The Cost of Beginner Beading

tool bag-244Maybe you’re the kind of person that enjoys crafting. Or maybe you’ve seen jewelry someone else made and wondered if you could do the same. Or maybe you’re a Do-It-Yourself type that likes to save money. Or maybe you’re thinking you could earn money by making beautiful things and selling them. If any of these apply to you, here’s a list of what you’ll need to enter the wonderful world of jewelry-making, and a few pointers to start you on your way.

The following list of items contains everything you will need for your first beginner projects. There are many more tools than the ones I’ve listed below, but this will get you started without making you go return to the craft store every 5 minutes. I recommend buying these items locally at a Michaels, JoAnn, or other craft/bead store, so that you can return/exchange any problem items. Once you’ve become very familiar with beading, you can order supplies online, but keep in mind that small items ordered online may be even more expensive than in a local store because of shipping charges.

Beginner Beading Tools/Supplies

  • Plier set – If you’re starting from scratch, you might as well buy a set of pliers instead of getting them individually, since you’ll need several and it will save a little money. A set with 1) chain nose pliers, 2) flat nose pliers, 3) round nose pliers, 4) side cutter. Some kits come with useful extras like tweezers, bead scoops, or bead reamers. Cost is about $10-15.
  • Tweezers, bead reamer, and bead scoop, if they didn’t come with your kit.
  • Caliper – A bead-measuring tool. Cost is about $2-5.
  • Bead mat – A soft mat made from velvety material. Absolutely essential for keeping your beads from rolling off your table and onto you floor. Cost is about $3-5.
  • Bead design board – A tray with indentations/grooves in which you can place your beads and get an idea of what your finished jewelry will look like. Cost is about $7.
  • Crimping pliers – You’ll need this for crimping crimp beads onto nylon-coated beading wire. Cost is $12-15
  • Nylon coated wire – Used for stringing beads and making illusion necklaces. Cost is about $8.
  • Crimps – Tiny metal beads that grip nylon-coated wire when you squeeze them with crimping pliers. They keep your beads from falling off the wire. A package of 4 colors (gold, silver, copper, gunmetal) is about $9.
  • Toggle claps or magnetic clasps – Used for keeping your jewelry on your neck or wrist. You can also use lobster clasps or screw clasps which are cheaper, but they are somewhat inconvenient and much harder to operate one-handed, which is especially important for bracelets. Cost is about $6 for a pack of 5-8 clasps.
  • Jump rings – These little rings connect wire to clasps, making it very easy to lengthen your necklace or bracelet without having to re-string your beads onto new wire. Cost is about $4 for a pack of 80-100 rings.
  • Head pins – These are used to hang one or more beads from a chain, or perpendicular to your wire. Cost is about $4 for a pack of 50-100.
  • Ear wires – These are used for making earrings and come in several colors (gold, silver, copper). The least expensive ear wires are made from brass, nickel and copper. You can also buy them in gold and silver for people who are allergic to base metals. Cost is about $5 for a pack of 50.
  • Seed bead kit – Required for bead weaving projects, otherwise optional. Contains an assortment of basic colors and will save money over buying seed beads individually. Cost is about $10-25
  • Bead loom – Required for bead weaving projects, otherwise optional. Used to weave beads in certain patterns. Cost is about $10.
  • Strings of beads – This is the single item that you will constantly be buying, but you can start your first projects with 2-5 strings of beads. Buy more when you run out. The cost of a few strands is $20-50.
  • Beading reference book – A good, printed (non-digital) book is best, so you can easily flip through the pages. I recommend The Beader’s Bible or Beading Basics. Cost is $20-30.

Total cost = $140-200

As you can see, the initial cost is significant. You’ll need to make several pieces of jewelry before you begin “saving” on the cost of jewelry you might have purchased from a store or another craftsman. And if you’re planning to make items to sell, you’ll probably need to sell a few dozen before you recover the cost of your investment and your time (remember to account for the time you work on your jewelry when pricing it).

Many people just bead for fun and the love of crafting. They might sell a piece here and there, but most never recoup their costs. The reason for this is simple… Beading is addictive. The beads come in every color and texture under the sun, so you’ll always want more. It’s a bit like crack, except you won’t die from it. Once you’re hooked, your life will never be the same. Fortunately, it will at least be full of color and beauty.

Best of luck in your endeavors!

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