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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fall. Classes.

I love September. And let me say this, this Fall is packed with loads of classes (new classes, and guest instructors) for you all to enjoy. I hope you do, because I'm really excited.

Here are some highlights:

Michael David Sturlin will be visiting Beadfx from the U.S this October, teaching two classes:


Multliple Forged Rings


Sawing and Piercing

Michael's work is nothing but phenomenal, and it would be great to learn from him. Even yours truly might be sitting next to you in class.

For those of you who have been looking to get certified as an Art Clay Instructor, Senior Certified Art Clay Instructor, Heather Bell Denison, also known as finesilvergirl here on our blog, will be teaching this course (Art Clay Silver Level One Certification Course).

And lots of new classes from our instructors!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Isn't Marg Driving One of These?

Why isn't Marg driving one of these, I want to know.

"Why?" you ask. "What makes this minivan particularly appropo for our fearless bead buyer?"

Folks, I give you the Mitsubishi Delica.

I'm not making this up folks.

And why would that be particularly on topic at this moment in time?

Well - maybe because the next update looks a little like this!!!!

Go ahead, click on it - revel in them. Print them on the color printer at the office. Cut them out and rearrange them by colour. Tape them into a paper collage/quilt/wall hanging. Photocopy the results. Repeat. Get the gals in next office in on the fun. Try assembling the squares into a likeness of the Mona Lisa. Suddenly realize that it's nearly quitting time and you still don't have that proposal done.

You've been seriously distracted all day. My work here is done. ;-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Joy of Metal Clay: Base Metal Clays

This past week I was fortunate enough to play around with some of Hadar's base metal clays. The last time I had used Hadar's clay she only had Copper and Bronze clay, now when I look at her site I feel like a kind in a candy store.

This week I experiemented with combining some pearl grey steel with copper clay (THANKS Liz). Sadly, I have not fired them as they got damaged in transit and I haven't had time to repair them. (I may just fire them as is as I can't wait to see what they look like!).

All this to say I thought I would introduce you to the world of base metal clays. There are many companies developing and selling base metal clays. Unlike silver clay where there are similarities between brands, base metal clays vary significantly on firing and handling.

Generally, most base metal clays require the use of a kiln to fire (there are a few exceptions). In addition most of the base metal clays require that you fire them in an oxygen free enviroment. This is primarily acheived by using a heatproof container filled with carbon.

I know all this can be confusing so let me start by introducing you to the main types of base metal clays. Then in the weeks to come I will comment on specifics.

Here are some of the brands of base metal clay:

Hadar Jacobson (her site is

In my opinion she has been on e of the pioneers in the whole base metal clay business. Her current types of clays available are:
  • Copper (both quick fire and original)
  • Bronze (both quick fire and original)
  • Quick Fire White Bronze
  • Quick Fire Steel
  • Pearl Grey Steel
All of her clays come dry and require that the purchaser mix their own clay by adding distilled water and they all require kiln firing in carbon.

Ms. Jacobson's website is a wealth of information about mixing and creating with her clays. It is a FABULOUS resource no matter what type of metal clay you choose to use. She also has a series of fabulous books.

Metal Adventures (formerly Metal Clay Adventures)

This is another North American source of base metal clays. The types of metal clays they create ar
These clays come already mixed and require kiln firing in carbon. There is a great source of information about BRONZclay by M. Schindlel published on Squidoo BronzClay it is a great resource and it appears she is working on one for the Copprclay too.

Art Clay

Art Clay, the makers of Art Clay Silver released in December 2009 their version of copper clay. It is called Art Clay Copper and is different than the other types of copper. This clay can be torch fired (but it takes over 5 minutes) and can be kiln fired without any carbon or medium to facilitate sintering. I have worked quite a bit with this copper and will post a detailed post about it in the weeks to come. (Art Clay Copper Information)

Prometheus (

This company is from Turkey and make the only bronze clay that I am aware of that does not require the use of a activated carbon for firing. Instead you are to wrap it in paper towel then in a fiber blanket. They now have two types of clay available:

  • Prometheus Bronze
  • Prometheus Copper
On their website there is a forum discussing firing experiments.

I have some of this clay, but have not finished my experiments with it. I have tried torch firing it and was successful. The piece is much rosier that the other bronzes I have used.

Make Your Own!!!

Apparently you could make your own. There are tutorials on the web on how to do this. Metal Clay Academy has a whole page of links on how to do this - Make your own MC. I doubt I will ever get around to trying this. If you have let us know what you think.

Base metal clays can all be unique. In the next few weeks I hope to elaborate on the base clays I have tried.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Business Chat - The price is firm

"How much is this bracelet?" asks the customer.
"Well, ummm.... it's.... um.... $95?" replies the maker. Her shoulders are hunched, she's squirming and her voice lifts at the end of her reply as if she's asking a question.
At this point our eagle-eyed customer has spotted an opportunity.
"I'll give you $50".
"Um... OK."

The maker now turns to her neighbour and bitterly complains that on one appreciates her work, it's so hard to sell and everyone is always trying to bargain.
Sound familiar?
I see this all the time, especially among those new to selling. With an attitude like this our maker will be out of the game very quickly. The problem is that she does not value her work.
As a maker, if you don't value your work and your pricing, why would a customer?
Back to our maker. The cost of raw materials for her bracelet is $20. Using the jewelry pricing formula she learnt in her Start Your Own Jewelry Business book her bracelet has a retail price of $95.
"But I can't charge that!" she sighs. "It only cost me $20 to make. People will know and feel ripped off."
First, people don't know what things cost. Second, a bracelet is more than the cost of the raw materials. It is time and energy. It is the sourcing of good quality wholesale materials, it is the design time and the labour to make it. Most of all it is magic. Just because you can wire-wrap and string well doesn't mean that a customer can. What seems simple to you is a complicated and foreign process to a customer. What you see is a pile of raw materials, what they see is a story, a piece of your soul, a piece of magic. Your magic is worth $95.
Pricing a piece of your work properly (and sticking to the price) guarantees that not only are you covering the cost of making a piece, you are paying the cost of labour, your overhead and making a small profit. This is called running a business. Constantly devaluing your work by thinking "I can't charge that much" is a defeatist attitude guaranteed to kill your business.
Get over it.
See the value in your work and stand tall.
When someone says "I'll give you half" try putting on your employee hat for a minute. You are standing in the booth as an employee of a company. Forget that it's your company and you are the only employee. The company policy is to remain firm on the price. Your boss would not be happy if you gave away the profits. What if it you were selling in someone else's booth? Would you drop the prices? No? Well why would you drop yours?
"I'll give you $50," says our bargain hunting customer to the maker.
She straightens her spine, squares her shoulders, looks the customer directly in the eye and with a pleasant smile states that the price is $95.
"But that's too expensive!"
This is the opportunity to explain a bit about the bracelet. What is it made of? Where did the inspiration come from? What's the story behind the piece? Show the customer the value of the work.
It is important to remember that you can't please everyone. No matter what there will always be people who think your work is too expensive. Sometimes it's tempting to snap a sarcastic remark about the location of the nearest Wal-Mart however it is best to rise above it and smile nicely. A line that's always worked nicely for me is "well, my work isn't for everyone".

Before you go to a show, or sell a piece online, know in advance what the price is. Know why it is that price. Tell yourself the story behind your work so that you can tell your customers. Most importantly, stand firm. You and your work are worth it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Inspiration Friday

I made pumpkinesque beads last night. They're so, so cute - I'm even convinced hubby to stop by the glass store and pick me up 2 more pounds of this particular glass! They've been posted in my etsy shop - and I'll get some in the store too.

Now, if you remember the post from last week - the challenge was to make something haloween-ish without it being too tacky. I dunno, what do you think? Personally, I like them - but that could be because I made them. :-)

If you would like to participate in our Inspiration Friday posts, here's how it works:

If you're inspired by the picture of the week, make something - anything at all, and send a picture to It doesn't have to be made the same week - if it takes a month to make it, that's ok. In fact, I'm late most of the time too :-)

Here is this weeks pick - go forth and create!

Florida Museum of Natural History - Butterfly Rainforest (Featured POD on April 25th, 2007)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Metal Clay Academy

I may or may not have blogged about this site in the past (see yesterday's post on my addled brain) ;-)

That said - It's an awesome resource for metal clay, and the best part is that the information is not brand specific. There is also a link there to the Masters Registry - This is a course I'm seriously considering signing up for. In this course, you create pieces to a certain specification - but instead of being judged by an individual, you are judged by a panel of your peers. Interesting indeed.

Have a look through the links - this should keep you busy for quite some time

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Free is good

Ok, so on occasion I can be seriously behind the times. This morning, while blog hopping - I came across an online Metal Clay Today magazine - completely free! 

I say I'm slow here - as I had somehow managed to already 'like' it via facebook - but I couldn't recall ever hearing anything about it. My brain is becoming seriously addled ;-)

Anyway, for those of you metal clay fans (or potential fans) who haven't come across this yet, go check it out now.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to the Basics

Taking a Basic Bead Stringing class is always a good place to start. Ease your way into the world of jewelery making by learning to string necklaces and bracelets, and learning to close them - closing jewelery pieces will not be so daunting to you anymore.

It's on Sat. July 28.
Instructor: Nadine Foskin

Now you've learned the basics, and you're thirsty for more? Check out the Make and Take Earrings and Wire Wrapped Pendant, Sat. August 28 . In this class, you'll learn wire wrapping and wire looping - both necessary skills needed for hanging pendants, and making earrings.

make it and take earrings

To see other classes in August, and what's in store for September!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Favourite Childhood Books

Last week, I babbled about childhood songs. These week - it's books.

Those treasured books that I re-read endlessly. They must say something significant about who we grow up to be, but I can't say that I really can make the connection, based on the ones I read.

They were, in no particular order

Ok, the 3rd one makes sense, I was a horse-crazy girl until I became a horse crazy teenager, eventually maturing into a somewhat horse-obsessed adult.

Interestingly - all of them are available online via Project Gutenberg. Black Beauty is also one of the biggest selling books in the English language of all time. (Links above are to Wikipedia entries - scroll down to the bottom of those page to find the links to online versions.)

And they do all reveal fascinating insights into a time gone past, with lessons about being kind and fair, and a nice happy ending. I have to admit, I always felt guilty about "Five Little Peppers," even as a kid. It was clear, even then, that the happy outcome - being rescued from abject poverty by being befriended and adopted by a rich gentleman and his son - was a little too pat to be believable.

But reading about them now, (Wikipedia) is very interesting. "What Katy Did" was contemporary with Alcott's "Little Women" (which I read, but didn't like that much) - but actually also is an interesting window into the expected life of an paraplegic in the mid-1800s.

Oddly enough, the author of Black Beauty WAS a paraplegic in the mid-1800s - although that is nowhere mentioned in the book. And the author of "Five Little Peppers" eventually bought the home of Louise May Alcott. Strange connections there.

Of course, later, came the ad nauseum book series, the endless "girl/boy detective" novels with a million titles, the neverending "Black Stallion" books - the movie/series never really lived up to the potential there, and others.

Would I read or recommend them to kids now? Well - Black Beauty for sure. It's timeless. The others - I'm not so sure. Personally - I think that the Harry Potter series is great stuff, and His Dark Materials (Golden Compass, et al) is awesome too. And Eoin Coffler's "Artemis Fowl" books too.

But really - the more books you can squeeze into your kids the better, or your grandkids. You just never know which one is going to ring the bell!

And then, you can teach them to bead too. Good literary habits, so they can read the classics and get all the in-jokes, and a pleasant beady pastime. They'll be all set. ;-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Joy of Metal Clay: METAL CLAY RINGS

I love creating metal clay rings! Today, I am teaching a metal clay rings class at BeadFX.

Rings can be frustrating and problematic at time. Two main problems that one can run into is with SIZING and STRENGTH. Since most of you won't be in class today, I am going to give you a few thoughts, tips and a project.

Sizing: Sizing metal clay rings can be frustrating for the beginner. First, metal clay shrinks, so you need to account for this. Second, everyone handles their clay a little differently so one method that works for one person may not work for you. For example, I may wrap my clay around the mandrel tighter that you may and therefore even if we put our clay on the mandrel at the same spot, my ring will likely be smaller. Alternatively, if you sand the interior of the ring you may run the risk of sanding away clay and therefore making the ring bigger.

I don't have great suggestions on sizing. My tips are to:
  • Practice to find out what works for you
  • Err on the side of making the ring slightly smaller as it is easier to make your ring bigger as opposed to making the ring smaller.
Ring sizing guides for metal clay are harder to find than I thought. (Art Clay World has a handy guide. One note it can be a little confusing, when looking at the different band types it looks like a wide band it will shrink differently - but the reason why they suggest that you make the wide ring bigger is that everyone takes a larger size when the band is wide!).

Strength: Metal clay is a sintered metal and therefore will be less durable than a milled metal. In addition, when working with silver metal clay the result is fine silver, which is softer than sterling silver (sterling silver has alloys added to it to make it stronger). You need to understand these principles when building your metal clay rings.

My general rules to help with strength are:
  • Avoid making a ring band thinner than 1.5 mm.
  • Kiln fire your silver metal clay at 1650 F for ring bands.
  • Make sure you work harden your ring when you are finished!
  • Alternatively use fine silver wire for your ring band.


FINE SILVER WIRE BAND RING by Heather Bell Denison

Here is a ring with a fine silver wire band which helps with the problems of sizing and strength!!!

To make this ring you will need:

  • Metal clay
  • Fine silver wire 2.6mm (approximately 7 cm)
  • Your metal clay tools (roller, slats, cutter, textures, olive oil....)
  • Kiln to fire you ring
With this ring you can modify the design to suit your preferences!!! Go crazy or keep it simple.

First you need to cut and shape your fine silver wire. Make sure you use fine silver wire as sterling silver will not tolerate the firing at 1650F!

1. First you need to cut and shape your fine silver wire. Make sure you use fine silver wire as sterling silver will not tolerate the firing at 1650F!Shape your wire around a mandrel at the size you want, here, I am making the band to be a size 6.5.

2. Cut the wire and shape the ends with a slight curve. Also make sure that you have approximately 3mm of length on the ends so that they will embed into the clay.

3. Roll and cut a piece of metal clay that is at least 2 mm thick. The shape can vary, but this will be your base for your design. Make sure that the piece of metal clay is wide enough to fit both wire ends in the clay and surround them securely.

4. Embed your wire into the fresh wet metal clay! Press it all the way into the clay making sure the wires are embedded well. Now leave it to dry, don't fiddle with it as you don't want to wire to come loose. Dry your ring (if you find that there is a gap where the wires are embedded, add a little paste and fill this area, you want to make sure the wire is embedded well, otherwise this is a place of weakness).

5. After your ring base is dry, you will want to build your "topper". I have made a large ring to go on top (Note: I modified the round to accommodate my design Your topper could be different, a heart, flower, and so on....) In this piece the texture I used for the topper was done by Canadian Artist Helen Breil - the texture is called Watusi you can see more on her site.

Dry your base before you add it or you could end up warping it. Once your base is dry add some paste and attach securely.

6. Allow the whole thing to dry, touch up and fix any cracks, gaps or problem areas. Then kiln fire for 2 hours at 1650F and polish.

I don't have the sample project fired. Here is a photo of a variation. (In this one I used two smaller wires, I think they were 1.6mm and I embellished the front with balls and layered clay).

Here are some more examples!!!

If you make one and want to share, send me ( a picture and I will add it in a later post. Have FUN!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sneak Peek at next Week

34767270015001 Swarovski Elements Pendant - 18 mm Fish (6727) - Crystal AB (1) Swarovski Makes Fish! Who knew?

As a wise man said -

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and you get rid of him all weekend.

Want one of these? You can make it yourself. It's eee-zzzzeee. It will be reveal on Wed at midnight!

The Business Chat - Working ON your business

One week later and guess what? It's still August, the cicadas are still buzzing and it's still slow season. Let's continue working ON our business rather than IN it. Last week we discussed 5 things to do during a slow season. Here's 6 more:
  1. Blog makeover! Hey, the kids are getting new supplies and clothes for the new year, doesn't your blog deserve some spiffying up too? How's your blog looking these days? Could it use some new graphics, maybe a different layout? Do you have a mission statement for it (meaning do you have a purpose behind your blog?) Have you communicated to your readers what your purpose is? People may not be opening their wallets right now but their eyeballs are still online, don't let them down, keep the content coming.
  2. Speaking of mission statements, do you have one for your business? Why are your doing what you're doing? Now is a good time to sit down and think about goals for the upcoming season. Rather than just selling because your friends think you should, know why you are doing this and what you want to accomplish.
  3. Facebook. How's your fan page doing? (You do have one right?) What could you be doing to increase the number of fans you have? Why not set a goal of getting X number of new fans every month? Is your blog linked to your facebook account? Do you have a posting schedule?
  4. Speaking of posting schedules why not create one now for your facebook page, your blog and your online store? One element of a good brand is consistency. Consistency in a blog means that if a reader visits weekly they know that they will see new content even if it's just a new picture. Tell yourself that you will post twice weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays and put that commitment on paper on your bulletin board. It's really easy to let days slide by and realize you haven't blogged in a month. Having a schedule holds you accountable to get it out. I challenge you to create a schedule for the rest of 2010.
  5. Store makeover! Take a good long look at your online store. You know you need good photos, maybe yours need to be redone. How about your item descriptions, do they really convey what your work is? Do they tell a story? Are they so compelling that a customer feels she MUST have it? Do they list the items measurements and components? What about your bio? As we previously discussed, you are the product as much as your work is. Make sure that you shine through in your store.
    For those selling at craft shows take a good long look at your booth display. It's much easier to tweak your booth design now than the week before a major show and the Christmas season will be here before you can blink. Maybe you could use new booth signs. Think of previous shows, was the layout of your display all that it could be? Were there dead spots that need to be fixed? (a dead spot is an area that no matter what you put there it won't sell). Do people move around your booth to look at more, or do they walk in and out quickly? A little marketing factoid for you, 90% of people who walk into a store turn right. This means that you need attention grabbing work on the right side of your booth entrance and then you have to guide them left. Think of the storage areas in your booth, were they an efficient use of space, could you find stuff easily and were they hidden from the pbulic? How long did it take you to set up your booth? Spending 10 hours on your feet selling is hard enough, you don't need a 4 hour complicated set up before the show. Why not make a goal to cut your set up time in half? Now think about how you could accomplish that.
  6. Learn somthing new! The kids go back to school soon, how about you? Learning new techniques, playing with new materials or trying a whole new craft is not only fun but also adds new dimensions to your work. It's really important to stay fresh and create new work constantly and learning new skills is a great way of doing this. There are so many different ways of learning, go ahead, pick one. Spend a little time now looking for a course for the fall, be it a college course, an evening seminar, or an online weekend workshop. Why not try something totally different from everything you already do? Stretch your boundaries and see what happens.

Thinking about goals, creating schedules, working on your marketing messages are all part of working ON your business. Anyone can work IN your business creating work. It's those who spend the time working ON the business, who have a purpose and a roadmap who will succeed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Inpiration Friday post

Nathalie pointed out this week that I have forgotten to post the info on how to participate in our Inspiration Friday Posts. Doh!  Sorry about that.

Here's the info right at the top from now on.  We'd love to see what you have made from an Inspiration Friday Post. It doesn't matter what week it's from - I can't even manage to get one done every week ;-)

If you have some pics - send it to with the subject line Inspiration Friday. Let me know which picture inspired your creation. Feel free to send us more info - Your process, is the item for sale?, is it posted on your website or blog?

Nathalie made this based on the white flowers post from a few weeks ago:

Dogwood Blooms

I made my pendant using PMC3... it’s set on hemp cords with some Greek ceramic beads, and sterling silver clasp/extender.

For more details, you can see my listing here on Artfire:

I think we can all learn some tips from Nathalie's product photography - well done! - and a stunning pendant too. Thanks for participating!

Mine isn't quite ready yet - but here is this weeks pick:

A pumpkin spirit

What? I know - OK, so this one is a little weird - but think Halloween! It's coming up,  so let's come up with some cool Halloween jewelry - tacky, or elegant (is that possible)? 

Send your submissions to subject: Inspiration Friday

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Think outside the box

In this case - think about your business card. How many of you keep business cards? Unless it is particularly useful, or impressively interesting - it probably gets tossed.

While blog hopping this morning, I came across an interesting post by Jen Wallace on the Buzz Blog. Go check it out, and get your promo's ready for the holiday shopping season!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Inspiration (ahem) Friday bracelet

I absolutely love this bracelet - and now I'm inspired to make some more little metal clay components - and get my rear end back on the torch to make beads to go with. See -  these inspiration Friday posts are working (at least for me). I may be perpetually late in getting things done, but I'm getting there nonetheless!

I found these beads in my stash - I believe they were sample beads from the lovely Unicorn bead ladies.  They seemed to be perfect for the last theme:

The Wave

The components are all made from metal clay copper - and some copper wire - hammered and patina'd.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Glass and Metal Clay

Jennifer Tough, who is always coming up with new and creative ways to make jewelery, has been at it again. The Introduction to Fusing and Metal Clay for Lampworkers is a class for lampworkers (who may or may be into metal clay) who are looking for ways to incorporate metal clay pieces to their work. We all know how beautiful your lampworked beads already look, imagine adding unique metal clay pieces to it.

Maybe you are not at that stage yet? Maybe you want to learn how to make glass beads? Well, consider taking the Learning to Make Glass Beads with Amy Waldman-Smith. You'll get the grounding and knowledge you need in order to start working with glass.

Also, every Thursday at Beadfx is Happy Hour Torching. Pay for one hour, get an extra hour free! This is not a tutorial, but you get to practice lampworking for cheap, and meet other lampworkers.

One more thing, try one of our Metal Clay Play Days, Tues. August 24. It's a fun, social and supportive environment where you can work on your metal clay projects. It's not a class, so you need to have experience with metal clay.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to the Future

Ack - halfway through August - summer's nearly over! Where did this year go? How can it be 2010 for that matter? Isn't that some distant time in the future?

And if I've somehow managed to travel into the distant future, where's my flying car? And my household robot? Where are the underwater cities? And the vacations on the moon?


Well - moving on from this future-inspired angst, I'm going to fire up the Wayback Machine - and show you the three Swarovski Colour Charts that we have that span the last few years. These are interesting because you see how much more complex the product lines are getting. Also, changes in the branding.

These pictures are thumbnails, by the way. Click on them and you will see the full size version - which will give you enough detail to actually read the names if you want.

This is the oldest one we have - there is no date on it. It list colours and effects only, and was intended to be in use for a long time. Note the Swarovski Swan version of the logo.

This one actually has a date on it, copyright 2005. This has the Create Your Style branding. This also shows colors and effects, but notice the much larger selection of colours.

This is the most recent version - we got this at the product roll-out at the beginning of this year. This one adds "shape selection" to the colours and effects. This one shows the "Crystallized" branding.
And all three together in the store. Quite the size difference too!

I just checked the driveway again - still no flying car. If there was, I'd cover it in Swarovski rhinestones. That would be blingy in any age!

Froggy went a beadin' ...

Last week, when I wrote the weekly update for the store, I borrowed an old song and mangled it to suit my purposes.

And I was floored, absolutely floored I tell you, to discover that quite a few folks did NOT recognize the song reference! Omigawd - I had no idea you had such deprived childhoods!

So - to set the record straight - "Froggy went a beadin'" is a corruption of "Froggy went a courtin'." I think of it as a classic children's song/folk song - you know the type, with a million verses, very repetitive.

Google and youtube will get you lots of hits. Here's a nice, soft version, (below, suitable for amusing the kiddies.

But everyone has done it, including Bob Dylan (lyrics) and Elvis! ( I think Elvis was on uppers when he did his version.)

And according to Wiki, the song dates back to the mid-1500's. Sometime after that, it underwent a satirical re-write to lampoon the courtship of Elizabeth I by the Duke of Anjou. So, not only has it been around for a long time, but I'm not the first person to bend it to their own purpose.

Well - I wasn't trying to be all literary - but it got me thinking about those iconic childhood memories. Now, for me, not being musically inclined - those formative memories are all about books. Favourite childhood books. Before I discovered science fiction - which quite possibly represented a passage from childhood into the next stage of development - not adulthood exactly, but that point at which you realize that you are part of something larger.

Anyway - what about you? Books or Songs? Or something else? Movies? Those comforting experiences that you lived over and over and over. A book that you read the print off the pages? What was it? And when the time came, did you share it with your kids?

Leave your thoughts in the comments. Next week - I'll tell you mine.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Joy of Metal Clay: Oil Paste - What is it good for?

Last week I talked about Art Clay Overlay Paste. This week I will talk about Oil Pastes.

Oil Paste can be bought (Art Clay has a brand) or it can be made using regular paste and lavender oil.

Oil Paste is meant to bond already fired metal clay pieces together. Of note: regular paste can work as well but I have found that at sometimes the Oil Pastes will give you better bond).

Oil Paste differs from Overlay Paste (which I discussed last week) in that the minimum firing temperature is 1475F.

I use oil paste for several purposes: to repair already fired metal clay; to bond fine silver bezel wire for bezel setting; and to reduce the size of rings (my little trick is that I have found that a thin layer of oil paste on the inside of a ring that is too big can adjust the size ever so slightly.)

You can make your own oil paste by adding several drops of lavender oil (I have heard other essential oils will work too) to your regular metal clay paste.

Specific instructions this to make Oil Paste can be found on this link to the PMC Guild's article on Oil Paste. This article has some interesting information from their tests of homemade oil paste, Art Clay Oil Paste and regular PMC slip/paste.

Final Note: I realized that in writing this that there are two terms that are used in reference to paste. Paste or Slip. Slip is the term potters often used to refer to paste. The are can be used interchangeably but I find that paste is more commonly used with regards to metal clay.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sneak Peak at Next Week

Just wanted to let you know - the Miyuki TILA beads will be up next Wed. Slender, flat, 5 mm square and with TWO, count 'em, TWO holes.

Starting thinking of the possibilities!

The Business Chat - August slow season

There's a slow and lazy feeling about the last half of August. Humidity is high, cicadas are buzzing and kids are dragging their feet knowing this is the end of their freedom. No matter how long we've been out of school we all feel the laziness now. Add to this the traditionally slow sales of August and we're all tempted to let the business slide for the moment.
Now is the time to really put some muscle into your business. Yes sales are slow at this time of year. No we don't feel like working. Suck it up and do the work (remember last weeks post?). When September rolls around and things pick up again you'll be busy working IN the business, take this slow time of year to work ON the business.

Here's 5 thing to work on during a business slow season:

  1. Vision time. Grab your notebook, your favourite pen, pencil or crayon and doodle and ponder. In an ideal world where do you want your business to be in 6 months? 12 months? What's your idea of a perfect work day? How much would you like to make? How can you make that money? What's the most awesome thing you'd like to happen in your business? Dream big and silly and write it down.
  2. Work on your marketing message. Marketing is communicating what you do to your customers. Before you can tell them, you have to know yourself. What do you do? Now is the time to work on your elevator speech. Think about new marketing materials, do you have postcards yet? A new business card? A logo? Redesign your blog or plan on starting one. Create a Facebook business page.
  3. If you haven't booked any Christmas craft shows now is the time to do so. Larger craft shows book 6 - 12 months in advance. If you haven't booked a show yet look for smaller shows. Why not decide to do a larger show next year and start researching them now?
  4. Improve your photography skills. If you are sellling online, or plan on selling online soon you'll already be aware that the most important thing you need is brilliant photography. Online shoppers can't touch your work so your photos are what sells an item. If you create one product that is reproduced 100's of times then you can afford to hire a professional to take amazing photos. Most of the time it si not financially viable to pay someone to shoot images so you will need to do them yourself. Photography is a skill, that means practise, practise, practise. There are great tips and tutorials online to help you (check the Etsy forums). Go for it.
  5. Build up your online community. A lot of creative people work at home, especially if you are doing this part time, and it's hard sometimes to remember that we're not alone. Your community is important not just for the moral support but for information. Your community will tell you how fabulous you and your work are, they'll let you know about craft shows, deal on supplies, important blogs to read and advertise on and which online venues are good for selling on. Your community can be the key to success. Take some time now to find your online community. Make friends on Facebook, read blogs (and leave comments!!!), when you find a blog you like check out who they read. Cruise around Etsy, Artfire and DaWanda. Where ever you visit online send emails to people who's work you like and make connections. The world is a big place.

Dreaming, scheming, reading and pondering are just as imporant to your success as making a fabulous necklace or knitting a gorgeous sweater. This is one of those times when spending a few hours cruising the internet isn't time wasting, it's research.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Inspiration Fridays

For once I actually have something for this week - not quite ready, as it needs some finishing touches - so I'll update the post tomorrow with my pic for the week.

Here is your pic for next week - Come play!

Summer countryside  P.O.T.D  27/10.08

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More playing with resin

I've been (very slowly) working on some projects that will allow us to teach a resin class this fall. As I think I've mentioned a few times already - with the kids home for the summer, I'm really not getting too much done.  :-)

The other day I was experimenting with painting the resin on paper. It could be the humidity, but it just isn't hardening up like I thought it would. I want to make some teeny/tiny little book necklaces out of actual paper, and bound with  a hinged metal clay cover. I can see these in both silver, and copper or bronze. Could be a lot of fun!  I think I'll have to wait a few more days and see how the paper hardens up.

Pics to come once I have time to actually make it! (don't hold your breath for this one) ;-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Online Tutorials

Now that my first tutorial is out - and I really had quite a bit of fun working on it! Is this something you'd like to see more of at beadfx?  A number of classes I offered in the past could be made into tutorials - some more complex than others.

I'd love to hear any comments you have about tutorials in general.

Do you purchase online tutorials?
What price range are you willing to pay?
1) up to $5.00
2) 6 - 10
3) 11-15
4) 16 and up

If you have purchased online tutorials before - are you generally happy with the quality of information and instruction provided?

What topics of tutorials would you like to see?

I know, a million questions - but now that I've got one under my belt, I'm quite excited about the possibilities!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Next week is jam-packed with classes at Beadfx. The topics range from metal clay to lampworking to basic bead stringing earrings. So take your pick, and have fun!

1. The Clintons (Laurie-Anne and Beth) are back teaching the Viking Knit class. This is an introductory class for all of you out there who have been dying to learn how to do the viking knit. Plus, you get to use the All-In-One "Lazee-Daizee" Viking Knit tool, which we also carry at the store. It makes a huge diffference with the tool.

2. Check out these beautiful earrings - made with pearls!

Let's Link Up is beginner class for those looking to learn how to make earrings. Plus, you'll learn how to wire wrap, and make wire loops. Both necessary skills for any beader.

3. Introduction to Art Clay Copper
Our very own finesilvergirl ( for those of you who read her weekly posts), aka Heather Bell Denison is tackling Art Clay Copper. She'll answer your many questions: such as how art clay copper is different from art clay silver, firing schedules etc. And most importantly, you get to get your hands dirty.

Adios Amigas!

Monday, August 09, 2010

I can see! I can SEE!

Ohmigawd! I can see!

I have been going multiple rounds with my - well - I was going to say "ophthalmologist and optician" - but I think I will call them "my vision care specialists" because really - I make them work for their living! They deserve a fancy title.

Because some people have glasses, but I have a vision system. My purse is half-full with glasses cases. The other half is electronics, btw. I go nowhere without my GPS and MP3 player. Mostly because I would never get there without the GPS, and I would be too bored without the MP3 player to go a second time. But I digress.

About 5 years ago - I capitulated on the battle of the aging eyes - the battle where you finally succumb to the realization that your arms are not, in fact, getting shorter, and that you are going to need the dreaded bifocals.

Now - both my parents wore glasses, and in fact - I've been wearing glasses since I was two. Yes - two! - and those of you with small children can just imagine the hell this must of been for my mother to get me to wear them. Apparently I spent the first year taking them off and she putting them back on, and the second year running to her with them every five minutes to get her to clean them.

So, I am comfortable with the idea of glasses - it's not like I'm resisting getting them, not now. But, I just could not face the idea of that hard line in the middle of the lens - carving up the face and looking like a ledge you could throw yourself off - the "bifocal" look. Progressives for me! Of course - that's when I discovered what a massive compromise glasses become. Because it used to be: eye test, prescription, glasses, better vision. Repeat in two years. Now, however - it's all about what am I prepared to give up. Argh.

And I have been shopping around for a great "vision care team" for a few years now - utterly dissatisfied with the ones I have, garnering recommendations - trying out new places - all with abysmal results. When you have to return the glasses for the third time because they got the wrong prescription in - well - time to move on!

Apparently - my eyes are complicated. Gosh - who would have guessed?

So - the latest pair of glasses are lovely - delightful. Light as a sigh and frameless - nearly invisible - as close as I will get without going to contacts or surgery, neither of which I am ever likely to do. Contacts? Sorry - I've spent most of my life making sure stuff didn't get in my eyes - I'm not going to deliberately poke something into my eye. Too vain for bifocals, but not that vain. Surgery? Seriously? I don't think so. Mess that up and I might as well kill myself. Not even chancing that.

One issue with these new glasses - that area that I can read with is such a tiny and specific spot on my glasses that I'm giving myself whiplash trying to see an entire page at once.

For those of you who have not yet had to deal with progressive lenses - the idea is that instead of the entire lens changing your vision in one specific way like regular lenses, or like bifocals, which is functionally more or less like two separate lenses cut in half and glued together - the progressives have a series of different focal lengths - so you eventually learn to move your head up and down and side to side to find the spot that is appropriate to focus on whatever you are looking at. They do suffer from distortion in some places, and it takes a while to get to the point where you automatically adjust to look through the correct part of the lens.

Anyway - where I am going with this is - in my rather convoluted way - now you know why I need a GPS to find my destination! - is that while the new glasses were great - what they were NOT letting me do is see the entirety of the two monitors, the keyboard, the invoice, the beads and all the other stuff that I need to see, all in focus at once. In short - it was time to admit that I needed not just progressive lenses, but also a second pair of glasses. It used to be that you needed reading glasses. Now, I needed computer glasses.

Back to the optician, where we hauled out the catalogs of lenses - poured over diagrams of where the focal points where, reviewed the focal distances, and finally found a pair that seemed ideal. How long? A quick phone call to the lab - "oh, sorry - those are discontinued." ARGH! Not taking no for an answer - the optician called the lens manufacturer directly. "Yhey aren't discontinued at all." Aha!

One week later, the lenses came directly from Zeiss, and before being mounted in the frames, we lined them up to ensure that I will be able to focus on the things I need to see. Oh, and while we were at it - we slipped a little magnification into the prescription as well. Woohoo!

And I have to say - these new computer glasses are awesome! The first pair, for distance vision are so light and airy - I feel naked - like I'm not wearing any glasses at all. The second pair make everything that I need to work with sharp and focused. Between the two - I can see, and be seen! I'm sooo happy!

And for those of you who want to know who these wonder workers are:

The Goldberg Eye Centre: Dr. Goldber is an excellent ophthalmologist that really cares enough to get it right.

and in the same building on the ground floor: Eye Wear for You. Awesome, awesome service. So nice to find these days.

So - if you are straining to see your beads, or worse still - have put aside doing the beading that you love because you get a headache from trying to see - don't suffer or give up - go get some glasses that work!

We won't talk about the prescription sunglasses right now - that will be another story. I wonder if I can get them to make the protective glasses for flameworking . . . hmmm . . . .

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Metal Clay Pastes: Overlay Paste

There are numerous versions of paste which you can use when working with silver metal clay; this can make things confusing.

The types of pastes are:
  • Paste (watered down clay used for attachments, repairs and to coat organic materials)
  • Syringe paste (a thickened paste that comes in a syringe - I discussed this one several weeks ago).
  • Overlay Paste (I will explain this one today)
  • Oil Paste (I will discuss this one next week)
The most common and essential paste is the regular paste that is used to fill cracks, attach pieces and to cover organic shapes (such as leaves) with layers. It can be purchased or you can make your own with your reclaimed pieces of clay by adding water and allowing them to sit. I have a series of paste jars in varying consistencies on hand on my work bench.

Today I want to discuss Overlay Paste. It is a product unique to the Art Clay Brand.

Overlay Paste
Overlay paste originally made to bond to ceramics in order to paint on ceramics. It has since been recognized that it can to bond to glass as well and be used for repairs and attachments on fired metal clay. One of the features that makes it unique from Oil Paste is that its minimum firing temperature is lower, at 1200F; therefore allowing low fire repairs.

I have used the Overlay paste both on ceramics and glass and to make repairs. Here is what I have found:

In order to bond Overlay paste to ceramic or glass be sure to clean the surface of all oils. (I have found that using rubbing alcohol works fine for this purpose). The other important trick is to apply a thin layer to the surface. (In one of my early experiments I have been misinformed and was was told to put on two thin layers - this did not work and the layer ended up being too thick and I was able to flake some of it off.) I have found that a thin layer (the consistency of milk works best).

In regards to repairs I have had mixed success. I am of the mind to fire most of my metal clay at around 1600F for 2 hours but there are times that this isn't possible as in the case of adding sterling to your metal clay. I recently made brooches with sterling findings on them and decided to fire the piece first at 1600F without the findings then add the findings to the already fire pieces with overlay paste. Sadly, I had mixed success. I have three findings attached with a fourth one that still won't adhere properly. I am not certain as to why (kiln temperature, oil on the findings, product, or user error????). I am still figuring it out. (If I do figure it out I will let you know)

There are other uses for Overlay Paste. One is to use it to add silver accents to fired copper clay. I have done this only once and it worked quite well.

Another use is to add overlay paste onto fired silver to prep the surface to add the Gold Paste. I was unable to find my specific notes on how to do this to add. My recollection is that you add a thin (milk consistency) layer of overlay past where you want to add gold (on an unpolished but fired piece of silver clay). You let this layer dry then you add your gold paste. (Sorry I don't have more details, if I find the info, I will post it later).

Overlay Paste can be a useful addition to your metal clay products you use, especially if you want to add silver to glass or ceramics. Of course, I should note that regular paste will often stick to glass or stones as well, especially when you don't want them too. Overlay Paste is made to be that much stickier and will work better than just plain paste.

Next week, I will be talking about Oil Paste both homemade and Art Clay Oil Paste.

Stay tuned.


Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Business Chat - Do the work.

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like a war-wounded veteran. I’ve been in business for 8 years now and I’ve done 150 craft shows. Over these 8 years I’ve seen dozens of people come and go, some last a couple of years, some don’t even make a whole season. I mentioned this at my last business workshop and someone asked me why do so many people not make it?

This is a hard business and most people who fail do so because they fail to realize they are running a business.

You. The person who is trying to sell just one pair of earrings, you are in business. If you don't take your business seriously, who will? As a business you have the same goal and problems as Starbucks, McDonalds and Nike. Your problems are on a different scale however as a business your goal is to persuade one customer to buy one product. As a business you need to market, advertise and sell your product. Simply making the work is not good enough. And this is why most businesses fail, they fail to put in the time to sell the work.

A chimpanzee with a pair of pliers can make earrings. That chimp may even be able to sell those earrings to her sister. What that chimp can't do is put those earrings on a nice card, book into a craft show, source wholesale materials, use a calculator to accurately price those earrings, write and create the necessary marketing materials, set up an online store and Facebook business page, and sell enough earrings to actually pay herself. If you think that running your own jewelry business means sitting around and making pretty shiny things, then click away right now. If all you want to do is make nice things then by all means make them and give them to your friends. Making and selling are two different animals. You are here to run a business, full-time or part-time. And that means making sales.

The bottom line is that less than 20% of my time is spent actually making beads or jewellery.

80% of my time is spent running a business. This means shopping for supplies, booking shows, answering emails, going to the post office, coding websites, writing blog posts (, designing my booth, standing in my booth, updating my Facebook page (, engaging in shameless self-promotion, and doing each and every thing necessary to drive people to my website or booth to buy a pair of earrings.

Etsy, the online handmade market of choice, has 218,000 registered sellers. As beautiful and unique as your work is, if you don't spend time promoting it and you, your shop will be lost in this crowd. Same with craft shows, you can hope for random sales but success comes by getting your name known. Regardless of how large or small your company is, be it Starbucks or Sailorgirl, without the time put in to market and promote your work, your business will not thrive.

Success is 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration. What does this mean for you, the inspired jewellery designer? Creating pretty coloured things is easy, creating a business to sell them is work.

Do the work.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Inspiration Friday

We're starting fresh this week. Here's a new picture to hopefully inspire you to create something fabulous. Go forth and create!

The Wave

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Yay! The tutorial is done

I have to say, what started with Marg ordering a few glass tiles - turned into quite the full little process for Dwyn and I. You may have noticed on our front page this morning - Dwyn mentions creating the collage sheets - These are so much fun to make - Dwyn being the incredible artist that she is - I cannot wait to see the dragons, and fairies, and other things she comes up with!

The tutorial, and collage sheets are free this week only with purchase. Starting with next wee's update the Tutorial will be $15.00 - which will include 2 collage sheets, which is a great value - as collage sheets alone usually sell for between $3 to 4 each.
For those of you who have purchased our free tutorial and collage sheets this week - we would love to hear feedback - positive or negative.

I did run into one little snag last night, that I'm trying to fix up today. The collage sheets are supposed to be actually included in the tutorial - however, my pdf creator is not being very user friendly, and it's trying to resize the collage sheets - which is really not good, and won't do at all. Until I get this fixed, anyone who orders the free version will get three separate files.  I tried fixing it last night, but both Dwyn and I were far too exhausted to even consider fixing it.

Now that I have slept, and my brain has returned - I'll have a fresh look it it today.

I do hope you all enjoy our collage sheets, and the tutorial!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sign Fail

A little humorous post for you this hump day.

Our fabulous Dixon Chick took this pic at North York General last night :-)

Did any of you happen to get a view of the northern lights last night? If you missed it, there is a chance they can be viewed again tonight.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Snake Knot and Phoenix Knot Cords
Sat August 14

This week Angela Peace is teaching the Snake Knot and Phoenix Knot Cords. These two versatile knots, when combined with beads, make simple and elegant jewelery. The best part is you can use whatever type of cord suits your fancy - satin, leather, and cotton... depending on how you want your jewelery to look.

Next week?
Well, do your jumprings tend to open up? Do you want to learn how to solder your own jumprings? Then, you should take the Basics of Soldering class on Sun August 15. You'll learn a lot more than keeping your jumprings closed!

Adios Amigas!

The very late inspiration friday post!

Yes, I know it's Tuesday - and two weeks late....This is why there is no way I could ever do a ring a day project!

I still haven't made my little fairy door inspired by the mushroom pic - but it is on my to do list one of these days.

The following were inspired by the bubble pic of a couple weeks ago.

 Gerber Bubbles

Sorry for the 'greenness' of the photos...It was quite late last night when I finally managed to take the pics, and it was the only background handy.

We'll start anew on Friday with a new inspiration pic.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Happy Holiday Monday

Happy Simcoe Day. Just who the heck was Simcoe, and why does he get a day? I didn't grow up in Ontario - so I truly have no idea. Sure, I can google it, but can anyone tell me off the top of their heads? Cuz certainly no one I have asked in passing has any idea. Sure - it's nice to get a commemorative day and be remembered, but surely it would be nice to be remembered for something. We're celebrating Dwyn Day. We've no idea who she was or what she did - but it's a great excuse to stay home, bbq a steak and drink some brews. Which, btw, you are welcome to do in my name any day. But it's even better if you invite me along.

Anyway - how about a little eye candy? With Heather writing about the Metal Clay on Sunday - I haven't shown you some of the treasures I've found online in a while.

How about that cake, eh? Is that not divine. And aren't those flowers stunning? And the lace? And that artfully arranged ribbon. Wait a minute. What do you mean - they're not real. Those are sugar flowers? Even the ribbon is sugar? oh.mi.gawd.

Close your mouth - the flies will get in. Check out more at Elegantly Iced.

From the sublime to the ridiculous - it's food - it's fun - it's marshmallows with faces. And hair. Don't forget the stylishly coiffed hair!

And finally - on a more serious note - is the blog of Jinx Garza. Jinx became well-known for her lampwork beads with realistic eyes on them some years ago - and then she sort of ... disappeared. But not forgotten. When I finally found her blog, it detailed her struggle to claw her way back from a brain tumor. She writes about the experience and shares the heartbreak, the horror, and the frustration, along with a dash of humor. This is not a lightweight read, but provides a real insight. Nothing fluffy here.

Cheers! Have a good one!

ooh, ooh, late-breaking update. Here's a fun site I found this morning. "I write like ... " - which analyzes your deathless prose and tells you which famous author your writing most resembles. Check it out! Oh, and fwiw - I tried it three times and got two hits as Cory Doctorow (who?) and one as Isaac Asimov. I can die happy now. :-P