Free Beading Tutorial - Step by step instructions Kindly contributed by: Beads by Mail How To Make Drop or Dangle Earrings

Many years ago I paid $55 for three 2-hour jewelry lessons. We used up most of the 2 hours picking beads to use in our jewelry.

But that was OK because the actual teaching and learning took almost no time at all. Basic jewelry making is really easy to learn. Children (under supervision) do especially well with it (age 7 and up).

The most important skill I learned was to relax my mind and my body while making my jewelry. Jewelry making should be quiet, relaxing, and meditative.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you'll learn more than I did, at your own speed, without ever having to leave your home -- for FREE!

Just follow these instructions to become an expert jewelry "fabricator." Visit Beads by Mail for more FREE How-To Pages and more free beading projects! Earrings You Can Make in 5 Minutes or Less!

Here is a basic project to help you learn the basics of beading.

Tools Needed
  • Chain-nose or round-nose jewelry pliers
  • Wire cutter

Note: the following items are included in the Bead Sampler available at Beads by Mail. Stop by soon to get yours and begin creating your own designs.

Findings needed for each pair of earrings

  • 2 headpins
  • 2 ear wires for pierced ears, or clip-with-loop finding for non-pierced ears, available in surgical steel with gold or silver plating, sterling silver, 18k gold fill, 14k gold.
  • Experiment with different sizes and weights of beads.
  • Mix colors, finishes, shapes.
  • Combine semiprecious, metal or enamel, beads and glass beads.
  • In other words, play!
Making the Earring

A dangle earring consists of a headpin with beads placed on it in a pleasing combination of colors and shapes, attached to an ear finding such as a shepherd hook or a clip with a loop. It should not be too long or too heavy for comfort.

(Many people have allergies to some of the metals in the alloys in findings. You can obtain plastic, precious metal, or non-allergenic findings.)

When you like your design, you turn a loop in the top of the headpin with the pliers and attach it to the ear wire. This step takes about 30 seconds. Step by Step

  1. Arrange your beads on the headpin. Start with only 3 or 4 beads. You are not supposed to fill the headpin. Earring length is an individual preference, but for this learning session, work with shorter ones.
  2. When you like your design, take the wire cutter and snip off the excess headpin, but leave about a half-inch above the top bead. See Figure 1.

3. Now take your pliers in your dominant hand, and hold the headpin and beads in your other hand while pushing down lightly on the top bead so it's out of the way.

4. Grasp the end of the headpin wire tightly with the pliers. See Figure 2.

5. Here's the most important step: relax while you twist your wrist slowly in a circular motion until the end of the headpin forms a small loop, while holding the headpin and beads stationary. Your goal is to turn a small loop that closes securely so the ear wire won't slip out. See Figure 3.

6. Don't worry if your loop is not completely round. It doesn't have to be. When you wear the earring, this loop will be almost invisible. People will see the beads.

7. Now with your pliers in your dominant hand and the ear wire in the other hand, open the loop on the ear wire by moving the pliers in one direction and your other hand in the opposite direction. You only need to open the loop enough to fit the headpin wire on it. Never pry or pull a loop open -- it is almost impossible to close it properly.

8. Hang the headpin loop on the open ear wire loop. See Figure 4.

9. Close the ear wire loop by squeezing it with the pliers to return the loop back to dead center, closing the circle. Test your work to make sure the headpin won't come off the ear wire. That's it! Make another one, and you have your pair!

Note: You might find it useful to practice making loops on some scrap wire.

For free earring and other beading projects visit Beads by Mail

Jump Rings

Jump rings are most useful tiny objects. They make connections between components of your jewelry. Just look in your jewelry box or at the costume jewelry counter of your favorite store for examples of the utility of jump rings.

You can attach a jump ring to the loop of the earwire to enable you to hang several headpins from one ear wire, which you can't do without the jump ring. There are hundreds more applications.

Charm bracelets could not exist without jump rings.

Jump rings come in many shapes: round, oval, kidney, triangle, square, and more. There's a jump ring for every jewelry design idea.

You can get jump rings in base metal, plated metal, and precious metal.

The trick with a jump ring is to open it without distorting it out of its original perfect circle (or oval or whatever) shape. The best way to do this is by gripping the ring tightly on each side of the opening with a pliers. That's why it's good to have 2 pairs of pliers. You can grip the ring on one side with your thumb and index fingertip, but you won't have the exact control you need. Step by Step

  1. Pick out a perfectly shaped jump ring, preferably round, to work on. For practice, choose a larger ring.
  2. Holding a pliers in each hand, place the pliers on each side of the ring, close to the opening of the ring. Make sure you grip each side of the jump ring really tightly.
  3. Then press one pliers away from you -- slowly -- while you bring the other pliers toward you. As you move the ends of the ring, avoid twisting or pulling them apart sideways. The ring opens. You needn't open it very far. Do not pull to the side as you open the ring. (For some reason, I always bring my right hand toward me and press my left away from me. It really doesn't matter as long as the movement is smooth.)
  4. To close the ring, just perform the same movements in the opposite directions.
  5. Make sure the ends of the ring line up perfectly without overlapping and without a space. The ends should just barely touch each other. You don't want the item inside the jump ring to slip out.

Occasionally you will have to discard a jump ring because it was poorly manufactured or because you don't like the way you handled it. Never try to "rescue" a jump ring that is out of true. Let it go ...