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What to do when making a new design:
Invariably, when making a new design, your first attempt won't work exactly the way you wanted. You will find that it isn't exactly what you had in mind when you thought up your new design. This happens to us every time we make a new design. At this point you can do one of three things. 1. you can get frustrated and quit, or 2. you can scream for help, or 3. you can try again. If you are the type of person who frequently selects option 1, then making new jewelry designs is not for you. You should probably stick to following our instructions for existing designs here because we try to document the best way to make each jewelry design. If you are the type of person who selects option 2, please don't call us. We will respond to e-mail questions, but our answers are going to be something like this -- did you follow our directions? Followed by -- did you read our Beginner's Instructions here? If you are the type of person who selects option 3 above, please read on.
When we are making a new design, it will frequently take us as many as 7 or 8 iterations of making the piece before we get it the way we want it. The first thing everyone needs to remember is to begin by using practice wire and make every new component several times in practice wire before you begin to use your good wire. The second thing to note is that the first few times you use your good wire, you will probably notice that it isn't exactly the same as your practice wire. Many times it will be easier to make pieces out of your good wire because the hardness of your good wire will be matched to the optimum hardness for making the piece. Sometimes you may find that using your good wire isn't as easy as using your practice wire. In those instances here is what you do -- experiment.
Why were the Wright Brothers the first people to successfully fly a heavier than air craft? It wasn't because they were the smartest people trying to fly. It wasn't because they were the richest people trying to fly. It certainly wasn't because they were the only people trying to fly. The genius of the Wright Brothers that allowed them to solve all the complex problems in flying was that they did controlled experiments. They built the first wind tunnel and used it to test different shapes while they measured the results. The problem we have to solve in making a new piece of jewelry isn't anywhere near as complicated as flying, but the same approach applies. If you aren't successful using one size and hardness of wire try another. Use a gauge that is one size larger or one size smaller than the wire that wasn't successful. Try using wire that has a different hardness. Vary the technique that you use to make the wire component. If you aren't successful by the seventh iteration, only then should you consider option 2 above and scream for help.
While jigs for making jewelry existed thousands of years ago, they weren't in common use in the 20th century. When we re-invented using jigs to make jewelry, there weren't any books on how to use a jig. There weren't any teachers who taught how to use a jig. So how did we learn how to make jewelry with wire and beads? We did it the same way the Wright Brother's did -- we experimented. The craft of making jewelry using wire, beads and jewelry making jigs is definitely not at the point where every technique is known, understood and documented in books. There is still much to learn and the simple way to learn is to do controlled experiments.
Now let us discuss what is a controlled experiment. Doing a controlled experiment is simply changing only one variable at a time. If 18 gauge wire was too stiff and hard to work with, try using 20 gauge wire. If half-hard wire did not follow the rounded shape you wanted, try using soft wire in the same gauge. What you don't want to do is change more than one thing at a time. If 20 gauge soft wire did not wrap properly, going to 22 gauge 1/2 hard wire might not be the right answer. That was changing two variables. It could be that 20 gauge half-hard wire was the right answer. What we are discussing here is called the Scientific Method. Using the Scientific Method is simply what allowed the Wright Brothers to learn to fly and the same basic trial and error approach applies to tasks as simple as making jewelry with wire and beads. History has proved that the Scientific Method works. We suggest you adapt this approach to your new jewelry making projects. We use it every day.
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