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Friday, December 31, 2010

Jen's Running Late

Jen's stuck at a Dr. appt - now there's a fun way to spend New Year's Eve! - she just asked me to let you know that as soon as they get it in gear and let her out of there, she'll be posting, but in the meantime - here's MY ring entry!

Where's yours? Jen's running late - so you could still send it to her.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cocktail Ring Challenge

It's the quick ring challenge...and yup, I mean quick! We all need ideas for some fabulous jewels to wear out for New Years Eve celebrations - or even dinner at home with the kidlets like me. Even If I'm not partying it up, I'll still wear my jewels ;-)

For reference:

For those of you still on vacation, and have a bit of time make up a ring today at some point, and send me a pic before 8am EST tomorrow morning.

Who's game?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Changing the World - One loop at a time!

Hot d4mn! The feedback that we're getting on our rapid loops is that you love it! Jen used it last night in her inspiration, I was talking to Stephanie Dixon last night, and she's all excited about it - it really is a fast way to make surprisingly great loops!

If you find that the headpin is starting to wind around the end of the pliers as you wrap - just a little change in the angle that you grab the headpin at with the pliers can make all the difference. Just experiment a little with each one you do, until you find the "sweet spot."


Monday, December 27, 2010

Cool Tools to Make Designing with Hot Fix Rhinestones Fast and Easy and Fun, Fun, Fun.

I know, I know - rhinestones aren't exactly beads - but by now, you've probably figured out that the bling is the thing, and so long as it sparkles - it's fair game.

First - let's clarify some terminology. Rhinestones can fall into two categories - those with a pointed back, and those with a flat back. Pointed back stones need to go into some sort of setting or mount, whereas flat backs can be glued to any reasonably flattish surface that you can get a glue to stick to.

Swarovski makes a plain, flat back rhinestone, but, because a lot of time what you want to do with rhinestones is embellish clothing with them, they also make them with a heat-sensitive glue already applied to the backs. These are called Hot Fix rhinestones.

Swarovski has put a lot of research into this glue - as they realize that if folks aren't 100% confident that the glue is going to work, they won't buy the stones. They are fanatical about their glue. Evangelical about it, even. And, I have to say, when properly applied to an appropriate surface - they are as permanent as you could want. We have staff t-shirts that have been through 100s of wash and dry cycles and they are fine - the stones as bright as the day they were applied. And still in place.

We've spent some time finding some tools that make designing with the hot-fix rhinestones easy and intuitive.

74509573 Tools -  BeJeweler Pro -  (1)You can use a Be-Jeweler to apply the stone individually. A Be-Jeweler resembles a modified soldering iron. With some practice, you can get good at applying the stones with it. But it's not my favorite way to roll.

No - what I wanted was some way to design motifs and patterns intuitively, but without commitment. If you've ever tried arranging rhinestones on a sheet of paper to see how they will look - you quickly realize what an exercise in frustration it is. They slither around, and flip over and move if a moth breathes on them. No - what I needed was some way to have them stay in position. And to then be able to pick them up and transfer them, pattern intact, to the garment in question.

(Links to purchase cool tools at the end of this article)

First Cool Tool - the Magical Rhinestone Tray. One of the main annoyances is that the stones are top heavy, and flip up-side-down if a mouse farts. This small, plastic triangular tray has tiny bumps in the bottom, and when you gently agitate the tray from side to side, the stones catch on the bumps and flip right side up. It's quite brilliant, actually. This will save you a lot of aggravation flipping stones over. Just pour a few into the tray, shake. Use the flipped ones, when you run out - shake again, and flip more. Totally worthwhile tool.

Next, totally cool - the Tacky Mat and the Magical Pick.

The Tacky Mat is a bright blue (ok - it would be better if it wasn't blue, but can't have everything) sticky silicon mat. It comes with a plastic cover that you lift off, and it is sticky and rubbery and feels like one of those gross snot toys the boys all covet. The point is - when you put a rhinestone on it, it stays there until you pick it off. (Keep that plastic cover - you will put it back on the mat to keep it clean when you are done with it.)

The Magical Pick is a handle, sort of like a very slender chopstick, with a slightly sticky end. Press it down onto the right-side-up of a rhinestone, and it picks up and comes away on the end of the pick.

However, the tacky mat is stickier, so when you place the stone onto the mat - it pulls away from the pick, and stays there.

You can also use a lump of natural bees' wax on the end of a bamboo skewer to pick up the stones. I use both. I find that the magical pick doesn't have the holding power for the very big stones that the beeswax does - but the beeswax has the disadvantage of losing it's stickiness if it gets cold - meaning that you need to warm it up in your hand or near a light in the winter for it to work. The magical pick is always good to go - and is fine for the normal sized stones.

It's also useful to have a pair of tweezers handy for moving any stones that you need to reposition.
Here, you can see the pattern developing as I go.

Till finally - I ran out of mat. The tacky mat is 4 x 4 inches - so larger motifs will require to be done in stages, or using more mats.

Now - getting the pattern off the mat and onto the fabric.

Next, you will need Silicone Transfer Paper. This is a clear, adhesive sheet that comes with a protective backing. Cut a piece the size of the design - with a little extra room, but not much.

Separate the backing from the clear front - this may be the hardest part of the whole procedure. Try curling the sheet forwards with the tweezers, hopefully you can get enough of a gap to peel the backing off. Keep the backing.

Lay the clear, adhesive sheet down over the pattern and rub lightly but firmly to press onto the stones and adhere them to the transfer sheet.

Flip the whole thing over.

Carefully and slowly peel up the mat, making sure all the stones transfer to the silicone sheet and stay in position.
The completed, transferred, design, from the back.

Unless you are putting this directly onto the fabric for transfer, put the backing sheet on.

This is secure enough that you can pick it up, not even having to keep it level. You can move it around, put it aside while you make another, wait until you are ready to transfer a whole bunch at once.
Here's a little pinwheel design, still on the tacky mat. It's easy to design freehand, or work over a design that is under the transparent tacky mat. You can see the colours as you are working with them, and if you change your mind, you can start over. No fear of commitment!

And the same design, on the transfer paper.

When you go to apply the design to your fabric - you simply take off the white backing sheet and place your transfer in position, glue side down and stones facing up, and heat with an iron or a heat press. When you have finished heating, you peel the transfer paper up from a corner, carefully, making sure all the stones have adhered properly.

Here's cute little pony motif, applied to fabric.

I'll go more into the specifics of heat and timing next Monday. In the meantime, check out tomorrow's inspiration for details on the stones used and a helpful grid to make designing a rhinestone snowflake easy - and addictive.

Here are links to the tools mentioned above.

s24397 Tools -  Magical Rhinestone Pick -  (1)

Tools - Magical Rhinestone Pick - (1)

s24396 Tools - Sorting/Counting -  Triangular Bead Trays - Magical - For Rhinestones (1)
Tools - Sorting/Counting - Triangular Bead Trays - Magical - For Rhinestones (1)

74509582 Tools -  Silicone Transfer Film -  (Sheet)
Tools - Silicone Transfer Film - (Sheet)

74509596 Design Tools -  Tacky Bead Mat -  (1)
Design Tools - Tacky Bead Mat - (1)

s23263 Tools -  Tweezers - Straight Fine (1)

Tools - Tweezers - Straight Fine (1)

Oh, and the Hot-Fix Rhinestones are here:
Swarovski Elements Hot Fix Rhinestones

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Joy of Metal Clay: A Stacking Ring

As I sit here relaxing on Boxing Day. I have decided to share my fun and fabulous stacking ring over the past few months that I managed to fire and polish for the Holidays. It was project that I had on the go for a while.
I made a very wide band ring, let it dry partially and then cut it in half to make the two rings. Then I let it dry complete and added the adornments. This ring's adornments interlock which makes for an interesting ring (in my opinion).
The outer portion is a domed circle with a cutout. The cutout from the center was domed and added to the second ring. A lab created Sapphire was added in the middle.
I am happy with how it sits on my hand. I am a fan of big rings but usually the ones I choose stick up and catch. This one although bit has a nice profile and is very wearable.
It also can be worn as two separate rings.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Business Chat - Balance

Balance is very important in life, especially when you're working on a small crafty business that you just LOVE so much! Or when it's full-time. Your crafty business will begin to take over your life. Sometimes you just have to stop. And today is one of those days. It's Christmas Day people, why are you reading a business blog?

Put down the mouse. Pour yourself a glass of holiday cheer, serve up a wedge of cake or a plate of cookies and relax.

Have a fabulous holiday. You deserve it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry beading to all, and to all a good night

Do you remember this from last year? It's worth republishing once a year :-)

by Dwyn Tomlinson

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!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Baking and Beading

I'm scrambling like a mad woman today. As usual, no matter how well I plan - I fall behind. This time, something came up which prevented me from getting much done over the last few weeks....But knowing the procrastinator that I am - Even if the little time snag never happened, I would still be behind. :-)

Today is baking and beading day - 4 beading/jewelry gifts left to make, and all of my holiday baking.  The beading I won't get to until late tonight after I get the kids to bed, and all of the other presents wrapped.  I can get the kids involved in the baking - maybe. This is actually the second time I've attempted my holiday baking..I had 'help' last time as well ;-)

I also just discovered that I forgot to send out Christmas cards this year - again. sigh :-)

And so, I make one last ditch effort to get as much done as I can. Tomorrow, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the holidays...done or not! I have a stash of Bailey's, rum, eggnog, and assortment of frozen hors d'oeuvres if nothing else - all is good! :-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beading Daily - Free Projects Galore!

I recently revisited Beading Daily and I'm glad I did! The site is run by Interweave Press, the publishers behind Beadwork, Stringing, and Step by Step Wire among others. I was perusing their free projects looking for some ideas to work on over the holidays. There are a ton of interesting projects - including some that may be new to you.

You will have to join in order to view the free projects (give your email addy). Be sure to check out the sister site Jewelry Making Daily for more projects.

Like this one: The Starburst Pendant

Or this Chinese Lantern by Joyce Zborower:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What's happening in 2011?

I have a few announcements about the new year. Stephanie Dixon is back. So, for everyone out there who has been itching to take her wire crochet and wire lace classes, now you can! Stephanie also has a few new classes. I won't spoil it, but they're pretty little dainty things (duh).

Lampworking artist, Lezlie Winemaker, is also returning to teach a few lampwork beadmaking classes in January and February.

There is a lot to look forward to in the new year. Bead shows (in and around Toronto), 5 Guest Instructors (details coming soon), and more Awesome Classes. Here are only some of the classes in January:

January 13, Coiling Gizmo Techniques with Rae Huggins

January 15, Introduction to Art Clay Silver with Heather Bell Denison

January 23, Crystallized Bling Ring with Stephanie Dixon
crystal rings with stephanie 2

January 29 & 30, Lampwork Beadmaking with Lezlie Winemaker
glass beads

See you in the New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rapid Loops

We've taught you simple loops, and wrapped loops. And now, we're going to show you ... Rapid Loops. Or, you too can make 14 wrapped loops in 6 mins.

Or 50 in half an hour!

There are some applications where lots of beads hanging together just look fabulous - but making those dangles and loops can be tedious.

First - let me back up a little.


Last week, we had our pre-Christmas staff dinner. All the crazy bead ladies in one room! With Chocolate, and Lychee Martinis.

We just want to say to you - anything can be an earring.

Including Christmas tree ornaments!

Making your own ornament-inspired, but slightly more wearable earrings is a snap. Yep - you can't turn your head wearing those. You'd hurt yourself.

I actually came up with this method of "quick and dirty" wrapped loops - Rapid Loops - as an act of desperation, when I realized I had committed to making about 250 wrapped loops in a couple of hours. I thought - "you know - the wrap doesn't have to be perfect if it's not going to be seen ... ."

But you know what? - for all of that - the wraps and loops actually come out pretty even - warp speed wrapping notwithstanding.

The basic idea is to pre-load all the headpins (don't bend them, leave them straight), then pick them up and hold them slightly above the top bead. Use Round nose pliers or the small bail making pliers for this.

Grasp the very end of the headpin firmly - keeping tension on the headpin, and pull down and to the right, winding around the headpin, going around the back and continuing to wind around and around, no stopping.

So here's the video. Now, the person in the video is starting from scratch - she has never made loops this way before. Notice how she picks up speed and gets more comfortable as she goes?

It helps to grasp as close to the end of the headpin as possible. Sometimes the end of the wire breaks off in the pliers. Don't worry about it.

Sometimes you find yourself getting the wire wrapped around the pliers - if this keeps happening, change the angle that you are grabbing the headpin at the tip to have the pliers and the headpin form more of a straight line.

And - here's the finished loops. Actually not that bad, eh? I've seen worse published in magazines as being done by professionals!

To make your own Ornamental earrings:
  • Take 14 headpins, and pre-load with 4 and 6 mm Swarovski bicones. (Shown here are Topaz and Sand Opal and a few Crystal Copper - left overs from another project.)

    Note - they don't all match. The randomness improves the final look.

  • Do the Rapid Loop for all of them.
  • Then trim the end piece of wire.

Divide into two piles, ...

... and put each half on a jump ring.

Then just hang on an earwire.

(These "interchangeable/re-usable" 14 Kt gold filled earwires will be live on the site on Wed at midnight.)

Want to go bigger? More like the original ornament? String 15 dangles on a piece of softflex, ...

Then knot the Softflex (or beading cable) back on itself, pulling the dangles up into a ball.
Make a loop in the end of the cable, use a crimp to secure, and hang as earrings.

There you have it. Go forth and make Rapid Loops! Hang dangles off of everything!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Joy of Metal Clay - Free Resources

Oprah has her favorite things for Christmas which she shares with her audience. Unfortunately I am not so affluent so I willl share with you my favorite Free resources instead.

The internet has a plethora of resources on any topic and there are many many resources out there for the metal clay artist. Cool Tools is a US supplier of a fun variety of tools for metal clay but also have a variety of articles about metal clay. Two of my favorite resources that they have are: - Whole Lotta Whimsy is another online company that sells metal clay items but also has great resources. My favorite is their kiln comparison guide. Here are a few more:
Metal Clay Today is a free online magazine you can subscribe to.

Metal Clay Academy is a central online resource of Resources!!! It has tons of information and will refer you to many other online sources.

A gigantic group that you can become a member of is the Yahoo group called the Metal Clay Gallery which has over 5000 members and is a source of information sharing. You can join by going to Yahoo groups and signing up. I think this link should work Yahoo Groups MCG

A new online resource that I have not explored much is Metal Clay Guru

There are many many other resources but these are a few of my favorite. If you have any you want to share please do.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Business Chat - Time to Review

The last of my online orders are out the door, the phone is quiet, the sales season is winding down. Of course at the same time I’m realizing that hey, Christmas is next week and I need to shop! With business slowing down I can focus on personal for now. Or can I? The answer is yes and no. Yes I can take some personal time however I cannot just drop all business matters just because I have no sales.

It’s very tempting when business is slow to let it drift, after all there’s no sales happening and there’s cookies to bake! Even though I may not be selling or making anything right now I still have to put some work in. Back in August when sales were slow we focussed on working on our business instead of in it. Now it’s time to do that again.

With 13 days left in the year I have one major business task left on my list for 2010, my annual review. My review is not just how I functioned in my “job”, or how well the company did, it’s also about setting goals and milestones for the upcoming year. No matter how small your company is I think a review is critical to your future. A review allows you to see exactly where you are now so that you can map out how to get where you want to go.

My annual review consists of 3 steps:
Step 1: Review the Previous Year
Step 2: Outline Goals and Overall Focus for Next Year
Step 3: Plan how I will achieve these goals.

The point of step 1 is to see what I managed to achieve in the past year (and pat myself on the back) and to see where I currently stand. To start I look back on the year and ask myself a series of questions. The questions start very simply:
What went well in 2010?
What did not go well in 2010?

Since I did a review last year I look over the goals I set to see how I did with them. Did everything happen as I expected? Probably not, but it’s interesting to compare results with expectations. In a micro business such as mine, goals aren’t just about dollar figures. I also have goals for learning, goals for balancing business and personal, as well as milestones for business.

In step 2 I think about the year to come. What is my focus this year? And within that focus what are the actual goals I want to achieve.
Think of your own business, what do you think you can achieve in the next 12 months? Goals can be anything: participate in one craft show, or sell 10 pairs of earrings, enrol in a class, start a blog (and keep it up), get a website, apply for a grant, whatever you think you want to do.

Remembering that the goals need to be measurable is one of the most important predictors of success in the coming year. The more specific a goal the more likely it is to happen. Rather than saying “I want to sell my work” a better goal would be “I want to participate in one craft show next summer” or “I want to set up an online store by June 1”.

For step 3, I take each goal and think, “What do I need to do to achieve this?” I list the steps needed to reach that goal in as much detail as possible and then put those steps on a calendar.

Once I’ve completed my review my calendar with milestones is put on my wall where I can see it. I also enter these into my online calendar so that deadlines (like show application dates and class enrolment dates) don’t pass by.

Starting and running a small business is hard work. Balancing a personal life on top of this is tough. Trying to do this without a map would be insane. As busy as we all are at this time of year you owe it to yourself to set aside a bit of time and plan out how you can conquer the world in the next year. Set your goals high. Take some time to do this right, and you’ll thank yourself later.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Inspiration Friday - Special Edition

Heh - My special edition really means I have nothing this week for you. :-) I have been busy, and working on gifts - including an all nighter last night to get my kids treasure boxes made.

Unfortunately, no picture as my card reader as gone awol. But basically, I've got a total of 6 stacking paper mache boxes. 3 for each girl.  I downloaded some digital scrapbooking kits, and printed out paper, and other elements which are then modpodged onto the boxes. I'll embellish further with some hot fix swarovski's. I still need to pick up some hotfix stones, and I'll take some pics once they're done. 

For those of you who need some play time to make your last minute gifts - Join me on Sunday for the last metal clay playday of the year. You won't be alone! We have 9 people signed up to join us already :-)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Zentangle and Jewellery

As you can surmise from the title, I'm still thinking about Zentangle's, and more specifically how to incorporate Zentangles into jewellery. I've made a little rule for myself - mainly to keep me in check. I will only invest time into a new craft if I can possibly incorporate it into my jewellery somehow.

Yes, lots of ideas we're floating around my head last night preventing me from getting a decent nights sleep!

First we have the obvious (at least to me, and anyone who works with polymer, or metal clay). Zentangles are line drawings. They would translate very well into stamps, or texture tiles.

You could also draw your tangles directly onto an object, and then seal it.

Using an image transfer medium you could transfer it onto metal, or polymer.

You could draw out Zentangles, then scan and reduce the image to use with the glass tiles! In the same vein, shrink your images down to fit in bezels, and pour resin on top.

A great one for the kids - have them draw directly on shrinky dink paper, punch holes, and string them up as a pendant. Kids will have an easier time drawing on a larger scale in any case.

Now, I haven't had time to play with any of these ideas yet...maybe in the new year! I'd love to hear about any ideas you may have - feel free to share if you like :-)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Zentangle and Maya

I have my oldest daughter home sick today. While I was writing the blog post from earlier today, she watched Milliande's video that I posted earlier. She sat next to me completely, and utterly fascinated by the process. Then she disappeared.  After writing the blog post, I ran up to get in the shower (we had  quite a late morning). When I came back down to the living room, she showed me this:

Maya is 7 years old! Could just be proud Mama syndrome, but I think there is definitely some talent there :-) I wonder if she'll share my new Zentangle kit with me? ;-)


I've gone ahead and ordered myself a Christmas present! Unfortunately, I think I ordered it a bit late, and it's arrival prior to next Friday is unlikely.  Quite a while back, I first heard of Zentangle I think through Sue Henry at one of our Metal Clay playdays. In any case, I thought it was kinda neat, but I certainly didn't have time to start playing with something else. Since then, I've seen a ton of references to the kit  online through artists blogs. It was time!

So what is a Zentagle exactly?  Basically, in it's most simplistic - it's doodling. We all doodle to an extent, some more than others I imagine. Are you once of those people that doodles on your note pad during meetings, or while chatting on the phone?  I am - I can usually barely make out my notes from all of the various little eyes and curlicues all over the notes.

From their website: Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing. It increases focus and creativity. Zentangle provides artistic satisfaction and an increased sense of personal well being.

I've also found a bunch of blogs, and youtube video's. I especially like this one:

Google Zentangle - follow the links, check out the blogs. There is some really cool stuff out there. Personally, I'm outta here to get myself a good technical pen. I don't think I can wait for the kit to arrive!  My Daughter Maya is going to love this as well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Weekend of Classes

This weekend ends our class calendar for the year. The Parent/Child Metal Clay Class is on Sat December 18th. In this class, you and your child can learn to work with metal clay and make beautiful pieces of jewellery in a relaxed and fun environment.

Also on Saturday and Sunday, December 18 and 19th, Learn to Make Glass Beads with Amy Waldman-Smith. This is an 8-hour introduction to lampworking. You'll learn the basics of working with glass and how to make gorgeous beads out of them.

That wraps it up for the year. It's been fun! Check out the classes coming up in the new year.

Adios Amigas!