Buy Jewelry Making Supplies – 12 Shopping Tips for Polyclay Artists

Shopping for Jewelry Making Supplies at Michaels

Michaels, a great place to find jewelry findings and beading wire… if you know how to shop their aisles:

We’ve all been there… wandering the craft store aisles trying to find wire for beading & other important items to make jewelry (earring findings, charms, jump rings, etc, etc). But because of the lack of knowledgeable help from staff, we often leave in frustration without actually picking up the items that we originally came for. Argggghhh!

I get a lot of comments and emails asking for tips on how to find polymer clay supplies and jewelry making stuff. Here’s a link to a recent conversation I had with jojo (one of the readers of this blog), about where to buy metal leaf and gold foil: Gold Leaf Polymer Clay

Well it’s time to take matters into your own hands when it comes to finding jewelry making supplies at Michael’s Arts and Craft Stores.

Here’s 12 shopping tips that will be helpful for all poly clayers, whether you are a newbie beginner or a more experienced jewelry designer already making money selling your creations in an Etsy store or at your own web site.

1) First of all you need to realize employees in stores like Michaels, Joanne’s and the Hobby Lobby can not possibly be experts in all the different mediums… and in some cases in none of the mediums. If you go to Michaels Careers section on their web site it even says, “You don’t have to be an artist to create a brilliant career!” The people with real expertise that you should be going to for advice, are the ones actually making a living with their hobbies (like me for example ;-). I’m here to help!

2) The ‘big box’ craft stores are focused much more on bringing you the best price rather than the best service. So you will have to figure out a lot of the technical stuff on your own. Reading this post will help you with the learning curve.

3) Spend some time on a day you’re not rushed to get to know all the areas of the store and what is there. When making polymer clay jewelry you’ll want to try all kinds of different supplies and crafting tools.

4) Jewelery making supplies can be found in more places than just the bead aisle. Silver wire or copper wire can also be found where the wire jigs are.

5) Wonderful cookie cutters which are great for making polymer clay beads, can be found in the polymer clay section, the Makins air dry clay section as well as fondant cutters in the candy and cake making sections.

6) Jewelry findings can be found with the beads or with the beading tools. But sometimes the best charms are found in scrapbooking or cardmaking aisles.

7) Think about buying rubber stamps, Adirondack alcohol inks, Pearl-X Powders and pigment ink pads from the scrapbooking section.

8) Look for glitters in the kids craft section, the paper making area, the paints and painting aisle and in Christmas crafts supplies.

9) Metal foils and metal leafs are found in a few places. Mona Lisa Imitation Gold Leaf can be found often where the adhesives are or where the woodcrafts are located. Sometimes foils like Jones Tones can be found in the fabric paint area or sewing department.

10) And don’t forget to bring discount coupons that you can clip from your local newspaper flyers! Michaels has regular 40% and 50% off sales which you should always use for buying the bigger supplies and tools. If you register online at the Michaels Art and Craft web site, you can print the coupons on your printer and bring a few friends to help you get even more discounts.

11) Try ‘pre-shopping’ online at the hobby store of your choice. That way you can print out exactly what you want and the staff can look it up on their computer to find out where it is in the store.

12) Buy your jewelry making supplies online whenever you can. That way you can sit in your pajamas with a cup of coffee and make your craft shopping experience into a virtual adventure.

So instead of turning around and leaving Michael’s without any beading supplies in your shopping cart, realize that you probably know more about making jewelry than the people working there. And that soon with a little research, you’ll be the one to point frustrated people in the right direction!

By the way, craft stores aren’t the only place to buy jewelry making suppliesbut I’ll leave that story for another day!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor


 

 

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Comments

  1. I love Michaels. That is where I usually get my beading supplies.

    For some reason I am unable to post my url on this post.

  2. Signed up for JoAnn’s “newsletters” several years ago..and do most of my supply shopping there.(‘Cause it’s 20 miles to the nearest crafty-type store here!)…
    There is always a coupon in those bulletins…and I always jump at the ones for “Free Shipping”. Not only does it save me time and money, but, as you said, can sit here in jammies and shop away!!

  3. @Kim: I’m not sure why that is happening to you. These darn blogs can be confusing. Are you using Firefox as a browser? If you are, you can click on the little symbol in the bottom righ-hand corner and it will switch that tab to Internet Explorer. Then it might work for you. (I have to do that when I write these comments.)

    @Garnie: Thanks for the tip! Although we in Canada don’t have JoAnn’s (at least not around here), this is great advice for all you American shoppers. Does it work for the online store too? Because that might work for Canadians.

    Cindy’s last post..USA Clay Cane Designs Left Out of Fimo Nail Art Trends in Google

  4. I have a resident that loves to make jewelry and she is bound to a wheelchair, and does not have computer skills is it possible to send her a catalog?

  5. I’m sorry Susan but I don’t have any Catalogs at this time. Thank you so much for asking though! If there is anything else I could help you guys with, just let me know.

  6. Thanks for the Michaels endorsement! I work at Michaels in Southgate, Mi, and fortunately, our Dept. Manager in Arts and Crafts is very knowledgeable and has helped me out as well. Most employees should know where to find an item. Not all are able to give advise on how to use them since we carry tens of thousands of different items.

    Another place to find jewelry findings online and to get a catalog, is at: Firemountaingems.com. If they don’t have what you are looking for then it doesn’t exist! They have it all!

  7. You’re welcome Catalina! I’ve always thought Michaels should give their employees free supplies each month so they can get to know them and how they work. I’m sure if you had the opportunity to play with the supplies you’d be able to sell more of them. If they split up their employees by department they would be able to specialize more. That is what the art stores do.

    You’re right about Fire Mountain Gems, they do have a lot of stuff!

    Thanks for your comment!

  8. I am trying FireLine or PowerPro brand fishing line to string polymer beads. Anybody have advice about knots for jewelry clasps? The knot I have tried–palomar sometimes tightens most of the way completely but there is a thread left not tight. I can’t get that thread to tighten into the knot and have to start all over from the beginning–not fun.

  9. Rosemary, my dad was a fisherman so I know a knot that would work, but would be impossible to describe in words. There are some free beading instructions including knot tying at FireMountainGems in video that may help. A drop of glue on the knot you are using may work as well.

  10. I was wondering if you know of supply companies that would send you free samples of their products?

    I am new and my 15 year old daughter and I are trying to start our own business around here; so that we could start saving for her to go to college of the Arts in NY.

    But, we have purchased some items that were no good and somewhat expensive along the way. However, with me being taken out of work in Feb. 08′, this is a habit we can not afford to keep doing.

    MAY GOD LITE OUR PATHS EVERYDAY

    Thank you
    Michele

  11. Hi Michelle. You can ask companies if they are interested in giving you products to try, but honestly, there needs to be something in it for them.

    Like, you would need to have a blog with lots of traffic where you could write reviews. Or be a charity or something. You can’t just be someone who wants free stuff.

    Another option is to read reviews done by other people, so you can avoid buying product that doesn’t work that well. I’m sorry I can’t give you better news than that.

  12. Any luck finding pendant bezels at Michael’s, Joanne or any place unusual? The only ones I ever find are online and *expensive*. Just looking for plain oval mounts. Creative suggestions appreciated!

    • @Melody: A lot of time has passed, but I wanted to let you know that Michael’s has a lot of new items, including pendant bezels by Lisa Pavelka! There were two shapes, a square one, and I believe the other was oval (not 100% on that, though.) I was just really excited by all the new stuff — I couldn’t believe it!

      Michael’s polymer clay aisle was getting very thin, product-wise. The Fimo clay had been on clearance the last time I was there, very picked-over. The tools were the same old ones they’ve carried forever (which I either owned or didn’t need because they were geared more towards ceramics.) Now the Fimo clay is completely gone, unfortunately. I mostly use Premo, but I hate to see the original clay go “bye-bye.” Anyway, Michaels now has some very cool, new items in their polymer clay aisle (and in jewelry, too!) It’s VERY EXCITING!

  13. Hi Melody! I was hoping someone else would pipe in. I don’t really have a source for oval mounts for you but have you seen those CaBezel molds that shadesofclay.com sells? They are forms for making your own bezels out of polymer clay. You should check them out to see if they might work for you.

    In the future I will be doing a wire bezel tutorial, but that won’t be for a couple of months yet. Until then I’ll keep my eye out!

  14. Finally, Michael’s has added new products to their polymer clay aisle. I need a life, I guess, ‘cuz I was overjoyed to see this stuff! Linda K had mentioned the new inventory when she told me about her new Walnut Hollow Extruder. But I was still pleasantly surprised, even knowing it would be there!

    I walked up to a lovely new display of poly-FUN! The Studio by Sculpey tools have been repackaged (and changed around a bit) as Sculpey tools. They had Linda’s new extruder, which is like the Makins’, but with a cool folded crank-handle. (Linda reviewed it on the the Makin’s Extruder post.)

    They have another Walnut Hollow product — an embossing set for clay. It has all kinds of textures, cutters, stamps, and a case to fit it all in. Looks cool, but I couldn’t afford it that day.

    I saw some Premo brand items: a great set of 12 mini shape-cutters, and glitters – reg. & metallic. There were also texture plate sets, metal powders, texture stamp/shape cutters, new blade sets, a Sculpey (?) instructional DVD, jewelry kits w/clay & findings, 2 different Sculpey doll molds, a wave comb (that can be used for textures & measuring,) and some other things I can’t remember!

    They had a bunch of Lisa Pavelka stuff, too. Waterslide transfers, border molds, pendant bezels, foils, PolyBonder, Claying Around DVD, etc. No Magic Glos, unfortunately. I would have been a little too excited to find that there! Uh, where’s the ladies room? (LOL, you know I mean bladder control, right? Sorry!)

    The jewelry section has new stuff, too! Metal working tools — YAY! They have a chasing hammer, anvil, metal shears, metal-shaping pliers, metal punch, files, dapping block, dapping set, metal sheets, rivets, and lots more. Again, I was so surprised to see this stuff there! I bought the chasing hammer, but I’m not sure I like it. It’s very (too?) light-weight, and is not domed. I don’t know enough about these hammers to question quality, but I think I’m going to take this back and order one with a half-domed side, instead. If anyone uses a flat chasing hammer and has advice for me here, I’d love to hear it!

    Looks like Michaels is trying to catch up to the needs of jewelry makers & polymer clay artists. It’s awesome, but I didn’t find the new metal-working stuff at the 2nd store I went to. Maybe they hadn’t put it out yet. As far as the polymer clay items, the new products were mostly sold-out at the 2nd store. I bought the little cutter set, but the Lisa P. stuff was already gone. Good thing I bought a couple items at the 1st Michaels! I imagine if it sold that well, though, they’ll be getting more…

    One other item: in the dollar bins, I found little 4-pack sets of micro glitters and flocking powders. I bought a jar of the Martha Stewart flocking before Easter, but never got around to trying it. These are much cheaper, so I went ahead & bought some of these cute flocking color-sets. It seems like they’ll look so cool. I want to roll some clay into the flocked powder and end up with a velvety-soft bead. I’ll let you know how they turn out…

    I’m flat on my back today, recovering from yesterday’s shopping trip. But I hope to start claying tomorrow. Oh, please, let me feel good enough to try out my new stuff! I apologize for the long post, though. I just had to spread the word about new goodies at the craft store!

    • @Phaedrakat: Sounds like you went a little crazy like I did at Hobby Lobby last visit. I pray you are up and using all those goodies and creating all kinds of goodies. It is a good thing there isn’t a Michael’s in my area I would probably try to go right now and I am trying to fight off one of those headaches that could easily turn into a migraine. Which being on the computer does not help at all. Sometimes it is like I get into this blog so much I ignore the signs of my illness. I better go get an ice pack and shut the lights off before it is too late. I won’t be able to have any sympathy for myself this time. Shhhhhhhhhhh don’t tell my husband I was on the computer before the migraine set in.

      • @Peggy Barnes: Peggy, I hope you got straight into bed before your migraine got full-force! Those are terrible — I’ve suffered from them since my teens. But it’s strange, I’ve got horrible back pain now, and my migraines have decreased to nearly none! (Knock wood…) I do get headaches almost daily — tension headaches, sinus headaches, you’re-driving-me-crazy Sister headaches, etc. But for some reason the migraines aren’t happening as much. That’s a blessing; I’ll count it! I’m so sorry for you, Peggy. When you get one of those, you gotta take your meds, and get in your bed in a dark, cool, quiet room. I hope you’re feeling better by the time I’ve written this. If you caught it early enough, maybe…

        You’re right, I did go pretty crazy with the purchases, but I’ve not used them yet. I’m still trying to set up my work area/studio (haha) so that I can get my supplies back out and leave them (organized) in the same spot. It’s been difficult before this, having to put my projects away because they were in someone else’s way. Now I’ve just about got everything I need (new shelving, tables, drawers, storage, etc.) to finish my clayspace. I should be able to work efficiently, and yet drop everything and leave it if I need to lay down and rest. It’s been really hard getting to this place, but I’m nearly there — really close. Without my car, I’ve been at the mercy of others for shopping trips and getting things I need, so it’s been a huge hassle & mess. Now that I have everything (except the food processor,) I plan to organize & set it up over the weekend. By next Monday, I should be able to clay. If it happens before that, all the better. When the last tool is organized, and I’m ready to clay, I’ll be wanting the food processor. If I haven’t found a used one by then, I’ll grab the the new one from the cupboard and get to work. I’m so excited!

        I’m very eager to try the new stuff, but I have so many things on my to-do list. I need to prioritize the things I want to make, or I’ll be overwhelmed and not get anything done. It’s going to be so great to actually clay again! My back had better cooperate! But even if it doesn’t, I’ll be able to start and stop any time I want,without worrying about putting my “mess” away! Yay! Sorry for the long story, but I’ve been waiting a long time for this. It’s finally within reach. I hope you are feeling GREAT tomorrow, and get some claytime for yourself, too! Uuuuggs to you, Peggy! ~Kat

  15. Well if that is not a sign to get off this computer I don’t know what is. My comment just took it upon itself to be posted. I am off to the freezer for eye pack and ice bag then into my bedroom for darkness and quiet.
    Uuuuuuuggggs to all, Peggy
    p.s. I am hitting the submit button this time.

    • @Peggy Barnes: So sorry to hear about the migraines. My mom suffers from them from time to time. Have only had 2 myself so I don’t know the warning signs, but I do have a bit of a sense of what you’re going through. Take care of yourself, OK?

  16. I also noticed that Michaels has been chaning the polymer clay isle here in NJ. Sculpy has come out with a new or renamed polymer clay called Firefly its geared toward kids but the colors and ease at which it is supposed work sounds interesting..they have also added molds to be used with this clay. I bought the princess set..it looks like a cholocate mold but is harder to work with the regular clay…have not bought the new brand yet. but I did put the mold in the freezer for90 seconds as recommended and it did come out fairy easy..just takes some practice..thank heaven for the 40%off coupons ( ACMoore and Micheals will accept each others coupons which helps alot)

    • @Natalie: I did see that new clay, but I was so busy with the other stuff that I never checked it out. I saw it was “kiddie” oriented, and moved on. That was silly of me not to look further, molds and things like that are good no matter what you’re making!

      The Firefly Pluffy clay sounds pretty interesting, actually; I just read about it at the Polyform website. It sounds like it might be related to Ultra-light (the fact that it’s fluffy & it floats..?) There are lots of colors, including glow-in-the-dark! I hope this clay is a nice, strong one — it would be wonderful for there to be an excellent polymer clay for kids to use, one that will bake good & hard. A kid’s clay creation needs to last, not break. No one wants an upset child, crying over their ruined art (like with Sculpey III!)

      Cindy, perhaps a review is in order for this new clay…?

  17. Hi Cindy,
    Is very nice writing to you recently I’ve seen your tutorials out on youtube and i just love every single advise you give. I been working with polymer clay for over a year now and I have come up with some real pretty jewelry nothing compare to yours of course. But I am having one problem all my jewelry tends to come apart I could wear a necklace and all of a sudden is hanging or something comes off, or a ring for example if I hit my hand by mistake the my creation will be flying and i’m just left with the ring base on my finger :) lol is upsetting because I actually want to be able to sale some of my creations but the way things are going I don’t see that happening. Can you help me what type of findings are the best to work with so my jewelry won’t come apart and the best glue to use for my rings? I would really appreciate your help it would be an honor to hear back from you!
    Thanks for all you do and keep up the amazing work you are doing.

    Wayka Diaz

    • Hi Wayka, thanks for your wonderful comments! I agree that it is very important that the quality of your work be high if you plan on selling your work. That means you need to use good quality findings and adhesives in addition to making a well made polymer clay piece.

      I have found that some products just aren’t well made, where as others are excellent. As I find products that are good (or bad) I will try and tell everyone about them.

      There isn’t a particular brand of finding that I recommend (yet), but as far as food adhesives to use with metal and polymer clay, I like both Weldbond glue and E6000 glue. They are both excellent and they are safe to use on polymer clay. Thanks for commenting!

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