Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A concrete idea!

Well, I couldn’t let Dwyn have all the fun, could I? I was the second person in the store, to nab a container of Create Recklessly, Artist’s Concrete, and I need to confess, that I’ve already used up half of my supply. This stuff is seriously fun to work with, and I’m just getting started!
Many of you know that I love to experiment, so instead of showing you my first efforts, I’ll show you a few of my final ones (okay, I’ll show you all of them, but I like these the best). The idea is not my own, as I did spot a YouTube video, that showcased this technique. All you do is dump some glass glitter (the coarser the better) in the bottom of a mold, and then pour the concrete over top. The concrete flows around, but doesn’t seep all the way through the pile of glitter. When the concrete is dry (wait for at least an hour), take it out of the mold, and then shake off any excess glitter, for a fabulous hollow, faux druzy effect!! It’s better to use a clean mold, as the concrete will absorb any dust, dirt, or leftover pigments.
I've heard that you could use Alcohol Inks (AI) to colour the concrete, but that you should be careful with the quantities used (of course, they didn’t provide the recipe!). I erred on the side of caution, and only used four drops of colour. Either the colour I chose (Adirondack “Pool”) wasn’t strong enough, or I should have used more, as the AI only lightly tinted the concrete (the second photo in the post is the one with the AI). However, I’m not too worried, as there’s plenty of time for further experiments. I didn't use any pigments with the heart mold, but don't you just love it? Even better, it was a freebie, sent with an on-line purchase.
By this time, I was getting tired of glitter (not really, but for the sake of science, I had to try something else), so I tried mica flakes, and then some tiny rocks (that I had purchased for my October, Bead Embroidered Pendant class). I’m not that thrilled with the blue mica, but I absolutely love the rocks!! The cabochon reminds me of a dragon’s egg, and now I need to buy a teeny, little dragon, to see if I can play mommy!
Next I dusted mica powders in the bottom of a couple of molds, and then poured in the concrete. The coverage on the face cabochon turned out a little spotty, but I do love the starfish, seashells and button! The white shell is natural, and is from the first batch of concrete that I poured.
Next up, open backed bezels! I dug into my stash (for a couple of them) and added some packing tape to the backs (making sure that I burnished it well, to ensure complete contact with the metal). These bezels are pretty thin, so I carefully dripped in a little concrete (with a toothpick), spread it out to the edges, then lightly dusted on a bit of leftover glass glitter. I rather like the effect, don’t you?
Back to experimenting! Rochelle had gifted me some rusty road kill (random bits, picked up at the side of the road), and I thought that one of the larger washers would be perfect in the bezel. I added it right after the pour, and to my surprise (silly me!), it started to sink!!!! Oh no, what should I do? Of course, I added another smaller washer, and this time, right on top of the first. Perhaps not a perfect solution, because the proportions are off, but I haven’t given up on the piece! I still have the option to either glue, or draw something on the concrete. It's interesting to note, that the rust has started leaching out into the concrete. I'm not really surprised, but it's something I hadn't considered.
These faces illustrate the fabulous detail you can get with this product. I used a bit of the plum pigment (Create Recklessly) in one of them, but feel that I should have actually added more. The bumpy, organic piece is from a mold I made from a Lychee Nut shell, that Pam gave me. Now for the downside - An imperfect mold = an imperfect piece, so don’t be surprised if some of your pieces don’t come out perfectly. Just remember to throw out those molds, and start again!
As you can see, I’m quite excited by this product. My ideas seem to multiply like rabbits, and I plan to continue to explore my concrete ideas, in a concrete sense! Will there be an Artist's Concrete workshop in the future? Keep tuned, but first I feel the need to play!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Learning Really is for Life!

September! Back to school, back to work and back to a routine. It's also a chance to start a new venture and learn a new skill (why should the kids have all the fun!) 

Once again, we are holding our special Back to Class event so you can see for yourself the wonderful class projects that our instructors have developed and are ready to teach. Mark  Saturday, September 10 in your calendar now to attend!

Also coming up in September are our classes with Jean Power. An acclaimed designer, artist and author, Jean hails from England and is well-known for her geometric beading. Bonus: with each class you will receive a $40 Gift Certificate that can be used toward your class supplies or saved for future use!

Here are the classes and open sessions scheduled September 1 - 10
and Jean Powers classes later in September:

Thursday, September 1
FREE Afternoon Bead Tea
Facilitator: Pamela Kearns
Bring your projects and and any questions.

Wednesday, September 7
FREE Open Bead Night
Facilitator: Pamela Kearns
Be among the first to see the new weekly products.

Thursday, September 8
FREE Afternoon Bead Tea
Facilitator: Pamela Kearns
Bring your projects and and any questions.

Instructor: Pamela Kearns
5:00 - 9:00pm
Perfect for the complete novice to get started in an exciting new pastime.

Open Metal Studio: Kiln Enamelling
Facilitator: Christine Woollacott
5:00 - 9:00pm
Bring your projects and get tips and assistance from Christine.

Saturday, September 10
FREE Back to Class Event
11:00am - 3:00pm
Door prizes, refreshments and chances at a $25 Gift Certificate.

Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex (The AUD)
400 East Avenue, Kitchener, ON
BeadFX will be participating in this fun packed show for knitters!

 Upcoming classes with Jean Power:

 Friday, September 23
Sparkle Stars
Instructor: Jean Power 
10:00am - 5:00pm

Saturday, September 24
Armarria Series Bracelet
Instructor: Jean Power
10:00am - 5:00pm

Sunday, September 25
Sticks and Stones Bracelet
Instructor: Jean Power
10:00am - 5:00pm

Complete information about each activity is available by clicking on the title. You can also go to and click on 'Classes'. Follow the links to the September class calendar and click on the individual classes and sessions.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Inspiration from the past

By Cindy Goldrick

I love the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I could spend hours looking at the minutiae of life and daydream about the lives people lived in the past. The last time I was there I was lace crazy and took tons of pictures of the drawers of lace they have there. 

But if you can't get to England and want the inspiration of an amazing collection of jewellery, you can search the V&A archives online! Talk about going down a rabbit hole...

Go to and get started asap. I browse, sketch and then riff on the designs that can inspire me, kick start my creative process or even check out for technique ideas. I counted 134 pages of inspiration there, on my last visit. 

Jewellery moulds, dies, contemporary brooches, art nouveau pendants, bangles from Medieval times and the 1800s, belts, lockets (many Victorian ones containing loved ones' hair), and studs and buckles from courtiers' clothing. All fascinating to look at and see, all beautiful. 

For instance, this Calder necklace has me thinking about designs using my Now That's a Jig! and some annealed steel wire...

Meanwhile, this Roman bracelet has me thinking about stacking and soldering and bezels...

An amazing site to bookmark is It bills itself as "The best free cultural & educational media on the web." Here you will find links to art catalogues from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Getty Museum. They also link to free courses and movies.

The British Museum shares images of its collections, including the objects found at the Sutton-Hoo ship burial, objects from Pompeii and textiles for pattern inspiration. Go to then research to start your search. 

This Viking arm ring from the Sutton-Hoo horde has my mind circling ideas for my twisted bronze bracelets. 

The Museum of London's web site has 127 images of jewellery and buttons found as part of the Cheapside Horde. So many stunning baubles to inspire you or just make you drool while marvelling over the craftsmanship required to create them. I'm inspired by the shapes and composition of the pendants in particular. 

So if you ever find your creative muse failing, don't despair - inspiration is at your fingertips and online. And you can visit great museum collections from the comfort of your chair at home, perhaps with a glass of wine at hand...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

InspirationFX: Dragonfly Links

Dragonfly Links

by: Anne Marie Desaulniers

Dragonflies flit through the air, bringing light, wisdom, transformation, change and adaptability to your life. At least in a symbolic sense! My dragonflies are linked with chains, but still give a lasting impression of daydreams, light and movement! If you only made a wish, I'm sure that something magical would happen!
This two-strand necklace is full of movement and grace! In my original plans (which often go astray), it was going to be three-strands, and tied off with a red, silk strand. My muse said "enough", after I completed the second strand, and then totally scoffed at the red silk. The colour wasn't quite right, and the piece obviously needed more "weight" to anchor the design. So I dipped into my stash, and came up with a short piece of chain, to finish it off with style!

Top Strand:

Four wrapped loop components, with wraps on both ends, three pieces of "Throw me a Curve" chain, and four dangle components.

Wrapped loop component - three 6/0 Seedbeads/one druk/one metal round/one druk/three 6/0 Seedbeads (make a total of four).

Dangle component - add one druk and one 6/0 seedbead onto Ball headpin. Make small wire wrapped loop on the end (make a total of four).

Attach as follows: oval jump ring/W loop component/oval jump ring/chain (3 curves)/oval jump ring/W loop component/oval jump ring/chain (3 curves)/oval jump ring/W loop component/oval jump ring/chain (3 curves)/oval jump ring/W loop component/oval jump ring.
Attach four dangles to middle section of chain, with oval jump rings. Attach to jump rings on either end, and to loops on either side of middle curve in chain. Do not attach directly to the curved areas, as the dangles will not stay neatly in place (ask me how I know?).

Bottom Strand:

Five wrapped dragonfly (DF) coin loop components, with wraps on both ends, four, four-sun, chain components, two, two-sun chain components, and four dangle components.

Wrapped DF loop component - one 6/0 seedbead/one DF coin bead/one 6/0 seedbead (make a total of five).

Dangle component - add one druk and one 6/0 seedbead onto Ball headpin. Make small wire wrapped loop on the end (make a total of four).

Attach as follows: oval jump ring/one two-sun chain component/one W DF coin loop component/oval jump ring/one four-sun chain component/oval jump ring/one W DF coin loop component/oval jump ring/one four-sun chain component/oval jump ring/one W DF coin loop component/oval jump ring/one four-sun chain component/oval jump ring/one W DF coin loop component/oval jump ring/one four-sun chain component/oval jump ring/one W DF coin loop component/oval jump ring/one two-sun chain component/oval jump ring.

Attach dangles to either side of middle W DF coin loop component with oval jump rings. Then attach one dangle to W DF coin loop component, on the left of the middle component (with oval jump ring). Next, you will attach the final dangle to the W DF coin loop component, on the right of the middle component (with oval jump ring). Note: I chose to attach the dangles to the W loops, but it might be better to actually attach them to the oval jump rings (the choice is yours!).

Pulling it all together:

Attach the first side of Strand One to one-13 mm-open circle, with a 7 mm round jump ring.
Attach the second side of Strand One to one-13 mm-open Circle, with a 7 mm round jump ring.
Attach the first side of Strand Two to one-13 mm-open circle, with a 7 mm round jump ring.
Attach the second side of Strand Two to one-13 mm-open circle, with a 7 mm round jump ring.
Attach the first open circle to a 2 - inch piece of Rolo chain.
Attach the second open circle to a 2 - inch piece of Rolo chain.
Attach Hook Clasp to right side of Rolo chain, with a 7mm round jump ring.
Attach Swivel/Rotating Link to the left side of Rolo chain, with a 7 mm round jump ring.

If you don't know how to make wrapped loops, check out our "Tips" section, take a class, buy a book or magazine, Google it, or watch a video. The real secret is practice, so just get out there and do it!!
Tools used:

Flush cutters
Chain nose pliers
Round nose pliers

Show the world your carefree side, by either dressing this necklace up or down. Pair it with silk, linen, cotton, chambray, lace or even leather. Perhaps a little bohemian, but definitely perfect for someone wishing to make a quiet statement!


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, August 19, 2016

What's on sale at BeadFX?

This week - 20% off Czech size 11/0 seedbeads! The workhorse of beading - not always regular in shape, but such deal. Thousands of beads on a hank! Always worth having around.

Manager Specials! Check out what our manager has deemed to be on sale! Metals -

and so much more!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Concrete and Candy!

s50282 Create Recklessly -  ArtistWe're cementing our relationships! Getting them on a solid footing. In fact - we could say there is some thing really concrete about them!
This is Artist's Concrete - as used by mixed-media artist Robert Dancik - and is fun and easy to use. You put a tablespoon of the concrete powder in a disposable cup, add a 1/8 teaspoon of water - mix, and add a few drops more water to adjust the consistency. A stiffer mixture (like dough) is stronger, but a thinner mixture (like heavy cream) pours better - so you can adjust to your needs (packing into a bezel vs a mold). You have about 10 minutes working time, and it cures in about an hour.

The base colour is white, and we also have a few selected pigments for colouring it. You can surface colour it too after it has cured.

Here a good video on how to use it - I've been experimenting with it and I have to say - it's a lot of fun to use. Check out my blog post on the topic of exploring this exciting new medium!

27800952-03s8 Czech Shaped Beads - 2 Hole Candy Beads - Yellow Opaque (Strand 22)
On a hot sticky day like we've been having recently - you may have discovered all sorts of new things. It's so hot here that the birds are using pot-holders to pull the worms out of the ground, both taps deliver hot water, cows are giving evaporated milk, and asphalt isn't a solid any more. If you don't want your candies to melt and stick together - then check out the new Candy Beads. It's hot - but at least the glass isn't melting. Not yet, any way!

Candy Bead braceletThese Candy Beads - made by Preciosa - are another in the two-hole-shaped-bead category. They are round, 8 mm across, with a domed side and a flat side, and have two holes. They are surprisingly pretty and dainty for an 8mm bead. Here's some basic instructions to get you started.

Our big sale is ended, but we've decided to give you a one-week reprieve on the Czech 11/0 seedbeads. This week only - they carry on at 20% off! 

And so there it is for this week - click on a link or image above, or just check out all the new items here and see what melts your ice-cream!

Bead Happy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

First Look: Artist's Concrete

s50282 Create Recklessly -  ArtistI saw a video on Artist's Concrete, and then another video - and then another and someone asked about it and it looked really cool and I could see a lot of potential, and here we are - we are now carrying it in the store!

So I had a chance to sit down with it and do a little experimenting before it goes live on the website (tonight at midnight!).

First thing I can tell you - is that the amount of water that they say to add is not enough. You will need to add a couple more drops for a stiff mixture, and two or three times a couple more drops for a wetter mixture.

It also goes from too dry to quite wet and sloppy with a bit of a shine not in a gradual progression, but suddenly - so really do stick to adding just a few drops as a time after the initial add. Add the amount they recommend, and then add just a drop or two at a time.

These photos are shot with my phone - so they aren't the best - but they give you the idea.

First up - I mixed up some concrete and spooned it into a bezel. I used a bamboo skewer to jiggle it into the corners, and let it cure unadorned. It has a nice stark look to it - and one of the jewelry magazines (do you think I can find it again? Nooooo!) did an article about colouring concrete with pencil crayons a while back. (They say to seal after with Renaissance Wax).

With the left overs - I made a blobby cabochon just on the plastic on the table to see what that was like. That worked surprisingly ok too (but I can't show you because I've done other experiments with it since then). I later tried breaking that blobbly cabochon - and I could break it in my hands - so when this concrete is fairly thin - it's not as strong as a metal say. It did take some effort to break. It's stronger than, say - a cookie.

This is a fragment of that blob - I tried colouring it with alcohol inks. The inks don't flow the way that they do on slick surfaces like ceramic tiles, for instance, and it was very dark, until I essentially rinsed it with the alcohol medium. The effect is quite interesting.

 Next, I wanted to try embedding something in the concrete - I wanted to see if it would stick, sink in, or what. Using another of the square bezels, I embedded a rather nice Swarovski fancy stone. The effect is quite pleasing. I pushed the stone down a bit to make sure that the concrete flowed over the widest part of the stone to seal it into place.  

I then used a ring base for the next experiment. The ring has to be flat and stable while the concrete cures, so I cut a small, rectangular hole in a styrofoam meat tray, and turned it over, and stuck the ring in it, to keep it stable and level. I embedded 3 beads in it, and when it was cured, coloured it with alcohol inks, and added a little more variation on top with Oil-based Sharpies.(tm)

Then I decided to try casting it in molds. It casts well enough, and pops out of the mold ok, but you can see that I had quite the bubble issue. 

As you can see - it doesn't really shrink any significant amount.

So then I tried casting, and using some of the blue concrete pigment. If you watched the video linked above, you can see that they got colours that are quite a bit lighter. Bearing that in mind - I used a lot more of the pigment than they recommend - probably about 3 times as much.

This dragon pendant mold is quite large, and the amount I mixed really only filled the raised pattern part of the mold. I quickly mixed up more concrete - just using the left overs to colour it, so that it was deliberately lighter in colour, and used that to fill the rest of the mold. You could use this idea deliberately to make some thing like a cameo - with the background in a different colour.

I was quite particular about working the air bubbles out of this - I jiggled it about, first with a bamboo skewer in the mix, and then by tapping the side of the mold as it cured. You can see that this was quite successful, with just one or two significant air bubbles.

I later used the Gilders Paste to highlight the pattern.

So finally I decided to try something a little more deliberate. I mixed up the mix, put it into a bezel, and cut the ring off a starfish charm that has been in my stash for ages, and embedded it in the concrete, and then pressed two paw-prints into the concrete to evoke a walk on the beach with your dog. The paw prints flattened out and I had to keep re-impressing them, so I would say that this is a case where you want to make the mix thicker. It wasn't until it was just about to cure that the marks really stayed put. I think a thicker mixture and maybe making the impression a little closer to the end of the working time would help.

I have been carrying this in my pocket for a week now as a key chain, and the starfish is still resolutely stuck, and the concrete itself has taken on a bit of colouration just from the inevitable dirt, fluff and bits of dried liver that it encounters in my pocket.

So that is my first look at the new Artist's Concrete. I'm still quite excited about it, and thinking about what I can do next with it!


Divine design!

What makes a successful design? It’s not necessarily the most popular colours and beads, but that certainly plays a part in the overall outcome. However, I like to think that designs that stand the test of time are probably the most successful.
RenĂ© Lalique, immediately comes to mind, when I think of art glass. He was “a French glass designer known for his creations of glass art, perfume bottles, vases, jewelery, chandeliers clocks and automobile hood ornaments.” He opened his own business in 1885, and “by 1890 was recognized as one of France’s foremost Art Nouveau jewellery designers”. His pieces are exquisite and unique!
Louis Comfort Tiffany “was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass.” “Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamels and metalwork”. I just couldn’t pass up showing you some of his extreme eye candy!
Early Native American, turquoise jewelery pieces, make me absolutely weak in the knees. Green eyed jealousy (or should I say turquoise) hits, when I see some of them, but I’m sad to say, that I do not own a single piece!!! I have picked up a few turquoise pieces, over the years, but nothing that compares to these vintage ones, I spotted on Google. I'd be more than happy to wear them! Wouldn't you?
Both Lalique and Tiffany designed during the Art Nouveau period. Many of their pieces, (in fact, some of my favourites), were based on nature. A dragonfly is a dragonfly! It hasn’t changed over the years!! So, could we say that nature themed jewellery and art, have stood the test of time? Iconic Native American jewellery, and turquoise have as well! It’s also my belief that Haida, and West Coast Salish jewellery will eventually fall into that same category (as have the rest of their art). Their native imagery, carved out of silver, is by far my favourite, and I’m lucky enough to have been gifted with a wide, silver cuff, and a pair of earrings, while I was still living in Vancouver. I admit that the earring style is a bit dated, but the cuff continues to be a favourite. Imagine, a 2 inch wide, solid silver cuff, handcarved with a Thunderbird image, by a native artist (you’ll need to imagine it, because it’s too late to take a photo, and I didn’t realize that I was going to tell you about it). The piece was signed by the artist, and purchased for me, off a dock in Richmond, B.C. Who says that jewellery needs to be purchased in a store? It’s somehow just, that my fabulous bracelet, was purchased off a salmon fishing boat, for what was probably a steal! Art doesn’t always support the artist. Some need to actually get regular jobs, to make it work!!! ,
Well this post didn’t exactly go the way I imagined it! There’s nothing wrong with modern trends, but remember that you need to consider how long your pieces will last. Clean, classic pieces, created in the here and now, could be your legacy for future generations. Create them wisely!