Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Bronze Clay is distributed by Rio Grande, and the artistic expression afforded with a far more economical metal clay is extremely exciting.
I'll be posting more detailed info over the next few weeks, and once I get a chance to fully experiment with it. Most likely not until after our sale is over...and once I'll the orders are picked and out the door.
Have any of you had a chance to try it out yet? We'd love to hear what you think.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Properly annealed lampwork beads are very, very durable. They will most certainly outlast us all. Archeologists have found lampwork beads that are now thousands of years old - durability is not a question. Glass is a substance that lasts and lasts!
What can happen though, is that glass needs to be cooled slowly to prevent it breaking, and this process is called annealing. Beads that are not annealed are subject to breaking, and the breakage is quite distinctive - they will crack neatly in half, or possibly into 3 or 4 pieces, two large pieces and 1 or 2 small, sharp, wedge shaped pieces.
(Technical stuff: Glass - like most other substances on the planet - gets larger when it is hot. Comparitively speaking, quite a bit larger than other items! Glass is a poor conductor of heat as well - and what happens is that the inside of the bead will still be very hot, and the outside will be cooling and shrinking. The inside is pushing out, and the outside is pushing in, and that creates a lot of stress in the bead. Annealing is the process of slow cooling that reliefs that stress. The larger the bead, the more essential this process is. )
It's hard to predict when an unannealed bead will crack - it can hang on for a year or more before finally cracking - which is deeply annoying if it is in the middle of a necklace!
There is an unwritten code about annealing - it is considered very inappropriate within the lampworking community to not anneal your beads.
So a properly made, annealed, lampwork bead is very strong. Round beads are hugely strong, and you can bounce them off concrete without any worries.
Beads with projections like wings or such - sculptural beads like winged angels, for instance - are subject to chipping if you drop them - wings might break off, etc. But these are from sharp, sudden blows, not normal wear and tear.
Raised dots on a bead could chip off if knocked about - look at the bead to make sure the dot does not have undercuts - that the dot comes up smoothly from the surface of the bead (like a mosquito bite) and looks to be integral to the bead. Bead makers are aware of this, and spend the extra time to ensure that the dot is properly melted in.
Feel free to ask the artist if the beads they make are annealed - many beadmakers who sell their beads online make a point of telling you this upfront.
In short - there are need be no concerns about the durability of lampwork beads - they will not fade, and if properly made, will not crack or break unless you truly abuse them. They will most certainly outlast you - so you might want to make sure you make provisions in your will for their disposition! I personally want to be buried with mine. Let some questioning archeologist find me in a thousand years - with all my beads - they'll probably think I was a queen.
Or a nutcase. ;-)
Sunday, September 28, 2008
It's one of those - "oh, I'll just read another post, just one more, and just one more" kind of blogs.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
However, the technology does seem to be getting better, and Jablonex is very confident that their new colour-coating technology is durable - so what do you think? Are you willing to give coated beads a chance if it means more fabulous colours? (Some of them are reeeeeally pretty!)
Leave a comment and let us know!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Last night, our Buyer and I attended the 2nd Annual Jablonex Fashion show here in Toronto. This was hosted by John Bead - Canada's largest wholesaler and importer of beads. This was a real fashion show, with a runway and tall, skinny models and music and the whole nine yards! There was kind of a fantasy feeling to the evening - if you squinted, you could almost pretend that you had just wrapped shooting a movie with (insert hunky actor of your choice here) and you were taking in a fashion show before jetting off to your private island. The beautiful people where all there, well - actually - a great many friends wearing beautiful jewelry - which, in the long, is better - and there was a general feeling of expectation.
The show opened with a display of First Nations' dance - performed by Greg Dreaver - with an elaborate beaded costume that is lovely embellished with thousands of tiny Jablonex seedbeads - just as they have been traditionally used by First Nations' peoples for over 300 years now. Czech beads have been made and traded for a long time!
Then we were treated to a speech by the Head of Sales for Jablonex. Jablonex is the premier maker of firepolish, pressed glass, and seedbeads in the Czech Republic, and, as he put it - virtually "the last people standing" in the European manufacture of firepolish, pressed glass, and seedbeads. Bead production these days is largely being moved to India, and China. The harsh reality is that while paying someone mere dollars a day to make beads may seem economically sound, apparently - paying them pennies a day makes for an even better profit margin. This gentleman is as enthusiastic about beads as any of our crazed bead ladies - and promised to speak from notes so that he finished before midnight.
He was very enthusiastic about some new beads that are coming, and showed us some videos of how the beads are made. He shared some interesting tidbits of information - for instance - the spoilage rate in making the farfalle beads - tiny little butterfly shaped beads, is 80%. For every 100 kilos of glass they start with, they get only 20 kilos of finished beads. He told us about their environmental practices - how they have one factory where a river flows in one side of the facility for use in the glass making process, and flows out the other side, cleaner than it goes in. You could tell that he just wanted to talk about beads forever, and he told us "A life is not long enough to say everything about beads."
Then, the show began. The show's theme was "The Four Seasons" and we started with Spring. The outfits were very fashion show - some were crazy impractical - just like all those pictures you see in magazines, some looked like you might actually be able to wear them. The jewelry was over the top - nothing subtle here, and with the music and the movement of the models and the outfits - it was very difficult to sometimes remember to look at the jewelry, much less really concentrate on it. We saw some new shapes of beads, and some new effects and finishes, and got some ideas for some interesting ways to put beads together - see some of the jewelry here! The show moved on through the seasons - summer over too soon, and fall and winter coming rapidly behind. A big finale finish, and then a wine and cheese reception!
Saw many old friends there - other beaders and designers and bead store owners. Schmoozed a little with Softflex - and got a couple of design ideas too. It was a party atmosphere and everything went off very smoothly. The store was decorated and everything ran smoothly - at least to our eyes - from start to finish. You would think that the staff at John Bead has been running and organizing fashion shows professionally for years.
Kudos to the staff at John Bead for putting this together and to Jablonex for bringing it to us - we really hope that they will do it again next year - and cement a new tradition. After all, Jablonex is, we were told, about traditions - the tradition of quality and excellence and the fascinating, varied world of beads.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I hadn't planned to write today - so I don't have anything particularly beady in mind - so I'll just bore you with a story about my dogs instead. Because if you think I can blather on about beads all the time - you haven't heard me talk about dogs!
One thing people tell me they like about dogs is that "they are so honest. Dogs don't lie." I'm usually polite about this, but the truth is, dogs can lie like a rug and to their own benefit. Not just to us, but to each other.
Case in point. This a.m. - the puppy (some puppy - he's two!) was in the backyard with a "Tasty Unauthorized Snack" (the exact details of which you do NOT want to know) - but suffice it to say, he had a prized and nummy portion of food that, while I had not actually given it to him, I decided that - as he had it now - he might as well eat it.
He was nearly finished when the other two dogs decided that perhaps they would like some of the Tasty Unauthorized Snack too. The old boy ran up to him, and suddenly spun, stared intently into the neighbour's yard and let out a big woof! The other two leapt up at the barked alarm, and following his gaze, raced to the fence to see what had caused the alarm - burglar? squirrel? pool guy?
The old dog spun on his back paw and dove onto the fallen, and temporarily forgotten, piece of Tasty Unauthorized Snack, whipping it away and consuming it rapidly himself. He made no move toward the other fence, and yet, it was absolutely convincing that he had seen something important there. The other two dogs were surely convinced, and returned shortly to nose around. "I could have sworn I still had food here."
Which just goes to show that dogs are pretty gosh-darned smart if they can formulate a plan that involves lying to get their own way. Remember that - if you think you dog doesn't lie - maybe he's just really, really good at it. ;-)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I'll go first - grin
I'm pretty sure it started somewhere around the time I was 14 - 16. There used to be a bead shop in Scarborough called the Nautilus. It was fairly close to my home, and one day my mom and I popped in to see what they had. Well, I was hooked right upon entering. They had tons of cabs, and semi precious beads, bins of rocks that you could glue into those cheap expandable bales. I picked up a stash of semi precious beads, and a bead stringing/knotting book. I'm pretty sure we went right home, and I don't think I emerged from my room except to show off my newest necklace for about 2 days!
Over the years, my obsession has only expanded. I've done silversmithing, metal clay, lampwork beads, seedbeads....you name it, if it's remotely bead related I've tried it. Lampworking and metal clay are my current true jewelry related passions. Aack...I have others too :-)
So, What's your story?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
We're having a sale! Yes, another one this year. Stock up for all of your holiday shows, and gift giving. The sale will start this coming Saturday, and run for a full week. More details will be announced in our newsletter this coming Thursday. Are you signed up for our newsletter? You should be! - Each week, be the first to find out about our new stock, and any sales, classes, and events!
You can sign up here
We respect your privacy, and we never sell or give out our email list! - Don't worry, we hate spam as much as you do!
Monday, September 22, 2008
As promised - the final installation in the 5-part saga of everything, well - a lot of what you need to know to make jewellery.
This week - the simple loop - as opposed to the wrapped loop of two weeks ago - the simple loop is great for light weight beads and where there won't be a lot of abuse and tugging - i.e. earrings - which even I concede need to be fairly light in order to not permanently deform your earlobes.
And, as the simple loop is pretty simple, I've shown you how to make a pair of earrings, using simple loops, and also the jump ring opening skills you learned last week.
If you have everything else for these, but no chain handy- you can loop one bead into the loop of the next, and make your own chain of loops with beads hanging from them.
Have fun with it!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Those of you with sons - be afraid. Be very afraid.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
From our webpage:
These beads are made by a project to provide sustainable employment for women in Kenya. Sale of these beads enable these women to support their families. This project has grown and now provides employment for hundreds of women with little education and even less prospects for their future. Over thirty years old now, the project provides fair wages and excellent working conditions.They are lovely beads to hold in the hand - smooth, glossy surfaces, light weight, and vivid colours and earthtones with spashes of gold. They range from a lentil sized about like a quarter up to some large, almost palm-sized. They just cry out to be made into bracelets - they mostly have a flat profile. But their happy, strong colours also inspire necklaces, earrings - even toggles for closures.
Care and attention to detail, multiple coats and firings produce these lovely beads. The richness of the colours and the finish is extraordinary.
These beads are made with clay from the foothills of Mt. Kenya by women of the Kikuyu tribe, who form it into beads, by hand, without the aid of machinery. Each bead is hand shaped, painted, and fired at least twice.
The project was started in the mid-70's by Lady Wood, who, with two Kenyan women, revived the traditional bead-making process of the Kikuyu women. Thirty years later, the process continues. Hundreds of women have been employed in this bead-making project who might otherwise have been unable to provide for their children and extended families. A member of the world Fair Trade Organization, the project provided fair wages and good working conditions as well as a medical clinic and assistance with school fees for their children.
So, when the bead hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that's Kazuri!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Not that this really has anything to do with beads, but I was taking my two dogs for a walk (to the mail box, to mail a bead, so it is sort of related) - and it was early - with the kids on their way to school.
I have two German Shepherds (German Shedders, as I like to call them) - but, let me hasten to add, they are not "Show" dogs - they are from German working dog lines and they bear little resemblance to the typical North American show dog. (here's a pic of one of them.)
So, there's a small band of kids running towards me on the sidewalk, which is just plain dumb, but that's another story. I shorten up the leashes and step off the sidewalk so they can rush past, and I hear one of them say, as they run up, "Look - Wolves!"
As they ran by - a girl in the group hisses "They're NOT wolves" in a tone of utter contempt for her peer.
But I was oddly flattered to be mistaken for walking a pair of wolves on leash in suburban Toronto. Think I'll go take the "wolves" out for a walk again this a.m. ;-) Look, wolves!
It's a fall line up of beady things to do. The OTHER major "must-do" bead show of the fall season in Toronto - the Toronto Bead Society: Fall Bead Fair, November 8-9, 2008. A great show - as usual, at the YMCA, 20 Grosvenor St. (just west of Yonge St.), Toronto, Ontario, Canada. See you there!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I don't have much else to report other than we just got a HUGE shipment of Kazuri beads. Thousands of them! We're going to try to bring some of them down to show. We'll see if we have time. Otherwise we'll have them in the shop next week.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
We hope to see you at the show this weekend! The Bead Oasis show runs Friday through to Sunday.
Friday September 19 2008 - 10am - 8:00pm
Saturday September 20 2008 - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Sunday September 21 2008 - 11:00am - 5:00pm
More information about the show along with directions can be found here.
Our store will be open as usual throughout the weekend, but with limited inventory.
Last night, along with a team packing up racks for 13 hours straight, we also had a visit from Craig and Tyler from Arrow Springs. Craig and Tyler have come down to help out Nortel Manufacturing at the show this weekend. Craig showed off some new tools, and Tyler showed everyone some tips and tricks on working with high silver content glass. What I thought would be a turnout of a few people, turned into one of the largest Toronto Lampworkers meetings we've had. It was really great to see everyone!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
It looks like the Royal Canadian Mint is hopping on the Swarovski bandwagon. The Mint has released a pure silver $20 Coin, set with a Swarovski crystal drop. It's quite pretty actually.
Speaking of Swarovski, last week the latest Swarovski newsletter hit my mailbox.
Here's a pretty project just listed on the Swarovski Site -
Going to Tucson this winter?
CREATE YOUR STYLE IN TUCSON
A CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements event where you can learn do-it and design-it-yourself techniques under expert guidance from the industry's top application, design, and trend experts. This creative forum is open to everyone from first time designers to advanced and ambitious do-it-youself enthusiasts. Join us in Tucson to explore new techniques and lean more about new innovative products.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
There were only 70 vendors at this show spread over two large halls. This may seem small by bead show standards but, after all, yarn takes up a lot more space than beads do! BeadFX had a small booth selling beads and buttons for knitting and bead-knitting related books and tools. We were busy all day long as experienced knitters were interested in expanding their knitting skills to include beading. They brought their skeins of light-weight yarn to match with the large range of colours we have available in both Czech and Toho beads.
I demonstrated a way to add beads and charms to leftover scraps of yarn to make a glitzy necklace.
A very useful little tool!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Next week - we'll be at the Oasis show, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and so, in order to give the gals time to pack stuff for the show, we'll not be doing an update next Wed. But, the good news is that the sale on 4 mm Swarovski Bicones will continue for 2 weeks, instead of the usual one.
After that, we'll be resuming our regular schedule, with some lovely new sterling clasps coming, and some kool base metal clasps too!
Hope to see you at the show. However, our Scarborough store will remain open as usual. And, you put an order and want to pick it up at the show - please do call or email us to let us know and we'll bring it down for you!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
This is entirely Dwyn's fault. Yes, I must place the blame completely on her..Ok, well not so much. About a year ago, Dwyn and I were talking about those cool die cut machines that are used for scrapbooking. Neither of us do any scrapbooking at all, and really couldn't imagine a use for this expensive, but really, really cool machine. We've both been coveting one though.
Yesterday, during an impromptu meeting regarding the our plans to redecorate the studio along with improving organization and lighting (YAY!) - we discovered that this nifty die cutter, also cuts vinyl. - We found a use, we can make our own decorations! And of course, have the ability to change them at will, only for the cost of new paper.
So, on my way home last night while making grossly over-substantiated claims to my husband on just how many thousands of dollars (heheh) we'll save on decorating expenses, by being able to create our own. I didn't tell him that our decorating budget is nil....I'd really rather buy more beads :-)
- We got a Cricut Expression. It's the new one that will cut 12" x 24". I set it up briefly last night, but it was pretty late by that point (2 AM). I'm hoping to have some more time tonight to see what it can do. You can get home decor, and shophelper cartriges, along with one called bags, tags and boxes. That one looks promising. You can make your own jewelry boxes and tags! - see ma, there is a use for this thing :-)
So, if you see fancy jewelry tags, and pillow boxes for sale in the store, it's only because I got really excited and made thousands of them. :-)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Here is a pic of what Dwyn made.
I know the next class scheduled is full (don't worry - not with staff!), but there is room in the next class. We're also working on adding a few more dates for this to be extremely popular class!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Which of the following do you like best? Or have we finally lost it? :-) - It's ok, we can take it!
Monday, September 08, 2008
As you may remember, I speculated that you really needed to know only about 5 things to make most basic jewelry, strung necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc. I've already covered a basic secure knot, and how to crimp. This week, I want to show you how to do a wrapped loop. A wrapped loop is a very secure way to attach a bead, as there is no way for it to open up and fall off. Use these for attaching heavy beads, expensive beads, pendants or beads on bracelets - as bracelets get bashed about and get a lot of abuse.
This picture show wrapped loops (indicated by yellow arrows) - and shows ways you might use them.
The mark of a nice wrapped loop is a nice even wrap, without huge or uneven gaps between the coils. The end of the wire should be tucked in smooth, so that it is not a sharp end to poke or scratch you with.
It takes some practice to get all the hand movements down, but after some repetition, it will be second nature. Buy some basemetal (inexpensive) headpins and beads, and make a whole bunch for a necklace or bracelet. By the time you are done, you'll be very accomplished at it!
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Breathtaking. Winner of the sculptural art category of the Treasures of Toho beading contest.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Or how about these Red Tiger Eye beads - which are 50 mm long!!!!
Or this Kamabara Jasper Coin - which is also 50 mm across. Doubles as a coaster!
Yep its a load of stone for next week. Better start lifting weights in preparation!
Friday, September 05, 2008
Hey that was fun. Maybe we'll make this a semi regular sort of thing :-)
Put this on your calendar - the Grand River Bead Society Annual Bead Show and Sale. Saturday, October 4th, 2008. 10 am to 5 pm. at the Evergreen Seniors Centre - 683 Woolwich Street, Guelph, ON. One of our instructors, Marilyn Gardiner is a regular there and says it's a fun show!
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Thursday, September 04, 2008
Ok, something a little different today. Now that all the little kidlets are back in school, and it seems like as a good a time as any to get organized. Are you reorganizing your studio/workspace? It doesn't matter if you have a full room to call your own, or just a little corner of the dining room table. Post a comment with your best jewelry/bead related organization tip. Tomorrow at noon, I'll choose one of the responses at random. The winner will receive all of the components necessary to make our latest inspiration! This prize is worth well over $50! Whohoo!!
**Edit*** I just tallied up all the beads - retail value is $82.11!! There is more than enough to make lots and lots of 'blossoms', plus a bunch of sterling, and swarovski left over for other projects. Let's hear about your tips!
I'm hoping that I will finally be able to finish my basement studio at home. I started off with fabulous plans last year - well, life gets in the way :-) I've scooped pretty much the entire basement. It's unfinished, which is fine for what I want to use it for, but I'd rather it not look like the disorganized dungeon that it is. :-)
I'm planning on installing shelves on all of the walls. I've got them already, it's just a small matter of putting them up! Then I want to fill all of the nooks and crannys with my favourite things. Better lighting, and maybe even a bunch of strands of fairy lights. (maybe I'm getting carried away there!) It will be nice to have it set up, so that I enjoy spending time down there. - A little escape from the joys of parenting 3 and 5 year olds. ;-)
So let's hear it folks - Tell us your best organization tips, and good luck in the draw! After you post your response, please copy it into an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - Please don't post your personal information on the blog! Ya never know who's reading this...
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
And with the kids off at school, the buses running more frequently and the weather cooling down (I know, 29C with a humidex of 34C is hardly cooling off! But with mid-teens an low 20's forecast for next week, fall is on its way.), why not take a class yourself?
With Dancing Dahlias, Byzantine Bracelets, and Art Clay Play Days, we have a range of classes to ignite your imagination and build your beading skills this fall. Looking to Lampwork? We have 4-hour Introductions, 8-hour Weekends and the mother-of-all courses, the 8-week Lampworking 101! For dates and times, check out our September and October course calendars and to register, give us a call at 416-701-1373 (toll free 877-473-2323) or drop by the store.
I'll be thinking of all the fun you're having, while I'm sitting in a lecture hall filled with 800 of my closest friends, pouring over anatomy and physiology notes ;)
However, this long weekend, I stumbled upon a marathon of re-runs of it, and got snagged by the look and feel of the show, and before I knew it - 3 hours of my life had gone. I was entranced. The writing is really d--- good. B. amazing, in fact. No cliches, no platitudes - no likable characters (well - Peggy isn't too hatable - a sort of Ugly Betty character with more depth - played by Elisabeth Moss - remember Zoe Bartlett from West Wing? In fact, a number of notable luminaries from West Wing grace this, including some of the writers, which I suspect accounts for its superiority.)
I was really pleasantly surprised. But more important than twisting plot-lines and clever dialogue is - the JEWELRY! Omigawd - this is jewel porn! All the women are jeweled up pretty much all the time. They heading off to their day-jobs wearing their Shermans and Julianas and Haglers. Omigawd. Again.
Just look at this stuff. Huge sparkly brooches. Rhinestone collars. Drippy pearls. This is the stuff of dreams - well it's the stuff that got me started first collecting and then making jewelry, so for me, this is the motherlode!
I strongly suggest watching an episode or two just for the jewelry. Oh, and there are horses occasionally too. How bad can that be?
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
So, once they've been back awhile and you can catch your breath, what about you? Planning any back-to-school for yourself? Learning keeps you young - apparently, all that stuff we learned about the brain being fixed in development at a young age was absolute rot. The more you learn, the better you get at it, and the more flexible your brain is. And learning absolutely new things is the best for staying young. Learning something that you have not done anything remotely like it before is the absolute best way to keep your brain flexible like a 13 year old gymnast.
And let me tell you - when it comes to finding something that is not like anything you've ever done before - making glass beads at a torch is waaaaay out there. This is an activity that will create new pathways in your neural network like nobody's business. Whoa nelly - feel those neurons growing! (I was going to say - "feel the burn" - but given the whole hot glass and torch thing - maybe we'll just avoid that for now.)
Why is flameworking so very different from anything you've ever done? Well - it's easier to try it and find out than to explain - but here's a few items.
Top Ten Reasons Why Flameworking is Not Like Anything Else.
- Flying insects in your workspace self-destruct
- The number of times you've judged the temperature of something by looking at it's colour is Zero
- People will be incredulous and impressed when you tell them what you do for fun
- You'll finally know how they get those flowers inside the bead
- Since when did blue and cream make black?
- Secret insider colour names like Rubino and Evil Purple
- Able to toss around technical terms like "flame atmosphere" and "Co-efficient of Expansion"
- Permission to play with fire
- A complete and total understanding of why a single bead would cost $60.00.
and the number one reason why flameworking is NOT like anything else you've tried
- People won't ask you to do things for them when you have molten glass balanced on a steel stick.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Anyway, in a nutshell - a crimp is a crushable bead that is designed to grab hold of wires and, after being crunched into place, hang onto the wires and hold them securely. Make sure that the crimp is sized proportionally to the wires going through it - not too sloppy - and crush the crimp so that the mark it makes down the side is between the two wires or cables or whatever you're stringing on. The next step, for a tidier look, is to fold the crimp up on itself. Note, this only works for crimp tubes - as there are round crimp beads - which you just crush flat. I find that it doesn't really pay to buy low end crimp beads - the aggravation of having them fail far exceeds the cost savings.
Then - to finish this off for a completely polished and professional look - add a crimp cover - also shown in the video. I hope. Gosh, I hope this works. And that you find it useful.