Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Teen Jewelry Making

After hosting several technology programs recently at my library, I was really itching to do sort of a "back-to-basics" hands-on craft program for teens. A few years ago my mother and I had taking a jewelry making class at our local craft store, so I thought I would see if I could teach others how to do it!

The thing with jewelry making is that there are a ton of different types of it out there, from leather to wire work to crochet. I decided to stick to something less complicated, which was beading.

First, I pulled a bunch of beading books from my library's shelves to refresh my memory. Here are the ones I found to be the most helpful:

Fun and Simply Beads by Tair Parnes
The Girls' World Book of Jewelry by Rain Newcomb
Teach Yourself Visually Jewelry Making & Beading by Chris Franchetti Michaels
The Impatient Beader Gets Inspired! by Margot Potter

Next, I figured out a shopping list of the materials/findings I needed. Here's what I ended up using:

  • Craft felt sheets (it acted as a bead board and allowed the teens to lay out their designs without their beads rolling around)
  • Round nose pliers/Flat nose pliers/Wire cutters (I found these in a fairly cheap set from Amazon. You could also ask co-workers to lend you theirs.)
  • Bowls (to carry their beads in)

  • Beads (I just purchased bulk seed and glass bead sets from my local craft store. You could ask co-workers to clean out their craft drawers at home and donate them too.)
  • Beading wire (You can purchase various "strands" of wire, which gets more expensive the finer/higher number of strands it is. 7 strand worked just fine for us and it's cheaper.)

  • Crimp tubes
  • Jump rings
  • Lobster clasps
  • Earring hooks
  • Head pins
  • Eye pins

Then I worked on my format for the class:

  • Introductions
  • How to design/think about jewelry design
    • Use a felt sheet to plan out your design before stringing so you don't have to start over
    • Color theory
    • Patterns - Is there a pattern to your design? Alternating small and large, alternating colors, etc...
  • Tools/materials overview
    • Pliers/wire cutters
    • Bead wire
    • Beads - seed beads, glass beads
    • Findings
  • How to open a jump ring correctly
  • Bracelets
    • How to attach a crimp tube
  • Earrings
    • How to turn a head pin

After I went over everything with the teens, I let them come up and choose their beads/findings (this is where the bowls came in handy!) I originally told them they could make 1 set of earrings and 1 bracelet, but I ended up allowing them to make more if they had time. I also gave them a handout with a hodgepodge of pages from various jewelry books with more tutorials on the concepts, such as attaching the crimp tube, as well as glossaries of the tools they were using. This is where the books mentioned above came in extra handy.

How It Went:

Overall, I would call it a success! I had a slightly low turnout due to prior school activities, but the number of teens who attended ended up being good as I was the only staff member in the room. If you do this program and end up with a lot of sign-ups, I would recommend having some extra adult help in the room as inevitably the teens will have questions and need assistance completing their jewelry creations. 

Also, I had planned on 1.5 hours for the program, but I could have used more! The teens got really into their designs and some were unable to finish before the end, so I gave them plastic baggies to take their beads/findings and finish at home. I would recommend around 2 hours for this activity.

In craft programs, I like to have music in the background. So I set up some speakers and opened Pandora radio on my phone. When I asked the teens for a good music artist to look up for a station choice, I suggested Katy Perry. One of the teen girls said, "Miss Kim, Katy Perry can be inappropriate!" Taylor Swift was okay, but ended up going too country for them. FYI: The perfect Pandora station for my teens ended up being Demi Lovato.

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