Monday, June 30, 2008

More on "Standard Colours"

Last week, I talked about "standard" colours in Czech-made firepolish and pressed glass. Maybe "classic" would have been a better term - but they were the colours that you find in most lines of glass beads.

These following colours are what I think of as the "2nd string" of colours, they add more colours and expand the colour palette and options but are pretty common and easy to find.

mib21410 Glass Drops - 8 x 15 mm Flat Drops - Montana (strand 25) - Clearance - End of Line! 30% off!Montana Blue (a dusky, grey blue - named for Montana Sapphires.)
27898000-00 Glass Leaves - 7 x 12 mm Leaf - Black Diamond (1)Black Diamond (because "grey" just sounds boring)
27800405-00 Glass - 14 mm Puffy Coins - Light Sapphire (1)Light Sapphire (a lighter blue)

27000402-00 Window Beads - 8 x 12 mm Oblong - Light Amethyst (5)Light Amethyst

27801484-18 Glass Daggers - 3 x 11 mm Dagger Beads - Transparent Capri Blue (25)Capri (a dark aqua)

27802346-22 Glass - 8 mm Dancing Cubes - Garnet (strand 25)Garnet (a very dark red)
27001066 Firepolish - 6 mm Faceted Round - Smokey Topaz (25)Smokey Topaz (a smokey, transparent brown)

27001081 Firepolish - 4 mm Faceted Round - Alexandrite (50)27001081 Firepolish - 4 mm Faceted Round - Alexandrite (50)Alexandrite (a colour shift bead, blue in fluorescent light and daylight, and lilac or pink in incandescent light.)

27802340-08 Glass Ovals - 9 x 12 mm Flat Oval - Olivine (25)Olivine (a darker, slightly smokey yellow green.)

Note the absence of a true pinky-pink and a blue purple. Which is why we also get really excited when we find a source of these! Pink, purple and brown glass is made with gold - which is why they tend to be more expensive! Even more so with this last year's skyrocketing price of gold!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Amazing Paperweights

Paul Stankard is arguably the premier paperweight maker of all time, and unquestionably in the area of botanical representations. To look at his paperweights is to know awe: the intricate detail of the flowers, roots, bugs, bees - the delicacy of the stamens, the fine fuzz on the bees, the antennae - a moment of nature, frozen for eternity.

How does he get those flowers and insects inside the glass without burning them up? The secret is: they are made of glass too. They are tiny perfect sculptures, he makes them all by hand - and then encases them with more glass. And the end result is truly breath-taking. Check it out!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tag team classes!

Heather Bell Dennison and I had a bit of a play day yesterday. We're working on creating some intensive multi week classes in metal clay. Coming soon, we'll be hosting a 4 week ring class. Resin in metal clay, and fine silver fusing classes.

These will probably start in the fall, once we have all of the projects finalized. I've included a few pics below, please excuse the quality. As usual, I forgot my camera, and was forced to use the camera on my cell phone :-)

This one below is the rough clay not yet refined. Once refined and fired, these will be filled with coloured resin.

Below are some rings, and dual sided pendants

Heather fusing fine silver

We can certainly make quite a mess in a few hours!

We're really excited about these upcoming classes. We've wanted to do a ring class for quite some time, but a single day just doesn't cut it. There are so many options for making rings, and we want to show them all to you!

Sneak Peek at Next Week

What have I been slaving over this week? Well, apart from getting the database updated from the inventory results, new stuff coming up:

Preciosa Crystal. A flat-out competitor to Swarovski, Preciosa makes beautiful crystal beads and pendants that are very price competitive. Currently they are campaigning extensively in the bead magazines to promote their product - you might notice some of their advertisements. We are adding more of these, and reorganizing the pages they are on to make them easier to find, separating them out from more generic machine-cut crystal. They are known as machine-cut because they are faceted after being made, as opposed to being pressed into shape. The facets are sharper and brighter. Much like the difference between cut-glass crystal stemware and the regular stuff you get at Walmart. ;-)

Big new batch of Cloisonne too. Owls, fish, round beads, Flowers. Love that bloooooe.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Website Updated

We've taken our items count from the inventory and imported the data into the website - so right now, the website is about as up-to-date as it ever is! You see, because we have a store, and a website, and a point of sale system that doesn't yet talk to our website - it's very difficult to get the website synced up with our actual inventory! Today is the closest we get!

We are working on integrating the systems, but there is a lot of testing to do and code to write. We hope in the near future to be able to keep the two more closely sync'd - because we hate backorders as much as you do!!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blog Roll and other sites I like

Whew...It's really been a whirlwind couple of weeks for me (and everyone else here at beadFX) between our sale, inventory, and some weird mystery illness that my kids picked up.
I'm just starting to sort through my heaps of emails, phone messages, paperwork that's starting to topple over my desk and onto the floor!

By next week I should be somewhat back to normal....except I don't think I know what normal is :-)

While I'm getting myself reorganized, and somewhat less disorganized. I've put together a list of some of my favourite beady websites and blogs. I hope you enjoy them. - Stunning art beads in all mediums. - One of my most favourite metal clay artists - Of the Impatient Beader fame - From Beadwork Magazine - One of the most distinctive wire workers out there. She's so incredibly generous with her techniques. Lots of tutorials available on her site as well. - Queen of the lampworking presses

That's it for me today. Now, I cannot read these blogs today. If I keep telling myself that, maybe I'll get some work done :-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Inventory is Over!

Finally, after 11000 product numbers, 300 inventory pages, 275 man-hours and 7 lbs of elastic bands, our annual inventory is finished! A giant thank you goes out to all our staff, family and friends that got roped into helping us count for the last two and a half days.

And boy, do we have a heck of a lot of leaves and flowers! After counting just shy of 1000 crabapple leaves, I started to think it might be faster to count the leaves on the crabapple tree in my yard! Megan has decided, after completing page after page of botanical beads, that she never wants to see another leaf or flower again!

So what can you do with all these leaves? Why not try an Embellished Biva Chain Bracelet! Cindy Vroom will be teaching this leaf and stem style stitch and embellishing it with flower and leaf beads to create a sweet and charming bracelet. The class will run from 6-9 pm on Thursday July 10th. For more information or to register, please give us a call at 416-701-1373 (toll free 877-473-2323) or drop by the store.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Woven Starlight: Necklace by Marg

Check out the latest creation by Marg, in our gallery. Marg doesn't get a lot of time to make new jewelry, but when she does! boyohboy!

This features a Swarovski rivoli, sterling wire and rhodium plated size 15/0s.

Marg says that it is not finished (wowsers! there's more!) but:

I haven't finished the rest of the necklace because I haven't quite mastered the technique of doing tubular bead crochet with size 15 beads. I can barely see the 15/0's, never mind seeing which way they are oriented!

More detail pictures and Marg's full comments are here in our gallery!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Things that make you smile!

Not beady-related - but just one of those delightful little moments in life that make you smile. I managed to capture this "passenger" touring Ontario. Happy "Tails" to you!

Standard Colours

Many, many moons ago, when I did the bulk of the buying for beadfx - and you can thank your lucky stars that someone with better negotiating skills is doing that job now! - I was at one of our major wholesalers, and their agent was showing me a new line of beads. "What do you think of these?" she asked me. "Those'd sell," I grunted, non-noncommittally. "Okay," she replied, "I'll bring them in in the usual colours?"

Well, I knew exactly what she meant by "usual colours" - but I thought maybe you'd like to know too.

With the Czech firepolish and pressed glass beads - we see a lot of the same colours in the different shapes. It makes a lot of sense from the manufacturing standpoint - they have glass that they use, they just change the shape of the bead that they are making, but use the same colours over and over. That's why we get so excited about new colours and especially some of these earthy, swirly colours. They are new and different and spicy.

But you can't make a cake from spice alone, you need the standards: milk, eggs, flour, sugar - (or whatever you put in cakes - don't look to me for baking recipes! - I'm too busy beading. I probably would make a cake from spice alone!) - and in the same way, the "standard" colours are the staples of jewelry making - they become so familiar and comfy that you start to think in them - when you tell a friend that your new shoes are "peridot" - you know exactly what you mean - even if she is scratching her head!

So these are the colours that are "standard" in Czech-made Firepolish and Pressed Glass beads. They sort of divide into 1st string and 2nd string - the ones that you get if it's just the most basic colours, and the "expanded" line, still basic, but a more extensive selection.

And the nice thing about this is, because they are consistent - you have a better feel for what goes with what and what you are ordering online! (Batch-lot differences notwithstanding, and, of course, also given the way the colours do show differently as the beads get larger. Generally, the bigger the bead, the thicker the glass, which translates into deeper and richer colours.)

These colours are mostly named for the gemstones that they closely resemble.

First and Foremost - we have Crystal (clear) and Jet (black).

Then, the standard colour line up is usually:
27001197 Firepolish - 5 x 7 mm Faceted Bicone - Siam Ruby (25)Siam Ruby or just Siam (a rich Red)
27001289 Window Beads - 12 x 14 mm Beveled Oval - Rosaline (1)Rosaline (a peachy pink)
27001482-00 Firepolish - 10 mm Chevron Nugget - Topaz (25)Topaz (transparent amber)

erd0128emr Glass - 9 mm Dancing Rectangle - Crystal Emerald (1)Emerald (a green just slightly on the blue side of pure green. There is probably more variation in the "emerald" shade in most of the others.)
27801472-20 Glass Daggers - 5 x 16 mm Dagger Beads - Transparent Peridot (25)Peridot (a lighter and slightly more yellow green. I find that the emerald and the peridot do not work particularly well together.)

27802346-08 Glass - 8 mm Dancing Cube - Sapphire (strand 25)Sapphire (Sapphire is also not quite so consistently named - as there is a light sapphire as well - and sometimes, in the absence of a Sapphire, Light Sapphire is called Sapphire! This medium blue bead is also one where, as the bead gets larger, the colour appears darker, so the same colour in a 3 mm bead and an 8 mm bead look very different.)
27800401-08 Glass - 6 mm Flat Round - Cobalt (Strand 50)Cobalt (a dark blue, but just to confuse things, the sapphire, as the bead gets darker, tends to look more like cobalt. Cobalt is the colour of Noxema jars - and named for what was, at one time, the principle colouring agent for dark blue glass. Most "cobalt" glass is now made without the addition of actual cobalt, or so I've been told.)
s14591 Glass - 6 mm Offset Lentils - Aqua (Strand 50)Aqua
27802340-04 Glass Ovals - 9 x 12 mm Flat Oval - Amethyst (25)Amethyst (A distinctly reddish purple - redder than most actual amethyst (the stone))

Next week - the "2nd string" colours!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Open beading night

We had our first open beading night on Friday night with a small group of us. All of us made major headway on some projects that have been in the UFO (unfinished objects) pile for quite some time. I took the opportunity to reaquint myself with seedbeads. Many years ago I started by bead journey with stringing and seedbead work. I was around 16! A soon as I got bitten with the lampworking bug, the time consuming seed bead work was put aside.

I started with a simple 2 drop peyote bracelet, and was pleasantly surprised at how fast my bracelet was coming together. With luck, I'll have it all finished by the next open beading night.

We're still trying to decide how often the host the open beading nights. Stay tuned to the class section of the website for dates and times!

While some of us were working on projects, Dwyn dropped in and was busy creating new colourFX mixes! We should have her new mixes up on the site in a couple of weeks.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Big Bold Bug Art

Every year, I try to get to the One of a Kind Craft show, here in Toronto. And one artist I used to look for every year was "the bug lady" - a woman who did these incredible sculptures of bugs - over the top, magnificently surreal representations of bugs and beetles. Eventually, she stopped showing there, and I lost track of her.

But, I recently googled her name, Elizabeth Goluch, and Lo! She has a website. Check out her work, jewelry and sculpture of bugs made in gold, silver, copper and gemstones. (Pictured to the left, from my personal collection, a Rhinoceros beetle head, mounted as a trophy. Plaque overall is about 6 inches long. )

Pretty cool stuff!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sneak Peek at Next Week

What's in the queue for next week? Well, we had squarelets, which were flat squares that hang like drops, so it seems only fair to have Ovalets! Actually, they are called ovaltines - not to be confused withe the drink. Not as many colours as the squares, but I'm thinking that they could hang in nice grapey clusters off chain.

New sterling chain - I've already started using this one - I know, so unfair - and I always get compliments on it when I wear it.

A couple of new items in stone beads - check out this - no, it's NOT chrysocolla - it's a dyed crazy lace agate - it has a much higher shine than chrysocolla. A lovely colour, eh? This one will fly out the door!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another Exciting Change to our Website!

Woo hoo! Finally! Pictures and clickable links in the shopping cart. Now, when you put items into your shopping cart - you'll be able to see a picture! Easier to remember what the item was, and get an overall sense of whether the items you are picking go together, and if you forgot something!

I can't begin to tell you how long we have wanted to be able to give you this - and now, here it is. [insert happy dance here!!!!11!1!]

Kudos to You: Corsage Project

Kudos to you, all of you who contributed to the Corsage Project.

For those of you not in the know, the Corsage Project is a charity to collect and organize and distribute prom dresses, jewellery, shoes, hair styling, limos, flowers - all the accoutrements of prom night - so that young women who have earned the right to graduate, but might skip the ceremony for financial pressures can still attend and graduate in style and without fear of peer pressure.

Each year, we coordinate donating handmade jewellery so that these girls have a special momento of that special night.

I just received a lovely letter from the foundation, and I wanted to share it with you all because it's your exquisite donations that make this work!

The letter says, in part:

On Sunday, May 4th, young women from across Toronto experienced an afternoon they will never forget. On this special day, the Corsage Project held its annual Boutique Ball at Metro Hall in downtown Toronto.

This year's event was a smashing success. With the help of 200 dedicated volunteers we hosted over 200 girls from high schools across the city. Each girl was paired with a personal shopper who helped them select a gown, shoes and accessories. They also received a session with a make-up artist and hair stylist, a professional portrait, refreshments and generous gift bags.

It was an incredible experience for all in attendance to witness the transformation of self-confidence with a glamourous dress, new shoes and companionship. The transformation was stunning and left each volunteer with a sense of reflection and a most memorable experience.

Every year we are able to make a small difference in the lives of a few deserving young women. This would not be possible without the continued support of generous sponsors like you!

So - you can all picture yourself - standing to the side of the hall - watching those girls bloom - and again, as they arrive at their prom - pretty, a little giddy with excitement - glowing with the confidence and assurance. You have made a difference. Thank you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Coming soon!

New stuff - next week. OK - this is an excessive way to let you know what's coming. Mostly - it was just to test a new website I found. ;-)

Thank you!

We really have the best customers (and staff too!) Our sale was a huge success, and we all thank you for helping us to lighten the load of our dreaded inventory count!

We'll need a few days to catch up with all of the orders, and then we will be closed on Monday and Tuesday next week for our count. After that, things will slowly get back to normal. If there is such a thing as normal around here ;-)
Lee, Erin, and Carol are working hard to get all of your questions answered and shipped out the door. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Toronto Lampworkers Get Together

The Toronto Lampworkers group meets about once every two months for dinner, show and tell, and a chance to get together with other lampworkers. This past meeting was on Monday night, and we hosted the meeting at beadfx.

One really interesting project that the ISGB is doing is a Release-A-Bead Project. The idea is to release a bead into the wild to share the joy of beads and beadmaking to the world.

For more information check out the Release A Bead Website

If you are interested in joining up with the Toronto Lampworkers, you can join through the Toronto Lampworkers mailing list -

Here are a few pics from Monday night!

Some of Dwyn's current work.

Summer Blooms @ BeadFX

With summer finally here the gardens are in full bloom. While the irises are just finishing up on our boulevard garden, the peonies are beginning to blossom and the pinks are spreading like a soft carpet down the edges of the driveway. In the park, the hills are covered in fragrant white daisies and soft pink wild roses and a plump waterlily bud sits waiting to open on the largest of the ponds.

To honour the arrival of summer, BeadFX has two floral classes lined up - the Spiral Rope Lariat with Cindy Vroom and the Bohemian Woods Bracelet with Pamela Carson-Mitchell.

In the Spiral Rope Lariat class, scheduled for Sunday June 22nd, you will learn the simple yet elegant spiral rope stitch. This necklace involves a section of regular spiral stitch, ending with a stretch of embellished spiral stitch where floral beads are added to create a spray of colour. A loop of plain spiral stitch finishes the necklace - simply pull the embellished end through the loop for a simple, yet stunning necklace.

In the Bohemian Woods Bracelet class, scheduled for Saturday June 28th, you will learn simple macrame techniques, in order to design a unique and fashionable bracelet. The kits come bursting with summery leaves, flowers, pressed glass and seedbeads in complimentary colours. Using a variety of beads and baubles you will create your own individual design.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Open Beading Night This Friday

Come on out on Friday night for our first open beading night that we've hosted in oh...6 years or so :-)

We used to run them regularly, but this was way back in the day when we were much, much smaller. We started to run out of space, and eventually our regular bead n' bitch sessions just died off.

We'll bring the tea, coffee, and cookies. You bring your beading projects and creativity. Have a fun night out chatting with other like minded beady obsessed people! Friday, June 20th 6:00 to 8pm

Monday, June 16, 2008

Let's Be Clear - or Not: Transparent vs Opaque

There are some beady terms that we tend to take the definition of for granted, but I'd like to just pause for a moment to "make clear" what is meant when we rattle off terms like "transparent," "crystal," etc. These definitions are pretty standard - but can be confusing if you are just getting started.

When someone refers to a bead being transparent, it means you can see through it - but it is not necessarily colourless. In some cases, it's darn hard to see through, because the glass is a very dark colour, but transparent glass beads can be coloured, not necessarily clear.

27800407-00 Glass - Large Wavy Pancake - Crystal (1)When the transparent glass is clear and has no colour - it is referred to as "Crystal" - crystal being the colour. Or lack thereof.

To make this more confusing, "Crystal" is also a material that beads are made out of - like vases and wine glasses. Crystal is a type of glass that has some lead oxide added - which makes it sparklier and more refractive. Generally, beads made with "Crystal" glass are faceted - either by machine or by hand. We have an extensive line of crystal glass beads made by Swarovski in Austria and Preciosa in Czech.

96847370040001 Swarovski Fancy Stone - 20 mm Open Triangle (4737) - Crystal (1)So, if it is entirely possible to have a Crystal Crystal bead, which would be clear and a faceted sparkly bead. ;-)

27001756-02 Firepolish - 8 mm Faceted Round - Opaque Turquoise Blue (25)The opposite of clear is opaque, and you can't see through them, any more than through concrete.

s16314 Glass Drops - 6 x 9 mm Pear Drops - White Opal (30)There are glass beads that are between these two, however. 65002344 Czech Seedbeads - 10/0 Seedbead - Alabaster (hank)There are the "Opal" glasses - which have a milkiness to them - light is transmitted, but you can't really see through them. "Alabaster," "Greasy" or "Oily" beads have similar properties. You can't really see through them, but they do transmit some light, giving them a richness and depth.

mib2661465014 Glass - 14 mm Lentil - Aqua Givre (strand 25) - Clearance - End of Line! 30% off!mifp1065014s Firepolish - 10 mm Faceted Round - Blueberry Swirl (25) - Clearance - End of Line! 30% off!Givre - is an opaque, often white, glass layered under a coloured transparent. The opaque glass is looks like a cloud, floating inside the bead.

27898000-520 Glass - 11 mm Sliding Pillows - Cobalt Streaky Matte (10)s16761 Glass Daggers - 3 x 11 mm Dagger Beads - The Jealous Mermaid (25)Streaky beads are often streaks of transparent and opaque, for a particularly complex and interesting look.

That's the inside view on transparent vs opaque. I hope this was helpful to "clear things up." ;-)

27802352-01 Glass -  Matte Pillow Tabs - Black Cherry Swirl  (1)BONUS FACTOID: Here's something you probably don't need to know but I'll tell you anyway. Black glass is usually actually very dark transparent purple (sometimes blue). Making glass completely black and opaque is quite a bit more expensive - so very dark purple is the usual stand-in. Most of the times, you can't tell, but sometimes you get a streaky bead that is made with black and white and it looks more like blackberry juice - like this one!