Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We Like Variety and So Do You

If you've ever come into our store and said something like, "I want to learn how to make jewellery!", don't be surprised if you get a weird look followed by an assortment of questions. There are more than a thousand ways to make smashing looking jewellery. So, what type of jewellery would you like to make?

Next week you can learn to make glass beads, pearl knotted/chainmaille bracelets, and more...



Spiral of Delight, June 9 6 - 9pm

spiral delight

Flash Mesh Bracelet, June 11 1:30 - 4:30pm

flat mesh bracelet

For the full schedule for the month of June, please visit our class page.

P.S Stephanie Dixon is now offering her Crystal Clay Rings and Pendant class at beadFX. So if you didn't get a chance to take the class at the Toronto Bead Society Fair now you can Sat June 4th at beadFX.

crystal clay ring crystalclay pendant

Adios Amigas and Happy Beading!

Monday, May 30, 2011


Last night - I dreamed beadFX had the first cloned Woolly Mammoth. It was a little smaller than I anticipated, about the size of a buffalo - but still - pretty darn impressive. I know we try to carry EVERYTHING that you might conceivably want, but really ... .

I've been contemplating my bottles of Ice Resin - trying to figure out what to make. looking for inspiration - I turned to one of our new books - "Explore, Create, Resinate." Sitting down to read it, and reading the very detailed instructions at the beginning of the book, which also includes some recent history of resin and some of the difficulties of working with it that have been overcome - I am struck with how much easier it has gotten to realize your creative ideas.

For instance, I used to make collaged jewellry (see pic). We had a choice of glues - Toxic, and Toxic-er. I was active in an online forum - and people got sick doing this.

Folks wanted safer glues, and now they are available.

Not only are better, easier to use, and safer products readily available - but more information is being shared about those products. In reading about ICE Resin, I am impressed with statements like - "(opened bottle) shelf life is about a year - other resins last longer, but the chemicals to stabilize the resin and make it last longer are toxic." I personally really appreciate that level of understanding!

And the range of options for creative media is crazy awesome! Crystal clear ICE Resin. Epoxy Clay. Polymer clay. Metal Clay. Tutorials and books and forums and other ways of learning and sharing. If you can imagine it, someone has invented the product to do it with.

So really - while a cloned woolly mammoth might be out of our reach this year - and I'm not sure it fits with the whole personal adornment theme anyway - the sky pretty much is the limit for finding ways to make just exactly what you want!

Hmmm - maybe a dinosaur themed bracelet ... .

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Joy of Metal Clay: Silver Leaves - Part 2

Here are the finished leaves I made for last weeks post.

The leaf I used was a violet and I loved it so much I made another one and created earings. After firing and polishing the leaves I drilled holes into the top center and patinaed the leaves. with them.

Here they are:

Here are some other leaves I have coated in the past:

"Plume Poppy Leaf "

With these I tried coating some with CopprClay, unfortunately they didn't sinter well and I am now waiting for this years crop of Nasturtiums to try it with Art Clay Copper and some Fast Fire Bronze.

"Unknown Leaf"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Business Chat - market research

Fingers crossed everyone, and cross those toes too. Dance on one leg, light a candle, do whatever you do to make a wish and wish for nice weekend weather for the next 3 months. Yes, it’s time to pray to the weather gods for nice weekend weather not just because it’s summer and because you want to go out and play after a long workweek. It’s craft show season and weekends are the time for crafters to make money at craft shows. You are, I assume, a crafter. (I assume that because you are reading this blog and because I am very good at deductive logic.)

If you have a booth at the next show in your neighbourhood, good luck! If you don’t then you absolutely must make a day of visiting the show. Either way, I will now assume that you’re going to a craft show in the next few weeks. This is an excellent idea because a craft show is the best place for a crafter to conduct market research.

Market research is any organised effort to gather information about markets or customers. Market research is for discovering what people want, need, or believe. It can also involve discovering how they act. Once that research is completed, it can be used to determine how to market your product. In it’s simplest form market research means watching people. First and foremost, to make people watching into an effective form of market research, you have to have great observation skills and an eye for detail. You can pick up lots of useful information by watching people but you have to know what to look for and where to look.

Every now and then on sunny afternoons I conduct “market research” in a fun part of the city by sitting on a patio and having a lovely beverage. I take a notebook and look. As a jeweler I am looking at what people are wearing. Just because the magazines tell me something is a trend doesn’t mean that I believe it. Go to a busy coffee shop and count how many women are wearing earrings, necklaces, bracelets etc. Check out how many bracelets they’re wearing. It’s a fun exercise. This can also be repeated in malls, libraries, shops and movie theaters, any public place is a possibility. None however are as good as conducting this research at a craft show.

Malls will not give me the sort of information I need because my customers aren’t mall people. My customers buy my work because they choose to buy handmade. That is why they go to craft shows. From previous observation I have learnt that you sell to who you are. Your work reflects your age, education, experience, travel, lifestyle, you. Knowing this, hanging out observing people in a coffee shop near a high school isn’t going to tell me much about my target customer as my target customer is not in high school.

When I go to a craft show here’s some things that I am looking for. I look at the age of people, gender, if they have kids, if they have dogs, if they shop alone or with friends. I check out how they’re dressed (then go hang out in those shops and observe them). If I’m in my own booth I watch how they shop, do they stand in the aisles and just stare or do they come in. If they’re just staring what can I do to entice them in. I check out what items people pick up, what they try on, what they actually purchase.

Interesting sidenote: one of the first things in my booth that gets noticed is my black and white sets. “Oh look at that! I wear so much black!” It’s the first to be seen, it’s the first to be touched, it never sells. Although it doesn’t sell it gets a prominent place up front because it’s an attention getter. They move on to buy colour.

If I’m walking around a show I take time to notice the people who are visiting my competitors’ booths. Are they the same people who come by my booth? I try to listen in to conversations and find out if people are shopping for themselves or if they are buying gifts. I watch to see if people prefer to pick up business cards or postcards when given a choice. With my eagle eye, brilliant observational skills and handy notebook what I am watching for is a pattern to people’s behaviour, or at least a vague clue. By knowing who my customer is and what they like I am in a much better position of making a sale because I can make something that my customer actually wants.

This week I want you to conduct some market research of your own. Go to a really busy coffee shop, order the beverage of your choice and pull out your notebook. Now watch the people. Practice your observational skills before the next craft show.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Inspiration Friday

Will be delayed due to technical difficulties. I'll be back tomorrow once I purchase yet another new memory card/and or card reader. One or both is not working.  So, this gives you one more day to send me all of your fabulous new creations you've been working on ;-)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not bead related at all - but YUM!

Seriously...Chocolate Nutella cake in under 5 minutes. The girls and I just had some as a rather decadent after school snack. I didn't have any Nutella, so I swapped it out with peanut butter. Use a very, very large mug - or divide it into two large mugs. The portion size is gigantic. We just made the one mug - it was plenty for the three of us.

Ok - to get to the actual recipe. Click on the image, then click on the image again on Pinterest. The recipe will then come up.

New This Week!

Must be a Dragon - working to Scale!

s28977 Metal Charm/Pendant -  Tree of Life - Antiqued Zinc (1)

It was a dark and stormy night, and outside, the wind whipped through the trees like a dominatrix turned gardener. Inside, was Ms Liberty Bell, Belle of the Ball. We called her Belle - because she was shaped like a bell. Also, she never rang.

s28978 Metal Beads - 15 mm Filigree Pumpkin - Antiqued Zinc (1)She had arrived in an old fashioned s28979 Metal Beads - 16 mm Shooting Flames Puff Coin - Antiqued Zinc (1)coach - well - more like a Filigree Pumpkin, shooting flames.

She wore a long flowing gown of Alhambra Lace, and a leafy cap, and she had a monster hook, where her right hand used to be. Before the adventure. That was a story. She'd gone to Big Hole Dot's place, and pulled the Chain Tassel. The s28982 Metal Charm/Pendant - 55 mm Chain Tassel - Antiqued Silver (1)creature had appeared. s28988 Metal Charm/Pendant - 30 mm Wings Take Flight - Antiqued Silvertone (1)We're not sure what it was, but it had wings. It could have been a dragon, working to scale. I know, I still can't be-leaf it.s28975 Metal Bead Cone -  Dragon Scales - Antiqued Zinc (1)

s29094 Objects -  Compact - Silvertone (1)

Well - if that compact little story didn't divert you (or appall you), maybe you'd like to bling up these compacts and slip one into your purse?

75501005-27 Rattail Cord - 1.5 mm Satin Mousetail Cord - Strawberry Pink (yard)

You know what Rattail is, right? It's a gorgeous satiny cord that comes in a rainbow of colours and is perfect for knotting and simple stringing for a large pendant. Ever wonder if there was a thinner version? A diet rattail, so to speak? Well - yes there is - and it's called 75501000b Rattail Cord - 1 mm Satin Mini-Mousetail Cord - Black (Spool)(drumroll please!) - Mousetail! And we have it - a whole rainbow page full of it. Oh, and also in black, some even thinner stuff called - waaaait for it - Mini-Mousetail.

s29199 Book -  Explore, Create, Resinate - Mixed Media Techniques using ICE Resin (r) - by Jen CushmanLooking to have a go with the ICE Resin and not sure where to start - Explore, Create and Resinate is great for beginners and experienced resinaters.

So click on a link or a picture above, or start with the Main Page, if you are intrepid (there is a LOT of stuff there), or chunk it down into bite-size portions by checking out the categories: Click on a link and go crazy! Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools. Look for the "new" tags!

Or maybe check out all our free, yes, free projects. A new one every week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Behind the Scenes - Submissions to Magazines

I came across an interesting blog post on the CreateMixedMedia blog for Stampington. Have you ever wondered about the process involved in selecting who/what piece is accepted? Or just why on earth it takes a full year to get your stuff back? Rice Freeman-Zachery gives you the low down.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Joy of Metal Clay - Silver Leaves

This week I want to discuss creating metal clay leaves. Sorry for the delay in this post.

Selecting a leaf:
Before you start this technique you need to select an appropriate leaf. Not all leaves will be appropriate for this technique. Leaves that may not be appropriate include leaves with very feint lines (such as some sedums) leaves with lots of jagged edges (such as a Japanese Maple) may either be impossible or very difficult to get the result you are looking for.
Art Clay World has a listing on how to find the appropriate leaf.

Which side to paint? Remember that you will get a reverse of the side you are painting. The surface that gets covered is going to be the surface you will get the texture on, you need to apply so much clay that usually the back side is relatively smooth.

What to do it?

1. Select a leave. Ideally your leaf should be fresh. If it is dry it will likely crack and break before you are done.
2. Place your leaf on either a sheet of Teflon (or wax paper). In the past I have also used a piece of "Press and Seal" wrap (this is a sticky type of cling wrap made by Glad and found in the grocery store). This will allow you to stick the leaf down so that it lays flat.

3. Apply a thin layer of paste. The first layer should be slightly thinned paste (texture of cream).

4. Allow the layer to dry.
5. Repeat with a second layer. Allow this to dry.
6. Continue repeating until your layer are approximately 1mm thick (approximately 8-10 layers).
7. Once your leaf is the desired thickness. Gently remove any clay from the front “non clay” side of the leaf (see below). This is important as otherwise you may get a void in your texture.

8. Allow the piece to dry completely and fire. The leaf can stay on and will burn out naturally. Beware that generally it is not recommended to torch fire organic material as there is a large flame up when firing.

The result is a silver leaf:

Spring Sprang - Late, but still welcome!

Spring finally sprang this weekend - and what a welcome relief it was. Couldn't actually do much in the way of gardening. I dug a hole to transplant something, and the hole filled up with water from the bottom, so I though maybe I would leave that for a bit!

Last year - I blogged that my Peony had bloomed on May 17th - and the year before, on the 25th. It currently has a multitude of huge, fat and very promising buds on it this year - but it definitely seems behind from where it was on previous years!

This year, I decided to apply some of my colour coordinating skills to what I plant in the garden! Usually, I take the "kid in the candy store" approach - some of this, and this, and oooo - must have that, and that, and that ... .

I spotted some Black Petunias while on a reconnaissance mission to the local building supply. Those were a must-have! They are soooo gorgeous. Velvety and a rich dark black you can sink into. Actually - they are called "Black Velvet." The Blue-purple or violet and the red-purple or magenta petunias looked so awesome with the black - and a dash of blue Lobelia. Oh, and some more black with a black Coleus. So, working around the black petunias - I picked the other colours to look really punchy and high-impact. I wanted some white too, a pure bright white. in something small, like alyssium - but all that they had looked ill. So I passed on the white. I think that what I got will have drama enough as it is!

I don't think I would have picked these colours for beads - but maybe I should? 'Course - beads are a lot easier - consistent colours, and they don't die if you can't water them - but maybe I should try for something with Black, Violet and Magenta. It would be very goth, anyway. (Hmmm - maybe black chain with Swarovski Amethyst, Jet and Tanzanite?)

So the flower pots are all done and ready to go - but the ground planting will have to wait a bit for the ground to dry out.

Have a lovely day Victoria Day! Be safe!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Joy of Metal Clay

My apologies, this Sunday post will be delayed until Monday morning.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Business Chat - Signage

It's that time of year again, craft show season. Time to dust off your booth and set up shop. Whether you are creating your first booth or dusting off last years now is the time to evaluate your booth design and make any changes. At the beginning of every season I look over my notes from last year and decide what to change.

Tip: yes I have copious notes from previous shows. I never go to a show without a notebook. I note everything from reminders that I need more duct tape to ideas about redesigning a part of the display.

There is one part of my booth that I refresh at the beginning of every season, a piece that is the most critical part of every booth display - signage. Signage is so much more than a banner with your company name on it. Signage is all non-verbal communication between your work and your customer. It is the silent salesperson, communicating concisely what you have to offer to the customers. Your signage says who you are and what you do, it should tell your story.

As a jeweller one of my biggest problems is that my product is small. A customer cannot see a pair of earrings at 50 meters. When I am just one in a line of 100 booths how do I attract the customers attention? Signs. Specifically posters. That pair of earrings when blown up on a poster can be seen from a distance. There's also my company name on a banner.

Tip: if your company name is something such as "Mary Smith Designs" make sure you have your medium on the sign somewhere. Mary Smith Designs - Jewellery inspired by nature. Or Mary Smith Designs – Beautiful Pottery. Shout out what you do.

Your work is unique to you, you know that, do your customers know it? As hard as you try you can't talk to every person who stops by so why not have signs about your work? What makes it so unique? I'm a lampworker, I make my own glass beads. People don't always get it so I have a sign about what lampwork is as well as photos of the process. Interesting thing I’ve noticed, it’s the men who read my signs a lot, this means that the wives are able to look around while he’s occupied. You don't have to overload the signs with information, use the KISS rule (keep it simple seller) and just state the facts.

Pricing is another important aspect of signage as is what forms of payment you accept. These are topics that some people are reluctant to ask so answer them before they walk out.

One of the most effective booths I have ever seen belonged to a woman who made jewellery with semi-precious stones from around the world. Instead of printing words, she made small flags for the countries of origin. It made people stop and think. It engaged them. Involving your customer in your work is the point of good signage. The more time a customer spends with your work the more likely they are to buy. Not everyone understood what the flags were about, however there will always be those who don’t get what you do. That’s okay, you don’t have to reach everybody because not everybody is your customer. Rather than trying to convert those who really don’t get what you do, concentrate on those who do.

When creating signs it is important that they are consistent with your brand and your graphic signature. Use the same fonts and colours as on your business cards and your other marketing materials. If you are doing outdoor shows you might want to have your signs laminated (I have mine done at Staples, really cheap) so that they are waterproof. Posters can also be laminated.

Tip: to keep track of your graphic signature and remain consistent to your brand create a file listing your standard fonts, colours, sizes, anything that you use to identify your company.

Here’s my challenge to any of you who have a craft show coming up. Take a look at your booth and think, what are 5 things I can tell a customer about my work without opening my mouth? Make those 5 things into signs. Now come back here and tell all of us about your signs.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Inspiration Friday

Happy Friday! I'm now off to start planning, and hopefully planting (and weeding) my garden so long as the rain holds off. Here's a gardenesque inspiration for you this week.

The bracelet I made on Wednesday for our InspirationFX was really growing on me. I wanted to make a necklace to match, but I didn't have any more of the mossy green pearls. I decided to leave them out entirely, and just used the flowers and crystals.

Here's the original bracelet:

And the necklace I made today:

I think I'd like to make another version using even more bright jewel tone colours.

We would love to have you show off your stuff! Were you inspired this past week by anything? Send us pics of your creation to info@beadfx.com with the subject line "Inspiration Friday" 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

You Can Make your Own Jewellery: Ditch Crappy Store-Bought

A few days ago, I was sampling some earrings at a popular jewellery store in Toronto, and I was underwhelmed. When you work at a bead store or make your own jewellery, you become very picky especially when it comes to store-bought jewellery. Thankfully, beadFX is always offering jewellery making classes! If you would like to learn a new jewellery making technique or simply brush up on your beading techniques, you'll find an interesting mix of classes to choose from.

June 2
Dancing Dahlia Brooch
6 - 8pm
dancing dahlias

June 8
Pearl Knotted Bracelet
6 - 8pm

June 18
Basic Bead Crocheting
10am - 1pm
crochet necklace

June 24 - 26
Author and chain jeweler, Scott David Plumlee, will be in Toronto teaching a series of chainmaille workshops. These gorgeous chainmaille projects go from beginner to advanced level. So sign up today!

Celtic Pendant

Romanov Bracelet

...Click here to see a full list of Scott David Plumlee's workshops.

For a complete list of our courses check out the beadFX class page and click on the month you are interested in.

Adios Amigas!

Create Your Style Magazine

Do you know those beautiful Create Your Style magazines that you may have seen at the shop being guarded carefully by Rosemary or Malliga like it was gold? Well, in the past these magazines have been ridiculously difficult to get a hold of. They're now available here at beadFX!  Get your copy now :-)

New This Week!

Shiny Glittery Update

s29043 Firepolish - 14 mm Faceted Coin - Topaz Blue Lustre (1)That's what the gals at the store packaging and processing this week's update have been calling it - "the shiny, glittery update" - so let's roll with that!

What is making this update all shiny-glittery is that we have a bunch of new faceted firepolish beads for you! We don't see much "new" firepolish these days because, er, well - we already pretty much have it all. Not sure if I'm s29047 Firepolish - 11 mm Faceted Bicone Rondelle Rivoli - Hunter Green Celsian (strand 25)proud that our selection is so comprehensive, or slightly embarrassed that we are so overwhelmingly obsessive about getting it all!

On our Fancy Firepolish page - we have a selection of these short, fat bicones that look sort of like rivolis, but with a centre hole - like sharpened donuts. Or little flying saucers. And a few other odds 'n' ends too.

s29054 Firepolish - 5 x 3 mm Faceted Donut Rondelles - Seafoam and Sand (Strand 50)Speaking of donuts - we have more of those too. These Sea and Sand donuts are classic - I love these. I really s29065 Firepolish - 5 x 3 mm Faceted Donut Rondelles - Geology (Strand 50)like the stoney-look donuts! These Geology donuts would qualify too! But your taste might run to more vibrant s29063 Firepolish - 5 x 3 mm Faceted Donut Rondelles - Pelecolours - like Pele's Orange Fire!

But - I'm going to LEAF it there - as we have other PRESSing s29026 Glass Leaves - 7 x 12 mm Leaf - Apollo (25)matters to attend to. As a matter of fact, we s29028 Glass Flowers - 20 mm Fairy Flower - Chestnut Peacock (1)have pressed glass leaves! And Flowers!

s29030 Glass Daggers - 5 x 16 mm Dagger Beads - Matte Artemis (20)And Daggers! All with Spots! Iridescent metallic rainbow oil-slick-on-s29037 Glass Daggers - 7 x 14 mm Necktie Beads - Hephaestus (15)a-puddle dots and dashes beat out a funky rhythm on a selection of beads daggers and neckties - which are sort of fattish daggers. Do not get me started on the symbolism of the dagger-shaped necktie as a standard part of the male business attire. Don't even go there - suffice it to say - when the 11th doctor of Doctor Who proclaims "bow ties are cool" - he may be onto a much bigger message. Anyway - we have these in cool colours, like this Hera's Peacock, and smokin' hot colours, like Hephaestus. (HA-fess-tus - the Greek god of fire and metal smithing. Hmmm - he'd feel right at home in our studio!) Or how about these soft blue daggers with triangles on them - flocks of doves, or just really cool pajamas?

s28991 Stone Beads - 30 x 60 mm Rectangle Pendant - Mediterrean Blue II Impression Jasper (1)In case all these literary references are making you s28993 Stone Beads - 55 mm Keystone Pendant - Green Impression Jasper (1)glassy-eyed - we have some stoney issues to cover. Stone Pendants, as a matter of fact! These big, big Impression Jasper pendants are big, s28997 Stone Beads - 55 mm Keystone Pendant - Seafoam Lace Agate (1)bold and decidedly beautiful! Or how about this Seafoam Lace Agate. Is that colour s29006 Stone - 70 mm Teardrop - Black Lace Agate (1)not sublime? We also have some one-of-a-kind pendants that are big, big, big. We have some more instore - but we put a few online because we know that for most of you - coming to the store in person maybe be something you want to do - but distance prevents.

s29017 Stone Beads - 10 mm Faceted Round - Angelite (strand)s29020 Stone Beads -  Mixed Hex and Donut - Angelite (strand)Oh, and do you remember a translucent, soft turquoise stone we had a while back - called Angelite? Well - we have MORE! So pretty!

Don't forget - this coming Monday is Victoria Day - so the bricks and mortar store will be closed, but as always, our faithful robot computers will be standing by, ready to take your online orders! In these parts - this upcoming weekend is THE big weekend for planting and gardening - it's the first weekend that is considered to be frost-free. Everything around here is running late this year. Well-watered, but late. So - if it's too cold and wet to be in the garden - well - you know your beads are waiting patiently for you to come and keep them company!

So click on a link or a picture above, or start with the Main Page, if you are intrepid (there is a LOT of stuff there), or chunk it down into bite-size portions by checking out the categories: Click on a link and go crazy! Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools. Look for the "new" tags!

Or maybe check out all our free, yes, free projects. A new one every week.