Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Business Chat - Stalking for answers

“How often should I blog?” “Which social media platforms should I use?” “Should I do any of the Thanksgiving craft shows?” “How can I double my sales this summer?”

Here is my answer.

I have no idea.

You are unique. Your work is unique. Your goals are yours alone. This is your business that you are running. Your situation is unique and special and only you can decide what you should be doing.
I can help you with how to set up a blog. I cannot tell you if you should be blogging. No one can. What if you hate writing? Or know that you can’t/won’t spare the time for it on a consistent basis? Or don’t feel comfortable with sharing your process? Only you know these answers and only you can make that decision.  

There is no formula for running your micro crafty business. If you are looking for a business with a formula and guaranteed success, find a lot of money and buy a McFranchise. Someone will tell you how to say “Would you like fries with that?”

You must make your own map to success.

While there is no formula for you to follow, a really interesting exercise is to look at other people’s maps. There is a reason that biographies are so popular, we all want to know how someone else made it.

If you want to know how someone succeeds it’s really easy these days.

Stalk them.

(not literally, that would be illegal).

Study their business. See where they sell. Read their blog, follow them on facebook, follow their tweets. Check how often they post on Instagram, see what groups they belong to on Flickr, study their Pinterest boards. Do they post free tutorials on any craft blogs? Do they guest post? How often do they update their online shop? And what online shop platform do they use?

Whenever I am making a decision about joining a new social media platform, or contemplating a major step, I check to see what the people I follow do. I currently follow 14 people closely. These are people in all different businesses, not just jewelry. I follow people in different industries because sometimes you have to think outside the box.   

As you do your research, think a lot about what you are learning and ask yourself what you want to do. Just because someone you admire blogs twice a day doesn’t mean that you have to in order to succeed. If you hate blogging then don’t blog. You’ll find another road to success.

It’s interesting to see someone else’s path to success. Do remember that this is their path, not yours. Trying to duplicate someone else’s road will not work. Because they are not you. You must find your own path.  

Voyeuristic peeking into the lives of businesses that are bigger than yours can be a lot of fun, but remember this: what really counts is what you’re doing, not what they’re doing. 

InspirationFX: Cirque du Spring


Get your creative juices flowing

Cirque du Spring

by: Lee Metsalo

When we got this assortment of brushed beads in, I visualized them assembled into different patterns, mostly architectural shapes from different countries.  But as I moved the pieces around, I also saw circus acrobats, and thus, this pendant was born.  Can’t you envision this dancing to your favourite Cirque du Soleil soundtrack?
Tinned copper is silver coloured, but not silver. It is not as shiny as the silverplated, but less expensive and good for practicing with. Artistic Wire is a copper cored wire that bends easily and holds its shape.
Tools used:  roudnose pliers, flatnose pliers, wire cutters.



Go to our components list for this project and to buy what you need!
Need some help with some of the techniques? Check our tips page.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cheerios! 15/0s! Prometheus!

s44722 Glass Rings - 10 mm Cheerios - Crystal AB (25)
Cheerios! The beadfest of beaders! Guaranteed not to go soggy in milk! For years we carried lovely glass rings that we dubbed Cheerios - and they were a big hit with the chain-mailers - because adding these into the chainmail designs gives you a lovely effect! They are great for linking in general, dangly bits and linking beaded beads and other beadweaving elements.

s44720 Glass Rings - 10 mm Cheerios - Chrysolite Vitrail (25)Unfortunately - our supply dried up, and it took us a while to find a new source. Imagine our delight when this Spring in Tucson, we were talking to a supplier about something else entirely when our eyes fell on a sample card with ... lo! Cheerios!

So we are pleased to re-introduce Cheerios - in 37 colours this time! Some of these have finishes that are on one side, making them functionally a reversible bead, a different colour from one side to the other!

tb15rpf569 Japanese Seedbeads - 15/0 Toho Seedbeads - Galvanized Turquoise [Permanent Finish] tb15rpf567 Japanese Seedbeads - 15/0 Toho Seedbeads - Galvanized Purple [Permanent Finish] For those of you jonesing for the next challenge in seed bead weaving - you know who you are - you've been pleading for more choices in the size 15/0s - and here are - 55 new colours of Miyuki 15/0s.

s44950 Metal Clay -  Prometheus - Bronze Clay (50 grams)
Also new to us this week is Prometheus Metal Clay. We're quite excited about this new(ish) metal clay and think that it is a nice entry point for folks who are interested in what is still a relatively new way to work. If you haven't heard of Metal Clay - it is a metal powder, ground extremely fine, and mixed into an organic binder, to produce something that looks and feels like clay - pottery type clay. It works very much like clay, you can cut it with a knife, roll it in your hands, make it softer by getting it wet, or let it dry and carve and sand it.
s44955 Metal Clay -  Prometheus - Copper Clay (100 grams)The difference is that when you have your piece in the shape you want, you fire it and the binder burns away, and the metal powder "sinters" together - forming a solid metal finished piece.

Or, to be more succinct - it works like clay and finishes like metal!

If you are familiar with metal clay - Prometheus is a pre-mixed clay, is very dense (it is optimized for carvers, actually), stronger than most in the greenware stage, has a longer open time (doesn't dry out while you are looking for the tool you swore you just had), can be torch fired, kiln-fired (30 mins firing time), and has a very attractive price point.

It comes in Copper and Bronze, and in syringe form as well as clay.

s44958 Tools -  Syringe Pen - for Metal Clay (1)Oh, if you use Syringes for ANY clay - you need this - the syringe pen. Pop your syringe into this, squeeze the handle and it extrudes a steady stream of clay, without the hand-cramping agony and thick-thin lines of using the syringe by hand. Now drawing lines with the syringe is not something you need 15 years of experience and hands the size of hams to pull off!

So jump into the great new stuff here, or click on a link or image above! Bead on!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Getting to Know...Kelly Garland

Kelly Garland is a familiar face at BeadFX. Not only does she work in the store, but she is also one of our instructors who teaches a variety of techniques including loomwork and metal work. 
“I've always been creative in one way or another since childhood but it wasn't until my late 40's when I decided to pursue metal arts as a career path,” says Kelly. “I did embark on an art degree in my 20's but was convinced by well meaning family that is was not a profitable career.  So it's rather ironic I've come full circle.”
“With jewellery, I started with bead work, creating earrings and other accessories for myself and friends. That quickly led to a desire and interest in precious metal work and larger scale projects,” she explains. “I applied and was accepted into the George Brown Jewellery Methods program and this experience has created a good foundation for my creations. While I love jewellery, I also have a great interest in wearable art and objects, such as boxes, lockets and the like.  Presently, I am studying to be a gemologist through GIA, The Gemological Institute of America.”
Like most artists and instructors, Kelly is inspired by many things. “Nature, art, color, architecture and unusual objects. Things that hold things. I love insects and have been brainstorming an entire collection which will hopefully come to fruition one day. In contrast, and sometimes to my own detriment, I also love very clean, simple symmetrical design.  So I often flip between organic free flowing work, and precise and more linear concepts.”
“I often use art books, Pinterest and Flickr for inspiration and keeping images.  I'll then print up a variety of work that I find interesting,” explains Kelly. “I find that if you surround yourself with images that get your juices flowing, good things happen! Then I starting sketching my ideas, no matter how incomplete or fragmented. Then I develop from there, redoing my sketch multiple times. Sometimes I'll have 4 or 5 projects going and I’ll go back to them when I'm in a creative flow. I try not to worry about the 'how to create this' when I design. That comes later. I develop the idea first, then figure out how to make it come to life.”
Kelly’s enjoyment from teaching? “Helping people be creative and learning from them. I always discover something new from my students,” she says. 

Her advice to other who create? “Establish your own creative space at home which is off limits to everyone. Make a mess. Make time for your craft. Protect your right to create.  Share your craft and never stop learning.”

Upcoming classes with Kelly:

Sterling Dome Bracelet
Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 23
11:00am - 5:00pm both days

Around the Metal Studio: If I had a hammer

Last week I talked about the mighty rolling mill, available for use in the BeadFX Metal Studio. This week, I want to talk about one of man's first tools, the hammer. But first, I want to recognize the amazing space that is the BeadFX Metal Studio. It's been reorganized to be even more student-friendly, and it's a great place to take a class or work on a project. Recently installed overhead lighting really brings the brightness of daylight to the space, even more than the skylight.

Evidence of hammers being used by humans dates back almost 3 million years. At its most basic, a hammer is meant to drive nails, break things apart or forge metal. Hammers have two parts - a handle and a head - but there are so many variations on that theme depending on what a hammer is designed to accomplish.

In the Metal Studio, you will find a wall of hammers that will make creating jewellery easier and give you professional-looking results. It might seem straightforward, that a hammer is a hammer is a hammer, but they are specialized to certain tasks. Hammers are available to try, and to buy, so take your time and make sure you have the right tool for the job. Here's a brief list of hammers and how to know which one to use for which task.

Brass Hammer
This hammer has a short handle and a barrel-shaped brass head. It is perfect for those of you who are into metal stamping. You won't damage your stamps using this specialized hammer. BeadFX has an amazing selection of metal stamps/alphabets for you to sample in the studio!


Chasing/Planishing Hammer
This favourite of mine has one round, slightly convex highly polished face that is perfect for planishing (from the latin for flat). You can flatten/stretch metal with the hammer, especially in repousse or for working wire when you want to flatten curves or paddle the ends of it. There is a ball-shaped or round end as well, that can be used for shaping metal, dimpling it for texture effects or even setting eyelet rivets.

Chasing Hammer

Riveting Hammer (also a cross-peen hammer)
This hammer has a square, flat face and a sharp, slim cross-peen. It comes in a variety of sizes and weights. I use this hammer for a couple of things. When I'm foldforming, I use the heaviest riveting hammer I can find and employ the sharp cross-peen end to make sharp, strong blows to move the metal quickly and accurately. For riveting eyelet rivets, or most rivets, I use the smaller riveting hammers, alternating between the flat face and the cross-peen face to flare the rivet and set it.

Rawhide/Nylon Hammer (technically a mallet)
These hammers are perfect for shaping projects without leaving marks on the metal. You can work-harden projects with these hammers. My preference is rawhide, but you need to try to confirm your favourite. You can also buy mallets composed of tightly rolled paper that accomplish the same task.

Rawhide Mallet

Ball-peen Hammer
There are quite a few uses for this general-purpose hammer. It has a rounded-peen face and a flat round face. You can create texture with the round face, you can flatten and shape metal with the flat face and drive stamps, etc in a pinch.

Texture Hammer
The faces on these specialized hammers have cross-hatching, dimples and other effects carved into the face so that when you strike metal with them, you can create textures on your jewellery that give visual interest and depth to your projects. Endless possibilities here. Use a little texture, use a lot. If you don't have a rolling mill, or your project is small or shaped, this is the way to get quick and fun texture on it.

Texturing Hammer, Checkered and Wide Stripe
The studio has a few other specialized hammers, such as the nylon raising hammer. And, of course, there are anvils, dapping blocks, bench blocks, mandrels and all the other tools you need to create your own jewellery designs. Take a class, explore or join me for Open Metal Studio night. You can learn, play, share and explore in a wonderful environment surrounded by everything you need.

Here's a short video by Rio Grande that takes you on an overview tour of hammers. Enjoy!
How to Hammer