Right this minute, my jewelry-making bench is covered up with things that I'm having so much fun playing with, I have to share. Here are six of my current favorite jewelry-making tools and supplies.
Cool Tools patterned wire
I'm like a kid with a big new bag of Halloween candy with the new patterned wire and strips from Cool Tools–I take each one out, look at it, pair it with others, ponder it awhile, and then eat, er, use it or ration it back in the bag for another day. I've made enough rings to cover every finger in my neighborhood (they're great for both ring bands and bezels); I've made some bracelets and earrings, and now I'm finding ways to include pieces of them in enameling.
Until Lexi wrote about her newfound love for Wubbers, I hadn't given them much thought for metal work. I've been a fan of Xuron's cutters and pliers for awhile now and hadn't even thought about adding others to the mix, until I considered how the unique shapes of Wubbers work more like mandrels than pliers, to form metal like you might using hammers, mandrels, and stakes. The oval ones are ideal for making bails and curving organic waves in metal, and the square ones make great angles and folds. You can even make a pretty great square of metal (easily, too) using them, despite beliefs to the contrary!
Nunn Design Metal Components
I've been a fan of Nunn Design's metal products since their beginning many years ago, when I used them in paper crafts. More recently I've enjoyed each new season's collection of products for jewelry making, like bezels (that are even pretty on the back, too), metal stampings, ring blanks, and many more. Some Nunn pieces (like my favorite flowers) are solid brass, so I can enamel on them. I use the deep bezels in my current fave birdbath rings, and I am so excited that they've just released cufflinks! Resin, here I come! I'm not yet sure what I'll do with the screw-back bezels but I adore them, and the channel bangles are topping my holiday gift-making idea list. I call them "bezel bangles" because they have a bezel-like edge that forms a channel inside (hence the name), allowing you to fill the space with fibers, paper ephemera, epoxy clay and crystals, or anything you wish under resin.
Susan Lenart Kazmer's Iced Enamels
As much as I love torch-fired enameling, everything can't be enameled that way. A great alternative is Susan Lenart Kazmer's Iced Enamels, a "cold" enameling technique (it uses a heat gun instead of a torch) that allows you to add color, texture, and interesting effects to just about anything–paper, glass, wood, metals like aluminum and pewter that can't be torch enameled, and more. Most recently, I've enjoyed using the Iced Enamels to add color to small glass slides and chandelier crystals, but I've also found that they're great for adding a splash of blue or turquoise on rusted and other patinated old metal pieces that would lose their hard-earned beauty in a torch flame.
Whether you stamp words or patterns, Beaducation's new metal stamping plaques' pretty shapes make a delightful canvas for your work. I've found that I enjoy using them in other ways, too, sans stamps–as uniquely shaped components and bases in rings, pendants, earrings and on cuff bracelets. I just love the shapes and keep looking for more ways to use them. They come in eight shapes and four metals (brass, copper, sterling silver and silver filled).
While I didn't make it to Bead Fest in August, good news travels fast and I soon learned about WoolyWire from friends who attended the show. I have to admit, at first I thought it was a clever product that lots of folks would understandably enjoy–but it wasn't until I saw it "in action" in jewelry that I really fell for WoolyWire. It's simple stuff–a wire core wrapped with fibers in a large variety of color palettes–but the result is a clever cross between wire and fibers that makes me think of bendable yarn. You can create shapes with it, wrap it around things, weave and stitch pieces together with it, knot it, coil and spiral it . . . and it looks like shaped yarn. I bet you can even use it in knitting projects. It's a perfect companion to colorful enameled components and adds texture to anything you pair it with.
The first thing I want to try with the WoolyWire is making links from Cindy Wimmer's new book, The Missing Link. Making one link two times using WoolyWire will make really unique earrings, and mixing a few WoolyWire links in with "naked" wire links (ha!) will make a really fun and interesting necklace, don't you think? (Update: See how much fun I had with WoolyWire!)
What's your latest jewelry-making obsession? Any supplies on the market that you think I should know about? I'd love to hear in the comments below!
Discover how to craft 30 jewelry making findings in this jewelry making book by Cindy Wimmer.