Monday, December 29, 2014

Confessions of a Bead Photographer

27015886 Firepolish - 4 mm Faceted Round - Crystal AB (50)I didn't set out to be a bead photographer, or even a professional photographer at all. I just woke up one day and realized that I had been taking hundreds of photographs a week for some years, which generated our product photos for each weekly update. Which probably qualified me as a professional photographer.

Which led to some angst along the lines of "omg - I have no idea what I'm doing." But that's another story.

The reality is - we were small, we needed photos, I did them. You can still see the oldest photos on the site - and they are actually scans. Yes - back in the day before digital photography became affordable, and we all loaded our stuff onto the scanner and scanned it. You can still see them on the site, in the older sections - like the 4 mm Firepolish - one of our most venerable product lines. You can tell them by their lack of perspective, weird depth (or lack of), and the strange shadows. Not withstanding, they were quite serviceable so far as they went.

s38477 Firepolish - 4 mm Faceted Round - Mango (50)You can see as the equipment and my techniques got better and better - the photos got better and better (as one might hope!) - and almost took on the aspect of portraiture - where the point is to not only show you the colour and shape of the bead, but also something of it's essence - the reason why you might fall in love with it and want to use it.

However - what made me reflect on this is a request we got by email a couple of weeks ago for a sample card of beads (which we don't have) because "sometimes the beads don't match the photos, no offense meant."

Well, I'm always delighted when someone takes care not to offend, and in this particular case, as I had just been struggling with a particular bead, I was not offended anyway - because the truth should not offend. And the reality is, you just can't accurately represent beads because there is no one, definitive, way that they look. They are designed to reflect light, they are influenced by their surroundings, they are made of glass (reflective, translucent, transparent), metal (shiny, reflective) and other items designed to reflect, or transmit, bend or just warp, light.

For instance - I had just been struggling with a new Swarovski colour - Provence Lavender/Chrysolite Blend (which will go live on the website, Jan 7, 2015). I don't have to tell you that monitors vary from brand to brand, with age, and individual settings, plus the lighting of the environment that you are in - all these will also influence how the photos look - and you've heard that so many times before that you know all that anyway. This is the internet - you get that.

Swarovski Chrysolite has always been hard to photograph accurately - tending to look grey and flat and the colours of these beads are so soft and subtle it was hard to get an accurate representation. Over 50 photos later, I finally settled on a background and lighting scheme that I thought showed them to their best advantage, but let me take you on part of that little journey ... .

Ok - here we go. On a matte, reflective grey background, using a flash. Pretty washed out, not a lot of contrast. Meh.
Well, let's try it on the black background and get some contrast. Crap - that's not going to work, all the colour disappears. 

The flash will make them sparklier, and brighter, but the colour has gone too far the other way.

Let's try the grey background again. No flash. Better.

How about the cream background?

This is nicer - captures more of the essence of the bead.

We could add a flash and some post-processing - except, well - the beads don't actually look like that. The blue is too bright.

This isn't too bad - I would like to see  them pop out from the background more, but it might be a lost cause.

Ultimately, I went with the cream background for this colour - it's a soft, romantic spring colour combination and the cream background seems more appropriate.

But the essence of this is - all I can do is try very hard to show you how the beads look in a limited situation. Put them next to something else - some other colour, and bingo - everything changes. I know that I am your eyes, in the absence of being able to make it into the store in person, but sometimes, even my best might not match your perception.

Those of you who struggle to take photos of the jewelry you make with the beads will understand. ;-)


InspirationFX: Blue Romance


Get your creative juices flowing

Blue Romance

by: Bonnie Cottingham

When the link pads came into the store, I wondered what I could attach to them and how I could use them with leather.

The Floral Heart is a sweet charm and I wanted to use it with a bracelet. The pads provide a base to glue it on. I used E6000 to glue the charm to the link pad, and add the rhinestone.

  1. Cut the leather into 3 equal pieces
  2. Dry fit the three strands of leather into the clasp. Once the fit is good, glue the leather into only ONE end of the clasp with the Super New Glue.
  3. Bring all strands through the 5 mm flat leather hammered bar.
  4. Thread the two OUTSIDE strands of the leather in to the 10 mm round link pad, making sure the round pad is facing up (out) compared to the clasp. (This will become a design element.)
  5. Bring the middle strand underneath and in the middle of the link pad.

Using closed jump rings, to make a  basket weave of the leather.
  1. Weave the 3 strands of leather into the 4 closed jumprings.
    1. Bring the two outer strands up through the center of the jumpring, and
    2. put the middle strand down through the center
    3. Now thread the outer two down through the middle of the next jumpring, and
    4. the middle strand  UP through the center, and repeat, alternating up and down (see photo)
Add the link pad with the charm attached, and then repeat as above, in reverse order.
Finally check the fit of the bracelet, trim the leather if necessary, and add the clasp.
Attach the charming leaf to the charm with a jump ring.

Using the link pad opens all kinds of new opportunities to attach items that were hard or impossible to use before!



Go to our components list for this project and to buy what you need!
Need some help with some of the techniques? Check our tips page.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

InspirationFX: Ring Around the Moon


Get your creative juices flowing

Ring Around the Moon

by: Pam Kearns

We all "ooh-ed" and "aahh-ed" when the new 12 mm Swarovski Crystal Pendants arrived, and I especially love the Crystal Paradise Shine colour - it speaks to me of a cold, crisp winter's night.

I quickly made up some earring and pendant sets for Christmas gifts (don't tell Wendy and
Chelsea). So quick - so simple - so elegant!

1. Begin by opening a 4x6mm oval jump ring and slip on a crystal and around link; close the jump ring. Make three of these components.

2. For the earrings, join the crystal/link component to the ear wire with a 5 mm jump ring, making sure the crystal faces out; close the jump ring.Make two pieces for the pair.

3. For the pendant, add one 5 mm jump ring to the oval jump ring of the third component; close the jump ring. Add two more 5 mm jump rings to that 5 mm jump ring to create a bail; close the jump ring. Slip the silver chain through the two jump rings.

All done!



Go to our components list for this project and to buy what you need!
Need some help with some of the techniques? Check our tips page.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Business Chat - Success in just 10 minutes!

OK, the presents have been opened. The turkey is eaten, chocolates consumed, wine drunk and sleeping in slept. And yet there is still more to be done on the holiday festive front isn’t there? So what about your business, is anything being done there? 

Running a tiny microbusiness is hard at the best of times, when there is so much other stuff going on in life it’s crazy difficult. There is just too much happening all around in life to be able to concentrate for a large chunk of time on what needs to be done in our business. At the same time, if you just stop altogether for a week or so while the festivities happen you lose momentum and nothing happens. And then it gets even harder to get going again. So what’s a craftista supposed to do? 

Find time.

If we wait until we have a large chunk of uninterrupted time in order to do those little business tasks that need to be done, well, you know what is going to happen. 


Grab 10 minutes twice a day and get small things done. Small things add up to big things. One step at a time gets you a lot of places over time so stop making the excuse that you just don’t have the time. You can find 10 minutes. Turn off Facebook. Don’t press the start button on that movie for 10 minutes. 

Here’s a list of what to do with your 10 minutes. 

  • Write or rewrite one product description. The better and more inviting your online descriptions are the more likely people are to fall in love with your work. Take 10 minutes and redo just one description.
  • Write a little story explaining the inspiration behind one piece of your work. 
  • Read a couple of your favourite blogs and leave a comment on each one. (how fun is this business “chore”?)
  • Add a couple of pins to your boards in Pinterest. 
  • Find some groups to join on Flickr. Join them. Upload some photos if possible. Leave comments on other peoples photos.
  • Brainstorm some ideas for blog posts. You can flesh these out later. With 10 minutes just come up with the bones.
  • Research some craft shows you have been thinking about.
  • Update your status on Facebook or Twitter. Leave comments for others too!
  • Learn something new. Technology changes so fast it’s hard to keep up. If you don’t know what something is, spend 10 minutes learning it. 
  • Check for instructional videos on Youtube. Don’t watch them now, just bookmark them for when you have more time. 
  • Research supplies. Maybe you could save some money by looking around. If you don’t yet have postcards, go and find out how much they cost. Need new business cards? Check out the prices.
  • Catch up on some of the craft forums you follow, read new messages and respond! Responses are about building relationships.
  • Doodle. Seriously, if you don’t have online access then grab a pencil and paper and doodle ideas or sketches. Draw a new design. Tip: that new design or doodle can be a great blog post or facebook post. Bonus, 2 things done in just 10 minutes! 

Sometimes we don’t get started on little things because we know we’ll just get carried away and lose track of time. The idea here is that you just use 10 minutes. If you’re afraid of losing yourself, use a timer. When your 10 minutes are up, put this away and go back to your movie and popcorn. 

Remember little steps keep the momentum going and add up to giant leaps.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Boxing Day Easter Egg Hunt

What does the day after Christmas have to do with two men punching each other, I wondered as a kid. My friends did not have a reasonable explanation then.

Of course, now we have Momma Google to ask. She tells us that it has to do with the tradition of giving "Gift Boxes" to the servants and tradespeople.

Not so much of a thing, these days. ;-)

Anyhoo - to keep you amused while we are closed this boxing day, and right through to the new year, for that matter, we have designed a Rainbow of Gems easter-egg hunt sale.

25% off -Everything with the word

Amethyst, or
in the
 (not the description)

But you have to go looking for them!

So head over to the site and Happy Hunting!

Or, you can use the search function ... ;-)

Remember - once the sale ends (end of the year - Dec 31) - the items in your shopping cart with turn back into regular priced pumpkins - colourful and lovely pumpkins to be sure, but regular priced pumpkins. So be sure to check-out by the end of the year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Rainbow of Easter-Eggs for Christmas !

With Christmas falling on the Thursday, which is when our new product cycle starts each week, and the store being closed for the next week - we thought it wouldn't be fair to you or the staff, or, for that matter, the juicy new stuff, to launch anything this week. Besides - you're all feasting and playing with your new flamboozles and waptrunkers and schmoofizits.

However, in case you do need amusement, if you prefer to do your boxing day shopping online say, because the crowds, ugh ..., or, you just really need to escape Uncle Jock's 35th re-telling of how he conquered the used-car-sales-market ... (crowds ... Uncle Jock; crowds ... Uncle Jock; hmmmm) - you can, in fact, partake of our easter-egg-hunt holiday sale.

"A Rainbow of Gems"

Everything with the word "Ruby, Topaz, Sapphire, Emerald, Peridot, Olivine, Amethyst, or Tanzanite" in the NAME is 25% off. 

(The name - not the description).

The catch is - they are scattered all over the place, and I'm not going to give you links, you are going to have to go look for them.

Or use the search function ... ;-)

Your choice!

Remember - once the sale ends (end of the year - Dec 31) - the items in your shopping cart with turn back into regular priced pumpkins - colourful and lovely pumpkins to be sure, but regular priced pumpkins. So be sure to check out by the end of the year!

Speaking of years - we're looking forward to the new year - and all the lovely new goodies we will be bringing you. New leather stuff, rivet-y stuff, honkin' big coloured chain, and of course, new Swarovskis. And that's just January!

We'll also be doing our annual pilgrimage and buying trip to Tucson in February - so if you have any special requests - email them to our buyer and maybe she can find them for you.

Holiday Hours
We are closed over the next week, re-opening Jan 2. As usual, our trusty computers will be standing by - ready to take your online orders over the holidays - which we will fill and ship - in the order we received them, as soon as we get back in the store. (Give us a couple of days to get up to speed, please)

Happy holidays to all, and to all, a Good Year! From your beady friends at BeadFX!

Review all the new-ish items here!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One day left to get threaded ... you'll needle this

20 % off - ends Wed midnight ... You're going to need some thread to go with all those  Superduos!


Sale ends next Wed midnight.
Items held in shopping cart
will change price automatically at

Leslee Frumin is teaching at BeadFX!

We are proud to host award-winning designer and author Leslee Frumin for two-day's of classes at BeadFX!

Leslee will be teaching a metal/soldering class as well as a beadwork class in February. In addition, Leslee will be the guest of honour at an Open House so you can meet her and see her projects. Registrations are being accepted now!

Come and meet Leslee Frumin
Friday, February 20
5:00 - 7:00pm 
All are welcome! Leslee will have a selection of kits and patterns available for sale. FREE EVENT!

Falling Leaf Pendant
Saturday, February 21
10:00am - 5:00pm
 Fabricate a leaf with the color of fall and embellish it with some wire wrapped pearls. Complete the pendant in class! It makes a great gift for yourself or someone else. Students will learn to saw, solder, form, fine finish and apply patina. All levels. See the website for the materials to bring to class. Class fee: $170 + HST. Take both of Leslee's classes for: $315 + HST - Save $25!

Crystal Ovals Galore
Sunday, February 22
10:00am - 5:00pm
Glitz and glamour! Choose one piece of jewellery from Leslee's Crystal Oval Series to work on in class and receive the instructions for that piece of jewelry. Leslee will demonstrate all three pieces and you may purchase instructions for the additional pieces. For students registered for the class only, the price of each additional set of instructions will be $10.00. Intermediate level. See the website for the materials to bring to class.
Crystal Oval Cuff
Create a fabulous sparkly cuff. Learn to set a large oval fancy Swarovski Stone in bicone crystals and pearls. Work an embellished peyote cuff off of the setting.  Combine netting and peyote stitches as well as surface and edge embellishment to finish it. Complete your bracelet at home.  Working knowledge of peyote is required.
Crystal Oval Ring
Learn to set a small fancy Swarovski oval stone in bicone crystals and pearls. Add a simple and elegant peyote band. Working knowledge of peyote is helpful. It is likely students will complete the ring in class. This could be a second project.

Crystal Oval Necklace
Learn to set a large oval Swarovski Stone in bicone crystals and pearls. Work an embellished right angle weave necklace and complete it with a fabulous woven button of pearls and crystals. Some students could complete this in class. Experience with seed beads helpful.

Class fee: $170 + HST
Take both of Leslee's classes for: $315 + HST - Save $25!

For complete information about Leslee's classes, please see our website. Click on 'Classes' and follow the links to the February class calendar.

Monday, December 22, 2014

InspirationFX: Rolo et Coin


Get your creative juices flowing

Rolo et Coin

by: Rae Huggins

Combine Rolo chain with puffy coins for a handsome casual chic look that looks good at the office or at the party.

Simple string the coins, metallic squares, cubes and seedbeads (as shown in the picture or add your own touch) on 1 foot of Medium Softflex, Add a crimp, but before crimping, add a split ring ( repeat on the opposite side). I added an extra crimp cover on either side to eliminate gaps in the beading wire.

Attach one end of the Rhodium Rolo chain to one of the split rings on the necklace and do the same on the opposite end. Cut 13” of the Gothic Silver and attach to the split rings, the same way you attached the Rhodium chain. Attach 6.5 inches of Gothic chain on one end and the remaining 5.5” on the other end. Attach the clasp on the shorter end. Enjoy!!!!



Go to our components list for this project and to buy what you need!
Need some help with some of the techniques? Check our tips page.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Business Chat : X - you are here

A while back I found myself in an unfamiliar shopping mall and desperately in need of caffeine. You have to understand, I HATE shopping malls at the best of times. Uncaffeinated is definitely not the best of times. And this mall? It was designed by the same people who build those gerbil habitrails. All I knew was that I kept walking in circles and I couldn’t find the Starbucks that I knew was there.

I stomped around getting really frustrated until finally I found a map.

I located the Starbucks, my destination on the map, and then ... ? You know what was missing? That little red X that says “You are here”.

The point of a map is to see where you are – X, where you want to go – Y, and plot a path to get there.

You need to know where you are in order to get where you want to go.

So… the point of this story. We were talking recently about you being in the drivers seat of your business. It’s up to you to decide where you want your business to go. You are picking your Y on the map and deciding on your destination.

Do you know where you are now? Does your map have a red X marks the spot?

It’s time to sit down and put your X on a map. Once you have both current location and destination, then you can plot a course for getting there.

Oh, another name for plotting a course? It’s called a business plan. See, it’s not scary or difficult. A business plan is simply a path to get you to where you have decided you want to be. 

Before you get to plotting your course, it’s time to put your red X on the map.

What does your business look like right now? Imagine that someone wanted to buy your business, how would you list it? It’s time to write this down. You need to know exactly where you stand right now.

Be honest with yourself with these questions. No one is reading them.

  • Describe your business right now.
  • What is your current income?
  • How is that income generated?
  • How much inventory do you have? Again, be honest here. Look around your studio, in all the nooks and crannies, how much stuff do you have. Inventory is not just work made, it’s all the raw materials that you’ve bought and stuff in corners so that you don’t have to admit paying for it. Inventory is also photographs and marketing materials that you own. It’s display stuff and booth stuff. It is everything that you can use in a business.
  • Do you have a website and what state is it in? How about social media, how many fans do you have on your facebook page, pinterest followers? How about your blog? What is the current state of your online store?


When you’re writing this stuff down you need to be honest and look at today. This isn’t about what it will look like in 6 months. If you plan on blogging daily but really have only posted twice in the past 3 months then write down, that you have a barely touched blog with 4 followers.

Now, go and get your handy notebook and trusty pen. Make your red X on your map.