Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Business Chat - HST Part Two

There seems to be some confusion about this HST stuff so I thought today that I’d take another kick at it. The government has several websites with all the appropriate information on them. They are clear as mud. I have had very good luck with the people manning the phones at 1-800-959-5525. Just press buttons until you find a human, they know what they’re talking about.

On a bead forum the other day there were several discussions about collecting tax. Let me say this loud and clear: artist made goods are NOT exempt from HST or in provinces without the HST, from the GST/PST. This is a silly rumour that can get you into trouble. The good fairy isn’t going to make your tax obligations go away. She’s on holiday.

The HST is governed by the same rules as the GST. For those in Ontario or BC where the HST has just been implemented, if you paid GST before July 1, 2010, now you pay HST. Items that were exempt from the GST before July 1 (such as certain foods), are now exempt from HST.

Where tax collection starts getting difficult is in the online world. For online sales, you collect the tax applicable for the province where the buyer takes possession of the goods. Keep in mind PST is a provincial sales tax, so if you are not in that province, then you cannot collect PST. You do collect GST from all provinces because it is a federal tax. If a province has HST then you collect HST. If a province does not have HST, and you are in the same province as the buyer, you collect GST and PST. If a province does not have HST, and you are in a different province than the buyer, you collect GST only.


Prov

HST

GST

PST

BC

12%

5%

AB

5%

MAN

5%

7%

SASK

5%

5%

ON

13%

5%

QC

5%

7.5%

NB

13%

5%

NS

15%

5%

NF

13%

5%

PEI

5%

10%

NWT

5%


For example, using the above chart, I am in Ontario and I sell a pendant online for $50 to someone in Ontario. I charge $50 + $6.50 (HST). I sell a $50 pendant to someone in BC. I charge $50 + $6 (BC HST). I sell a $50 pendant to someone in PEI. I charge $50 + $2.50 (GST). I sell a pendant to someone in Alberta. I charge $50 + $2.50 (GST).

All taxes collected are remitted on the GST/HST form. Don’t worry about when you need to remit, trust me, they will find you in plenty of time.

For more riveting information read the previous discussion HST Part One – What is it and do you have to deal with it? by clicking here. OK, so I don't get to blog about pretty shiny stuff however it's very useful.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Store Closed Monday

Just to remind you - the store is open regular hours Saturday and Sunday but closed Monday for Simcoe Day.

However, as usual, the ever vigilant computers will remain alert and attentive and await your shopping pleasure on the Monday.

Store closed, online open for the Holiday Monday. ;-)

Inspiration Fridays

I swear I haven't given up - really! I meant to work on the post last night, but with kids, and soccer, and that pesky little necessity called sleep - it just didn't happen.  Now, I'm off to take the kids to the Science Center for the day.

My post will be late again - But I DO have stuff to show! :-)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Widening the Bead Horizons - CHA

I've just come back from the Summer Craft & Hobby Association trade show in Rosemont IL. This is a 3-day exhibition which is not open to the general public, but only to designers, store owners, magazine publishers and professionals looking for the latest and greatest in the craft world.

There is nothing to buy here - it's strictly an exhibition. In fact there are rules against selling any item in the booth. It's also an enormous show. Probably at least double the size of the CreativFestival. The overwhelming impression that struck me was how much scrapbooking has taken over as the ascendant craft of the moment. Probably 90% of the very large booths here were dedicated to manufacturers and distributors of scrapbooking papers, stickers, stamps, pens, paints, and fancy cutters.

Since the exhibitors can't sell anything directly, they had to use more indirect methods of getting their products into the attendees' hands. "Make It and Take It" tables and free draws were the preferred methods here. Large colour catalogues and brochures were everywhere in spite of the prevalence of websites these days.

Nevertheless, it wasn't a total waste for a bead store buyer. It just meant that I had to look harder and look with an open mind. Stay tuned. You'll see the results of my searches in a few weeks when the products arrive from the manufacturers.

What I'm missing out on this week

There are two big industry conferences happening this week.  I'm really sorry to have had to miss the ISGB Gathering this year - mainly because it is for the first time so very, very close. Rochester!  Even if you're not a beadmaker - The Gathering hosts an open to the public bead bazaar. See up close and personal some of the best beads from your favourite artists. Road trip anyone? :-)

The other big happening is the CHA - Craft & Hobby Association conference. Anyone who owns a craft related retail business should be there. Lots of educational opportunities, plus you get a chance to see the latest and greatest from the manufacturers.

The first part of the conference is for industry members, but they also have an open to the public show this weekend in Rosemont, IL. Details here
This one is driveable as well - if you consider a 10 hour drive - driveable :-)  I've done it, and 10 hour road trips are not all they're cracked up to be...


And I think I forgot about one more- Beadfest Philly is around this time as well. How does one decide?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

pics already

s25078 Glass Tiles - 24 x 48 mm Rectangle - Clear (1)Yeesh - subtle like brick! Here you go - pic of one of the tiles.

Jen's right - they ARE really nice.

Special Sneak peek (without the pics)

As some of you may know from a previous blog posts - I have a thing for all things crafty. Especially resin, and paper. I became obsessed with making those little glass tile pendants...The obsession is starting to wane a bit, but they are so popular in the store,  I keep making them!  Many of you have also been begging us to carry those little tiles.

Marg came through as usual, and found some VERY nice quality tiles. Not only in squares, but also in other shapes as well. This week, I'm working on some samples, plus I'll have a little tutorial for you next week as well.  Be prepared to stock up on the tiles, silver plated bails, ice resin, and diamond glaze!  It's addictive, and you can easily do it in front of the computer or telly.

On another note - I know I still owe you the inspiration friday post - still trying to find the card for the camera. It's probably with my keys, that I can't find either ;-)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's Almost August...I know

But cheer-up, there are loads of old and new classes this August that will help you forget that it's almost time to go back to work, or school, or whatever the slowly approaching end of Summer usually brings for you.

On Saturday August 7, Marilyn Gardiner will be teaching two classes:
Earrings and Pendants
This is a class for beginners, and all levels of beaders alike. Beginners can learn how to make simple and elegant jewelery components.


Celtic Vision Bracelet/Necklace
This class requires a bit of experience with chain mail. You get to choose if you want to make a necklace or bracelet. Both the necklace and the bracelet can be adorned with crystals, for those of you who are into the bling.

One of the new classes this month:
Introduction to Fusing and Metal Clay for Lampworkers
Are you a lampworker looking to add metal clay to your glass beads, or are you just looking for ways to add a little something to your already lampworked beads? This class will introduce you to the basics of handling metal clay, and making fancy beadcaps and headpins to add to your glass beads. Don't forget to bring your glass beads.

Adios Amigas!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wire U Talking Like That: Terms to Describe Wire

So choosing a wire is about picking the best balance between strength and workability - as is most appropriate for your project.

Workability - hardness vs softness or "hard to bend" vs "easy to bend."

We refer to wire that is easy to bend as "soft" or and wire that is hard to bend as "hard." Sterling silver wire can be annealed - heat-treated - to make it "soft." The softest grade is referred to as "dead soft" and the hardest to bend is "hard" - nothing mysterious there. There is a medium grade too - called "half hard." Hard, Half-hard and Dead Soft = 3 grades of bendability.

As you bend and manipulate - work - sterling silver - it gets harder and harder to bend, which is called "work hardening." You can then stop and soften the wire with heat - if it is a project that you can heat. If you are putting glass beads on it - probably not - as they won't take the heat. So it might be a better choice to use fine silver wire - as this takes very much longer to work harden. So fine silver (pure silver) is an excellent choice for bead/wire crocheting - assuming you can afford it!

The copper wire has the advantage of being much more affordable! Copper wire is soft - it is all dead soft.

Thickness or "Gauge"

In Canada, as we slowly ooze into using metric - for the last generation or so! - wire is sometimes described in millimetres. Many of the books and all the Americans still use gauge - as do we on our site - simply for convenience and common understanding.

Gauge goes backwards, like seedbeads. Higher number = smaller wire. I think of age in terms of your male child. At 18 he was a strong as an ox, but hard to get him to bend to your wishes. At 30, he's much more pliable, but now can hardly hold himself up. ;-)

Gauge
Millimeters
Inches Decimal

30

0.255
0.0100
28
0.321
0.0126
26
0.405
0.0159
24
0.511
0.0201
22
0.642
0.0253
20
0.812
0.0320
18
1.024
0.0403


20 gauge is a good, all purpose size. 18 gauge is definitely noticeably thick, and strong. 22 is light but serviceable, 24 - getting smaller. 28 and 30 are fine, you really have to want a thin wire to use these.

That, of course, is a gross generalization, but will do for a starting point. I'm just a hand to hold and an opinion to reject!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Support for your metal clay in the Kiln: Vermiculite, Fiber Blankets, or Alumina Hydrate....Things you may want to consider

Kiln firing metal clay, at times, requires that curved or shaped piece be supported during the firing process to help them retain their shape. Metal clay, at times may slump, flatten or warp as gravity acts on the metal while it sinters. As a precaution to this problem a supporting medium is used to ensure successful firing. There are a variety of materials a metal clay artist may use: a fiber blanket, alumina hydrate or vermiculite. My substance of choice is vermiculite. Below I will summarize the three major firing supports.

Disclaimer: Below is information I have gleaned from searches. In these search I have found that I wasn't able to find all the information I was looking for. I tried hard to find reliable documentation to back opinions and ideas I have heard (this was not as easy as I had thought!). I am including the information to get you thinking and perhaps it may help you make your own choice and possibly encourage you to handle your materials more safely. I encourage you to do your own research and share your thoughts.

1. Fiber blanket - is a blanket made of spun fibers of ceramics it is a lot like cotton balls. The problem is that in handling fiber blankets you can dislodge particles of fibers that will then be inhaled and damage your lungs. An MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet-ceramic fiber) says in bold letters at the beginning of the hazards section POSSIBLE CANCER HAZARD CAUSED BY INHALATION. I did found one vendor which clearly stated warning to purchasers stating "These useful and versatile products do have one drawback, breathing the free fibers presents a health hazard. Always use an OSHA approved respirator whenever this material is being used"

I remember a class I took where the instructor was haphazardly pulling apart her fiber blanket with her bare hands in the middle of class. Hmmm....you want to stop and think. To be honest, I bought a fiber blanket, didn't know how to handle it - it didn't come with any instructions or warnings !!!! Now I know better and I have my mask when I use it and I try to handle it carefully - but I keep it's use to a minimun.

2. Alumina Hydrate - a powdered substance that has been used in ceramic industry for glazes. It is used in a dish by metal clay artists to support the clay. It is a lung irritant. Again, INHALATION is a big concern. The MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet- Alumina Hydrate) warns against inhaling the powder.I tried to search out additional data regarding the effects of inhalation. One resource I found was the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety that had a section on aluminum powders. It is used by many as it has fine particles. BUT with fine particles you have a lot of inhalable material. I have never used Alumina hydrate and never will.

3. Vermiculite: Vermiculite is a naturally occuring material that is used for insulation and as a hydroponic material. This one is my choice of support for my metal clay. It is easy to find - I buy mine at a local garden cente and it works well. I just place it in a crucible or unglazed terracotta dish (sometimes these can crack) and place my metal clay pieces on the vermiculite and fire. It can scratch your pieces and if you are creating a mirror or smooth finish it may damage it.

Regarding safety - I have heard many people say it is safe BUT - the MSDS on Vermicultie recommend that you don't inhale the stuff either. No real surprise here. I still pick this for my choice as well the particles are bigger although there are small bits as well, I try not to disturb the mixture.

One last thing to note about vermiculite and its safety. A student of mine raised concerns about asbestos and vermiculite so I a little digging. There was a mine, specifically in Libby Montana, that happened to have naturally occuring asbestos in the vermiculite.(I would love to go into a long geological explanation here since I was raised by a geologist but I will spare you the details). This mine produced large amounts of vermiculite and a large portion of that that went into insulation it was obviously a big problem. In the 90's the mine was closed. The Libby Mine vermiculite has been off the market for a while now. Vermiculite is now tested for asbestos.

Here are two links related to this story: Health Canada & Vermiulite

No Support: One last thought...if all this talk has scared you off of using any support. Think about how gravity will affect your piece and try and place it so that it has the least effect. For example if you are firing a domed piece - place it so that the domed part is upwards and the edges to the piece opposite the dome are on your firing surface, the edges will create a drag and will help keep its shape. If you lay it so that the dome is on the firing surface gravity will be more likely to pull on the piece and it may flatten. This may help.

Sadly, I can't find much more information about this at this time. Hopefully this will get you thinking for yourself. If you have any thoughts and opinions please share.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Business Chat - Sell Your Story

A few weeks ago we started a discussion on defining your product. If you don't know what you sell, you can't communicate this to a customer and communication is the basis of marketing. "Jewelry" is too broad a term and I challenged you to distill your work into a nice short description. Well guess what, today I'm here to tell you that you don't sell jewelry. Well, yes you do, however jewelry (or knitting or art) is only a small part of what you sell. If someone wanted to buy a pair of earrings they could go to a mall. Why have they come to you?

Because they want a piece of art, they want magic.

YOU are the product.

People shop at craft shows because they want to understand where their items come from. From an outsiders' perspective the life of an artist is a bit of a fantasy, it sounds glamorous and romantic. We play, we create, we bring visions to life, we give them something different than driving the kids to soccer and grocery shopping. Whatever your skill is, it is something the customer can't do. It's magic. It's a little piece of your soul and they are willing to pay for it.

Sell Your Story.

Tell them why you create what you do, where your inspiration comes from. Don't just sell an item, sell an idea. If you use a special technique explain this to them. Explain the terms you use, just because you know what wire-wrapping is doesn't mean that they do.
Take for example this pair of earrings.


Sunshine Earrings - Sailorgirl Jewelry

Lampwork beads, on a headpin, with earring hooks. 100% handmade. Ho hum. Cute as they are, plain old earrings are boring, other designers sell earrings, I sell stories. First I'd start with explaining that I make the beads, then I can explain what lampwork is backed up with photos of me making beads of course. Next I'd talk about how these beads remind me of bright sunshine, maybe what's it's like to walk on the sun, or even Mars. I spend a lot of my life staring at the sun from the deck of my sailboat, ah yes, the sailboat, that's why I'm called Sailorgirl. Now the customer has a story in her ears, a story is very different from a plain old pair of earrings. I've given her a glimpse of what's behind the beads. It's something unique, different from my competitors (always an advantage), and it's what a customer expects from an artist at an art show.

So tell me a story. Who are you? What inspires you? Why do you make what you do?

Now tell your customers this story.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Inspiration Fridays

Will be late today - in fact, I won't have it up until late tonight. I do have something though!  I plowed through, and made a ring at 5:30 this morning :-) - But hey, I did get it made.  Unfortunately I won't be able to get it photographed until after we get home from Soccer tonight.

It is now 4:30 am - on Saturday, and I still can't find the sdcard for my camera.  I am not giving up, but I do have a metal fusing class today. I need to prepare for that - as I'm sure my students will not care whether or not the blog post is done - as long as they have everything they need for the class :-)  I swear, these last two weeks have me completely discombobulated.  Maybe next week will be better :-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dream Vacation

Last month, we asked:

"So - if you could go anywhere or do any bead or jewelry-related thing in the
world -  What would it be? A trip to Tucson to buy stone beads? 
Or a trip to Murano to take a class with a master lampworker? 
Or maybe the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels of England? 
A week-long bead retreat class? What is your bead-fantasy?"
 
Here is what some of you had to say!
"A week long bead retreat class, of course!!!"
 
"Ahhh to find my happy place ... 
A week-long bead retreat class involving wire work and metal smithing for beginners. "
 
"Trip to Tucson - I've heard the variety is amazing and great 
opportunity to stock up on both basic and one-of-a-kind items.  Would 
love to give that a whirl! "
 
"To travel to Africa and purchase ethnic fair trade beads 
from the communities that make them."
 
"Tough Question, i think i would like to see the crown jewels of England,
 or the jewellry collection at the British museum.  Combine my two 
favourite things, Jewellry and History! "
 
"How about "Around the world in 80 bead stores"?  I have travelled a 
tiny bit, and I have a few places I would go back to for the bead store I
 visited.  I could hit them all again, and find a few more.  Short of 
that, I would love to get to a big bead show, just about anywhere: 
Tucson, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, but I suspect that my husband would
 feel like he was enabling my addiction, if not outright contributing to
 it.  There won't be any family vacations planned around a weekend show
 any time soon.  As for escaping by myself or with a bead pal, that is 
truly a fantasy.  3 small children stand between me and the door.  I 
shall content myself by shopping online, where the world is my oyster. 
 Any pearls present? "
 
"An exclusive, high end spa/health retreat for a week with afternoons 
reserved for beading with my daughter. "
 
"  I like vintage beads and I'm an inveterate bargain hunter, so I'd 
like a trip to Rhode Island to dig through the old bead warehouses. 
Then, to make it even more fun, take a New England coastline cruise with
 classes on board ship. A week of this would be wonderful!! "
 
"India....to shop in the local markets for beads"
 
" Hmmmm ... I think a combo of the Tuscon trip - of course, I'd need a 
LARGE expense account - and then following that, a week-long retreat 
featuring classes, to try all the techniques I'm intrigued by: 
lampworking, PMC silver, silver fusing, metal-smithing, chain maile, 
etc., etc., ETC. Maybe a week isn't long enough? Then of course I'd 
love a real studio at home, with a proper jeweler's bench, and all the 
trimmings. And the luxury of time to work! Not greedy, am I?  .... I 
think I\'ll run out to buy a lottery ticket!"
" I would love to work with other Native American people in a program to 
preserve tribal beadwork designs, as well as educate about their 
meanings."
"Just recently, I was asked the very same question, and I had realized 
that I has forgotten how to dream, because life can be unfair to a lot 
of us. But my boyfriend and I had talked about our combination dream, 
where we travel all over the country in an RV- full of beads. My 
work-shop on wheels, selling my jewellry at any fair that would have us 
and he would plot the courses so that we could see every province and 
state our hearts desire. So I would just live out my days making 
jewellry and learning everything there is to know, and he gets to visit 
everyplace he's ever dreamed of and plot the courses to those 
places.(He loves maps!!)"
"Anytime I travel, I try to find a bead store to visit.  The 
possibilities within our own province are fabulous!  I hope to stop in 
and see your store this summer as travel will take me through Toronto to
 Eastern Ontario.  Just today a possible trip to Paris with a friend was
 mentioned and I came home and looked up bead stores in Paris!!  It 
really is an addiction and seeking and searching out new beads and
baubles is a real treat, no matter what the destination."

 
" I would go to Italy, and visit the glass factories in Murano, 
take some glass courses and take a ride on a boat in Venice."


 " I love the Italian seed beads but they are hard to find.  I think I 
would like a trip to Milan to purchase a ton of these beads."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
 
Of course, there were a ton more comments, and I wish I could include 
them all for you. 
 
Where will you go on your dream vacation? 
 
 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summertime


I've been enjoying a lovely morning with the girls. We've decided to stay home, as it's been a busy few days with them. We so need a chill out day!  While enjoying my morning coffee in the backyard, and listening to Summertime by Janis Joplin - I thought a good project with the girls would be to make long strands of peace necklaces/beads - tons of em' a la Janis - thinking of her famous pose wearing nothing but her beads.  We can do outside (at least until it rains)...beading and summer can mix.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jewelry Business: The Stuff you need to know

Some of you already know her as "Sailorgirl", but our very own jewelry business and bead show guru, Catherine Winters is going to be teaching at beadFX this summer through fall. The How to Have a Successful Craftshow class is coming up on Thursday July 22. For all those who are planning to participate in the various bead shows, this summer and fall, Catherine will tell you what you need to know in order to have your first kick-ass show.

Do you want to sell your creations? Perhaps it is piling up around the house, all your friends have all the jewelry they can ever wear, and now you are wondering what to do? Or maybe you would like your hobby to pay for itself? Or maybe you would just like to throw off the shackles of the corporate lifestyle and go out there on your own doing something you love? Whatever the reason, if you are considering selling your jewelry — you owe it to yourself to take this course. On July 29, Catherine will be teaching "How to Start and Run a Successful Microbusiness". You will be able to hear from someone who has started her own profitable jewelry business and run away with great tips and ideas.

Here's what some of our other instructors are offering:

July 25
Textured Rings CopperClay Bracelet with Heather Bell Denison













July 28
Beaded Beads with Cindy Vroom











July 27
Learn to Make Glass Beads with Dwyn Tomlinson









If there is a class that you would like us to teach, tell us.

Adios Amigas.

Monday, July 19, 2010

All Wrapped Up - Which Wire for Wire Wrapping?


Wire wrapping and choosing wire - what is the best wire to use?

Well - like anything - it really depends on exactly what you mean. In this case - what do you mean by "wire wrapping?"

I tend to think of this stuff (on the left) when someone says "Wire Wrapping," - but this, (on the right) can also be called "wire wrapping." I'm sure I don't know what else to call it! The techniques as as different as the end results - and so is the wire used.

The secret - the flat-out, knock-down, depths of hell secret to the stuff on the left is . . . (drumroll please) . . . the square wire. And the half round wire.

It really does make all the difference in the world. If you are going to cut 5 pieces of wire, lay them side by side, and then tightly wrap wire around them to hold them in place without glue or soldering - it is essential that they don't move around relative to each other - and having flat sides accomplishes that. The devil is in the details!

After that - the rest is easy! Well - relatively easy! Like our resident instructor, Robert Burton, would be pleased to hear me say that! Don't tell him I said that. Maybe he won't see this.

The other kind of wire wrapping - the more free-form stuff - well - that requires just two things - the wire be heavy enough to be strong enough - without being too big to use, and soft enough to bend easily and repeatedly. I'm not a big fan of being in pain - so I like my wire soft and easy to bend!

So the bangle bracelet is made with 20 gauge wire for the base, for strength, and 26 gauge wire to wire on the embellishing beads. Both of these are Artistic(tm) brand wire - which has a copper core and is soft and easy to bend, and does not work harden - although it CAN fatigue and break if you bend it back and forth in the same place too often.

More on wire next week!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Syringe Metal Clay

Syringe form silver clay is a fun an interesting form of metal clay. Syringe clay is a thinned form of silver clay preloaded into a syringe. With the syringe clay you can pipe out long strands of silver clay and make some interesting designs.

There is a lot of ways you can use your syringe:

"Sunflower", in this piece I used syringe to create the centre. It was done by creating a cork form that the clay was syringed over top.


This piece is a Art Clay Level One Certification project. This one is done by Susie Levitsky. It is a freeform syringe project capturing a marquis gemstone. It was made with three layers of medium syringe to create this filligree like design.

Other ways syringe can be used:
  • Use it for repairs and attachments. Any form of paste will work for repairs. Some people like to use syringe for repairs as you can squeeze it into cracks and small spaces.
  • Use it to make fine free form "filigree" designs
  • Use it to shape over burnable cores to make interesting hollow forms.
  • Use it to embellish your work. Add swirls, writing, and other shapes on top of a piece of solid clay.
  • Use it to capture gemstones, glass or other inclusions.

You can purchase a variety of tips for your syringe:

Art Clay Silver has three tips for syringe clay. When purchasing your syringe clay you can buy it with one tip, three tips or no tips (refills). The standard tip is the green (medium) tip; it is the most commonly used tip. The three pack comes with a blue tip (fine) green tip (medium) and gray tip (thick). I like the fineness of the blue/fine tip but it can be quite brittle due to its fineness, keep this in mind. (I would not use blue/fine tip for a free form piece. If you are attaching blue/fine tip syringe to a piece of solid clay take extra care in making sure it is attached to the clay or it can break off even after it is fired.)

Can you make your own syringe clay?
The answer is many have tried and failed. It is quite difficult to get the right texture/consistency. I have tried with little success. In addition, to the challenge of getting the right consistency the other challenge the issue of possible clogging the syringe with a small bit of clay.

Suggestions on technique:
Art Clay World has a great PDF Mastering the Syringe, it describes step by step on technique.

The key is to keep your tip up and drape the clay where you want it. Problems happen if one stays too close to the surface and the clay will often drag and get pulled.

Another tip is to use a damp paintbrush or damp makeup sponge to smooth any points and to soften the syringe.

Mastering the technique
I mastered syringe by creating many, many organic syringe shapes without putting pressure on myself to be exact.

With the cost of silver and silver clay being what it is there is a simple inexpensive way to practice technique. Practice with toothpaste!!! Fill a syringe with toothpaste (I find the white non gel type of toothpaste the most similar). The toothpaste it behaves similarly to syringe clay and you can freely practice handling the syringe. Once you get the "hang" of then move to silver syringe clay.

Enjoy!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Business Chat - Your Tagline

How many of you rode an elevator this week and thought about your elevator speech? For those just tuning in last Saturday we discussed the beginning of creating your own brand by creating an elevator speech. Today I'll continue with the second marketing tool that every company (and you, you are a company) should create.

Along with your elevator speech I recommend that everyone create their own tagline. A tagline tells customers what to think about you. Here are 2 excellent taglines:


  • Just do it.

  • You deserve a break today.
I don't have to say the company name, you know who they are. You also have a strong mental image, know what they make and have certain expectations about their products.
The keys to an effective tagline are:


  • It's short and easy to remember.

  • You use it repeatedly and prominently.

  • It conveys something you want potential customers to remember or feel.
When a tagline conveys a feeling, it helps increase the bond between you and your customers.

Many businesses never develop a tagline, and you don't need one in order to succeed. However, an effective tagline helps you clarify what makes your business special in just a few words. It helps customers remember you and to think about why they should buy your jewellery.

A tagline should be no more than 3 - 7 words, the phrase about you and your product that you want to linger in your target customers mind. When 2 women are in a coffee shop discussing a prospective gift, you want your tagline to pop up in their conversation.

Great taglines appear effortlessly created because they seem to flow. In fact, creating one takes time, just like designing a great logo or writing an elevator speech. Great taglines stick in your memory. Your tagline isn't something that you can just whip up. It will evolve along with your jewellery. Work on your style, let the tagline percolate, and one day it will appear.

I advocate the same method for beginning your tagline as for creating your elevator speech. Every time you sit down and make work, jot down on a notepad the following:


  • 5 adjectives that describe your work

  • 5 words that jewellery makes you feel
After several months you'll notice that the same words begin to appear over and over. Keep going, you'll get there.

Once you have developed a great tagline, use it everywhere! Business cards, booth posters, web sites, your email signature, splatter your tagline anywhere that your customer will see your name. Now that's good marketing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inspiration Fridays

Well,  I come in shame. I have nothing. It's just been one of those weeks....

I'm still quite excited about the project I have planned, and hopefully I'll have better luck this week. And of course, I don't think anyone had a particularly great week for creating anything - as I don't have anything else to show either :-)

So - Let's try a new one...Go forth and create!

Gerber Bubbles

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sneak Peek at Next Week

s24980 Glass - 6 mm Faceted Column - 24KT Gold Plated (Strand 50)s24987 Stone  Beads - 12 mm Faceted Round - Ruby Velvet Quartz (Strand 20)Gold and Rubies!

Well - Gold plated glass and man-made ruby quartz. Close enough.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Seedbeading Galore with Marcia Decoster

Marcia Decoster, author of Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence: Elegant Jewelry Projects with Right Angle Weave, is teaching with us from July 20-22.

All three classes are open to all levels of beaders with right angle weave experience.

July 20
Bellisimo


July 21
Falling Leaves Lariat
July 22
Queen Anne's Lace

For glass enthusiasts, Amy Waldman-Smith, is teaching a Tree Bead Workshop this weekend. You can add a few more tricks like encasing, twisties, and stringers to your repertoire.


Are you a knot? Check out Angela Peace's Intro to Chinese Knot's Class.



Adios Amigas

Monday, July 12, 2010

Don’t be Rash - Alternates for the Allergic

Some folks feel that their choices in jewelry are severely limited by having contact allergies – presumably caused by the metals used in jewelry. You may have acquired a handful of items that you always wear, and shy away from anything new for fear of a reaction.

But, depending on the actual cause of the allergy – there are a whole bunch of exciting choices in hypo-allergenic jewelry – and if the mass market isn’t catering to both your tastes and your allergies – you can always make your own!


Niobium
If you google Niobium and allergy – you will find a lot of references to body piercing jewelry and niobium as being non-allergenic. Not just unlikely to react – but no one has experienced it reacting. And – it comes in colours. We have it as wire, so you can make ear wires, or wire up a pendant, or make jumprings for chainmaille.

Titanium
Also very good for not creating a reaction – titanium is also extensively used in body piercing jewelry.

Steel – Stainless and Surgical
Stainless steel works well for many to beat the rash, and surgical steel is a type of stainless steel – a more refined alloy, that is used in implants, such as hip joints – where an allergic reaction would be very nasty indeed.

Metal Clay/Pure Silver
Metal Clays such as Art Clay Silver and Precious Metal Clay are 99.9 % pure silver. As such – with additional metals present, they are less likely to cause a reaction.

Nickel is by far the most common metal that causes skin irritation, and while pure nickel is seldom used – it may be present mixed with other metals in an alloy – so going for the pure stuff sometimes eliminates the rash and reaction.

And of course, gemstones and glass are seldom an issue – so good quality findings, such as clasps and earwires may solve your problem. Avoid the discount store junk.

On the other hand – if you have been maintaining that you are allergic to everything except gold and/or platinum and diamonds for the sole purpose of ensuring that your husband buys you expensive gifts – well – that’s another story.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Successful Firing of Sensitive Gemstones uisng Activated Carbon

Aqua Czs fired in Silver Metal Clay (using activated carbon to preserve colour)



Last week, I test fired the new gemstones that had arrived at BeadFx (posted o7/04/10). The one stone I was most excited about was an Aqua Cubic Zirconia which sadly failed my original kiln and torch firing tests. The stones turned brownish:
Left stone (brownish) is the result of (open) kiln firing aqua czs. Right stones are unfired aqua czs.


I was disappointed by I had one last test to try, which I did this week. Firing the piece in a kiln embedded in activated carbon, and guess what? I had success!!!!

Several weeks ago I posted about firing gemstone in metal clay (posted 06/20/10), in this post I referred to a great resource from Mardel Reins at Cools Tools - Gemstone Firing Guide. In this reference she mentioned that she came to the idea that perhaps it was the heat and oxygen that caused some gemstones to fail her test firings in metal clay. The advent of the new metal clays the require firing in an oxygen free environment (which is achieved by placing them in a pan covered in activated carbon) gave her the idea to test this theory with some of the failed gemstones. (you can read the full story on the link).

Thanks to this information I decided to try this on the new aqua czs. And this is what I did:
  • I made a metal clay piece and embedded the aqua cz's in the metal clay.
  • Dried it completely.
  • Once completely dry. I used my butane torch to burn off the binder. I placed my piece on my kiln brick and ignited the piece (once the piece ignited, I turned off the torch, this is important as you don't want to overheat the piece and damage the stone).
  • I repeated igniting the piece and then letting the flame go out until the piece did not flame any more. This was to burn off the binders.
  • After all the binder was burned off I carefully placed the piece in a steel pan with activated carbon covering it completely.
  • I fired it in my kiln at 1575F for 1.5 hours (the reason I didn't go higher was a time factor, in theory a higher temperature and longer will work as well).
  • Cooled the piece naturally (remember you don't want to thermally shock your gemstones by quenching them).
  • Polished.
Success the aqua colour was maintained!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Business Chat - Your Elevator Speech

Last week we discussed the most common problem every small business has, especially new businesses, they can’t define what they sell. How do you market something that you haven’t yet defined?

There are 2 marketing tools that every business should create in order to define their product and convey that information to the customers. The first is your “elevator speech”. All corporate refugees should recognize the elevator speech.
Imagine you get into an elevator in an office building with a bicycle courier and he asks “what do you do?” By the time he gets off, he should know who you are, what your company is and what your company does. Telling him, “I make jewellery” isn’t good enough. Jewellery can be anything. Do you make high-end diamond and gold jewellery, nose rings or hemp bracelets? Telling him, “I really like to make earrings and some necklaces too” isn’t good enough. Think earrings. What mental image do you have? Probably it’s a different image from that of the bicycle courier. I’ll repeat again, if you don’t have an image fixed in a customers mind of your product, you won’t pop up on their mental radar screen when they are thinking of buying more jewellery.

Your "elevator pitch" must be clear and concise. It's not easy to develop an "elevator pitch." It takes quite a bit of thinking and practicing to decide which aspects of your business to mention. Even more frustrating, because an elevator pitch MUST be short, you have to decide what parts to leave out.

For a jeweller, saying “I make earrings” doesn’t give the listener much of a mental image. A better elevator speech could be, “I make jewellery inspired by nature, using silver and semi-precious stones.” Notice you haven’t defined every piece you make, however the listener has a feeling about your work.

An elevator speech isn’t something you can sit down and just whip up. As you develop your jewellery style, come back to this over and over. It will evolve along with your work. Here’s how to start working on your elevator speech. Every time you sit down and make work, jot down on a notepad the following:

  • 5 adjectives that describe your work
  • 5 words that your jewelry makes you feel

Like everything I recommend in running your business, remember to KISS: keep it simple, smart.

Again, let me ask you this, what do you sell?

Next week we’ll talk about the other important marketing tool you shall create – your tag line.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Inspiration Fridays

Before I get to the current pics - I need to show off Nathalie's work.  Do you remember this pic from a few weeks ago - This was inspiration 1:
Flowers For Debra-6055

"My bracelet is a “looser” interpretation of the image... my thick swirly wire that supports the focal represents the tendrils, and the big round focal (a lampwork glass cabochon made by one of my friends) had those bright colors, shape and flow of the big tropical flower. "

You can see more of Nathalie's work on her site.
 Also check out her Artfire Studio


This next piece is one I designed with the dogwood blooms as the inspiration. Loosely, as I used cherry blossoms instead... 


This piece was more of a compilation of sorts. I actually designed the branch at the last metal clay play day. In Kate McKinnon's newest book, one of the projects was a branch made from a fine silver wire armature, then built up with clay and paste.  I've had this sitting on my workbench unfired for a while - I also had some cherry blossoms cut out from paper clay in a little dish of bits I keep on my bench. 


Something quite bizarre happened somewhere along the line though. When I put my pendant in the kiln to be fired - It had three full blossoms, when it came out - half of one blossom was completely missing. And I mean gone. Right there on the tray, before I even picked it up - a chunk was missing. The missing piece wasn't on the tray, or anywhere else in the kiln. Two possibilities - 1) it vaporized, or 2) I'm loosing it. I prefer to go with option 1. :-)






That's all we have for this week..I hope I didn't miss anyone!  


For next week- here is your inspiration pic: Home for a Knome   - We invite everyone to play along. Make something, anything at all, inspired by the weeks picture. Send it to info@beadfx.com with the subject "Inspiration Fridays"


Home for a Gnome (1)