Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Powders, powders everywhere

...and a serious case of collectemallitis. I've been working on new colours for our metalFX collection. It's fun, messy, but very, very difficult to try and narrow down the possibilities. Dwyn came over late last night to help narrow down the next selection to 14 or so odd new colours. Of course, the most requested colour was black. That's coming, along with more metallics.

There are so many things you can do with our metalFX - They work well on resin clays, polymer clay, and mixed into resin.

As you can see from the state of my kitchen table - we rarely eat there ;-) Occasionally, we clear off all of the various craft and painting projects long enough to eat a family meal together. Usually, we eat in the living room. lol.

Working on blends, and attempting, not overly successfully, to match certain beads. I think I'm getting a bit closer now though. Stay tuned in the coming months for more colours to be added to our collection.

The images below show our current lineup. Please excuse the messy photos. The samples will be removed from the paper backing, cleaned up and attached to a display board for the store. Once that's done, we'll post the new pictures on the site. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

March Metal Classes

This winter seems to have passed in a blur - which is just fine by me! We've settled nicely into our new classroom space, the lampwork studio is ready, and Rosemary is now putting the finishing touches on our metals studio. We've even got some brand spanking new equipment ...A rolling mill!

Cindy Goldrick will be the first instructor to use our new metals studio. This weekend, she's teaching two back to back brand new classes for us.

Saturday March 3rd

9:30am to 12:30pm 

This project is a lot of fun that will have you saw, punch, hammer, bang, bang some more, patina and stack these lovely, no-two-are-ever-the-same, stamped, dapped and riveted disks. Let your imagination go and you'll find you can apply this technique to rings, necklaces and lots of other embellishments. I hope you'll have as much fun making this piece as I did designing it.

1:30 pm to 4:30 pm 

 In this class you will discover the basics of folding, hammering, annealing and shaping metal. Students will be able to complete a copper embellishment to rivet to a leather bracelet blank, and a pair of earrings in class. We will play and pound and explore the amazing properties of copper. 

Next weekend, on Saturday March 10th - Those of you who have wanted to learn how to do basic soldering, now is your chance! 

10am to 1pm

To sign up for any of our classes, please call 416.701.1373 or toll free 1.877.473.2323

Monday, February 27, 2012

More about the Spike Beads

s31657 Glass Beads - 17 mm Spikes - Matte Dark Tortishell (6)Have you noticed the new "Spike" beads? Interesting spikey cones with a hole near the wide end.

When Marg showed these to me, my reaction was definitely - "Ok, that's cool," but all I was picturing was Gothy sorts of creations with spikes hanging down.

Laura McCabe - Spikey Beaded Sculpture
It didn't occur to me that the uses would be so ... architectural - like the way Laura McCabe uses them. And, in fact, these are inspired by Laura McCabe's work using stone beads in a similar shape. Check out the very cool stuff she is making. I like the eyes she uses a lot too. Wonder what she could do with a dragon eye?

Even more interesting is the back story, as told on Pbeads' blog.

"... these can be considered handmade. They are not pressed ... in a ... automated fashion. They are hand pressed, and (are) extracted manually from the mold."
I love finding out the story about how the beads we use are developed and made. Most of the manufactured stuff we use on a daily basis feels like it was made by some anonymous minion and designed by someone who actively hates you. (I mean - have you tried to read a shampoo bottle while in the shower lately? Figuring out which is the shampoo and which is the conditioner, while your glasses are over on the counter, soap is going in your eyes, and the writing is about 2 mm high - argh! And don't get me started on opening blister packs ... . )

Anyway - beads - made by real people and designed by other real people - some of whom you might actually meet some day! To be used by real people - us - you and me and all our friends!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Joy of Metal Clay: Extruders - Part 2

Well I played with my Walnut Hollow extruder this past week. Not too bad. One thing I noticed was the extruder seemed to a little "scruffy". I don't want to say cheap as it feels solid enough when I work with it. The best way to describe it is the it looked kind of scratched and rough when I took it out of the box (not sure if I got a dud). I found that I got fine shavings of metal in my clay in the first batch that I extruded. It seemed like the extruder and been finished properly and the shavings came off with the first use. Needless to say I was using bronze clay and it didn't seem to really destroy anything. I made test scrap pieces and they fired OK. If you are concerned about this happening with your extruder, I would suggest running a bit of clay like Play Doh or other inexpensive clay to get any little metal bits out of the extruder before using it with clay.

Otherwise it seemed to work fine. Comments from last week suggest the Makin's Professional ClayCore Extruder Adaptors are supposed to work with this extruder. They are adaptor that give you the ability to create shapes with hollow cores. You can buy them through Shades of Clay. Supposedly they are great to make beads and I would imagine you can make great bails with it too. They come in sets of three. One package is 1 mm, 2mm and 3mm and the other contains 3.5mm, 4 mm and 4.5 mm. Add these to my wish list!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Business Chat - How to create a line sheet

“Help! A store asked me for my line sheet! I’d love to have my work in this store, but I don’t have a line sheet because I don’t know what it is.“

The good news about this is that if they are asking for your line sheet then they are looking to buy wholesale and not on consignment. Yay! Moving on, now you have to create your line sheets. Easy.

A collection is all of your work organized into “lines” or “series”. A line or a series, is a body of work with a common defining element. A line sheet is basically a catalog page or brochure that shows your line to prospective wholesale customers. A catalogue is all of your line sheets together.

Here are the sections of a good line sheet.
The Basics
  • Business Name/Logo
  • Your name
  • E-mail, phone and addresss
  • A short statement about your business – what makes it special

Your company wholesale Policies
  • Opening order: The minimum amount a retailer must buy from you the first time they order (e.g. $200). Remember these numbers are all the wholesale numbers.
  • Reorder amount: The minimum amount a retailer must buy from you after the first order.
  • Payment – Outline your payment options and policies here. Do you accept cheques? Paypal? Direct Debit? Credit Cards? Do they pay in advance, COD or do you accept terms such as Net 30? It is common for first orders, or the first 3 orders, to be paid in advance and then for the maker to offer Net 30. (Net 30 means that the buyer has 30 days to pay from the date they receive the order).  Do you offer discounts for early payment?
  • Shipping Cost and Times – How long will it take you to ship your items to the retailer once they have ordered? How long will the actual shipping take from where you are to where they are? Who is paying for the shipping?
  • Valid Until – Make sure you put an end date on the validity of your prices!! It may become necessary to raise your prices, make sure you have this option.
  • Your warranty policy. Do you take returns for damaged/incorrect goods? How long after receiving your goods does your customer have to return these goods? Do you refund shipping costs, too?
  • Your Returns policy –Do you offer a “swap” policy? (If your work doesn’t sell can they swap it – exchange it?)
The Items
  • Start with the name of the line featured and the season. For example, “Ocean Line, Summer 2012 Collection”
  • Each Item should have a photograph that is clear, professional-quality and large enought to show the details. Keep the photos simple and uncluttered
  • Next to each image on your line sheet:
    • The item's name or order number.
    • Any available options such as colours, sizes, etc.
    • The item's measurements, length, etc.
  • Price Sheet
It is a really good idea to keep your prices separate from the actual line sheet. Your supplies fluctuate in price and if you were hit with an increase in supplies you have to increase your prices. Rather than changing your whole line sheet, you only have to change your price sheet. (Make sure you have a statement on there saying “prices subject to change without notice”). A price sheet is just a list of your items by number, your wholesale price and the MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price). Keep in mind, once a store has bought your work they own it and have the right to charge whatever they want.
Order Sheet
Start your order sheet with your company information and then a simple table for them to fill out. Head the columns with quantity, item number, title, and subtotal. You can make this a pdf that they can download and fax back to you, or you can fill it out in person. If you don’t have a fax, you can ask them to scan it in and then email it back. Or you could try sending them a Word file so that they can fill it out online and email it back.

Brand your line sheet.
Make sure that your that your line sheet evokes the style and personality of your work. This is sometimes one of the first pieces of your company that a potential account sees. They should have a good feel for you from this.
Keep it simple and clean. If the buyer can’t read the tiny print, they can’t read it. If this is going out electronically test it out on a variety of screens. Designing on a 27” screen may give you a lot of space, check out how it looks on an iPad.
Some makers include a short artist's statement or artist biography as part of their line sheet, or any unusual information about their products. This kind of info isn't necessary, but if it happens to be unusual, interesting, or related to a timely topic in your case, it can sometimes lead to more sales.
Getting your line sheets to prospective customers
You should have printed copies of your line sheet available to hand out in person at trade shows and when visiting a shop or gallery. It’s important to have an electronic copy that you can email to  wholesale prospects.
The best way to create the electronic version is to save your line sheet file as a .pdf file, and either make it available on your website or email it when you contact a store.
Some designers prefer to keep their product lines and prices a secret from their competitors and keep their line sheets in a password protected area of their website. You definitely don’t want your retail customers seeing your wholesale pricing sheets as they won’t always understand why the difference between the wholesale price and the MSRP. It’s your decision on how you want to distribute your line sheet or catalogue.
If you do make it openly available, there's a much greater chance it will be found by a shop or gallery that's interested in carrying your work. One idea is to put your line sheet openly online but not the price sheet.
If you are serious about selling wholesale, creating line sheets is a necessity. The first one is the hardest to do, after that you have a template and can just change the images. It’s worth the time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Inspiration Friday

Welcome to our newest version of Inspiration Friday. We thought we'd made a few changes, namely allowing folks to choose their own inspiration, and the biggie - we give you a lot more time! If you would like to participate in the next one, see the end of this post for complete details.

I love the idea of using an inspiration palette to base your design on. We all tend to stick with our own comfortable colour palettes, and this is just such an easy way to expand your range.

It seems that February is a tough month to get through. We're busy, we're sick of winter, and inspiration tends to be somewhat lacking. At least all of the above apply to me. :-)  Liz and I both managed to get something made however to show off. I'll start with Liz's 'kitchen sink' bracelet.

  Liz, your bracelet is gorgeous - and I love the colours!

Last weekend, I met up with a few others at the store for a metal clay playday. I finally got a chance last night, and today to get a couple batches fired. These are all Fast Fire Bronze, which is by far my new favourite metal clay.

Not all are pictured, and I also have buttons, dogtags, and drops! In between firing batches, I spent a very therapeutic chill out day making enameled headpins, while listening to A Song of Ice and Fire on Audiobook. I finally finished it, and am about to start on A Dance with Dragons. Love that series!

These will be heading into beadFX, hopefully later this weekend. I'm off to fire up the torch again, it's been far too long since I've had the ability to make beads.  Have a great weekend!

Deadline March 29th, 2012

Before the cutoff date, send your pictures to us, and we'll blog your inspiration source, and your finished project.  Feel free at that time to send us along any other info you want to include. We'll publicize your blog or etsy/artfire/etc site as well.

For example, I think I'll make mine from this one:

You can make your jewelry/beadwork out of any materials you wish. This can be stringing, wirework, lampwork, polymer clay - whatever you wish!

(Many of us use Design Seeds as in inspiration source. Feel free to use any inspiration source you wish. Design Seeds just happens to be among my favourites.)

Here's how to submit:

 * Send an email to with a picture of your inspiration source (or a link to the source)
* include an image of your creation
* include any contact information you want us to include in the blog posting

Happy Creating!