Making jewelry for 18 inch dolls is a great way to practice jewelry making – and add pizzazz to your doll’s outfits!
Today’s blog is part of an ongoing series about making fun accessories for 18 inch dolls: doll bed/storage, clothes rack, jewelry, headbands, and shoes. Here are the postings so far:
Jewelry making for 18″ dolls involves tools, techniques, and supplies similar to those used for adult-sized jewelry – but geared to doll-sized jewelry and use by children. As a somewhat beginner jewelry maker, I will share with you what I learned about tools, findings, embellishments, instructional resources, and bead storage.
NOTE: When selecting jewelry findings, embellishments and tools, remember two things. Keep the scale suitably small for 18″ dolls. I found 6 mm and under to work well most of the time – with occasional 8 mm+ charms, beads, or pendants. Pliers with small tips worked best with small jewelry pieces. Also, the jewelry needs to be sturdy and safe for play by grade school and adolescent children. Many of the components could pose a choking hazard for children under three; swallowing multiple magnetic clasps could be life threatening.
Jewelry Making Tools:
- Jewelry pliers – it works well, at a minimum, to have one pair each of round nose, chain nose, and side cutter pliers; an additional chain nose or bent nose pliers is helpful
- Round nose pliers – for making loops, bends in wire, and eyepins; hold jump rings for opening and closing
- Chain nose – general purpose for bending wire, opening and closing jump rings, closing crimps, and threading bead stringing material back through crimps
- Side or flush cutter pliers – for cutting and trimming wires, such as headpins and eyepins (some pliers have built in cutters)
- Bent nose – optional; similar to chain nose but jaws are bent 45 degrees at the end to access difficult small areas; used to pick up small parts and handling jump rings
- Flat nose – optional; good edge for creating sharp bends, gripping objects, and straightening wire
- Bead reamer – optional; recommended for cleaning out openings in small beads
- Bead tweezers and scoop – optional; help to gather and pick up small beads
- Bead mat or Bead Buddy Design Save ‘N Go! Junior – optional; foam mats keep beads from rolling around
- Bead board – optional; easy way to preview and measure necklaces and bracelets before stringing
If you are just starting out with jewelry making, this Cousin Jewelry Tool Pack with Case is a handy way to purchase the basic supplies.
The photo shows the work surface in use with the lid removed. Since the lid has its own bead mat and is removeable, it can function as another work surface. Once you close the lid, the jewelry project, flat tools, and loose beads stay in place.
Another system I came up with was trimming and layering two pieces of bead mat in a Stampendous Thin Stuftainer 8 1/2 x 11 x 7/16 in. It provides a handy work surface and storage – but will not hold the jewelry pieces well if not laid flat.
Jewelry Supplies and Findings
- Elastic beading cord – Stretch Magic Beading Cord Clear – 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 1mm or Beadalon Cord Elonga Stretchy Bead Stringing Cord White – .3 mm, .7mm, and 1mm
- Jewelry adhesive – I used Beadalon BeadFix Adhesive but plan to try: Eclectic E6000 Jewelry & Bead Adhesive, Aleene’s Jewelry and Metal Glue, and Beadalon G-S Hypo Cement Bead Stringing Glue
- Clasps – lobster claw, barrel, toggle, hook and eye, S hook, and magnetic (caution with young children – swallowing multiple magnets can be life threatening!); spring ring clasps seem difficult for young hands
- Jump rings – recommend an assortment of sizes
- Eye pins and headpins – used for adding beads to jewelry and dangling earrings
- Crimps – optional; secure the ends of bead strands and provide a professional finish (I secured them with adhesive instead of crimping them for now – need to find correct size of crimps and crimper pliers for elastic beading cord – more on this later)
- Bead Buddy Magical CrimpLoks 8 pc. Silver – optional; use with 1mm elastic cord
- Chains – optional; can add pendants and charms
- Solid Oak Chain Estrella 12 in. Close Link 4 mm in different colors work great by themselves or with charms added (on clearance); two packages were needed for a necklace and bracelet
- Beads – favorites are by Jesse James, Cousins, Multicraft. and John Bead
- Charms – found in embellishment kits by Jesse James and Buttons Galore 28 Lilac Lane; Solid Oak, Tim Holtz, and Maya Road by Ken Oliver also make unusual charms and pendants
An online search for jewelry making information – even specifically for 18″ doll jewelry – will provide instructional videos and lots of design ideas on Pinterest and Etsy. Most of the jewelry sets of earrings, bracelet, and necklaces I made were designed to coordinate with the colors in the fabrics of the doll outfits I have made (a few) or plan to make (lots!).
As I mentioned in 18″ Doll Jewelry – Part 1 Ear Piercing, a helpful resource is the Introduction to Jewelry for Vinyl Play Dolls – an instructional eBook from Lee & Pearl. There is more about the tutorial in this newsletter from Lee and Pearl. You can instantly download this PDF – and with the basic supplies mentioned above – get started making doll jewelry!
Other resources include books on jewelry making and friendship bracelets. Jewelry making kits are another option for learning skills. Beadery Craft Kit Bead Boxes and Jesse James Kit Jewelry Beads are geared toward kids. Children under three are generally considered too young to play with beads due to the risk of choking.
There are many bead storage systems. My favorite for years has been this acrylic box with twenty-four round containers with lids – which I use to store small beads, buttons, and sequins for crazy quilting and embroidery.
It is easy to see the contents – and they stack well. I try to cut out identifying information from the packaging when possible.
Some crafters like to use containers with multiple compartments that may be also used for embroidery floss or small craft items. The compartments may be fixed or have adjustable dividers. It is important to find ones with lids that securely prevent spillage of small beads among the compartments when the box is handled.
Some bead and findings assortments come in their own box – such as John Bead Czech Bead Recipe Box beads, …
Multicraft Bead Glass Kit beads, and…
and John Bead Findings Assorted jewelry findings.
This posting pretty much covers what I learned about basic jewelry supplies, tools, findings, embellishments, resources, and storage ideas as I started making jewelry for 18 inch dolls – especially my niece’s American Girl doll and my model – Audrey Ann – an Our Generation doll.
My next posting in this series will cover the first jewelry set I made – a lovely set of pearl earrings, necklace, and bracelet. Please check back soon.