques. I mean, if I can sit there at a torch that's hooked up to one or two tanks of potentially explosive gases, with a flame hotter than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and melt glass rods into beads, I can do anything, right? Of course, thinking like that is what led me to go buy a little butane micro torch so that I could try my hand at fusing silver wire into handmade chain. (And who knows where that will lead me next!)

Jewelry making has made me more open-minded, both creatively and in my personal life. I used to be someone who wasn't eager to venture out of her comfort zone, but I've learned through my jewelry making projects and travels that saying "yes" to new experiences really enhances my creativity, and gives me new jewelry making skills to add to my arsenal!

My dear friend Jane and I in Vermont at a glass fusing weekend class.

I've met some pretty extraordinary people through my jewelry making journey, as well. It always amazes me how much we all really have in common when we sit down to bead together. After all, if we can be brought together by a little pile of beads, can world peace really be that difficult to achieve?  I've met some of my best friends through my jewelry making journey, and whether we talk every day or only once or twice a year, we always seem to know how to pick up right where we left off!

Now, I'm not going to say that Handcrafted Wire Findings by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson is a book that will change your life, but, you never know. I never thought of myself as someone who was particularly interested in making wire jewelry or wire wrapping, but once I tried a few of the projects in this book to make my own clasps and ear wires, I realized that making your own jewelry findings can add an entirely new dimension to your handmade beaded jewelry! Now, when I need just the right clasp for a jewelry making project, I prefer to make it myself instead of buying a pre-made clasp. And ear wires? No need to panic if I run out, as long as I have some copper, sterling silver, or brass wire lying around!

You don't need a lot of fancy tools or equipment to make your own wire jewelry findings — if you have a good set of jewelry pliers and a good flush cutter, that's enough to get you started! All you need is your copy of Handcrafted Wire Findings, on sale now in the Beading Daily Shop. Or, if you want to get started right away, Handcrafted Wire Findings is also available as an instant download, ready for viewing in just a few minutes on your favorite desktop or laptop computer.

So, how has jewelry making changed your life? Have you met your best friend through a beading class? Discovered something new about yourself? Changed careers (like I did)? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your story!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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