Of top priority for all beading projects, "first make yourself comfortable." Making sure you are comfortable before starting helps to assure no aches and pains when you are finished. You will also need to use good lighting. I find this being able to "see" is an absolute necessity. Gather up all you need right from the start of the project.
Sitting: How you sit for long periods of time will ultimately determine how you feel at the end of the project. Your posture is important. Be sure you do not have to lean toward your work. If you will sit at a table or work with materials on a tray sitting on your lap, you will find this helps alleviate fatigue and injury.
Your chair should have good back support. Use a cushion in the seat and back of chair if necessary. If you choose to sit on a stool or a low back chair, you might end up with a backache and even worse some kind of back injury.
Never sit for long hours working on projects. Take breaks frequently. Get up, shake your hands out, bend your fingers back to stretch them out, walk around a little bit and if you want actually do some stretches geared toward people who sit at desks and work.
I have found some excellent reports on stretching through the Harvard School of Health website. I do a full routine of stretches daily, which is recommended to maintain good flexibility in all joints.
Rest your eyes by focusing on other things besides the project at hand.
Always stay hydrated. I keep a jug of water by my side at all times. It is easy to forget to drink water when you get busy. If you keep a jug of water by your side at all times, it is easier to stay hydrated. Just take a few sips at a time if you can not tolerate drinking many ounces at a time. This works best for me.
Resting your eyes is very important. Jewelry making can be tiring on the eyes. And of course as we age, this can get worse. Investing in magnifying light is what I plan on doing next. Even wearing jeweler glasses has occurred to me at sometime in my future of jewelry making. Take frequent breaks looking up and away from your projects. Simply looking across the room, focusing on other objects can help alleviate eye fatigue.
What is the absolute most important tool in your jewelry tool box? No. It is not your pliers. It is your HANDS. Long periods of jewelry making time can cause your hands to become sore and tight.
Stretch your fingers and hands frequently as you work and try applying hand cream at the end of your projects. I am so guilty of not doing this. I need to take more time to stretch out my hands as they do get "tingly," from long periods of time on the keyboard, jewelry making, even holding onto the treadmill as I exercise causes hand fatigue for me. This is one area of my body I neglect more than any other area.
Do you ever find yourself getting so caught up in jewelry making that you forget to get up and stretch out everything that becomes tensed up and tight? Try setting an alarm on a clock or your phone to remind you every so often to take a break.
Honestly, my greatest problem right now with bead work is "magnification." I plan on searching for tools to help magnify objects. It is easy to lose bead regardless of how well you are set up or how well you can see. It is much easier to lose beads when you absolutely can not see them on the board, or you can not see where to place your jewelry components through the tiny holes on the beads.
I might have to write another article about the devices I find to help me with magnification. I know it has got to be a problem for others as well.
These are just a few helpful physical health tips for bead jewelry artisans.