I took a class from Joyce Thor through the Flint Schools recently on making hollow beads. I successfully completed a couple after discovering that paste solder is the way to go after I tired of chasing little solder chips around. The ones that I made are the copper and brass tube bead in the middle of the bracelet and the little brass lentil on the end. I wanted to make bigger ones, and I might someday, but that will involve sawing-not my favorite thing-because I couldn't get my Harbor Freight disc cutter to cut larger circles from 22 gauge brass sheet, even after annealing. So after lots of pounding, I settled for making three of the little brass lentils. It was fun but I think this will remain one of those things that it's more cost efficient to buy unless you're got a super high end clientele.
I started my jewelry making journey in 2006 and it quickly took over my spare room and spread out into the living room. I was able to retire from my civil service job in August 2008 and I'm now able to focus on it full time.