I am taking on online jewelry making class ( http://somethingsublime.typepad.com/jewelry_works/bo.html). We're making earrings, several different types. There are videos to watch, there's a message board to post questions and there's a flickr group for photos of finished eye candy.
I joined late because I didn't find out about the class until it was well on its way and I'm trying hard to catch up. Thankfully, I had most of the supplies - tools and materials.
I've learned during the last couple of weeks:
Copper is a lot softer than sterling. It is much harder to ball the ends of copper wire than sterling wire. And it takes lots longer to work harden copper.
Sterling likes a cooler flame. I have been using the propane torch to ball the copper and used it on the sterling this morning and those balls fell right off into the quench bowl, three times. After that, I turned down the flame and had no more problems. Oh, and those balls shattered completely in the water.
Brass and bronze are much harder to work than either copper and sterling. I pounded those two until my arms hurt and still didn't get to where I wanted to be. I've put them aside for now.
Worm binders from Bass Pro Shop are excellent for storing and organizing wire. We actually made a road trip to one of two Bass Pro Shops in California, quite an interesting trip. Photos are here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150274659593129.328904.708398128&l=f654373a2d&type=1)
Okay, I needed to put that down somewhere before I forget it, but now it's time to go back to hammering and shaping.