by Jamie Smedley, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Most jewelry designers, at some point in time, will experience the frustration of nearly completing a design idea only to make a blunder so obvious that the very thought of trying to fix it creates instant regret.

The jewelry designers here at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® have shared in that experience. In fact, at one time I had a space in my home studio that held a score of these nearly finished designs neatly tucked away out of sight ... a veritable pile of disappointment that I hesitated returning to because I was too discouraged to remedy the mistakes and start over again. It's true, there are just some jewelry-making mishaps that are so common that everyone can stumble into them, but the good news is that through trial and error, the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads jewelry designers have come to discover a few solutions that will help. For those out there who share the frustration, there is hope! Cue the 007 spy theme song now ...

There are some super speedy ways to salvage those design blunders by just camouflaging and overcoming them with tried, tested and true fixes that are so simple, they are brilliant! Your mission is to try them out and see what works for you. Here they are, in order of popularity, the best disguises for the Top 10 Jewelry-Making Mishaps:

Master of Disguise: Top 10 Disguises for Jewelry-Making Mishaps 1. Too much slack in strung designs:
Sometimes a strung design can be crimped with too much slack between the beads, causing beads to gape on the stringing material. A fast fix to this is to add a crimp cover or two in strategic locations on the exposed wire to take up any slack. If you are new to using crimp covers, the stardust finish varieties are the most forgiving. Another idea for disguising too much slack in strung design is to add a bit of ribbon or leather cord tied onto the beading wire in a bow or knotted dangle.

2. Marred Colored Wire and Chain:
A hasty hand can scuff the color off color-coated wire and chain metals. Use these materials fearlessly with this quick color restoration idea. If a scuff happens, touch it up with a matching permanent marker. It is best to perform this technique on completed designs--that way you only have to do it once. After the touch-up is done, set the color with a light coat of Mona Lisa Metal Leaf top coat sealant or Jewelry Shield™ top coat. One way to head this problem off before it ever happens is to coat pliers with Tool Magic® before working with color-coated metals.

3. Broken or Chipped Beads and Briolettes:
Crystals and gemstones can be fragile and sometimes, while wire-wrapping or other ungentle handling, the bead holes can become chipped or the top-drilled portion can snap off. If this happens, don't throw it away! A quick fix for chipped holes on beads is the use of small bead caps to cover the chipped edges.

To recover a broken top-drilled item, you can secure it into a bead cone filled with E-6000® Jewelry and Craft Adhesive to make an instant drop. Don't forget to thread a headpin into the bead cone prior to gluing the top-drilled item so you have something to make a loop with. Another fun idea to experiment with: fashion a bit of Apoxie® Sculpt into a bail and press it onto the top portion of the broken top-drilled component for a new style pendant drop. Larger Crystal Passions® pendants and drops with chipped holes can be refreshed with the addition of glue-in grommets.
Master of Disguise: Top 10 Disguises for Jewelry-Making Mishaps

4. Marred Polished Metal Surfaces:
A simple way to restore polished metal surfaces is to take a page from the days of Pharaoh by rubbing the metal surface with an agate burnisher. You'd be surprised at how easily this is done on sterling silver! On the other hand, perhaps you'd like to incorporate a textured cover-up by taking a steel brush to the surface and giving the finding a brushed satin surface or add a hammered texture with a ball peen hammer or texture hammers. A note on brushed textures: this technique is typically reserved for non-plated metals since the steel brush can remove surface plating.

Master of Disguise: Top 10 Disguises for Jewelry-Making Mishaps 5. Air Bubbles or Fingerprints in Resin:
A quick cover-up for imperfections in Resin, apart from drilling out and re-pouring the resin, is to glue flat back crystals or other elements over the top of flaws. Another option is to sand-buff the surface of the resin to create a matte finish. Still not what you were looking for? How about a thin additional layer of resin, mixed with a small pinch of micro glitter, to dome the surface with sparkly goodness?

6. Glue-Clouded Flat Back Crystals:
Flat back crystals become clouded when they are glued with instant-cure glue such as Vigor® or Loctite®. If you have a slip-up and use this glue by mistake, you can attempt to remove the clouded residue from the face of the crystal with the use of a soft bristle brush and some acetone. This may soften or dissolve the glue bond. The correct glue to use with flat back crystals is Adhesive, SUPERTite or other 2-part epoxies, which do not leave a clouded residue on crystal surfaces.

7. Component Loops Break Off:
This can be tricky, especially if you only have two for a matched set. One quick fix, if there is sufficient space to do it, is to punch a hole with hole punch pliers in the broken component where the loop broke and then use jumprings to attach to the design. You will need to repeat this on the unbroken component so they match. Another option is to glue an Aanraku® bail onto the loop-less component to create a new loop for attaching. The best glues for this are either 2-part epoxy or E-6000.

8. Over Glued:
A couple things to note: If the glue is instant cure such as Vigor or quick cure like 5-minute epoxy, cleaning up with acetone before or right after the glue cures completely is possible. Epoxy should be cleaned up within the first 4 hours of gluing. After that, it gets exponentially harder to remove unwanted glue from bead and crystal surfaces. To accomplish this clean up, soak a cotton swab in acetone and gently rub off the glue residue from the face of crystals or beads/metals.

For clean-up of other glues such as E-6000 or silicone adhesives, wipe what you can from the surface with a cotton swab and wait until the glue has dried, then use your finger to rub the remaining residue off. The glue residue will ball up and you can easily pick it off. Dried E-6000 and silicone glue stretch and pull away from the surface easily. You may need to score the edges with a craft knife where you want the glue to remain then use pliers to grip the unwanted glue and pull. It will stretch and pull away in one smooth string. This technique works best if done as soon as the glue is dried; the glue becomes quite secure after curing completely. If the glue just won't be removed in a clean way, you can attempt to disguise it with a bit of metallic Gilders Paste® applied with a gloved finger or paint brush.

To simply smooth lumpy E-6000 surfaces, get a brush wet with water and use it to tamp smooth and push the glue where you want before it dries.

9. Metallic Finishes Don't Match:
What if you have components you really want to use but the metal colors don't quite match or the plated finish gets scuffed to show the base metal beneath? There are a couple of super fixes here. The first is using Gilders Paste to mask mismatching metal finishes to be more uniform. Seal with a waxy polish or with Mod Podge®. The second is to touch up the metal with a permanent metallic paint marker.

10. Gapped or Uneven Wrapped Loops:
When working with precious metal wire, sometimes clipping and redoing isn't in the budget. So if the wire isn't wrapped tightly or evenly, instead of clipping off the tail--if it is long enough to continue working with--you can continue to wrap it back up towards the loop to make a messy-wrapped loop. If there isn't enough wire to do this, you can add additional wire in a smaller gauge (26 or 28) and wrap it around the original wrapped loop to create a messy-style wrapped loop cover up to disguise uneven wraps. This is also a quick way to stabilize loose or floppy beads in wrapped loop drops. Finish the cover up technique with a drop of instant-cure glue to ensure the second layer of wire doesn't unwind.

Disguise with ...
Master of Disguise: Top 10 Disguises for Jewelry-Making Mishaps

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Make Your Own Beads and Components," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"This article was extremely helpful as I did not know any of these suggestions. Thank you. I have learned a lot about fixing/hiding my mistakes."
- Deborah

"Very helpful. Keep them comin'"
- Maria

"Great helpful ideas!"
- Ann

"Thanks, this was very informative "
- Dianna

"Thanks for these tips. I have encountered almost all of these problems in making jewelry and these techniques to correct a mistake will be most helpful."
- Betty

"Great info...thanks "
- Jane

"Very, very helpful!"
- Ricki

"Dear Fire Mountain, This was an Excellent resource! Please keep the helpful tips like these coming. I am a 10-year plus experienced beader and learned things I did not know in this article. Thank you so much for this and other articles like this!"
- Mary

"Great article! Although I am an experienced beader, I still picked up a couple of good ideas. Thanks."
- Carole

"Thanks so much for the great tips; especially the one about using crimp covers to fix gaps."
- Joan

"Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been making jewelry for many years and this is the first time I've seen a comprehensive list of quick fixes. Some I had come up with on my own but this is an invaluable resource. Did I say thank you?"
- Alice

"Great article with great solutions."
- Joni

"Thanx - I'll print this off and hang it by my table - I often goof and need fixes. I'd discovered a couple of these, but there good new ideas for me."
- Patti

"This article on repairing mistakes is VERY helpful and encouraging! Sometimes you have a failure after a whole week of patient successful work and you DO get discouraged! Thanks very much."
- Denise

"I think your ideas are fabulous. Thanks"
- Frimal

"Thank you! I've thrown out too many beads in the past but not anymore! Your info was wonderful and will save me time and money."
- Anonymous

"Love the quick fixes"
- Joan

"I thought the article to be very helpful. may be could do a helpful hint each month. I'd really like that."
- Anne

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