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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beads, Baubles and jewels

Have you ever seen the PBS show Beads, baubles, and jewels? It's a weekly beading show that showcases designers, interviews at bead shows, and many, many free projects. In case you can't receive it, or have missed an episode - they feature all of the projects on their website. More inspiration!

Speaking of inspiration, I'm going to try my hand again at making technique video's. We're set up tonight to make a video on my birdsnest rings. Hopefully, if it all works out we'll have a little video for you to watch tomorrow :-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Haunted by Earrings

Now I'm being haunted by earrings. After last week's post on the topic of earrings - we got a suggestion from the folks at the Corsage Project that, as they ran out of earrings last year when outfitting the girls - that if at all possible, more earrings this year would be very much appreciated!

So, yesterday (Sunday) was one of our Corsage Project Play Days - (next one is Thursday, I think, but check first). So, we focused on earrings! After last week's pondering on the topic of earrings - fashion accessory vs statement - I figured I better go with "fashion accessory." Between us, we made 13 pairs! Plus a bracelet/earring set!

Other donated jewelry has started to arrive too! We're getting off to a good start.

In case you are unfamiliar with it, the Corsage Project is a charity that helps graduating girls with the cost of dresses, jewelry, etc. for their prom. They round up donations from corporate sponsors (like us!) to ensure that girls who've worked hard to graduate, actually get to go to the prom, instead of giving it a miss due to the cost, and the peer pressure. We collect donations of jewelry - and give you a big thank you for your donation in the form of an instore credit for a percent of the amount you spent at our store, that is included in the donated jewelry.

It's fun to sit and make jewelry with others - nattering and sharing stories. You should try it sometime!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Miriam Haskell is Alive and Well - so to speak

The company, Miriam Haskell is still making jewelry - still handmaking their exquisite creations, after all these years. Nice to see the tradition kept alive and well!

Those of you familiar with collectible vintage costume jewelry will know the name Miriam Haskell. For those of you who don't - check out their fabulous, yet tasteful, creations.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sneak Peek at Next Week

s19570 Stone Beads - Serious Rough Chunks - Amethyst (1)Chunks of stone like boulders. Back by popular demand - Sky Blue Crazy Lace STONE OF THE MONTH.

and More Pearls!

Friday, March 27, 2009

New CreativeFX Kits a Comin'

Whohoo! We're a little overdue to get the new kits up, but with March Madness and all we fell a wee bit behind. I was determined to get them picked yesterday. We've got three new kits selected for next week. Stay tuned!

It's a fun process selecting our kits. First we start with a focal of some kind, not necessarily a huge bead - but something unique and hopefully a little bit different. Then we select the supporting cast. This is where we get to play with colour. The selection process can take quite a bit of time, and some lovely beads have to be discarded, and others picked up instead. Then we go through and try to keep the kit within the $20 range. A little over or under is ok, but a $50 kit is pushing it a bit....more has to be sadly discarded. In the end, you've got a cool selection of beads to play with...and a chance to win beads!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Linky Thursday

I've recently come across a few sites that show you how to do, well just about anything. These sites have lots of craft instructions including videos.

The first is - Everything from how to make your home more energy efficient, to thrift store shopping tips. Lot's of bead related stuff too, but that's a given :-)

Next we have Instructables, - This site is a web based documentation project that started at MIT, and then became Squid Labs. Tons of cool, and wacky projects here. There is even instructions on how to build a multi level kids castle in your living room. How on earth the guy got permission from his wife to build it....

Craftster - I'm sure I've mentioned this one before. Craftster has been around a while, they may even have been the first of this type of site. A big community with lots of galleries and projects.

In other news, we're busy restocking from our big March Madness sale. I just put out all of the new pearls...yummy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Before I get into the class stuff for this week, I would like to remind everyone about the Corsage Project Playday on Sunday March 29th from 11-4pm here at Beadfx. Jennifer, Rosemary and myself will be here and we hope that you can make it too! This is a great way to get the projects done and dropped off at the same time, have a little snack and enjoy some great company. Hope to see you all here!

As for classes, we still have some great stuff coming up in the last bit of March. Nadine's Basic Bead Stringing on Thursday March 26th

Stephanie Dixon's Wire Bead Crochet Earrings on Saturday March 28th has one spot left!

And we end the month off on a high note with Rosemary's Celtic Star Pendant on Monday March 30th.

We have the second Corsage Project Playday on Thursday April 2nd and a Metal Clay Playday on Saturday April 4th.

Stephanie is also offering her Wire Bead Crochet Basics on Sunday April 5th.

And that is just the beginning of April. There are a ton of exciting things coming up in the Spring, stay tuned for details!

Happy Beading

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Intensive Beginner Art Clay Class

Heather and I taught an Intensive 2 day class this past weekend. I couldn't believe the awesome stuff our students made. 2 Days can make a big difference in what you can accomplish.

We made everything from basic pendants, to rings, clasps, findings, 3d beads, and cork filigree.

2 of our students were also lampworkers, so they were very excited to learn they can now make their own unique findings and clasps to match their beads! All of their beads have now been fired, and now we've got them in the tumbler to polish them up.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Earrings as the Main Course - Earrings for Earrings Sake vs Earrings as an Afterthought

A friend confided to me the other day that she was really stumped when it came to earring design. "I can't seem to get away from the oval bead on a headpin thing," she admitted.

I thought about this for awhile - and decided that:

a) earrings fall into two categories - the little coloured accents made out of leftovers from a necklace or bracelet OR

earrings made for their own sake,


b) I pretty much suck at them too.

Further thought brought me to the conclusion that point a is probably over-simplifying - but I think you get the idea - or will by the time you get to the end of this post.

So - I decided to have a look at what I've made for earrings - and it's a pretty pitiful collection. These dragon earrings are my faves - and I wear them a LOT. Even though they violate what I think of as being essential to earrings - they are different, but the same. I think earrings that have a distinct pattern should be mirror images. (Earrings should be the same, mirror images, or completely different, IMHO) And, they have no pattern on the back - and given that earrings twist and flop about - I think that earrings should be interesting (at least) or the same on the back.

The reality is - these are just two dragon pendants (small) that I stuck on ear wires. I really like them, for themselves - cuz I have a thing for dragons, in case you hadn't been paying attention. ;-) Our charms section has lots of stuff that works as earrings - buy two - add earwires - bingo!

But I also make lampwork beads, and keep trying to incorporate them into earrings - which is a challenge - as I make huge beads. One of the major constraints with making earrings is making them light enough to wear - a big problem for me, as my designs are large and over the top. Five pound earrings just aren't going to cut it unless you are into pain and self-mutilation. Admittedly - that is a potential target audience, but still ... . ;-)

This particular combo of decorative headpin and bead cap works particularly well for lampwork spacers, and I use it a lot.

That would be these and these,
if they are in stock. They go out of stock quickly - so when you see 'em, snap 'em up.

There are lots of other bead cap and decorative headpin combo's that work too, so if it's lampwork spacers you are making into earrings - that's pretty easy. These beads are pretty plain, but there are certainly lampwork-bead-making artists out there making wonderful intricate and SMALL beads that would make great earrings. (I'm just not one of them!)

So - then I thought I would fire up the wayback machine - so to speak - and go have dig through my not inconsiderable jewelry collection - and see what was in there for old favorites. None of these are made by me.

I used to wear these a lot - these are carved wood (I think!) Moths - made by LizzyBugs. These are lightweight and surprisingly flattering. Hmm - there's another consideration for earrings. They are next to your face - so whether they are flattering is probably a bigger consideration than for, say, bracelets.

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I loved these and wore them a lot. See the close ups of the back and beads if you are curious as to the actual construction. Seedbeads and glue and a peacock feather. They've held up surprisingly well over the years.

Then I found these - hoo boy! Aren't they fabulous!?!!! Can you wear them for more than an hour? Nooo! (They are clip-ons - and have tiny little labels on the back: "left" and "right." How cute is that? They are exceedingly heavy and uncomfortable. There was a time when I suffered exquisitely painful earrings - but those days are gone!

Which brought me to these fabulous babies - lizards that appear to be gnawing on your earlobes! These are LAR - Lunch at the Ritz - and I have adored their jewelry for years. These are actually surprisingly wearable - being very lightweight. I had forgotten about these - maybe I should take them out for a spin again!

And these final pair of hammered silver. These are unremarkable by themselves - but I used to load on all my silver jewelery - and these would be the earrings that went with all that "stuff."

So here are some thoughts on earring designs.

If they are statements unto themselves - go crazy - but remember - they have to be really fabulous in order for someone to put up with being in pain to wear them - so think lightweight. Polymer clay, wood, ivory substitute, bone, resin instead of glass, stone, for instance. Hollow designs. Lightweight wires (earrings don't need a lot of strength.)

If they are accents - and maybe earrings are more often used as accents to coordinate with an outfit, match the colour of your eyes or draw attention to a long, slender neck, etc. - then they can be fairly plain and still be effective. Maybe the oval bead on a head pin is not really so bad?

I'm sure lots of you think I have missed the point entirely - so fire away with your comments. ;-)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eye Candy - Fred Leighton

Whimsical - that's the word I would use. Oh sure, gorgeous, stunning, fabulous - but there is a delightful touch of whimsy to the world of Fred Leighton jewellery.

Like the Enrico Caruso vanity case! You just can't take that too seriously!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sneak Peek at Next Week

We're back to our regularly scheduled updates, starting next Wed. What's coming up? Brushed Silver beads and Pearls. Oh, have we got pearls in the pipeline! Oysters, be afraid - be very afraid!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A day off

What noive! I'm going to enjoy it though. This weekend Heather and I are teaching a two day intensive beginner art clay class. I thought I'd rest up a wee bit before the class, as we're all starting to get pretty exhausted. Three more days left of the sale!

I'm heading down to my basement studio, which no longer feels like a dungeon. Yay... Don't know what I'm going to do yet, I think I may just enjoy being down there ;-) For all of you heading to the Bead Oasis Show...or Canada Blooms at the convention centre - enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The non post ;-)

Sorry, no real post today. I've been out in the absolutely packed store all day, and poor Rosemary had to go home sick. I'm sure you all know by now we have a sale's our big one. Save 20% off almost everything.

Ok, back out to the store!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ultimate in bead embroidery

Sorry about the no post yesterday. We of course have our March Madness sale going on right now, and I was so exhausted last night. I got home, made the kids dinner - then passed out on the couch. So much for getting things done last night ;-)

Marg posted a link to our internal mailing list last night with some incredible pics of a very old bead embroidered carpet. The pearl carpet of Baroda features hundred of rubies, sapphires, diamonds, and an estimated 2 million basra pearls. The carpet is going up for auction at Sotheby's Doha Qatar.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In the midst of Madness there's Classes!!

Ok, so you may be focused on March Madness right now--who wouldn't be--but I am focused on the up coming classes.

We have An Intensive Introduction to Metal Clay Weekend with Jennifer and Heather on March 21st and 22nd. This is an introduction class, that means no experience required.

Dwyn is offering An Introduction to Lampworking on March 24th

There are a few spaces left in Nadine's Basic Bead Stringing class on the 26th of March

And there is only one space left in Stephanie Dixon's Wire Bead Crochet Cuff on March 28th.

For all you Rosemary groupies out there, join her on Monday March 30th for her first ever class, the Celtic Star Pendant!

Even though we are in the midst of our biggest sale of the year, we do have some other really great events coming up.

The Corsage Project Playday has been expanded and a second date has been added. We are now having two: Sunday March 29th and Thursday April 2nd. Stephanie Dixon came up with this fantastic idea and we accidentally scheduled the first date on her birthday--Sorry Stephanie! So, we have added on an extra evening to be sure that Stephanie can make it.

There is also a Metal Clay Playday coming up on April 4th.

On Saturday April 25th BeadFX will be at the Knitter's Frolic hosted by the Downtown Knit Collective at the Japanese Cultural Centre. This is a great show, especially if you love to knit!

Enjoy the Madness!

Happy Beading

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dressing up Donuts

The dilemma of the donut - or - how to hang a wide, flat bead with a single, front to back hole. If you can find one of those fancy, specialized donut-bail findings that fits, well and good - but life sometimes doesn't work out that way. (Sometimes? Ha!)

But necessity is the mother of invention - and there is nothing so invention-inspiring as not having the part you need to finish a necklace!

Now, a plain piece of wire, wrapped around the donut will do the trick from a structural point of view - but it looks unfinished - so the trick is to dress it up and make it look fine! So we're going to dress it up with some beads from the necklace itself - to make it look all integrated and NOT like an afterthought.

Loop your wire through the donut (about 6 inches - choose wire heavy enough to bear the weight of the donut - 20 gauge or more) and fold it in half.

Bend one half of the wire around the other wire.

Then, using pliers to hold the straight wire securely, wrap the bent wire around the long wire a few times for a nice, wrapped coil. This is, essentially, a giant, wrapped loop.

Trim the end off. Add a coordinating bead (from the supplies for the necklace)

Now create another wrapped loop - so that you can attach it to the necklace proper.

Now, take some headpins and some of the beads from the necklace supplies - we are going to add dangles to the front of the donut.

Select some beads, and start the loop - but don't finish it.

Slide them onto the wire loop on the front side of the donut (the front might be arbitrary - depending on the styling and design of the donut.)

Finish wrapping the loop.

Keep adding them.

Until you fill up the wire and make a nice bunch of "berries" on the front of the donut.

You can even add a few more of the dangles to the necklace part to "integrate" the look.

And that's a durn dressy lookin' donut if I do say so myself!