Wednesday, June 30, 2010
But this artwork-with-running-water is way beyond anything I ever imagined.
This is the washroom at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey - and not a word of mention of it on their website, I might add.
Now - I'm thinking to myself - I have enough beads - I could do that ... . Dangerous thoughts indeed!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Our very own Malliga Nathan will be teaching this beginner class tomorrow. Imagine... for just a small fee, you will be able to dabble into wire working (bending, hammering, and shaping sterling wire), and still work with beautiful beads.
Here's some of what's coming up in July:
Japanese Stepping Stone with Marilyn Gardiner
Right Angle Weave Lariat and Earrings with Rae Huggins
And don't forget, we have our guest instructor, Marcia Decoster, teaching three classes this month: Queen's Anne's Lace Bracelet, Bellisimo, Falling Leaves Lariat.
Monday, June 28, 2010
In this situation, it was a large bead - ok - that's not news, and I wanted to do something other than stick it on a chain. That is my usual approach - just to hang the bead on a chain.
I found a strand of beads that I bought a few years ago that I thought went well with the focal bead - the dark blue of the beads picks up the dark blue undercolour of the focal bead. I had been looking for a way to use these beads - as I think they are very handsome in their own right.
So - the obvious solution is to string the bead, hang the focal and bingo!
Except - the strand of beads was not long enough by itself. So - I needed to supplement the length.
One good way to do this is to add spacers or smaller beads in between the beads, and I added a few at the center - but I just really like the unbroken stretch of blue, and wanted to keep that look. So I opted instead for sterling rounds at the back to extend the length.
The other issue was how to hang the focal bead - which is definitely vertically oriented.
I searched through my stash of bails, and found one I liked - but my first attempt at stringing this reveals that the large hole in the bail made it hang very low, relative to the surrounding beads. I found some sterling round beads to string inside the bail so that it would sit centred relative to the beads on either side.
(By the way, if I am problem-solving like this, I start stringing from the centre of the necklace - not the ends.)
Now, I need a clasp. The clasp can make or break the piece. It has to look integrated, like it belongs there. The only one I could find that I really wanted to use was already in use - but on a necklace that I had earmarked to take apart and re-cycle the components of - it's a little bland for my taste.
Oh, and yes - this is typical of the sort of chaos that I work in. 65 different ideas on the go at once. See how the big bead at the bottom right really goes with the Chrysocolla and Lapis that has just been dumped next to it? Those of you who want to know where to get inspiration from - stop cleaning up.
Next design discovery was that the larger sterling rounds were tall enough to make it difficult to get a finger in to depress the lever on this clasp in order to open it.
So I wound up taking out one large bead and replacing it with two smaller ones to make up the same length. The end result looks fine - possibly better, and highlights that you have to make sure everything works before you finalize it!
I wired up the pendant - and then decided I didn't like the way that looked ...
... and cut the wire off and tried again - this time finding an actual headpin that was long and strong enough to do the job - a rare thing with my beads.
And the final step was that there is a little bit of play in the necklace - the tension can't be extremely tight or the beads won't drape nicely and sit beside each other, but it is enough for bail to move and sit at a bit of an angle relative to the beads on each side of it - I want the bail and the two blue beads beside it to remain level. I was going to slide a piece of wire through the assembly - but of course - it won't fit - should have wired them up as one piece first.
So I put some glue into the holes instead - so they won't slide around. Seems to be working fine.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
First, silver metal clay is made up of a binder, water, and fine silver particles that when fired the metal sinters and binder will burn off. The process of sintering is "to cause (ores or powdery metals) to become a coherent mass by heating without melting". So in this case we are heating our fine silver to below its melting point to bond together to become solid metal. The way I understand this is that when metal clay is fired it is made up of a mass of silver particles bonded together.
Now in order for silver metal clay to properly sinter two factors need to be taken into account: temperature & time. Both these factors are important in to making sure the metal sinters properly. The metal clay need to reach at least a minimum temperature and it needs to be held at this temperature for at least a minimum amount of time.
There is a philosophy out there that in order for metal clay to sinter properly you need to fire the clay at 1650F for 2 hours. I agree with this philosophy in most part - I do believe that you will get the best possible sintered metal clay if you do this but other methods are options although not ideal and I will explain this as I write. (by the way there are other methods of firing metal clay which I am not touching on today)
KILN FIRING SILVER METAL CLAY
No matter what brand of metal clay you use the manufacturer will recommend firing times and temperatures. For example a Art Clay Silver 650 (low fire clay) it is recommended that a 5 gram piece could be fired at 1200F for 30 minutes or at 1475F for 5 minutes. Hmmm...these manufacturers recommendations can seem confusing as to why I said earlier that I agree that you should fire your metal clay at high temperatures for long periods of time.
The main reason I believe that longer at higher temperatures can give a better product. If I fired my metal clay piece as recommended and then fired it again for longer at a higher temperature the second firing may very well result in the piece shrinking more. This example was highlighted in a class in which I was a student that I took quite a while ago where a student made a ring and the instructor had fired it for the minimum requirement and when it came out it was too big for her, the instructor proceeded to say well lets fire it again and it will shrink. I was a student at this time and was trying to figure out the whole issue of firing metal clay and this was a great example. IF a piece is fired at the minimum temperature and them is re fired and it shrinks more then the increased in firing has made the metal to bond much closer and in my opinion giving you a stronger piece.
There is an extremely detailed explanation of firing guide from Cool Tools that will give you even more explanations The Ultimate Firing Guide
Unfortunately it is not always ideal to fire at high temperatures or for long periods of time (examples of this are when you are firing certain stones, if you include sterling silver or glass). Hopefully after reading the above reference and what I have said will help you make up your own mind.
TORCH FIRING SILVER METAL CLAY
So now on to torch firing silver metal clay. After explaining the above what about torch firing? Do I think torch firing is sufficient for metal clay? Yes and no, will be my answer. One of the joys of metal clay is that it brings people who may not otherwise find there way to working with metals. The supplies for silver metal clay, if you don't purchase a kiln, are affordable and people can make some great simple pieces. Traditional metal work is labour intensive and intimidating to many. Metal clay has it's challenges as well but simple roll and cut charms are manageable for many. Torch firing pieces for those who have no access to a kiln can make it all possible. Torch firing is deemed an acceptable means of sintering your metal clay and hopefully when you are finished reading this you will be provided with enough information to make your own decision.
I will not got through a tutorial on how to torch fire metal clay here instead I will refer you to this decent description Art Clay Silver Torch Firing Instructions. I will highlight that not everything can be torch fired, this reference will give you most of the details. Briefly, the size of you piece (if it is larger than a silver dollar, or if it is large than 25 gram also if you include other things in your metal clay such as glass or organic materials they shouldn't be fired. Refer to this reference for more details please I have not included everything here. One thing that is missing from this reference is that when torch firing pieces that are shaped such as a domed item they may flatten or loose their shape, I don't know all the limitations here as I rarely, if ever torch fire these days but I know that domed pieces can flatten so be aware (a solution to this is to place the dome so that the flat edges of the dome are on the block and the dome is up, then the friction of the edges on the brick will reduce the pull of gravity on it and will lessen if not eliminate the flattening).
Torch firing has many downfalls and I do believe many people do not do it properly, which reinforces the issues and questions as to whether torch firing is sufficient to properly sinter.
Remember earlier that I said that proper sintering requires both time and temperature to be correct in order for torch firing to work. When you torch fire it is difficult to measure both of these items. The temperature you need to determine by visual changes in colour and the time well you need to time it properly both these things can become problematic. Add on the factor that you may accidentally melt your piece and well torch firing can be tricky for the beginner.
Temperature is determined by the colour of the piece. It is often described as a salmon glow. This is where you need to keep your heated. Often you need to move your heat source to adjust the temperature...if it becomes glossy red it will start to melt.
Timing is initiated once the piece is the salmon colour (the colour indicating you have reached the proper temperature). You only start timing once it has hit this temperature and you need to HOLD the piece at this temperature for the recommended length of time. If any situation arises where your piece slips to being more white or you have to stop in the middle such in the case of running out of gas, YOU NEED TO START OVER AGAIN. The piece needs to be held for a continuous amount of time not cumulative. Hopefully this makes sense. The amaunt of time you hold the piece depends on the size of your piece(there is a list on the Art Clay reference) but my philosophy is to firing it at at the end range of the recommended time.
Tips to avoid melting: Torch fire in low light, it is hard to see colour changes in bright light. Set a countdown timer beside you when you are torch firing that you can start the timer when the piece reaches the appropriate colour so that you don't have to be glancing at you clock and taking you eyes of your piece while you are firing it.
I think that in the situation of a hobbyist who has no access to a kiln and understands the concept of torch firing and it making simple piece that won't get a lot of stress and strain then torch firing although not ideal may work for them.
In the situation of someone who plans on selling their work and is making rings, bracelets and more then they should SERIOUSLY think about kiln firing their pieces.
Now to answer the question. What do I do to fire my silver metal clay???- I tend to fire at 1600F for 2 hours and I tend only to put fine silver findings in my metal clay and use manmande gemstones that can take the heat. Rarely do I stray from this. Hopefully this gives you some information to make your own descisions.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
And then came the internet (cue the angels singing). Reaching your customers has never been so easy. Selling and marketing is simpler because now you can talk to your customers directly and they talk back! You have the ability to target the people who actually want to buy your product.Online it’s hard to tell the size of a company and budgets, while still important, can take second place to ingenuity. With all the new social media tools marketing has become more of a two-way conversation. As a creative business this conversation is critical because customers are buying more than a pair of earrings, they are buying a piece of the artist. Social media tools allow them to connect with the person behind the work and feel the magic behind the earrings/painting/sculpture. One of the easiest and most powerful of the social media tools are blogs. Doesn’t everyone have one? If you don’t, you should start thinking about one. It’s a way of explaining your work, your inspiration, you. And they’re free. It is important to remember that they are a tool, not a magic formula, and you still have to market and sell your work. As much as the new media have changed the rules of the game some of the old school marketing tactics still apply; the first being, know your product, the second being know your customer.
Surveys are a great way of finding out more about your customer/audience and tailoring your message to meet their needs. A survey also creates the beginning on a dialogue. If you have a blog or a website are you publishing the sort of information your reader wants? For that matter, who is you reader? Who is your online customer? Why not ask them with a survey?
This week I’m here to ask you, what do you want to read in The Business Chat? Who are you? Do you craft for fun or profit? What do you want information on? How can I help you? This was also an excuse for me to create my first survey! Yippeee!!!! I used surveymonkey.com, a free survey tool that many of my online colleagues have recommended. And I have to say, it was easy-peasy. So please, take my survey so that I can deliver the right information to help you with your creative endeavours. Let's begin our conversation.
Click here to take survey
Friday, June 25, 2010
So, here is my little pair of earrings - maybe with this next one, I can take on something a little more ambitious. :-)
And here is your inspiration for next week:
If you would like your work showcased - send your pics to email@example.com - Subject: Inspiration Fridays.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I have come up with a firing schedule that is now working consistently for MY kiln. Everyones kilns are different, and experimentation with what works for you may be necessary. I've now fired about a dozen batches all successful! (in a row mind!) I'm now due to replace the carbon, and hopefully that won't cause problems.
I have a paragon SC2 with the bead door. I'm using a large firing pan, with coconut carbon.
ramp full speed to 665 - hold for two hours. Ramp full speed to 1620, and hold for an additional 3.5 hours. Shut off, and let cool naturally. This is able to fire a variety of thicknesses without over, or underfiring! If I went up to 1650, I was seeing blistering (sometimes), If I brought it down to 1550, I would occasionally have batches that wouldn't sinter.
I hope this helps! Try something similar in your kiln with a few test pieces, and see how it works out.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I do want to point out that anyone is welcome to join us on our playdays. You do not need to have a lot of experience. In fact, it's perfect for the beginner who does not have a lot of tools, and is just that little bit afraid to open their package of expensive clay. In fact, opening it with a bunch of people who will help you out - is much more liberating! While our playdays are not classes per say, I am here to support, and help out in little ways! It's the perfect opportunity to fire off those million and one questions you didn't have a chance to ask about in a class, or after reading an arsenal of metal clay books.
Our next metal clay playday is Tuesday July 27th - $10, and includes firing of silver/gold, or Art Clay Copper clays only. Bronze/copper (other brands) clays can only be fired after speaking with me (you have read my posts on my firing problems right?) - if not, go back and see if you still want me to fire them :-) I have zero experience with Prometheus Clay, but I have a decent amount of success with both Hadar's Clay, and Metal Clay Adventures clay.
Ohhh, and tonight - just wait for tonight. If you saw Dwyn's post on Saturday regarding the sneak peek with the insanely fabulous (huge) Swarovski stones. That's NOTHING....I poked through two boxes of stones - each more fabulous than the next! You need some of these - really. :-)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Queen Anne's Lace Bracelet
Falling Leaves Lariat
Besides being the author of 'Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence',
Marcia Decoster's work has been featured in leading bead magazines.
Give us a call, or check our website and register!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
You can mix metal clay with some man made and natural stones. BUT NOT ALL. Many stones cannot be fired or there are limits on the time and length of firing. So today I am going to talk a bit about this issue of firing stones in metal clay.
First, a little bit about naturally occurring stones. One misconception is if the stone is considered hard, then it be will OK. Well this is wrong. What do I mean? One way of measuring stones is using a scale called the Mohs hardness scale. It was developed by Friedrich Mohs a mineralogist and is one of the ways to define the hardness of a mineral. Its principle is based on the scratch resistance of a mineral and is defined but the ability of one mineral to be scratched by a mineral higher on the scale. The scale is number 1-10. One is Talc and ten is Diamond. You can read more about this at All About Gems. Sadly, the Mohs hardness scale does not really help in determining the success of firing gemstone in metal clay.
Here is an example:
- Hematite which is 5.5-6.5 Mohs hardness is deemed fireable at 1650 for 2 hours.
- Diamond which is 10 Mohs hardness is not fireable.
- Green Tourmaline which is 7-7.5 Mohs is deemed fireable at 1220F for only 30 minutes
One of the problems with natural stones is that there may be inclusion in them and these little inclusions can be tricky, the heat may create stress and cause the stone to crack during firing.
Another little thing about stones is colour. Many stones will change colour with heat. Heat is actually used to enhance colours of natural stone and to change the colour (but that is another story). Some stones will become brittle and crumbly due to the heat of firing. I have fired beach rocks to see what would happen. The result have been varied some will be fine, some will become brittle and some will change colour.
The best way to find out if something will fire safely is to check a gemstone firing guide there are several published the most comprehensive one I can find on the web is one from the Cool Tools website Cool Tools Gemstone Guide. This resource has great information about firing gemstones in general and their firing guide. This post only touches the surface so if you want some more information to devour this is a great source. When looking at firing guides, I prefer the ones that highlight both maximum temperature and length of firing.
TIME and TEMPERATURE need to be considered when you are firing gemstones. Both these variables can play a role in successful firing. A temperature that is too high will affect the stone and a long firing may also affect the stone.
Here are two examples:
- TEMPERATURE: Labradorite is deemed a low fire stone fireable at 1200F for 30 minutes. I had some inexpensive Labradorite beads and decided to fire them at 1600F just to see what happened. The changed completely and turned coral and orange colour.
- TIME: Before I had found a firing guide included time I fired a lab created emerald which is deemed safe at 1470 for 30 minutes at 1470 for 1 hour. It changed from emerald green to brownish garnet. The increase in time for another 30 minutes caused the stones to change colour.
Lesson here is the be cautious and find a good reference.
Sometimes test firing your stones before you set them in metal clay is a good idea. Take your stones wrap them in a fire blanket and kiln fire them exactly how you plan on firing your piece and see what happens.
If in DOUBT leave it OUT!!!! If you have some stone that you absolutely love and don't want it to be destroyed set it after firing your metal clay. Heat can do crazy things to materials.
One last thing, I learned something new today. In the reference from Cool Tools there is a section on carbon firing. Apparently one reason gemstones change colour is due to heat in the presence of oxygen. They proposed that if oxygen was removed would a gemstone survive higher heat??? Carbon is a medium used when firing copper and bronze clays has the property of absorbing oxygen. Cool tools has tested this theory firing gemstones in carbon to see if some stones will survive high heat if fired in carbon. The answer is they had success for many....see the Cool Tools Gemstone Guide for details.
I hope this helps.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
For your outdoor booth the first item on your Must Have list is a tent. Most shows require that you have one. The tent MUST be white for the colours of your product to show true. It's heartbreaking to set up with all your beautiful work displayed under a green tarp that casts a bilious green tint over everything. Do not cheap out and buy the $35 tent at your local hardware store. The cheap tents are not tall enough, do not have walls and will blow away in the lightest of breezes. Walls are necessary in case of rain or wind and for leaving your display up at night.
When you've set your tent up your first concern is keeping it on the ground. Each corner of the tent must be staked to the ground. The stakes should be at least 12" in length and be hammered in at an angle (note: don't forget your hammer!). If the show is on concrete you will need cement blocks or sand bags that you can tie the feet of your tent to. Blocks are available at your local hardware store. You will need guy ropes from the top corners of the tent to the ground. Good guy ropes are available at Home Depot and other hardware stores. The top of the guy rope hooks onto the top of the tent frame or clips onto the canopy. The bottom clips onto a spike you've hammered into the ground (note: bring extra stakes in case you lose one). Many crafters find hanging a large weight from the top corner of the tent to be useful, it stops the top of the tent from blowing around. One option is to fill a small bucket or length of PVC pipe with cement and embed an eyebolt at the end. Personally I use a 5lb free weight on a long rope. Again, these hook onto the corners of the canopy. The weights from the top are very useful if the show is on concrete and you can't use your guy ropes.
Okay, now the basic structure is in place. In case of either rain or wind make sure your tent walls are somewhere easily reached and that you can put them up quickly. If you need a ladder to put these up then make sure your ladder is available and your display isn't in the way of using it.
Next is the display itself. Any photos/signs/posters that you are using should be laminated so that they can get wet. (I have mine laminated at Staples). If you have a product that can be ruined with water make sure you have several large plastic tarps or sheets that you can throw over in case of rain and remember to anchor them down! All your administrivia stuff (order forms, sales books, packaging etc) should be in waterproof containers such as plastic drawers or Rubbermaid bins. If it starts raining make sure you quickly put away any promotional materials such as business cards or postcards!
Wind is one of the worst problems you will encounter in your booth. Not only do you have to be concerned with windproofing your tent you need to windproof your display and your product. Hanging posters on the walls (hang them from the tent frame) is an excellent display idea, just make sure that if it blows that they will not hit your customer in the head. Take along a good supply of clothes pins, table clips (to keep the table cloth on) and double sided tape. In a good blow a lightweight jewelry bust can be airborne, use the double sided tape to anchor it to the table. Be careful of little objects such as earrings, they fly away, especially if they're on earring cards that aren't anchored down. Carry some rocks to weigh down items such as stacks of business cards. When you have your display all set up think about wind from all angles, what can blow away?
You should also think about heat. If it gets really hot you'll need airflow and won't want your walls up. If your walls are part of your display you need to find a way to open them at least partially in case of a heat wave.
Last on the list is dust. A show without rain is a show with dust. Take paper towels or rags and windex. All packaging should be in closed containers, who wants a dusty gift? All extra inventory should be in closed containers. Table cloths and any fabric must be washable.
With these precautions and thoughts you can survive most of the stuff that Mother Nature will throw at you. Craft show visitors are a dedicated and hardy lot and still shop in the rain. If they're willing to wear raincoats and shop in the rain, make sure you're ready to sell in the rain!
Oops, somebody didn't weigh their tent down. (not mine!)
Friday, June 18, 2010
Ok, here is the first image - now go forth and create! - Send a pic of your finished jewelry to firstname.lastname@example.org - subject inspiration fridays
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Prior to her last maternity leave, she was our store manager. When she returned part time - she continued on doing anything, and everything for us as time permitted. As a mother of 4 and her brood home for the summer - She has decided to pass the torch onto Sola.
Cynthia - We wish you the absolute best of luck with everything, and we'll certainly miss you!
Sola - Congratulations!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I'm referring to our un-sated curiosity about all things bead and button. How did it go? Who was there? Did you take some fabulous classes? - and most importantly what did you buy? Curious minds want to know.
I've rounded up a few blogs this morning of a few ready to post their adventures. I'm sure more will post soon as everyone winds down. Grab a cup of joe - I'll wait.
You back? ok:
I think we need to hear a report from Marg too! (hint, hint)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
And if you plan on taking Marcia DeCoster's Queen Anne's Lace or Bellisimo class, next month, you need to know how to do the Right Angle Weave. So check it out this weekend.
Rae Huggins is a talented seed beader, and a member of the Toronto Bead Society and has taught at the society’s technique nights, at Bead Junction and at the Canadian Bead Oasis Show in Toronto. Here's how to register.
Here are other highlights for this week and next week's classes:
You can dabble into the world of glass beads this Saturday and Sunday with Amy Waldman-Smith. The Learn to Make Glass Beads Class is an introduction to wonderful world of lampworked beads, where you'll learn about lampworking tools, glass, and other cool stuff.
Also, The Viking Knit Class with Laurie-Anne Clinton is almost full. Sign up!
We are constantly adding new classes to our website, so keep an eye out.
For those of you who are fans of the beautiful game, and cheering for your various teams, enjoy!
While fans are going crazy with their vuvuzelas...
Check out this beautiful seedbeaded vuvuzela...
And soccer dolls made out of seedbeads and wire...
I can only imagine the array of colourful beads and jewellery... all in the name of Soccer.
Monday, June 14, 2010
As I mentioned last week in the weekly update (known fondly to us around here as the "blurb") - we have a boatload more pearls coming. (62 types this week) These are from Marg's buying trip in Tucson in February. The thing about pearls is, that given the way they are made - i.e. by an animal! - they don't pop out consistently from batch to batch, so even if you go out to buy pearls with some serious specifications in mind - OK - I need 6 mm rice pearls in pink, some 4 mm round in light cream, and maybe some 8 mm potato peacock pearls - they aren't going to look the same as last time.
The end result is that every time we buy pearls, I re-photograph them and re-describe them for you, going through each type individually, and trying to write a description that allows you to have a fighting chance of buying them online and getting what you expect. I try to keep the descriptions with some common frames of reference - so maybe I'll just describe that a little bit here.
There are some fairly well-defined pearl shapes - but the pearl growers are always trying to tempt our jaded bead palates with new stuff. Most of them seem to be a swing and a miss - weird shapes stuffed into oysters with the hope that a layer of nacre will make them beautiful. From crosses to Buddhas - the pearly coating doesn't get evenly distributed or cracks at the corners - some of these are downright nasty. We avoid these in favour of more classic and beautiful shapes.
- Rice - a long shape, longer than wide. Oval, really.
- Round - the classic pearl - and, hard to find perfect rounds at affordable prices. I don't use the term round too often.
- Off Round - close to round, just a little off. Many of these will pass for round at a distance.
- Button - flat on one side - they are sometime drilled (where the hole is) from side to side, making them look buttony, or from top to bottom, making them look like donuts or rondelles. "Mabe" is also used to describe a pearl that is flat on one side and domed on the other - but my background in vintage jewelry makes it hard for me to think of Mabe as anything other than a cabochon-type pearl. Having a hole seems at odd with the Mabe (pronounced Mah-bee, btw, rhymes with Hah! See!) description, so I prefer not to use it for drilled pearls (pearls with holes.)
- Biwa or Stick - Long spiky sticks or wide flat bumpy rectangles - which, if not lustreous and nice, look distressingly like fingernails torn off some ghastly monster. I love these pearls - they have texture and interest. As far as I'm concerned, just multiple strands of these are fabulous. Let them speak for themselves - but consistent with everything I prefer - they tend to be expensive.
- Potato - another term for oval. Can be a little on the lumpy side, like a potato. Can be drilled end to end or side to side.
- Oval - another word for - er - oval. I tend to use oval for pearls that are obviously oval, and potato for the more amorphous ovals.
- Keshi/Cornflake- like flakes, tend to be curvy or a little cupped. These, like the Biwa/Stick pearls have a fair amount of texture.
- Coin - originally - a flat, puff round. Then we started seeing shapes, such as stars, squares, flowers. But usually - this is just a lentil shape.
- Baroque - Baroque means oddly or irregularly shaped, so can be combined with other shapes, i.e. Baroque Rice is lumpy ovals.
- Bullet - technically - this is also an oval - but some pearls, especially those with top drilled (off centre) holes look more bullet-like.
- Smooth - smooth is - well - smooth. It's nice. But it drives the price up. It takes longer to grow a smooth pearl.
- Ridgy - Oval pearls often have ridges in the center, around the middle. Any of you who grew up on or near a farm and remember chickens laying those huge eggs with the ridges around the middle, that made it look like the chicken had to stop for a rest in middle of the laying process - that's what these pearls remind me of. ;-) (see photo for sample). There is some sort of marketing term for these - "Rings of Love" or something - a sales term used to try and convince you that they are desirable. They aren't a bad thing. They just are what they are.
- Blemish - blemishes look like burst bubbles or rough spots. They can add interest, or, if you are going for the smooth, classic look, really detract.
It is a given these days that all pearls are "enhanced" to some degree or another, unless the vendor specifically makes a point of telling you that they are naturally coloured. And given the language barriers (most cultured pearls are made in China) - we might not believe claims to natural colour anyway. Even the white and cream ones may have been lightened to increase their value. But the good news is that the colour enhancements are permanent - it's not like it's going to wear off - so you might as well enjoy them. I note where they look natural - which means that you could easily believe that they were a natural colour - as opposed to those that are obviously not. But unless I tend you "these are natural coloured pearls with no enhancements" - assume that they have had some sort of beauty-enhancing spa treatment. (Oh, like none of us have tried to improve our looks either?)
- Peacock - grey - with a pink/green lustre
- White - duh, white
- Cream - not white, a warm colour
- Ivory - darker than cream
- Champagne - off white, like a cream, but color in hue
- Pink - A pale pink
- Peach - warmer than pink, a hint of orange
What makes a pearl so wonderful, so outstanding, is lustre - that warm, indescribable glow - that play of light off the pearly layer known as nacre. Lustre is the raison d'etre of pearls. We try not to buy pearls that are dull and lifeless (although there is one in this batch that is sort of intriquing in it's dullness) - but some pearls are more pearly than others. I use "Medium Lustre" or no reference to indicate an acceptable, if not remarkable degree of lustre, and "Nice Lustre" to let you know that these ones will catch your eye a lot more.
Pearls are made by molluscs, living in conditions that manufacturers try to control, but hey, they are out there in the water. Unless you grow them in indoor swimming pools, it's hard to control. So they do a lot of sorting and grading to come up with consistent products. You can have them very consistent or affordable. Pick one. In some cases, one or more of colour, shape or size may be more or less consistent for the sake of making the other characteristics more consistent. Example: You can have them all the same colour if you are prepared to be flexible on size.
You can, of course, sort the pearls and cull them - using the best ones for the more visible parts of your creation, and putting smaller, oddly shaped or slightly different colours to the back where they are not so visible.
Drilling Pearls Yourself
Finally, a note about increasing the size of the hole in the pearl. Pearl holes are notoriously small, (they come sold by weight from the grower/manufacturer - bigger holes means less profit.) Pearls are soft, and you can use a bead reamer to enlarge the hole sizes if you need to. But - DO THIS UNDERWATER. You do NOT want to create conditions where you breathe in pearl dust. It will get into your lungs and damage them. Pearl dust is dangerous, and you do not want to breath it. Period. Exclamation mark.
Hold the pearl to be drilled under the surface of a small container of water - like a small tupperware dish filled with warm water (warm is easier on your fingers) and poke the bead reamer into the hole, and rotate or twist it around. Pull it out, and bring the pearl above the water to inspect it. Discard the water after - don't let it sit around until it dries out - that's missing the point entirely. The water controls the dust.
And - having now processed all these pearls - if Marg brings back more from Bead and Button - I shall scream!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
When I first started using resin several years ago, BeadFX didn't carry any and I was having a hard locating it locally, until I walked into my local big box building center and found a two part resin type product by a company called Circa 1850. I decided I would try it out and guess what it worked out just fine.
Now BeadFX carries ICE Resin, and I hear it is great stuff...but I need to use up my current resin before I buy some (trying to abide by that rule anyway). ICE Resin has a great site explaining how use it www.iceresin.com. There is detailed information on how to mix, how to colour, how to cast and more!!! Check out this great resource.
Hear are a few examples of what I have done with resin:
For this piece sized and printed out the pictures on to card stock. I have found that thin paper will go slightly translucent with the resin and make the pictures look odd.
Several ways to colour your include adding dyes, pigment powders, oil paints and more.
You can add interesting things in your resin. Above, I added candied sprinkles....
The one thing that I have not seen in all the resources I have searched is what to do if you don't like your resin. Can it be taken off? Am I the only person that has asked this question? I experimented and I found it can be removed, unfortunately, with some pretty heavy duty chemicals. What has worked for me is using the Circa 1850 Heavy Body Paint and Varnish Remover. I have applied a layer of the remover on top of the resin, allowed it to sit, then with a tooth pick and a stiff brush scrubbed it off. Sometimes several applications are needed....Beware this stuff is toxic use appropriate protection. So if you must remove that resin, there is an option. If anyone have found any other solutions let me know.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
BeadFX just got in new gemstones and I have a sampling of six of them which I am test firing. The new stone that I am testing are:
- Garnet CZ (3mm round)
- Lab created Black Saphire (7mm round)
- Aqua CZ (3mm round) -this might be my favorite imagine it in silver
- Lab created blue Spinel (10mm heart)
- Lavender CZ (3mm)
- Lab created ruby (3mm)
The result of the first firing at 1650F for 2 hours (the stones on the LEFT are the ones that have been fired the stones on the RIGHT are the unfired samples) :
Lab created Black Saphire (no obvious change in colour)
Aqua CZ (Oh, Oh BIG CHANGE!!!)
Of note in my reading I have seen note that black saphires are not always consistent. I have had luck with these ones but it is interesting to note and it is only one test.
On my last post of adding gemstones I had made mention of my experiments with firing Labradorite at 1650F. Here is a picture of what happened:
I will update you on the successes or failures with the aqua CZ's.
My name is Catherine Winter and my company is Sailorgirl Jewelry. For 7 years I've made my living as a lampwork artist and jewelry designer. No I didn't win the lottery, inherit money or marry money (and I've been asked all those questions). I actually pay my bills with my jewelry and beads. When I first learnt lampworking (at Beadfx) I said "I'm going to make a living making beads". There was silence. Several years later Dwyn suggested I lead a workshop and share how I'd managed it. For the past 3 years I've taught Start Your Own Microbusiness and How to Have a Successful Craft Show at Beadfx. And now I'll be writing a weekly post here sharing business information and craft show tips. Grab yourself a beverage and join the fun.
I want to begin my series with a disclaimer. I could write a blueprint of how I built my business, you could follow it and fail. That's because you are not me. What works for one person may not work for another. Here's your first tip, there are no guarantees in your crafty endeavor. If you want a guarantee put down your pliers and buy yourself a franchise business (would you like fries with that?). While there are no guarantees there are some steps and guidelines that will make your success easier. These I can help you with. Sometimes just knowing that there are others in your shoes is comforting. If you make a mistake, fear not, it's been made before and you'll make more. Just pick yourself up, continue on and learn from the mistake. The bottom line is that this is your business and you have to make your own business decisions. I'm here to help you make informed decisions.
Right now one of the hottest (yawn) topics in the Canadian crafty business world is the implementation of the HST - Harmonized Sales Tax. On April 1, 1997 the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia implemented a 15% HST. Over the years the GST rate has fallen by 2%, which means these Atlantic provinces currently pay a 13% HST. On July 1st, 2010 British Columbia and Ontario will also be adopting HST at 12% and 13% respectively.
So what does this mean for you, the craftista? It means that as of July 1, 2010 if you are currently registered for GST - meaning your sales are greater than $30,000 annually - now you must charge HST. If your current sales are less than $30,000 and you have not voluntarily opted to collect HST you cannot charge HST to anyone.
Essentially there are 2 scenarios here:
1. Your annual sales are greater than $30,000. You are registered for GST.
- You sell wholesale or consignment. Currently you charge GST 5% and no PST. Now you charge HST, 12% in BC and 13% in ON.
- You sell retail. Currently you charge GST 5% and PST 7% in BC, 8% in ON. Now you charge HST, 12% in BC and 13% in ON.
2. Your annual sales are less than $30,000 and you are not registered for GST.
- You sell wholesale or consignment. Currently you charge no tax. Now you charge no tax.
- You sell retail. Currently you charge PST 7% in BC, 8% in ON. Now you charge no tax.
Supplies bought wholesale are currently PST exempt when you have a vendor permit. As of July 1 you will be paying HST on all supplies. If you are registered to collect HST you will be reimbursed the HST you pay on all business expenses (including HST on hydro, commercial rent, phones etc as well as on supplies).
To collect HST you must be registered with the government. If you are already registered to collect GST your HST number is your GST number. You don't have to do anything. If you are not currently collecting GST and want to collect HST you need to register. At the bottom of this post are instructions on registering.
Why would anyone selling less than $30,000 volunteer to collect tax? Well, once you are registered you are entitled to a refund of all the HST on business expenses. This is called Input Tax Credits - ITCs. If you spend $5,000 a year on business expenses (supplies, internet connection, classes etc) you have paid $650 in HST. Wouldn't it be sweet to get that back? (think how many beads you could buy for $650!!!) There comes a point where it just makes sense to register and collect even if your sales aren't $30,000.
For more information or to register for an HST number visit www.cra.gc.ca. In the middle of the page (under the picture of the Minister) there are 3 tabs - Online Services, Individuals, Business. Click Businesses. Click Business Registration. Scroll down to Business Registration Online. Click Register Now. another website with good information is www.rev.gov.on.ca. Between these 2 websites you can find all the answers if you have the patience of a saint. I found it much easier to call 1-800-959-5525. Just keep pressing buttons until you find a human.
Next week we'll discuss something way more fun, how about weatherproofing your outdoor booth?
Friday, June 11, 2010
There are numerous ways to make them - some more expensive than others.
1) Creating your own silicone mold. Craft and hobby stores carry a 2 part silicone molding compound. You mix them together in equal amounts. Roll it out, and impress with a design of some sort - fabric, botanical's, cutlery, pretty much anything that has a texture can be pressed into this to make a permanent non stick texture.
2) Photopolymer - This one is fun, and we sell a kit for it. You can draw or design on your computer a black and white image (line art), and print it onto a transparency sheet. The black are of the image is the part that will become indented on your sheet. The white remains raised. This kit is available through calling the store, as it's too big and bulky to ship for the 5.95 shipping fee we flat rate.
3) Tear away technique. I have yet to try this, but somehow I'm the most excited about this. Probably because it's new to me!
I've included some links to some articles on tear away below:
Jewelry Artist Magazine - Celie Fago's PDF
Catherine Witherell has an awesome blog post where she went all tear away happy :-)
Well, I'm off to go get me some sculpey III - or do I have some around here somewhere? ;-)
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The folks at John Bead have asked me to tell you that they are having a party/reception on Saturday night in their suite at the Hilton hotel starting at 6:30PM Saturday night, right after the Market floor closes. Stop by their booth 935/937 for the Suite number.
In April, we asked: "Time! It seems like we never have enough! Do you feel like you don't have enough time to make all the projects that you want? How do you make time? Do you have any secrets for finding enough? Or do you have to sacrifice sleep to bead!"
I thought I'd post some of our responses. Unfortunately, while I'd love to post all of them - we do get a lot! Names have been stripped off to protect the innocent ;-) It does seem we all have one thing in common (no surprise here) - We do not have anywhere near enough hours in the day. We like to bead while doing something else. And for the most part housework comes so, so, last on the list of priorities! :-)
" I find a need some sort of deadline like a friend's birthday to get going on a project."
"I work nights and sometimes when I get home I just have to put an idea together that I've been thinking about while @ work, So YES I will sacrifice sleep to bead:D Sooo worth it!"
"Yes, never have enough time, especially as I also do projects in other mediums, and yes, I do sacrifice sleep!"
"HI HO HI HO its
off to work I go -
Home Again Home Again, Jiggity Jog!!
Cook-cook/serve/eat/clean-it-up & put away:
L@@K at it a bit longer: Lovely beads, catch the light; Shine with a few others, thru the night. All the more precious just BECAUSE there's NOT always enough time. Worth letting a chore or two wait--When we...H A V E to CREATE!
But really, there's rarely enough time, is there?"
" I make jewelry while everyone else is watching TV. Don't ask me who is Dancing With The Stars! But if you need some cool jewels, I'm your girl!"
" I'm happy when I have a couple of projects waiting in the wings. I take what time I can and enjoy it."
" If only I had a space where I could leave everything I\'m working on, to get back to later. I could drop by and play for 10 and 15 minutes. I wouldn\'t feel I had to wait for large enough blocks of time to start and complete a project."
" I binge bead, then abstain for a while until I have to binge again."
" I make my jewellery while I watch tv :)"
"My daughter decided one day to make her hobby a 'big thing' and now she makes jewellery all the time. Excellent grades and makes this on her spare time - she is amazing!!"
" No, I just sacrifice having a spotless house!"
" I bead when my boys are napping...thankfully, they co-ordinate naps!"
" I have to schedule my time for beading just like I schedule time for getting the housework done otherwise I find a whole week goes by with me not having done any beading."
" I try and commit one day a week to do beading, it doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. As well, I keep a project out, in the open (on my desk, or next to the couch) so when i do have time it is there and ready!"
" Nah...I have lots of time!! I need a kick in the derriere to sit down and create. My problem is I have too many projects in mind, but when I sit down to do one, they all go *poof*. (or is that a senior thing, lol)"
" I never have enough time, it is so bad that I have to draw out my ideas and I have a portfolio of pictures that I have yet to get too! I need more hours in a day or be able to function with less sleep! LOL!"
" I try very hard to put aside so many hours a day just for me & my jewelry making. If I don't get finished on schedule I try & weigh out whether that extra dusting etc. is really important or is my time spent doing something I love what counts & at the end of the day no one saw the bed not made & if they did they are so busy admiring my new piece of jewelry they didn't notice or care."
"Yup; sleep is definitely compromised!! It's ok for a few days (after a few nights) and then, CRASH!! But I appreciate how well accessorized I look crashing, lol - AND KEEP DOING IT!"
"I don't have time to make all the projects I want. Not with my schedule. I try to do some of projects in the latter evening. Put on good music, and bead in time, sometimes beading with a few of my beading friends is also helpful, as we chat we bead, and I find i get also some things done then.
Also, sometimes i do all my creating, then i do all the finishing with clasps. Depends on deadlines."
" I never have enough time for all the ideas that come to mind. I always have a "kit" i've made in a nice tin complete with threads, extra needles etc so whenever a "waiting" opportunity comes along I am prepared for it.
" I design on paper, set our beads, make any changes all while concentrating on them only. Then, I string or put together while listening to an audio book on my ipod or watching tv."
" sacrifice sleep to bead!"
"I encourage my husband to watch sports on TV --- that gives me freedom to bead to my hearts content!! There is lots of sports on TV!!!"
" I do 'beading' while my husband watches NFL football on sunday afternoon....... we each relax with a glass of wine....and enjoy the few hours... now that baseball season started...i bead while watching Toronto BlueJays!! have set up my beading station in living room for the season!! Go Jays Go!!"
" There's never enough time! I like to do some types of things by job type. For example, instead of doing most necklaces and bracelets from start to finish, I have a toolbox with all my clasp-related findings and tools. Once I have several pieces ready for clasps I sit down and do them all at once with everything I need at my fingertips. It also is convenient for shows since I can bring that toolbox and do minor length adjustments or change a clasp for a client on the spot."
" I honestly feel that work gets in the way of all my hobbies! Perhaps that means I have too many. I also find that because there are so many things I like to do in my spare time, that it is sometimes difficult to choose what to do, and sometimes, things like a new beading project just never seem to get done."
"I have a weekly 'art date' "
" Time goes by way too fast when I am beading - I seem to forget about everything else around me! I have absolutely no secrets; when I bead, I work until my body litterally starts screaming for food or sleep!"
" I bead more in winter. Unless it rains in summer. That's my beading time. Otherwise I am in the garden. Beading started as a hobby for something to do when I couldn't garden. I used to get depressed in the winter. Now I have so much I want to do with beading, learning new techniques, that the winter just isn't long enough."
" yes, i do sacrifice sleep to make time to make jewellery...also told boss i could only work 4 days per week...so far, so good!"
" I just always make time to bead, because at the end of my days here on earth I am sure I will not regret the time I've taken to do something that brings me so much happiness!! It's not like those dishes are really that urgent."
" No, I've never got enough time to bead. I don\'t sacrifice sleep to bead, but housework sure doesn't get done when I'm feeling inspired.
I try to combine beads with other things... meeting girlfriends for coffee??? beads with me at the coffee shop. I've likely got a wait at a doctor's / dentists? beads are with me. (the joys of beadweaving... it's easily transportable!)"
"NEVER have enough time to bead! I make "time" by dedicating 1 room in my house to beading and therefore I can quickly pop-in for 15 minutes (hah! usually more like 3-4 hours) and I don't have to waste time setting up or cleaning up! I also keep a small & portable project in a small box that fits into my coat pocket. That way, even while on play dates, waiting in parking lots, doctor's offices, etc... I have some time to bead."
"I love beading and have many projects I plan to make. However, I often feel that I don't have enough time to make all of them. To make time, I set long-term and short-term goals in my planner, manage my daily tasks with a schedule, set alarm clocks for task reminders, try maintain an organized workspace, and hang a "don't disturb" sign on my door. If I'm serious about completing a project and have limited time, I would wake up earlier and/or pull an all-nighter (if needed), power up with a refreshing cup of orange juice, and smile :)"
" There is always time to bead! It is my therapy, my alone time, my way to procrastinate not doing things like house work. An addiction to beads is like a drug. You become dependent on creating that next design!"
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Go check it out http://www.pipyr.com
She also has tutorials, and demented bunnies in her etsy shop ;-)
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
In this class, participants will learn how to make loops, and wrap loops with wire, bending, shaping and hammering wire and joining wire worked pieces together and with chain then finishing the piece with a Lobster clasp and jumprings. This is open to all levels.
Coming up this weekend....
Beaded Bow Bracelet with Robert Burton from 9:30 to 12:30pm.
Introduction to Fusing--Fused Earrings with Jennifer Tough from 2 to 5pm
Crown and Cabochon Pendants with Robert Burton 10:30 to 1:30pm on Sunday June 13th.
Chinese Knotting: Beads, Bails and Bangles with Angela Peace from 2 to 5pm.
And next week, the Fringe Fantasy Bracelet with Cindy Vroom Thursday June 17th from 6 to 9pm!
Monday, June 07, 2010
Just got back from a week in Montreal. Went there to take a glass working class - and I have to say - I was utterly charmed by the city.
I haven't actually been to Montreal before, sad to say - as I am very intimidated by the language barrier. Despite having taken years of French in school, I remain utterly mono-lingual. Actually - I have taken French, Japanese, and spent a year in a Spanish-speaking country with a private tutor, and still remain stubbornly unable to string together a sentence in any language other than English. Seriously - a year - immersed. I have to conclude that I am second-language challenged.
But - I was absolutely delighted that I met with no prejudice, no ill feeling and was treated with respect and dignity everywhere I went, anyway! I had absolutely no problems with the language barrier - from gas station attendants to fast food cashiers - all spoke perfectly passable English for the purposes of the transaction at hand.
Service at restaurants and the hotel was excellent - waiters and everyone shifting linguist gears as soon as you responded with "Good Morning" to their cheery "Bonjour." (Tip - yeah, even I can say Bonjour, but saying "Good Morning" clues them in right away so that the next sentence isn't a Niagara of uninterpretable sound.)
Montreal - or the area known as Old Montreal - truly has an old-world European feel to it. And I have to admit that while probably every city is at it's prettiest at this time of the year - it really was particularly charming. There are a lot of trees and greenery and flower pots.
Food was unflaggingly excellent - from nice restaurants down to - I swear - my sausage egg Mcmuffin was a cut above normal. And the Montreal Smoked Meat - to die for!
While hotels in the downtown/Old Montreal district are frighteningly expensive - I would suggest ponying up for them anyway - as the roads are so seriously congested that commuting is easily as bad as Toronto - and the roads were laid out by crazy people. The highways are a woven series of elevated roads, overpasses and bridges that resemble a drunken spider's attempt at basketry. Take a small, nimble car and a strong sense of fearlessness if you want to drive more than into the city and out again.
Oh, an a GPS is a must - lots of one-way streets and weird exits and on-ramps that you have to do crazy things to get to. Set it to optimize for shortest route instead of fastest time, unless you have a traffic avoidance option - otherwise, you'll spend a lot of time sitting in traffic.
Big thumbs-up for Montreal! I would definitely go again and plan more time for sightseeing.
Oh, and the city is fairly stylish and dressy too - so pack a few nice things so you don't feel quite so out of place. Or - buy some there!