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January 03, 2016

Jewelry Making and Beading Lessons Learned 2015

A Beady Year in Review - 2015

While I've had time off my day job the past couple of weeks, I've been making a lot of jewelry (special orders, gifts and project tutorials). But I've also had time to reflect on what I learned jewelry making and beadworking wise in the past year.

And I've still had a bit more time to think about my accomplishments, favorite projects, etc.  I guess you could call this my Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog, 2015 year in review post. I mean, why not?

Lisa Yang, Beadwork Expert

It was almost exactly a year ago that I got an email from asking if I'd be interested in being their beadwork expert.  It came out of the blue and it felt too good to be true. It was even more insane the moment I realized they were not interviewing me for the position, but offering it to me outright!

I remember reading Tammy Powley's articles and participating in her jewelrymaking forums at and wishing I could have a job like that some day.  So, go figure - it happens!

Since I started writing for last January, I have posted 86 articles about beadwork. Wow! No wonder it seemed like a lot of work. That is in addition to updating at least another 20 articles by former beadwork experts and keeping up (although not as well) with this blog (58 posts here). No wonder I've felt a bit frazzled sometimes.

But the up side is how much I've learned and grown and shared - and hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to do more this year.

What I've Learned

You can't imagine how hard it is to reflect on this!  There's been so much and most are very little things.

Keep Making Progress

The biggest thing I've learned is how to keep moving forward. Not to let myself get slowed down by a block of any sort. After all, there's no time for that!

If the colors don't look right when you're doing a project, keep going and concentrate on the technique. Sometimes I'm surprised when I look at it later and whatever bothered me and almost made me stop - really isn't as big of an issue as I imagined.

Some things you can't force, so stop and go somewhere else.  This is moving forward, but in a different direction. I started working on St. Petersburg stitch in October. I loved the stitch, but the colors and projects weren't coming together. So, I kept trying here and there, but dropped it for a while and went to something else, until December when finally everything came together in this garland bracelet.

You can always go back and make things better. This pertains to my writing more than jewelry projects, but sometimes you just need to call it done, know that you can go back and make it better and it will take less time than the time you're wasting trying to polish all the details now. I guess it does pertain to jewelry too!

Buying Basics Pays Off

This one is weird and probably doesn't pertain to everyone, but there are a few things that I happened to buy this year that contributed in a HUGE way to my jewelry making, but I never would have thought it at the time I bought it.

The first was a box of jump rings and clasps - it was a sealed box of a gross of packages (that's 144 packages!) of assorted jump rings for $10. It seemed ridiculous at the time, but I figured it's ten dollars so who cares. That one purchase has changed my jewelry making in more ways than you can imagine!

The jump rings ranged in size from 3.5mm to 8mm, 18g to 22g with gun metal, silver, copper, gold and assorted color finishes. It was a bargain for sure - they are the same packages of jump rings that are sold on Fire Mountain Gems for about $1-$2 each.

So how did this silly purchase contribute to my designs?  I never have to worry about having the right ring to finish a design or settle for one that wasn't quite right, or worry about using the last of a stash of something. It feels like an unlimited bounty and I never worry about running out. It also encourages me to experiment - to try different metals together, or to join something with jump rings even when I didn't think that was the right option.

Once that purchase paid off, I started buying other bargain items in larger quantities than I normally would. If there are bead strands for $1, instead of buying one, getting it and wishing I got more, I buy at least three, and sometimes as many as ten, and figure I will use them for practice.  Buying more makes me less likely to hoard materials, something I will frequently do when I like something and worry that I can't buy more.

My Favorite Projects

My favorite beaded project is the St. Petersburg garland bracelet (pictured above). Maybe it's because I had to work so hard for it, or the satisfaction that it finally came together.

My favorite wire and bead project is this copper heart with silver beads. I see it re-pinned on Pinterest all the time and its' simplicity never fails to make me happy. It's just one of those things that turned out better than I ever could have imagined.

One of my other favorite is this beaded circle pendant. It was the first time I attempted brick stitch inside and outside a ring and I have to wonder why I waited so long. This necklace goes with anything, is easy to make and unlike most of my beaded work, I sell lots of them.

So, what's next?

Beadwork and Jewelry Making in 2016

I could have never predicted the directions my jewelry making and beadwork would go last year, and so it is with this year. I hope to continue as the beadwork expert for as long as they will have me at, but regardless, I will continue with this blog.

Some things that I know:

  •  my jewelry projects will always remain relatively simple and be geared towards beginning jewelry makers and beaders - but hopefully enjoyable for all.
  • I'll continue to learn new techniques and try to think 'outside of the box' and apply them in different ways
  • I will always be working with both wire and beads - never just one or the other.
  • I'll also continue to look for tools that make the work easier, faster and better.
  • You can subscribe to my projects by email or via social media and never miss anything new.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous and sparkly 2016.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your ideas and talents with us “beaders.” This was my first year to see your lovely designs and become a “follower” through email. Although I have spent some wonderful times creating new jewelry this last year, I look forward to the time when I have more space to keep my beads and supplies out (I have to put them back after completing a project or two, since I only have a corner space in my bedroom that is “assigned” to my beading space). I am making plans for my daughter's bedroom to become my beading haven when she moves out in a few months. =)