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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The ultimate in bead porn...

Flickr! Need inspiration? - check out the awesome work and colour usage of some fabulous artists. For the uninitiated, Flickr is a free photo posting site. You can join groups, and add your photo's to other groups. Free up to a certain amount posted per month - after that you can get a pro account for a small amount of money per year. - - I Love Beads Pool

Everything Beaded


2010 Classes Continued....

Today seems an appropriate day to talk about what is coming up next year. As I mentioned last week we have a number of guest instructors coming to beadFX in 2010. We also have some exciting new stuff coming from our in house instructors.

Heather Bell-Denison one of our metal clay instructors is offering a number of new classes this winter. Due to popular demand and Heather's creative urges we will be adding an Introduction to Copper Clay. It is not posted yet, but the first one will be on Saturday February 13th from 10am to 5pm. Heather will be making a few changes to the Art Clay Level One Certification course, which is coming up February 26th to the 28th. It will now focus on 7 projects, not 9, and the cost will also be changing from $890.00 to $795.00. Look for these changes on the website later next week.

We also have Lezlie Winemaker coming to beadFX this February. She will be offering 2 two day Lampworking Weekend Classes, February 13th and 14th and also February 27th and 28th. They are both the same class just different days. These classes will run from 10 to 6pm each day.

Jennifer Tough will also be teaching more this winter. She will begin teaching fusing in January. Stay tuned for all of the details.

The first weekend of January looks pretty good. We have a Glass Beading Making Weekend with Amy Waldman-Smith on January 9th and 10th.

Stephanie Dixon is here on January 10th with two classes. The Wire Crochet Cuff Bracelet and the Wire Lace Multistrand Necklace. These are both for beginner level classes.

Sunday January 10th is Simple Wire Wrapping Techniques with Robert Burton. This is a beginner level class.

Happy Hour Torching will resume on Thursday January 7th from 5 to 9pm, buy one hour get one free. Remember to call and book your torch in advance.

Over the next couple of weeks more classes will be going up on the site as well. Make sure to check every week for updates!

Happy Beading!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lampworking eye candy

We're still somewhat in vacation mode this week. I've got my mother in law visiting from Halifax this week - We're having a wonderful time catching up, and just generally hanging out.

I thought I'd do some eye candy posts this week for you - beadmakers today. Some wonderful beads from all over the world - grab a cup of joe, and enjoy!

Astrid Riedel

Kimberly Affleck

Naos Glass

Gabrielle Servayge


And of course our wonderful instructors Dwyn and Amy

Are you a lampwork beadmaker? Post your link in the comments! I'll be moderating off and on throughout the day.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


In case you've missed it, we've been posting new inspirations every day over the holidays! Check them all out here on our inspiration pages.

Triple Treat

by: Dwyn Tomlinson

Winter Elm

by: Erin Singleton

Victorian Christmas

by: Erin Singleton

Monday, December 28, 2009

GIMP - Photo Manipulation Software

So, having installed GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) last week - as you may remember, my s.o. recommended this as a free alternate to Photoshop.

Well - I had it installed and running, and he comes along, looks over my shoulder and says, "Oh, you want GIMPshop - that's the one that looks like Photoshop - menus are the same and everything."

OK - so - armed with that piece of information - I go in search of GIMPshop. And I find it readily enough - at I go to the downloads page, and select a windows download. They use a download service that, if you subscribe, you can download right away, and if you choose not too - you might have to wait. So I waited, and what with one distraction and another, got the file downloaded about a half hour later.

I closed all my other applications and did the install. This one asks me which hard drive to install on (you remember that last week, GIMP did not give me that option and it annoyed me.)

So I selected another drive.

But part of the way through installing it - I started to get dialogue boxes about "missing disk" - which I generally get when some piece of software is assuming that I have a C: drive - which I don't.

The installation finished ok - and there were instructions to start and close the program, run an accompanying script and restart. OK - did that. It opened and closed. The script ran. I opened GIMPshop again. A few more complaints from the software about the missing drive. These dialogue boxes need a button that says "Get over it."

But the software is up and running and looks ok on the face of it.

So I tried to edit an image by dragging it from a folder and dropping it into GIMPshop (which works fine in Photoshop and GIMP and is an essential part of the way I work.)

De nada. Nothing. Ain't gonna do it. Holy cr4p. I just get the diagonal line through a circle cursor. No go. Not happenin'.

That's a deal-breaker. That's so essentially Windows interface that I can't see how that wouldn't work.

So - maybe I just need to re-boot. This is Windows - that's the tech support answer to everything. Turn it off and back on and see if it works now.

So I did that. And tried again. And the error is repeatable. You can't drag and drop an image into it and have it open. Whoa - this is not good. So I open the original GIMP and try the same thing. Yep - that works.

OK - we'll try opening an image in GIMPshop the traditional way - Pull down menus, File, Open - ok - wait a minute - there IS NO File, Open option. I stare at the interface in amazement. This is too weird.

I close the software and open it again try it again. Well - at least it is consistent. Most of the menus are missing.

At this point - my patience has run out. That's two hours of my life I will never get back. I suspect that there isn't anything wrong with the software, but something has gone wrong with the install. It could also be that despite it asking me where to install the software, not every part of the program is actually paying attention to that parameter, and so now it can't find missing pieces of itself. Or, somewhere in the bowels of the program - it is hard-coded to look for a specific drive (i.e. C:) - and is failing because it can't find it.

Whatever. If I had infinite amounts of time, I would un-install it, reinstall on the other drive, try again. But I don't. So GIMPshop is a non-starter for me. It'll be easier to get used to using GIMP than to get this working.

But - I stress to add - this is my personal experience - your mileage may vary. I'm not dissing GIMPshop - just saying that it's not working for me. I don't have the tolerance for this sort of thing that I used to have. My days of poking around inside the bowels of the computer and the software are gone - I now just want the d4mn thing to work so I can get on with it.

So there you go - I wasted my time so that you don't have to.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Podcasts: A Way With Words

I've just discovered Podcasts. Yes - I know - I'm waaaay behind the curve on this one. For those of you even further behind the curve - they are like amateur, mini-radio shows that you can listen to on your computer or down load to your music play.

Some are not so mini, nor amateur for that matter. Like blogs - they vary a great deal. However - my current fave is "A Way with Words" - which is about the English language - folks phone in with questions about obscure words or regional terms that they grew up with, and the hosts fill them in on the history and origin of the term - if they know it. For instance - someone might phone in and say, "My grandmother used to describe something really big and extreme as a 'blinger.' Like, if a storm was coming - she might say 'It's going to be a real blinger.' Is that a regional expression?"And they talk about the term and it's origin. It's totally fabulous!

So grab that Ipod you got for Christmas and load it up with "A Way with Words." It's awesome. In fact - it's a real blinger!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sneak Peek at Next Year

Well - can't give you a sneak peak at next week - as we're taking the week off and next week's new stuff is the same as this week's new stuff.

So, instead - I'd give you a bit of a sneak peek at the coming year.

One thing we definitely have planned is to expand our range of Miyuki beads. Check out the Miyuki website for the inside scoop on the sort of seedbeads that entails.

Another major project that we hope to make progress on is to update the shopping cart on our website. Our requirements are pretty specific - and so we're shopping the shopping carts. We hope to add more function and flexibilty - like logging in to check your order status and wish lists.

We're really looking forward to 2010 - we're planning on having a great year - and we'd like to wish you all a great year too - from all of us here at beadFX!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays - have a lovely day today. A warm, fuzzy, sleepy-eyed everything is right with the world kind of day.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dwyn Rocks...

But you all knew that right? She's outdone herself with this poem, and I think it needs to be immortalized on the blog for all time :-)

Without further ado...

Merry Beading to all and to all a Good night!

T'was two nights before Christmas, and the malls were all hopping
Not a beader was beading, they were all madly shopping
Oh, the beads and the tools were all lined up with care
In the hopes that spare moments soon would be there

The kids were distracted, farmed out with their Gran
It was now the last minute - and a do-or-die plan
Just a few left to go, it's a workable list
I'm checking it twice so that no one is missed.

Company's coming, I've baking to do,
and wrapping and boxing and cleaning and Whew!
We all love the season, we're all pretty clear
It's such a relief that it comes once a year

Got the turkey, and cranberries, and potatoes, and yams
For last minute drop-ins, a gift-pack of jams
New dishes, a platter and a new gravy boat
And a what for a whosis? - I can't read what I wrote.

Some folks are easy, and some very hard,
and some - a lost cause! Just get 'em a card!
But if Santa was real - if I could ask for one thing
I know just exactly what the old boy should bring!

I'd ask for some minutes, all wrapped in an hour,
for Time to Stand Still, is that in your power?
Can you bring me some time, that would be fair.
The world in a night? - you must have some to spare!

Oh Santa - it's clear that I've served you short shrift
So nix on the cookies and milk as a gift
And here's what I'm going to put by the fire
Some beads and a pattern, some crimps and some wire!

When you slide down the chimney - they'll be here for you
And you'll stop for a moment - it'll be just a few!
The beads are so pretty, the colours so bright,
No way to resist such a glittering sight

Now the reindeer are restless, they wander confused,
But you and me - Santa - do I have you amused?
I'll teach you to bead, and you show me the way,
The trick that you have - of stretching the day

And Santa will stay and together we'll bead
We'll talk and we'll laugh, and it's just what we need!
I'll finish that project that I've had on pause,
and he'll make something pretty to please Mrs. Claus.

And then he'll lean close, and whisper, I know
The secret he has, of stopping time's flow
The secret of secrets - and then he will go:
But the real secret is - it is something we know!

Einstein was right, it's a relative thrill
If you sit down with beads, then time will stand still
And I'll hear him exclaim, just before he takes flight,
"Merry Beading to all and to all a Good night!"

And so my friends - we wish you all the very best of this holiday season - no matter whether it is Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Snowflake Day or ...? All the best of family and friends and joy and sharing - to you and yours - from us and ours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More copper

Last week, I promised some pictures of the fired copper - sans pickle, sans patina - so you could see it in all it's fine shiny loveliness. However, I just can't leave well enough alone. I really can't help but patina things. I use a lot of texture in my pieces, and texture lends itself well to patina.

These are the art clay copper blossoms that I made the other day. I decided that I would try giving them an ammonia treatment to try to get the verdigris to develop. It started to, but after 2 days, and not a huge amount of progress, I pulled them out, and decided to torch fire them to get a heat patina as well. Now, I really like them :-)

Here are the blossoms taken on my iphone (excuse the pic)

And here they are in all their patina-ed glory:

Here's what I tried to get the green/blue verdigris to develop. I used a margarine container, and poked two little holes in the lid. Using some scrap wire, I strung on all of the blossoms, and hung them close to the lid. In the actual container, I filled the bottom with about a half inch of ammonia. (don't breathe in the fumes!!). Put the lid on (with the suspended copper), and let sit for at least 24 hours (or longer).

That all said, mine didn't really work all that well. I don't know if I left out some important step, or if my ammonia wasn't all that strong. I was getting a bluish hue, but not a thick crusty coating of verdigris. I'll have to try again on something else.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sneak Peak on 2010 Classes

This week and next week I will be looking at some of the upcoming classes for 2010. We have a lot of great stuff coming up as always, but a lot of it is new!

One big advantage to attending a big show like Bead and Button is to take classes. We know that not everyone can hop on down to shows like these, so we are trying to offer some of those same type of classes at beadFX. In 2010 we will be bringing a number of guest instructors. Kate McKinnon will be back in May. Michael David Sturlin will also be back next October. And a very exciting new addition is Marica DeCoster. Marcia is the author of Beaded Opulence, as well as, many other books. She will be here at beadFX in the summer. Stay tuned in the New Year for all of the details on these exciting classes!

January brings a lot of really exciting classes to beadFX as well.

Amy Waldman Smith's Learn to Make Glass Beads Weekend is running on January 9th and 10th and again on January 23rd and 24th.

Stephanie Dixon has 4 classes in January. The Wire Bead Crochet Cuff Bracelet on January 9th and her new Wire Lace Multistrand Crochet Necklace is also being offered on January 9th. The details for this class should be up in early January. We had a few problems with the photograph so it is delayed, but it is a beautiful necklace made with the new wire lace and Crystallized™ — Swarovski Elements ™.

Coming up on Saturday January 23rd is Stephanie's Wire Bead Crochet Basics and Wire Bead Crochet Mutltistrand Necklace.

Heather Bell-Denison has a few classes coming up this month as well. Saturday January 16th is Charmed I'm Sure.

On Sunday January 17th is the Textured Copper Rings Bracelet. This class is also changing a bit from the description on the site. This class will now incorporate an brief introduction to ARt Clay Copper and Copper Clay.

Suzanne Crudden is also offering a new and really exciting class beginning on Wednesday January 20th, Metalwork of Beaders. In this class rather than focusing on the technical aspects of professional metalsmithing we will focus on having some fun with metal. Students will learn traditional techniques as well, such as, how to saw, pierce and solder metal. Our focus will be not be project based but on skills that you will be able to practice at home with your own work.

Happy Hour Torching is finished for this year and will resume again on Thursday January 7th, 2010.

If you just finished celebrating Hannukah a belated Happy Hannukah! If you are celebrating Christmas this week--Merry Christmas! If you are celebrating Kwanzaa--Happy Kwanzaa!

And a Happy Beading to ALL!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Alternates to Photoshop

When it comes to photo editing - PhotoShop is the first name you think of. The be-all, the end-all - the alpha and the omega. The gold standard. After all - it's name has become the verb that means "to alter an image digitally." Mirriam-Webster says so.

However - there is no denying that, at $699 US - for the non-educational, non-entry-level version - it can be tough to justify it. Or if you can justify it - you might still not actually have it.

My s.o. swears by another program - however. My s.o. is a Unix geek and mostly - his idea of wonderful software and my idea of wonderful software have very little common ground. His image editor of choice is GIMP - which stands for Gnu Image Manipulation Program. Gnu is - well - it's more than software - it's a philosophy. (To learn more about the world of computers and the free software philosophy and the world outside PCs, Windows, Mac, and the real meaning of "hacker" - go here.) The thing about GIMP is - it's free. That's oodles of zero dollars. Which has some appeal, I admit.

Anyhoo - I'm going to give GIMP a try - so here is the website. This talks about the software (and has downloadable versions - but it's geared to Unix wonks) - so I got the windows version from Tucows (which is a reputable software download site - unlike some software download sites which are not reputable.)

Download and installation were painless - I'm mildly annoyed that it didn't give me a choice as to which hard-drive to install it on, as my primary drive is getting rather full-ish. But it did fine.

It started up fine too - a little slow while it loads stuff. But Photoshop isn't actually a speed demon to start up either. It's one of these applications that has floating palettes so you can still see what is going on in other programs, like PS.

My first response is the frustration of someone who knows what they are doing being dumped into a slightly unfamiliar environment. I started looking for familiar things. The icons look a little different - but they all have tool tips (if you hover over them and wait a sec - a little box pops up to tell you what it is.)

Let's try something very basic. Crop a document and adjust the contrast.

Some frustration - as I don't see an obvious crop tool. So, there is more than one to do most everything - so I find the select tool and select an area, and then find crop on the menu.

OK - let's go looking for - oh looky - Levels. Hmm - this looks very photoshoppy - and works exactly the same way.

What about Unsharp Mask. Aha - here is it - under filters - not quite in the same place but purdy darn close. Save, and - here's the image.

OK - so far so good. So I will continue to try using it and report back next week.

Cheers. Have a very merry Christmas, or if this isn't your holiday - enjoy it anyway. A holiday shared is joy increased.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Eye Candy: Triz Designs

Some really lovely beaded creations here at Triz Designs - and beautifully presented too! Not only is her jewellery gorgeous - but the site design and presentation completely flatter her work - and her blog also ties into the same look. Whether you are inspired by her jewellery or her website - this gal is doing it right!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sneak Peek at Next Week

s23276 Sterling Bead Cap - 12 mm Lemon Slices - Thai Silver (1)Some silver (aren't these bead caps great?), some stone, some Swarovski, some Lucite Flowers. You know, the same old boring selection of utterly dazzling beads that we come up with which is designed to make you crazy until you get your hands on them - 27641071043040 Stone Beads - 30 x 40 mm Rectangle - Lapis (1)and then make you happy while you quietly bead up a storm. ;-)

BTW - the store will be closed from 3 pm Christmas Eve (Dec 24) straight through until Jan 2. We're sending everyone home for a good rest.
The online shopping cart WILL, of course, continue to take orders over the holiday - and while someone might slip in and pick a few orders - we really do intend to take some time off. Soooo - when we start back up in the New Year, we'll be well-rested. Probably behind a bit for a few days, but rested. ;-)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Torch Firing Copper Clay!

Yes, torch firing - it works, and it works fabulously! Today was our metal clay play day, I got a chance to meet two of our customers that I had only 'met' online before. Carol, and Jan - It was so nice to meet you today.

We tried out a couple of test packages of the new Art Clay World version of the copper clay. I made a bunch of simple little components to be used in jewellery, as I specifically wanted to torch fire - but I wasn't sure how large they could be. I only had one failure out of the lot, and that was user error on my part by not firing long enough. I found the perfect length of time to be 4 minutes.

Once I got those little components out of the way, I decided to make a hollow lentil shaped bead. After it was dry, I decided to try torch firing it to see what would happen. It was probably pushing the limits of the size maximum for torch firing - but it worked like a charm! The shape stayed true, and it sintered fully.

We're really excited about the possibilities of this new clay. We've got a batch coming in for sale within the next weeks!

Heather was kind enough to send me some pics to post on the blog. I didn't get a chance to take any today.

Heather's birdhouse - This has been fired but not yet pickled (pickle is an acid that removes the oxidation (the black stuff))

Torch firing Art Clay Copper

Immediately after torch firing, your piece is quenched in water. The quick cooling removes a layer of the oxidation, which you can see in the bottom of this bowl.

Here's another piece that has not yet been pickled.

Shrinkage - the smaller one has been fired, and the larger piece is still in clay form.

Tomorrow, I'll post some pics of a few pieces I did that have been pickled. The colour is quite pretty!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Question day

I got a little delayed this morning writing the blog post, as Isla was sitting in my lap when I brought up our blog page to write today's post. Isla wanted to watch the kitten video :-) We watched it again, and again, and again....

As we're working on our inspirations, of course we tend to work on items that we like, or have expertise in (obviously) - I'd like to know what you would like to see more of. I know we're lacking in seedbead projects, as those tend to be difficult to explain how to do - does that matter? Or do you just want to see eye candy?

Let us know what you'd like to see for our inspirations. While I can't promise we'll be able to do everything that's suggested - we'll certainly try!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Found on youtube

And just way too cute not to share :-)

Time correction for playday

Our Friday metal clay play day is running from 11am to 8pm (not 11 - 6)

Sorry for any confusion there!

I have a couple packs of the new copper clay that I'll be working with that day. This is the new copper clay from Art Clay World, that can be torch fired. If you are at all interested in this new clay - this is the perfect time to come on by. Unfortunately, we do not have any for sale at this time. I just have 3 packages that I was able to get before they went on sale to the general public.

Let's see how well it works!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December is Upon Us!

Sorry for the mix up last week on the blog post. I had intended to do it from the hotel--that did not work out very well! They claimed to have free internet access, which I think was dial up and we all know how well that works--it does not! Anyways, I am home and unpacking from my fantastic trip and ready to blog about the rest of the month's classes.

Tonight is Dwyn's Lampworking Techniques Class--Wave Beads! This class runs from 7 to 9:30pm. Students should have some lampworking experience. A previous course at beadFX and/or at least 10 hours recent torch time is ideal, but we are flexible.

Thursday December 17th is Snake Knot and Phoenix Knot Cords with Angela Peace from 6 to 9pm. This is a beginner level class.

Friday is a Metal Clay Play Day from 11 to 6pm. Please call the store to sign up in advance.

Sunday December 20th is Angela Peace's last class--Beyond the Button Knot from 1 to 4pm. Participants need to be able to tie a double and a single button knot. Snake or Phoenix knot knowledge is useful, but not essential for this course.

This week will be the last Happy Hour Torching night of the year. We will resume again on Thursday January 7th from 5 to 9pm. Make sure to call and reserve your torch.

Stay tuned for next week when I preview the 2010 winter schedule. We have some really great stuff coming up--two new metal smithing classes, more borosilicate classes, more metal clay classes and so much more!

Happy Beading!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Taking Great Photos: Recap

Well - I think I've covered about all I can for photography. My own camera is dying and I need to replace it - but I'm so used to it - I'm loathe to replace it.

I'll recap and relink so that you have one handy place to find all the pages.

And I leave you with this piece of advice - which is what made a big difference to me - but I hardly know if it will resonate with anyone else at all.

When it comes to taking great pictures - don't photograph the object - photograph the light. Anyway - it helped me a lot. ;-)


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't Do This - PhotoShop Disasters

With great power, comes great responsibility. Even though I've been explaining how to use Photoshop to fix mistakes - please do not be responsible for perpetrating stuff like you can see here at Photoshop disasters!

On the upside - you might never believe one of those super skinny model ads again!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sneak Peek at Next Week

Next week - it's Tool Time - without Tim Allen or blowing anything up. Tools like split ring pliers that really work and a copyright stamp for metal or metal clay!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Class time correction

Just wanted to let you all know that the time that was posted for my Wave class next week was incorrect.

The correct time is 7:00 - 9:30. - Tuesday, December 15. This is an advanced beginner/intermediate lampworking class on how to make my 'signature' style "wave" bead.

These organic beads definitely take you outside the world of little round spacers. They capture the flow and movement of the molten glass - and make a stunning focal piece for a truly unique piece of jewellery.

Space still available. Cost is $65 - all materials supplied. Some basic lampworking experience is require.

Sneak Peek at Next Week

Madly processing tools for next week - you might want to come down and buy yourself a Christmas present. I'm working away on them now - but I can tell you - there are punches for marking metal, i.e. 925, 999FS and copyright, and hand tools, like split ring pliers the first I've seen that actually work well first time out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tis the season ...

To eat of course!

I've started my holiday baking, and I have to tell you I'm in love with - Lot's of recipes, with reviews on each recipe. This way, you have a pretty good idea of what the outcome will be.

Here are a few I've found recently that are quite yummy - and kid friendly too.

we'll start off with the official recipe for Nanaimo bars - directly from the City of Nanaimo website:


The Legendary Nanaimo Bar

Nanaimo Bars

According to local legend about 35 years ago, a Nanaimo housewife entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. In a burst of civic pride, she chose to dub the entry not "Daphne's Delights" or "Mary's Munchies", but "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby promoting the town as much as her cooking. Some American tourists claim sovereignty over the dessert, referred to as "New York Slice" which is sold in many other places in the world. Nanaimo residents refuse to accept this theory, however, believing that once you set foot on Vancouver Island, there are no other places in the world. The official Nanaimo Bar recipe was available as a handout as well as on quality tea towel and apron souvenirs.

In 1986, Nanaimo Mayor Graeme Roberts, in conjunction with Harbour Park Mall, initiated a contest to find the ultimate Nanaimo Bar Recipe. During the four-week long contest, almost 100 different variations of the famous confection were submitted. The winner: Joyce Hardcastle."

Check out the site for the recipe

Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch - really yuumy! I eased up on the mint to about half to make it edible for my kids.

Chocolate Brittle Surprise - I used graham crackers instead of the saltines - as that's what I had. These are really, really good!

Homemade Marshmallows - These are fantastic! You really can't compare them to those blobs that come in bags at all.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

No Cynthia this week

I just signed in to work on my blog post for today, and discovered we forgot to post yesterday. Cynthia is sitting basking in the sun in Florida this week while the rest of us are suffering through this cold slushy storm that started in the wee hours of the morning. Bitter - nah ;-)

I got a new toy in the mail this morning which is cheering me up a wee bit. A clay core extruder for the makins clay gun. I can now make hollow core forms of metal clay. I wish I only had time to play. I can imagine it will be a snap to make fine silver hinges for pendants. ohhh...the possibilities!

More tomorrow, as I'm sitting in my office getting rained on. We have buckets strategically placed just about everywhere - but I have soap supplies everywhere, and I need to move them - stat.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Taking Great Photos. Part 15: Photographer - Heal Thyself

So - did you hear the one about the doctor in Ireland. His brother had moved to America - and didn't believe any of their old parents' folk stories any more - especially the ones about the little people. He teased his brother mercilessly for retaining the quaint notions about fairies, leprechauns, and the like.

So one day - the doctor actually managed to catch one of the mysterious little folk - and to prove his point - he packed up the little creature in a box and addressed it to his brother in America - and took it down to the post office. In his excitement, however, he did not do a very good job of packing - and as he handed the parcel over the counter to the mail clerk - the little man popped his head out the box and had a look around.

With a look of bored contempt - the clerk pushed the creature back into the box - and thrust the whole package back at the country doctor and said: "Physician - seal thy elf."


And the reason that he didn't send a photo, of course, was because we all know how photos can lie to us - thanks to Photoshop!

I'm very careful - as a lot of the pictures I take are to be factual representations of actual items for sale - I'm very careful to not enhance or alter an image in any way that could be misleading. If you want to learn how to stick your brother-in-law in a photo with a dead president - I'm not your gal. If you want to see what state of the art photo-shopping looks like - check out - now THAT'S amazing.

Anyhoo - notwithstanding all of that - sometimes you have a perfectly fine photo with something like a cat-hair in the background. (Geez - with 2.5 German Shedders and 2 cats in the house - that's never happened to me!) You can wipe that mark out of the photo - and not feel guilty about mis-representation. After all - that cat hair isn't included. The 50 or so cat hairs that are included - they are different cat hairs, don't you see.

Most of you who have played with Photoshop will have probably discovered the "clone" tool. But I'd like to introduce you to "Spot Heal." This little tool is way cool - this is probably worth the price of Photoshop all by itself.

Find Spot Heal on the palette with the rest of the tools. There are actually four tools sharing that spot - so if you don't see the band-aid and the little dotted circle, click and hold until you get the flyaway box, then pick the "Spot Healing Brush Tool" from the list.

Then - it is as simple as clicking on your image on the offending cat hair, scratch or blemish and "erasing" it.

For example - these bead are sitting on a scratched surface with a bunch of dusty particles that make it look as if the beads have dandruff.


But - a little application of the spot heal - and presto - icky flaky stuff all gone.

The Photoshop instructions have this to say about Spot Heal.

The Spot Healing Brush tool quickly removes blemishes and other imperfections in your photos. ... : it paints with sampled pixels ... and matches the texture, lighting, transparency, and shading ... . The Spot Healing Brush doesn’t require you to specify a sample spot - (it) automatically samples from around the retouched area.
This is why it is so easy to use - it's like magic. Just paint over the offending blemish and it disappears. And it works so nicely. I love this tool - if they ever take it out - I'll stop upgrading. :-P

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Teaching Art Theory

Here's a cool website for teaching about art theory. The target audience is kids - and I doubt that many of you grown-ups will learn too much from it - except to confirm that you're pretty smart about art already - even if you don't know all the technical terms. ;-)

However - it would be a cool site to sit down at with your kids or grandkids, nieces and nephews, etc. The learning part is fun - there is a short presentation on the topic in question, and then a practical application of it - which really needs your input for feedback - more fun with the two of you.

The exploration phase - where you get to play and put the theory into practice - that's a lot of fun. It's all intuitive and encourage playing.

The Artist's Tool Kit

And when it comes down to it - we beady people know that Art is important - it surrounds us every day and makes our lives better!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Sneak Peek at Next Week

db1813 Delicas - 11/0 Japanese Cylinders - Dyed Aqua Green Silk Satin (7.5 g)Seedbead city next week. Toho 8/0s and Delica 11/0s. Lots of Permanent Finish colours replacing the old dyed colours. tb8rpf2107 Japanese Seedbeads - 8/0 Toho Seedbeads - Gilt Lined Hot Pink Opal [Permanent Finish]

Friday, December 04, 2009

Linky Love Friday

My kids are off on a PA day today, and we're packing up to spend the day at the Science Centre. I'll leave you with a load of eye candy for the day.

Here are some fabulous artist blogs that I've been checking out recently:

First up, our very own Sue Mcnenly (Sue teaches our photopolymer metal clay classes) - Check out the mini silver dresses she's been making. Awesome!

Gail Lannum - A metal clay artist who has been incorporating a lot of bronze and copper into her current work. She also appears to be in Paris currently:

Aja Vaz - I just love her beads, and metal clay - very organic, and she makes really big beads - Betty Rubble would be jealous!: - gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

Metal Clay Magic - Showcasing the work of many metal clay artists:

This should keep you busy for a while :-)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The gift of beads or Jewelry

Are you like me, and have only vaguely planned who is getting what this year? I'm actually somewhat ahead of myself, as the shopping for the kids is done. However, this year - everyone else is getting something handmade.

Well, with the exception of the men - I don't make men's jewelry, mainly a lack of inspiration on my part. However, my husband doesn't wear any form of jewelry at all - including our wedding ring which he lost within a few months of our getting married. He wouldn't stop fiddling with the d*%m thing, and now it's lost down a sewage drain somewhere. I simply can't think of what else to make him - so he's getting books :-)

Most of our ballot entry readers felt the same way regarding men's jewelry. They either did not want to see men wearing jewelry, or their men simply wouldn't stand for it. In either case, it was a definite no go.

The funniest comment we got on that issue was (name withheld to protect the shopping habits of said customer) "The only beads I want a man near, are the ones he just paid for as we leave the bead store."

That particular comment had all of us snorting with laughter. :-)

Anyhoo, getting back on track. I'm making everything, from handmade soap, and jewelry, with a few sewn items thrown in to the mix. Curious minds want to know - are you done? How many of you are making the majority of your gifts this year?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

New Copper Clay

Art Clay World has just recently introduced a new copper clay that does not require the use of carbon, or a firing chamber. In fact, Heather our metal clay instructor has successfully torch fired this new clay! This is really exciting news, as the clay then becomes far more accessible to beaders and jewelry designers. As we know, kilns are a major investment. A good torch will only run you about $45.00 - cheaper ones can be had as well. You do need to pickle this new clay to remove the 'firescale'. A can of pickle, a small crockpot, a torch, and some copper pliers are far easier on the budget than a kiln!

The clay was released to the general public yesterday. Heather and I both got a few packages ahead of time. I've been too swamped to get a chance to play with it yet, but Heather has - You can see her notes on this new clay on her blog

As soon as I get a chance to experiment, I'll post my notes as well.

At this point, we don't have a time frame as to when/if we'll be carrying it. We'll look into it after a bit more testing. In the meantime, it can be ordered directly from

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Etsy Template

A few people have asked me who did my etsy template for jenniferbeads - I finally found her, as it was a while ago.

You can find her shop here

December is Here!

Who can believe that December is already here! The has been co-operative that is for sure but it is getting colder. Our class schedule is a great way to escape the cold weather. Come on in and stay warm while taking some great classes.

This week we have some fun new classes. Thursday December 3rd from 2 to 4pm we have 3D Snowflake Fanwheels with Maria Rypan. This is a beautiful project when they are completed and it is a beginner class.

Thursday December 3rd we also have Basic Bead Stitching 101 with Cindy Vroom from 6:30 to 8:30. This weeks focus is Right Angle Weave.

Saturday December 5th Marilyn Gardiner is back with her last 2 classes until April. From 10 to 12:30pm we have Earrings and Pendants.

From 1:30 to 4:30 we have the Japanese Stepping Stones Bracelet. This is a beginner chain mail class.

Amy Waldman-Smith is here this week also. December 5th and 6th she is having a Learn to Make Glass Beads weekend.

Sunday December 6th is one of Heather's new classes, Textured Rings CopperClay Bracelet from 10 to 5pm. This class is Beginner Plus. Students should have some metal clay experience. Students wishing to take the class but have no metal clay experience may wish to complete other, simpler pieces that will be demonstrated.

Tuesday December 8th is an Introduction to Chinese Knotting with Angela Peace from 2 to 5pm.

Thursday December 10th is Cindy Vroom's Basic Bead Stitching 101, Herringbone Stitch, from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

Saturday December 12th is the Dancing Dahlia Brooch with Nadine Foskin, from 10 to 12pm. This is an excellent gift idea! It is beautiful and is a beginner class as well.

Sunday December 13th is another new class with Heather Bell-Denison, Let's Do It Together-Parent and Child Metal Clay Class! Please note: this is not a comprehensive introduction. It is intended for a fun class to make a few pieces. This class is not the same as the Charmed I'm Sure beginner's class. Children must be 10 years or older to participate.

Tuesday December 15th is a Metal Clay Play Day with Jennifer Tough from 11 to 6pm.

Tuesday December 15th is also a new class with Dwyn Tomlinson, Lampworking Techniques Night--Wave Beads!
Students should have some lampworking experience. A previous course at beadFX and/or at least 10 hours recent torch time is ideal, but we are flexible. Call or email to get more information. Please wear old jeans, closed shoes, long sleeve cotton top and tie back long hair or otherwise dress appropriately.

Don't forget about Happy Hour Torching on Thursday Night, buy one hour get free from 5 to 9pm.

Happy Beading!