Friday, November 27, 2015

1-Step Looping Pliers

Wondering about the one-step looping pliers? This is Rochelle's favourite tool! Watch how to use it in this video!

You can purchase it here:
 s37088 Tools -  1 Step Looper Pliers - Regular (1) Tools - 1 Step Looper Pliers - Regular (1)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Winter Craft Sale Continues #handmadeholidays

You're in luck - the sale continues! The holidays approach fast now, and if you haven't gotten it in gear - you're shaving it mighty fine, my friend. If you are already on a roll - you are probably running out of stuff - so here's your chance to take a quick minute and restock!
25% off everything* in the store. (*Ok, almost everything. Some select items excluded. But some stuff is more than 25% off. Way more!)

*OK - sale rules: The exceptions are:
  • No discounts on class fees  
  • No discount on gift certificates. 
  • No discounts on Studio time/lampwork cards, lampwork tools, glass and lampwork supplies.  
  • No discounts on special order merchandise, or special bulk orders.  
  • The discount cannot be combined with Art Clay large volume or instructor discounts

  • Some items ARE excluded from this sale. Some metal clay items, some big tools, and previously discounted items, and a few other items that are priced so low - they are already wholesale! You will be able to see online if an item is discounted. Remember - you always get the best possible discount - so if something has been discounted more than the sale discount - you will get the better discount!
Things tend to get a little-bit crazy around here during a sale, so we have a few rules to make it go more smoothly.

  • No frequent beader points awarded on sale or discounted merchandise 
  • No frequent beader points will be redeemed during the sale 
  • The discount is NOT retroactive and does not apply to previously purchased merchandise.  
  • No special orders or special bulk orders will be accepted at the sale prices. 
  • No Rain Cheques. No backorders. When it's gone, it's gone. The early bird gets the beads. Online orders will be picked in the order in which we receive them.  
  • Sale ends Midnight, Wednesday , December 2 (Toronto time) (Well - in-store it ends at closing time - because we won't make the staff stay until midnight.). If you haven't checked out by then - the items in your shopping cart will revert to regular prices. (And we can't change that - sorry.)  
  • If you are placing a phone or fax order, please ensure that you have the sku/product numbers ready, as well as the description. Same goes for email orders - as we'd prefer to not have our order picking staff have too many nervous breakdowns. It's always painful to find them hiding in the studio, surrounded by empty Ben n Jerry buckets and clutching a sticky teddy bear.
  • We will be VERY busy during the sale. Having this information ready when processing your order, will help us get your order out the door in a reasonable time frame.

We do anticipate that shipping will most likely be delayed by a day or two from our usual timeframe.
So click on a link and go crazy!

Don't forget our inspirations - 100s of free projects - and classes - if you are stuck for ideas! We have oodles of classes - including some fun 1-hour mini-classes to get you going!

Hot Connections:
Interlocking Ring

10:30am - 5:00pm

Serendipity Earrings
Winter Mini-Class

1:00pm - 2:00pm

Honeycomb Earrings
Winter Mini-Class

2:00pm - 3:00pm

Dagger Fern Earrings
Winter Mini-Class

3:00pm - 4:00pm
Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Play and the art of gift giving!

Where has the year gone? Yikes, it's that time again! Time to start thinking about what you're going to do about holiday gift giving. Yes, I'm aware that some of you, have been preparing for this for months, but I'd like to think that you're in the minority. The vast majority (myself included), need the cooler temperatures, to get our collective rears in gear! The thermostat has dropped (and late this year, at that), so it's time to make some fast plans. As a dedicated crafter (now billing myself as a Mixed Media Artist), I've been making handmade gifts for years. I started with sewing related items (stuffed animals, pincushions, clothing, cushions, placemats and napkins), then quilting and applique (including framed landscapes), and now paper, beads and all sorts of mixed media projects. I'll begin with a photo of my Mother's toy sewing machine. Nope, nothing to do with beading, and not being gifted to anyone, but as photos of most of the earlier items are nonexistent; I thought that I would give you a little peek into my crafting history. The thimble was my maternal Grandmother's, and although small in size, is really quite beautiful!
Now back to gifts! Are handmade gifts more economical? Can you really afford the time? Will they be appreciated? Are you stuck for ideas? I guess the answers to these questions are very personal, and something that you will need to answer for yourself. However this type of gift, does give you an opportunity to show someone that you care. It doesn't need to be expensive, not everyone will appreciate it (just don't continue to give to those people), but there's a big sale on at BeadFX (25% off, almost everything in the store - runs until December 2nd), the books and magazines are chock full of ideas, and you might even have time to squeeze in a workshop or two (check out the class calendar, on the BeadFX website). You know, you want to!!!
As for ideas, I have a million playful ones (because you know that you love making stuff)! Here are just a few: beaded &/or bead embroidered necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants, brooches, bezels, rings, ornaments, key rings, eyeglass holders/chains, pincushions, needle books, boxes and perhaps a little doll! A simple quilt block, collage, embroidery or landscape would look great framed, but don't forget to add beads, for an extra dash of pizzazz! Metal, polymer and metal clays present many options, as do Crystal Clay, Apoxie Sculpt and Ice Resin. How about making stitched and beaded covers for cell phones, tablets, eReaders and even handmade books? All this fun, is almost too much to stand!!
If you're anything like me, you'll probably be making gifts right up until the last minute.
But, do yourself a favour, and don't forget to treat yourself to something nice! Think of it as your reward, for getting through another holiday season (even though you probably won't be able to start working on it until January) Now get moving, relax and enjoy the playful journey, of making some very special gifts!!! Heh, heh...easy for me to say...I haven't even started yet......
By the way, no current holiday gifts have been exposed in this blog post, so don't start wondering, if one of them could be yours! LOL!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

December classes: Creativity isn't finished yet!

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
- J. B. Priestley
13 September 1894 – 14 August 1984; an English author, novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, social commentator,and broadcaster whose career straddled the 20th Century.
Yes, 2015 is starting to wrap-up but there are still many opportunities to express yourself creatively and learn a new skill at the same time. Looking for a fun evening? Join Angela Peace, Pamela Kearns and Anne Marie Desaulniers for three holiday-inspired classes in three hours at our Holiday Class Bash! Maria Rypan is sharing a new brooch project before it is published in an upcoming issue of A Needle Pulling Thread. Iris Rogers Melamed is introducing a new ruffled bangle. You can also finish up your last-minute mixed media gifts at Anne Marie Desaulnier's Mixed Media Evening. Of course there are encore classes being offered - all perfect for last minute gifts.

Here are the classes scheduled December 1 - 15:

Tuesday, December 1
Snowflake Dome Brooch and 3-D Snowflake Extravaganza
Instructor: Maria Rypan
2:00 - 5:00pm

Thursday, December 3
Freeform Wire Pendant 'Musette'
Instructor: Deborah Beesley
6:00 - 9:00pm

Wire Wrapping: Coiled Pendant
Instructor: Jen Rosen
6:00 - 9:00pm

Friday, December 4
Holiday Class Bash - Festive Fix earrings, Netted Snowflakes and Chilly Wire Icicle
Instructors: Angela Peace, Pamela Kearns, Anne Marie Desaulniers
6:00 - 9:00pm

Saturday, December 5
Hot Connections 1: Introduction to Soldering
Instructor: Iris Rogers Melamed
10:30am - 4:30pm

Mad for Plaid
Instructor: Angela Peace
11:00am - 4:30pm

Sunday, December 6
Altered Dominos 1
Instructor: Anne Marie Desaulniers
10:00am - 5:00pm

Thursday, December 10
Crisscross Sparkle Bracelet
Instructor: Pamela Kearns
6:00 - 9:00pm

Saturday, December 12
Hot Connections: Ruffled Bangle
Instructor: Iris Rogers Melamed
10:00am - 4:00pm
Taking Alcohol Inks to the Next Level
Instructor: Anne Marie Desaulniers
11:00am - 5:00pm

Complete information about each class, including course descriptions and fees, can be found on our website. Click on 'Classes' and follow the links to the December calendar.

Bring your projects and join us at our FREE open bead opportunities: 
Wednesday, December 2
Wednesday, December 16 (last session for 2015) 
Open Bead Night Facilitator: BeadFX staff members Bonnie Cottingham, Pamela Kearns or Malliga Nathan   
6:00 - 8:00pm

Thursday, December 3
 Thursday, December 10
Thursday, December 17 (last session for 2015)
Afternoon Bead Tea Facilitator: Pamela Kearns 
1:00 - 3:00pm

  BeadFX is proud to offer these FREE sessions. In return we ask that you use please our merchandise in our facility. Thank you.

Monday, November 23, 2015

(Ear)hook, line and sinker

I find myself tasked with making a pair of earrings for two different bead society meetings this December. For the Niagara Bead Society, I need to make a pair for donation to a women's shelter. We present them with a wreath adorned with the earrings, which are then given to the women they help. For the West Toronto Beading Guild, I have to create and anonymously packaged a pair of earrings for a holiday exchange. While I was designing both pairs, I started thinking about ear wires and how important their style and shape is to the overall design of a pair of earrings, and how some ear wires suit certain faces, hair lengths and even neck lengths better than others.

By the way, I work exclusively with sterling silver or jewellers bronze ear wires, as I have major base metal allergies. As a rule, I would suggest you spend the extra money for good quality ear wires, especially if you're selling or gifting your creations. Your designs deserves the best materials to make them stellar and to ensure they stay in the wearer's "favourites" rotation for a long time!

Here's a quick overview of ear wire types and how I prefer to use them.

These are pretty basic, and usually consist of a wire, that goes through the earlobe, soldered to a metal shape (round and oval are most common but square and rectangle work too.) They require some kind of backing device (sometimes called an earring nut), usually a butterfly but sometimes a round metal and/or plastic disc, to keep the earring from falling out and to keep it stable. You can make your own from fine silver or Argentium wire and sheet but it's often easier, and cheaper from a time standpoint, to buy them pre-made. I use E6000 glue to add stones or crystals. Studs can also include a soldered jump ring that allows you to enhance the basic design by adding dangles. I love to use studs to show off semi precious stones and they are great for young girls as they are more secure and a bit more demure!


Shepherd's hook/fish hook
There are lots of names for these common ear wires which have a variety of curved shapes and allow for excellent length and dangle in your designs. I remember literally wearing fish hooks as a young punk in the 70s and 80s but it's hard on your earlobe so I don't really recommend it!

Shepherd's hooks are named for the crook at the end of a shepherd's staff and they are one of the oldest known forms of ear wire, with examples found dating back to the Romans. Fish hooks mimic the look of hooks in any angler's tackle box and complement a variety of earring designs. All of these are easy to set up on a jig and reproduce quickly and cost-effectively with little effort. Don't forget to file the wire that goes through your ear, or use a cup bur to quickly smooth out the end. You don't want the wire to make small tears in the ear that can create infections...

Simple shepherd's hooks listed on the site are shown in the first picture. The second picture shows ear wires I love from Saki Silver, which is based in the US. They are easily made on a jig.


Balance in your earring design is essential to guard against them slipping out of your ear. So I spend a lot of time making sure I match the right type and shape of ear wire to my overall design for an earring. Some people push on plastic ear nuts to guard against losing the earring.

There are lots of online tutorials to make your own ear wires. I stick to dead soft and half hard sterling silver wire to make mine. Stay away from coated craft wires as the coating wears off with use and many people are allergic to nickel and other metals. I use the Now That's A Jig! to ensure my hooks turn out uniform, and you can add crystals or small silver beads to the wire to coordinate with your earring design and add texture and life to your ear wire.

Lisa Niven Kelly has a great free tutorial on that will have you making ear wires in no time. 

Kidney or french ear wires
These ear wires give you a bit more security than hooks, as the long wire end that goes through the pierced hole in your ear is captured by a hook that keeps the earring closed. The longer shape is called kidney ear wires, as they resemble a kidney bean. This style of ear wire can pop open, though, and I've lost earrings when the hook gets caught in a scarf and you don't realize you've lost it until the bus has long gone to the next stop. I find this style great for small dangles, since they balance 4 - 6 mm crystals well. If you're going for something longer or heavier, I would choose the kidney wires, as they will balance the length better.

Here's a great tutorial from the Beading Gem's blog on how to make kidney-shaped ear wires. 

Lever backs
These are likely your most secure bet when adding ear wires to your designs. The wire in the back nestles into a channel in the ear wire. There's a loop (in some versions it can open, in others, you have to add to the ear wire using a small jump ring) at the bottom where you attach your beads, etc. Like french wires, they sit close to the ear and don't suit heavy designs, although dangles on chains look great hanging from these ear wires.

Hoops are probably the oldest style of earring: examples of hoop earrings have been found in Bronze Age burials. Hoops are varied and versatile. There's usually a wire that goes through your ear lobe and is secured in a loop or hook or wedged between two prongs to secure the earring. With loops, like the one pictured on the left, you can add crystals or pearls for a boho look. The hoops on the right are perfect to wear on their own, but you can also add dangles of various lengths using jump rings and create a jumble of pretty, shiny yumminess.

Earring Hoops

Clip ons
Clip ons were created in the early 20th Century as an alternative to piercing, which some ladies believed was too tribal. Or something...My mother only wears clip ons and finds it difficult to find earrings she likes using these findings. It might be something to explore, designing with clip ons for that segment of the population that refuses to pierce holes in their ears for whatever reason.

Ear threads, ear cuffs
Late 20th century saw a rise in new and different takes on ear adornments. Ear threads consist of a post and chain. The post goes through the earlobe and hangs down as part of the ornamentation. You could add crystals and create delicate dangles. Ear cuffs look tribal and don't require piercings to wear. They can be elaborate and cover the outside of the ear, or they can be small and complement the other earrings you are wearing.

Ear Threads Ear cuff, antiqued sterling silver, 10mm scalloped with snowflake and hole. Sold individually.

Let me know what your favourite ear wires to work with are. Do you have any tips or suggestions to add for our blog readers?