Thursday, March 31, 2011

Creative Genius

Every now and again one comes across a website or blog that just truly knocks your socks off.

Scott Bedford's, What I Made site is certainly one of them. From his doodles, to the ingenious projects. There is something here that is sure to get just about anyone inspired to get out their tools and craft supplies, and get busy crafting away.

Like this:

It's a secret safe! 

Or something like this:

It's a dimmer switch faceplate - I wonder if this would help my kids to remember to shut the lights off during the day? 

And there is tons more, and not all of it kid related - Awesome site!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Creative Mind

I've been super busy getting the inspirations ready for this evening's update. We're all super excited about the epoxy clay.  I'll be honest - my initial reaction to the clay was ho-hum at best, that is until I started actually playing with it. I was provided a goodie bag of stuff to play with as long as I brought it all right back in case Stephanie needed it for demo's. Thank goodness she hasn't required it back yet! I just can't stop ... You can sculpt with this stuff! I'll again be honest and admit that my sculpting skills are a bit primitive - but oh, the possibilities for someone with actual talent!  :-)

So that I can get back to playing with the epoxy clay, I'll leave you with a fascinating  read on the  Ten paradoxical traits of the creative personality

It's so worth reading!



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Corsage Project Deadline is Thursday!

First off, thanks to everyone who has come to our Corsage Project Open Beading Nights. And, thanks to all you lovely folks who have dutifully worked on jewellery pieces for the project. Tomorrow, Wed March 30, 6 - 8pm, is the last Corsage Project Open Beading Night, and Vanessa Seneriches from The Corsage Project, will be here to make jewellery and answer your questions about the project. Please note, if you're working on jewellery at home, or sending pieces in by mail, the deadline for submission is Thursday, March 31st. I know we'll make some young ladies happy!

Fibre Arts Festival
The Fibre Arts Festival is a place to find unique fabric, quilting, hooked rugs, knitting and more. The Festival is sponsored by the Etobicoke Handweavers & Spinners Guild, Heritage Rug Crafters of Etobicoke & the Etobicoke Quilters Guild.

beadFX will be at the Fibre Arts Festival on the opening weekend of the festival, which is April 2nd & 3rd. The show actually runs till April 17th. So if you're going to be in the area, drop by and say hello!
Go to Fibre Arts Festival for festival details and directions.

There are a few NEW classes coming up in April that I'm excited to share.

Pearl Knotted Bracelet with Rae Huggins, April 6th 6 - 8pm


Stephanie Dixon will be teaching an Epoxy Clay class. I don't have all the details yet, but isn't that gorgeous? More details on the class coming soon.

Adios Amigas!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Epoxy Clay Tutorial

Ooooo - we are excited about this!

You are familiar, I think, with 2-part epoxy glue. It is an glue that comes in two separate containers, a resin and a hardener. You mix equal quantities together, apply to what ever you need to glue, and wait for it to cure - to harden.

Well - now we'd like to introduce you to 2-part epoxy clay. It comes in two parts - a resin and a hardener - only, instead of a liquid - it is a soft putty or clay. You take equal parts of the clay and the hardener, knead them together until thoroughly mixed, and then apply to what ever you want to bond together, and wait for it to cure.

Where it differs from straight glue or adhesive is that it is moldable. Where it differs from say, polymer clay, is that it cures without being baked, and it is inherently adhesive. It is opaque, comes in a variety of colours (which can also be blended together), and has a decently long "open" or "working" time. Stephanie, Jen and I have all been experimenting (playing!) with this for a few weeks now.

It's going to go live on the site on Wednesday night (update is at midnight) - but I thought I'd show you some of the stuff I've made, and do a little tutorial on how to use it!

(We will be carrying two different brands, one is Crystal Clay, the other is Apoxie Clay. Both are excellent - with only subtle differences. Whichever you prefer appears to be a matter of "imprinting" - see Konrad Lorenz's work on animal behaviour. ;-) )

Epoxy Clay Tutorial

First - assemble the items that you will need first.

  • clay (obviously)
  • and whatever you want to decorate and whatever you are going to decorate it with.
  • In this case, we are making a pendant with a honking big rhinestone, surrounded by little rhinestones. We have a bezel pendant, and the stones. And we also have some metallic powder, for extra glitz.

  • disposable work surface (I wrapped a tray in plastic wrap. It's just easier than cleaning up.)
  • toothpicks- for manipulating the clay
  • disposable gloves (multiple pairs - you'll need to peel off the gloves and re-glove part way through.)
  • q-tips - er, sorry, cotton swabs
  • a small container of water
  • paper towel
  • tweezers, fine - for manipulating stones
  • stone positioner - blob of bee's wax on the end of a bamboo skewer - essential for picking up small rhinestones.
  • some sort of craft knife for cutting, scraping, etc, will be handy. I used a paring knife, but, and I stress this - this is not a food prep knife and it will not go back to the kitchen. I have a special paring knife for crafty stuff. Generally - I use it at the torch. ;-)
  • if available, a small scale - wrapped in plastic or in plastic bag, or with a piece of plastic on top

1. Put your gloves on and take equal parts of the two parts of the clay, part A and part B. One part will be a dull grey colour - the other part will be your "colour" - the final colour of the finished clay. I scoop some out with the knife. Be sure to clean the knife between scooping out part A and part B - you don't want to contaminate one with the other. Much to my surprise - until this clay cures - hardens - it can be cleaned up with water, so use your pot of water and some paper towel to wipe the knife clean.

You need equal quantities of parts A and B - within reason. You can make two balls and eyeball them for size.

If you'd like to be a little more accurate - you can do it by weight.

I take a small scale, put plastic wrap over it - so I won't get sticky clay on the scale, and weigh the two pieces.

When you have two pieces more or less the same size,

You can start kneading them together. You can roll them together into a sausage, fold, re-roll ...
or you can flatten and tear and stack, and repeat, or both. The clay is very soft and easy to manipulate - you don't need to warm it up, like polymer clay.

Continue mixing for about 2 minutes, until the clay is an even colour - no marbling.
Remove the messy gloves you are wearing, and put on clean ones. This allows you to pick up and manipulate tools, the bezel finding, etc, with out making it too messy. Now press the clay into the bezel finding, pushing it down all the way, smoothing it, etc.
You may find some spills over the outside of the rim of the bezel. Scrape off any excess with a toothpick - no danger of scratching the metal that way.

You may have to take some off if there is too much - the knife is good for that. If you did not mix enough - you have plenty of time to mix some more, and then pry out the first batch, knead them together, and do it again. The working time is at least an hour - depending on which type of clay you used.

You can also use the cotton swab dipped in the water to smooth the surface and remove lines and rough spots. (I find I get lines from wrinkles in the glove.)

Next - press your main stone into the clay. It will displace the clay and it will bulge up. This is where I'm going to be setting the smaller stones. I swabbed it with water again to make it smooth and checked that I didn't have big bulges over the sides.

The stone should be pushed far enough into the clay, that the clay come up past the widest point of the stone, (the girdle) and onto the narrower part again, making sure that the stone is secure.

Start setting the stones - using the blob of wax on the stick to position them (the Crystal Clay kit comes with one of these. Otherwise, you can make your own, or use the same one that is available for picking up hot fix rhinestones.) Touch the sticky wax to the top of the stone, move it to where you want it to be, press down gently and lift away - the stone should stick to the stickier clay. If it wants to hang onto the wax blob, twist/spin gently, about a 1/4 turn to separate the stone from the wax, and next time, pick up with less pressure.
Position the stones, and then press them in securely. You can use the other end of the stone position, the back end of the tweezers, whatever is handy.
If you want the clay to look metallic - put the pendant into a small container, and dump the metallic powder (MetalFX) over it. Smooth it down with a finger, and then leave the whole thing to cure. (The powder will brush off the stones after. The excess powder can be poured back into the container and reused.)
Leave it to harden - about 24 hours. Don't mess with it - just leave it alone.
Once it has cured, you can brush away the excess metallic powder - I usually wash it gently in the sink.

So - now you know what to do with those really big rhinestones that you've been itching to use, but just can't quite face 400 hours of beading a bezel for. ;-)


When removing the gloves, pull up from the wrist over the fingers, half folding the gloves inside out - then pull off all the way and discard. This keeps the messy part inside.

Discard the gloves when they get messy. You don't want to be putting fingerprints all over the back of the jewelry item while you are making it. Just gives you more to clean up.

I often remove the glove from my dominant hand once I start placing the stones, but leave one on the other hand, so I can still manipulate the clay if I need to.

Gloves are available from your local drugstore by the box of 100 and come in sizes (but not left and right). If you have a latex allergy, there are synthetic gloves available, and also Nitril gloves, which are more expensive, but sturdier.

These epoxy clays are supposed to be safe enough to eat - but I prefer to not get the uncured clay on my hands while working with it!

Think about what else you could embed in the clay. How about a wire design? Or beads? Maybe some cogs and gears, or tiny found objects? Maybe an orphan earring can become the foundation of a new pendant? Cabochons. How about lampwork beads that annoyingly cracked in half?

The clay can be smoothed with water - but resist the urge to just wash the water over the stones as well - if you do - you'll get a film of the clay on the stones and it will dull them. The stones may have a little wax residue from the positioner - you can clean that up once the whole thing has cured.

This fun ring is vintage and new stones.
This enormous pendant cross - reminiscent of a medieval relic - demonstrates that the clay is strong enough to be used without a backing. I made this directly on a sheet of plastic, and pulled the plastic off the back. The hanging loop is a loop of wire, embedded in the clay. Pearl beads and crystal rhinestones and gold ball chain accent the huge acrylic gems. I textured the clay after the metallic powder had been added.

On the left - Vintage inspired ruby ring - made with vintage rhinestones, and on the right, a more modern design - showing the natural black colour of the clay.

This showy pendant by Stephanie Dixon also has a more up-to-date look.
Oodles - simply OOODLES of posibilities! I already have more ideas coming!

And - look for classes by Stephanie Dixon on using the clay and projects to come on our inspirationFX!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Joy of Metal Clay - Waiting for Spring Flowers

It is officially spring but for many of us we are still experiencing snow on the ground. In Toronto we had a little taste of spring (last week) and I was able to enjoy the crocuses on the terrace at the Hospital where I work during the week. Then Wham, lots of snow.

I hate to complain about weather and will refrain from whining but I am itching to see those spring flowers popping up from the ground. Every Spring I find great joy welcoming the little bulbs popping up in my garden. My children play the spot the signs of spring game as we walk in the community searching for the latest bulbs rising from the neighbours garden. I am feeling impatient to see more flowers and less snow.

This impatience has become evident in my metal clay as I found myself making butterflies and flowers during my the class I taught yesterday.

Here they are planted in my snow covered garden in my yard:

What are you up to making?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Business Chat - bank accounts and you

Does this sound familiar? You went to a craft show and sold some work, did your happy dance and deposited the money in the bank. Because you’ve sold some work, you ran straight to the supply store to pick up those lovely shiny objects you’ve been coveting. Then you ordered some more supplies online, then paid for some business cards and sent a cheque with a craft show application. No problem, you’ve been selling work lately.

Meanwhile, your husband/wife looked at the bank account, saw money and paid some bills. And now you’re looking at the bank account and what the heck? Where’s the money? You’re not sure how much money is going in or out. Budgeting is overwhelming. Costs are rising, and you're losing track of where you stand. You know you “should” be earning more based on sales volume. In practice, you still can't make ends meet and you never seem to have enough cash in the bank. You wish you could run reports (expenses, income), but you can't access the figures (because it's all mixed together).

One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make is to mix their business and personal bank accounts. No matter how small your enterprise, if you sell ANYTHING, you are in business and in order to be in business successfully you must track every cent you make and spend. Do yourself a favour and separate your personal and business bank accounts. No more comingling of accounts, no more gray area, no more personal checks for business expenses.

Whether you open a second personal account or a business account depends on where you are in your business career. Many makers who are just starting out haven’t yet registered their business, a business bank account requires that you be hold a Master Business License which you obtain by registering your business. (Registering your business is not legally required in Canada, you can sell under your name without registering).

Rarely is a business bank account free so for makers who are new, or who are selling very part-time, justifying the cost of a business account is hard. My suggestion for those who fit this category is to open a free personal account and use it for business only.

Make it your business bank account. Deposit ALL of your sales income into your business account. Pay ALL of your business expenses from this account. DO NOT pay any personal expenses from this account. If you want to pay yourself, move your “wages” to your personal account and note how much you are paying yourself. At the end of every month go over your bank statement with an eagle eye and make sure you know where every cent is.

Get a separate credit card to manage all expenses like online shop fees and PayPal transactions. Remember: A credit card is free as long as you pay off the balance every month, and there are plenty of cards out there with no annual membership fees.

By separating your accounts, your personal financial choices (good or bad) can’t affect your business — and vice versa. You'll also find you have better control and far more sanity when it comes to your finances.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Inspiration Friday

Happy Friday!

This past week I've been spending pretty much every available free minute on the torch making beads. It's been quite a while since I focused on beadmaking, and I needed to immerse myself back into it. I'm tempted to head back down there later tonight. So many ideas to try out!

Here's a few pics of what I've been making - nothing super fancy, just getting my feet wet again.

I've got some of these up on my etsy site, and some up on ebay. With luck, I'll have a bunch to bring into the shop on Sunday as well.

We would love to have you show off your stuff! We're you inspired this past week by anything? Send us pics of your creation to with the subject line "Inspiration Friday"

Last call for Inspiration Friday

Let's see what you've got this week! Are my beads going to be all by their lonesome? If you've got something to show - send it on over to us with the subject line 'Inspiration Friday'

Please send it on over before 8pm this evening. Cheers all!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Create Your Style Iphone App

I'm downloading the (new?) Create your style Iphone application as I type.

This way, you can view all of the sparkly design inspirations wherever you are! Bring it in to the store to make sure you get everything you need for a project. This would probably be quite cool on an Ipad ;-)  Heh...still trying really hard to justify one....somehow I doubt hubby would agree.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I have a feeling we've blogged about this before. Even if we have, it's worth repeating. This site is so cool - and most helpful to jewelry designers.

Adobe's Kuler

Or Pictaculous

What does it do? Well, it helps you generate a custom palette that can be used for just about anything.

I've picked a few of my bead sets and made colour palettes with them. Now, if I want to make jewelry with these, it's easy to come up with a set of colours to work with.

You can upload just about any image you have, or with pictaculous it allows you to choose from any flickr image out there. Fun, fun, fun :-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Corsage Project Jewellery Submission Deadline is March 31st

Believe it or not the month of March is coming to a close, which means the deadline to drop off jewellery for the Corsage Project is (March 31) right around the corner. For those who don't know what the Corsage Project is, The Corsage Project is a charitable organization that works to ensure that young women who are to graduate, but cannot afford to attend their prom — can have the lovely dresses, shoes, and, jewellery they need.

If you've been putting off making jewellery, now's the time to finish up your masterpiece. Are you stuck? Do you need ideas on how to finish up your piece, or are you looking for ways to recycle an old piece of jewellery? We're here to help. Drop by on our Corsage Project Open Beading Nights! You'll meet other beaders, and get all the help you need. Stephanie Dixon (The Dixon Chick) will be available to provide expert advice.

Here are a few samples to get your creative juices flowing:

There is no cost to attend the opening beading nights. Just pay for what you buy. Plus, you qualify for the 15% student discount!

Thanks to everyone who has already sent pieces in. Your generosity is much appreciated.

Adios Amigas!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beginner Jewelry Making: Earring Talk

Earrings are an easy place to start making jewelry - they are a small project that tends to be quick - and so have a lot of instant gratification. The main criteria is to keep them light - or, at least, light enough for you to wear! And being small - it's easier to keep the budget under control. (Two minutes of perusing MY designs will reveal just how far out of hand you can get!)

So - let's talk about the bits and pieces you use to make up earrings. (BTW - all these pictures are also links to the actual product if you are looking for them on the website.)

First of all - the parts of the earring (and other jewelry ) that make it "work" are called "findings." So the hook part of the earring that goes through your ear is a "finding." Clasps are findings, bead caps, bails, jumprings, links, mounts, etc, are all findings.

23610904b Findings - Earring - Fishhooks -  Simple - Goldtone (100) (Bulk pack)There are hooks that go through the ear that you hang the decorative part of the earring off - these are very simple, sometimes with a small decorative element like a bead or wire coil. They are known as "fishhook" earrings, for their hook shape.

96987905170-01 Findings - Earwires - 20 gauge Simple Shepherds Hook - Antiqued Silver (pair)
Sometimes, they are also referred to as Shepherd's hooks, for the same reason - they resemble a shepherd's hook for herding sheep.

bsn379 Sterling Earwires -  Fancy Filigree - Sterling (Pair)Sometimes - they have much more elaborate decorations.

One of the downsides of this very simple and inexpensive finding is that sometimes they can be pulled out (pulling a sweater off) or just slip out. Not often, but annoying as heck when it happens. You can wear a pair of earrings thousands of times, but you 23611156b Findings - Earring Backs -  Plastic stopper for Earring Wires - Clear (100) (Bulk pack)really remember the time you wore them and they turned into a half-pair.

A plastic stopper can really help with this!

96096181 Sterling Earwires -  Kidney Wires - Sterling (pair)Or you can select a hook style that has a built-in method of closing them. These very simple kidney wires are presumably named for their kidney-ish shape.

More sophisticated earwires have a built-in hinged lever that you o23610890b Findings - Earring - Leverback -  Fan Deco - Gunmetal (25 Pairs) (Bulk pack)pen to put the earring on, and close to prevent it falling off. They are knows as Leverbacks (for the lever) or Eurowires.

bs014 Sterling Earwires -  Euro-style Leverbacks - Sterling (Pair)

23610922 Findings - Earring - Studs - 8 mm Flat - Nickel (Pair)23610948 Findings - Earring - Studs - 4 mm Dome with Loop - Nickel (Pair)Studs - or post earrings - go through the ear as a straight piece of wire. You can then glue a bead, or half a bead, or a pearl, or a cabochon, or whatever to them for the decorative part, or some have a loop for hanging stuff from.

tc93-1069-12 Findings - Earring - Studs -  Diamond Flower - Antique Silver (Pair)Studs can be very plain, or contribute to the overall look of the design.

23610990 Findings - Earring Backs -  Butterfly Clutch - Silvertone (Pair)Studs also need a "clutch" or back to keep them in place - also called a butterfly back. Sometimes they are sold together, sometimes they are sold separately - so always read the description.

23632216 Findings - Earring Backs -  Clutch with built-in Plastic Disk - Silvertone/Clear (Pair)These larger disks serve the same function as a butterfly back, and spread out the weight of the earring in a larger area on the back of your ear and are very good for large or heavy studs.

23601041 Findings - Earring - Chandelier -  Large Hoop w 7 loop - Rhodium Plated (Pair)There are hoops - with built in loops for hanging beads.

23611074 Findings - Earring - Clip-on -  with Ring - Silverplated (pair)And clip-ons - for the unpierced.

96002021 Findings - Earring -  Screw On w Open Ring - Sterling (pair)Or screw-ons, for those that prefer that style.

In addition - there are additional components that you can "decorate" with small beads or crystals or pearls, and attach to the earring finding.

96002458 Sterling Earring Chandeliers -  Double Hoops w Multi-Loops - Sterling (pair)The style of earrings with multiple layers of hanging items are known as chandelier earrings, and so are the findings to make them. Usually - these are sold separately from the actual ear wire, and they are sometimes sold by the each - because they can also function as large, decorative links in necklaces - and sometimes in pairs - so check the description to make sure you get enough.

96002007 Sterling Threader Earrings - 50 mm U Curve Box Chain - Sterling (pair)Threader earrings are a relatively new development, and can take some getting used to when wearing them. They are a very, very, very fine chain, or a very, very, very fine chain and a very slender curved bar. The straight bar on the end is threaded through the hole in the ear, and the chain is slid up to the center. They can certainly be a very elegant earring and a youthful fashion statement.

Basic earring wires like the shepherd's hook can be hand fabricated too - it's just bent wire, after all. (Use a 22 or 24 gauge - 20 is a little too large. Anything smaller is too light.

helezearring Tools -  EZ Earring - Ear Wire Making Tool -  (1)Or, if you want to make lots of earrings, and want them to be consistent in size - there is the earring making tool - a wire bending jig, in essence.

s25108 Tools - Medium Bail Making Pliers - Wubbers (1)
Or the Bail-making pliers can also give you consistently sized loops too. Use the large ones for the curve of the earring, and the small ones for the wire wrap for attaching the beads.

So now that you have your components, all you need to do is select some decorative elements to put on them. Do remember that they shouldn't be too heavy - unless you are already used to wearing really heavy earrings - or are aspiring to learn!

Here's a post on how to actual do that wiring.
Making a Wrapped Loop
Wiring a Briolette.

Easy Peasy! Pretty soon, you'll be making earrings to go with every outfit and occasion - whipping off a pair to wear to the party while your significant other is in the shower. (Yep - I've done that. Multiple times!)