Resources-101

How to use a Jewelers Saw

To install a blade in the jewelers saw frame: Loosen the wing nuts on the saw. Slip one end of the blade into the fixture. Make sure the blade's teeth are pointing out and down. (Sort of like a Christmas tree.) ...

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Jump Ring Hint

When you open and close jump rings, twist ends instead of "ovaling" them. This keeps their round shape better, which makes them easier to close neatly and securely. Many people find it easier to grip jump rings with round-nose pliers, but smooth flat-nose and chain-nose pliers make it easier to grip your jump ring without leaving tiny dents. For best control, try using a pair of chain-nose pliers in one hand, and a pair of bent flat-nose pliers in the other hand.

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Choosing Clasps & Finishing Methods

Are you asking yourself "What clasp should I use for my bead stringing, wire lashing, kumihimo, multi-strand, chunky chain, awesome creation?" There are 100's of options, and the "correct" answer is based on the weight and type of jewelry, as well as your personal preference and the stringing material(s) you choose. Find brief answers and illustrations here, with links to jewelry-making findings and supplies.

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Soldering 101

Soldering (usually pronounced soddering) is the method of joining metal parts together, using another metal that has a lower melting temperature than the parts being joined.

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Resin 101

Resin Jewelry 101: Epoxy jewelry resins are strong resins that come in two parts: the resin and the hardener. When the two parts are mixed together, a chemical reaction occurs that changes the epoxy from a liquid to a solid. You have the option of adding colorants and other inclusions such as sand, glitter, mica, and more to a bezel or a mold before you before you pour in clear or colored resin resin, or you can layer your items alternating with layers of resin, to form complicated mini worlds. You can even make your own molds!

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Polymer Clay 101

What is Polymer Clay?Brands & StylesTools & TipsWhere to Buy ItResources
What is Polymer Clay?
Polymer clay is a manmade, non-toxic polymer-based alternative to natural clay. Its only real similarity to natural clay is that it is shaped while soft and then heated for hardening. Owning a kiln is not necessary for polymer-clay work, since the temperatures needed to bake it are easily achieved in a home oven (265° to 275° Fahrenheit).

Each polymer-clay brand is made with its own "recipe," using various resins, plasticizers and other secret ingredients, each optimized for a different usage. You may end up choosing a softer brand for your sculptures or free-form jewelry, and a stiffer brand for millefiori cane work.

Although different brands don't guarantee they will mix together exactly the way you expect, many people have successfully mixed brands for desired colors, textures or consistencies.

Brands & Styles

Kato PolyClay™ is the polymer clay Rings & Things sells because it offers superior working properties! It's easy to condition, doesn't crumble and doesn't get sticky even after continuous handling. Plus, Kato offers Liquid Polyclay™, which works as a clay extender, softener, adhesive and finishing coat. Kato liquid clear medium allows you to do photo-transfers, create complex grouting effects and make colorful glazes that bake and bond to the clay.

Other major brands of polymer clay include Sculpey III® (a soft clay), Premo! Sculpey® (stiffer than Sculpey III, but softer than FIMO®), FIMO (a stiff clay), Cernit and Makins Air-Dry Clay.

Generally speaking, softer polymer clays are good for projects that don't involve extensive manipulations. They start out easy to work with, but if you make complex canes, your colors and shapes can start to blend together more than you might want.

Stiffer polymer clays may start out crumbly when cold, but they manipulate well in the long run. You can put a few colors in your pocket for a while to warm them before opening the packages. To warm polymer clay in cold weather, you can point a desk lamp at your clay, or place your clay on a heating pad that's set on its lowest setting. No matter what method you use, be careful not to overheat the clay, or it will start to bake.

If you live in a cold climate, you may also want to heat your work surface before you start working. Some people have said a blow dryer works well. However, use caution when using a blow dryer (or anything else) for a use other than the manufacturer intended.

If you work with polymer clays as a hobby, you can use your regular home oven. Toaster ovens are not recommended, because they don't heat as consistently. If you seriously delve into polymer clays, you will probably want to invest in a second oven, for convenience if not for potential long-term health reasons. All of these polymer clays are non-toxic and well-tested, but it somehow seems foolish to be cooking food in the same oven in which you are daily cooking non-food items...

Tools & How-To Tips

Polymer-clay tools: Choose from several useful and fun polymer-clay tools to expand your design possibilities. We offer everything from basics like blades, rollers and modeling tools, to texture plates, pattern cutters and a molding compound to create your own molds!
For general information about what types of polymer clay work best for what type of designs, see "Brands & Styles" above.

Tips and how-to hints for working with polymer clay:
  • Work on paper to minimize handling and fingerprints.
  • Buy ceramic tile from your local building supply to bake pieces on.
  • To tint clay, use non-toxic blushes and eye shadows.
  • Adding gold should make colors warmer; silver adds a cool tone.
  • Try conditioning your clay in a pasta machine. This works especially well for FIMO, which can become exhausting to hand condition.
  • Sand before you glaze, or buff with 400 grit and then 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper under running water.

Polymer-Clay Resources

Polymer Clay Info Links — Updated 2010
  • PC Polyzine offers some great "how-to" articles.
  • Glass Attic provides an "encyclopedia" of information about polymer clay with approximately 90 categories of information (in over 1700 pages) relating to common polymer-clay techniques, including how to avoid problems (or fix them), what kinds of tools might be helpful, etc.
Polymer Clay Guilds The International Polymer Clay Association (IPCA), formerly the National Polymer clay Guild (NPCG), is a great international source for the latest information on various forms of polyform clay (FIMO, Premo, SculpeyFlex, Cernit, etc.). As of 2008, yearly dues were $30, and included a subscription to their fact filled newsletter, the POLYinforMER. Dues and publication formats have probably changed a little since then, but we just checked their new website, and as of 2019 they are thriving and have some very cool artwork on their website!

For regional polymer clay guilds, see our Bead Societies and Art Guilds page.

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Metal Stamping 101

Make your own custom charms, pendants, connectors, tags and more! Metal stamping is not only the latest craze — it's also a lot of fun and gives you design freedom. Plus, handcrafted metal components give your designs a personal touch, both in look and meaning. They can also add to the value of your finished jewelry. It's true that metal stamping requires a bit of hardware. But, once you've acquired the necessary tools, they'll work hard for years! Here are the basics you'll want to get started.

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Leather 101

Leather continues to be a powerhouse material in jewelry fashions --especially bracelet design! Learn about various types of leather (from straps to cord to finished cuffs), and find tutorials and projects to make your own leather bracelets, handmade leather jewelry, and crafts. You can also shop our leather cord, leather straps, & leather bracelet blanks.

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Finishing Methods for Bead Stringing

Learn popular methods for finishing necklaces and other handmade jewelry with crimps and cord ends, jump rings, split rings, knots and jewelry clasps. This page is a brief overview with links to more information. If the instructions aren't on the category page, please click into a product's details for more information. We've been in business since 1972, and making jewelry for most of those years... but every beader and stringer develops personal favorites. For more opinions and examples, you may also want to invest in a couple stringing and beading books, or beading and stringing magazines with good tutorials. Experiment to find the methods that work best for you! Choosing clasps is a mixture of your own personal preference, as well as your customer type, and the size and weight of your jewelry:

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Metal Etching 101

Etching is a method of using chemicals to cut a design or pattern into a metal surface. Etching your own designs into metal is easier than it may sound, and it can be a fun and rewarding way to make your own jewelry! Learn the basics of how to choose your metals, choose your etchants, create or transfer your images with resists, and complete the etching process. Discover how to make a float boat for suspending your designs in etchant...

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Crimping 101

For all crimping, apply pressure similar to a firm handshake, but don't squeeze so hard that you work-harden the crimp and make it brittle or break your tool. Using crimp beads to finish a necklace or bracelet: 1. String a crimp bead onto the beading cord or cable, then string the clasp. 2. Bend the cable back through the crimp bead. 3. Tighten the loop (but not too tight!). Use crimping pliers to crimp the bead into a small round crimp, or use...

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Best Necklace and Bracelet Lengths

What is the BEST necklace (or bracelet) length? 18" necklaces are the most popular in the United States, but might not be the right length for the necklace that you're making. The height and build of the person who will be wearing the necklace...

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Choosing Clasps & Finishing Methods

Are you asking yourself "What clasp should I use for my bead stringing, wire lashing, kumihimo, multi-strand, chunky chain, awesome creation?" There are 100's of options, and the "correct" answer is based on the weight and type of jewelry, as well as your personal preference and the stringing material(s) you choose. Find brief answers and illustrations here, with links to jewelry-making findings and supplies.

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Wire Jewelry 101

Wire 101: Endless choices in creativity! Here you'll find basic tips and terms to help you determine what type of wire to use for your jewelry projects. Learn about different shapes, gauges, and materials of jewelry wire. Find full tutorials, jewelry projects, and supplies too.

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How to Make Loops on Head & Eye Pins

The loop size will depend on how much wire you leave past the end of your beads, and around which part of your pliers you bend the loop. A good loop size is usually about 1/3 of the way from the tip of your pliers, with about 8mm of wire. If using an eye pin, decide which way you want the loop to go - the same direction as the premade loop on the other end, or 90º off. Keep this direction in mind as you bend the rest of the wire.

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Metal Clay 101

Learn the basics of what metal clay is, and how to make your own custom beads, jewelry findings, and small art objects with this exciting craft medium. Find details about various brands including firing schedules and usage tips for Art Clay Silver (ACS silver clay), Precious Metal Clay (PMC silver clay), WHITE COPPRclay, original COPPRclay brand copper clay, and BRONZclay brand bronze clay. You can also shop our line of metal clays (while they last!) and firing supplies.

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Riveting 101

Learn the basics of riveting, including how to distinguish various types of rivets and how to set different rivets (and eyelets). Each type of rivet used to make jewelry is set with different tools and/or techniques. ...Compression Rivets | Nail-Head Rivets | Semi-Tubular Rivets | Wire Rivets | Eyelets...

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