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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Business Chat - It's a holiday!

At my last show (the One of a Kind spring show April 2011) several people came in looking for “teacher gifts” for June. This is a phenomena that I’m not that familiar with as I don’t have little kids and my school days are way behind me. It was one of those “Aha!” moments for me. Marketing is easy when it’s Christmas, or Valentines Day or Mother's Day.

It’s all those in-between times that can lead to a sales drought. Now I’m going to find something interesting, I’m going to give my customers a reason to shop, I’m going to make every month a holiday somehow. More importantly I’m going to let my customers know about this.

You should too.
First find something to celebrate and shop for. There’s St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, all sorts of holidays. A big seller for many is wedding season. Just because you don’t make anything white or pearl-based doesn’t exclude you from this. You’d be amazed what you can call bridal, so long as you can make a set of something it can be used in a wedding. If it’s appropriate, stock up on products that fit the holiday.

Can you offer products that are appropriate for men and women? Father's Day is a tough one for jewelry designers - how about key chains or money clips? You may not have to make new items, just put signs on your existing ones, like “makes a great Dad gift.”

Next, let your customers know about your upcoming holiday event. Facebook, Twitter, and of course, your newsletter, work well. If you have a craft show, make a sign. You can bet I’ll have signs about “Great Teacher Gifts” this June.

People love convenience, if you can remind them that they’ll need to shop for a gift soon and then present an option, you’re doing the work for them.
Remember that in addition to seasonal gift giving, people have to get gifts for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, new babies, housewarmings, thank-yous, get-well-soon, congratulations, and just because they want to say "I love you" to some one in their lives. Maintaining a product line that serves all of these different occasions and using signs that help shoppers is essential to making your shop the go-to place all year long.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Inspiration Friday

A few weeks ago, I had got it into my head that making a faux geode in resin/silver/polyclay would be a fun experiment. I don't think I'm quite there yet, as the glitter I used was a bit too fine (Martha Stewart brand). I did however just receive in the mail a few packets of vintage german glass glitter. The particles on the vintage stuff are much larger, and I think would work out better.

Obviously, I've kept my initial experiments to polymer clay. I'll move on to silver when I think I've got it right.
 What I find also works best is to keep the surface of the glitter quite rough, and if you can manage hills and valleys - even better. 
The initial experiment is a bit on the rough side - but I really do think these have potential. I'll keep playing :-)

We would love to have you show off your stuff! Were you inspired this past week by anything? Send us pics of your creation to with the subject line "Inspiration Friday" 

Call out for eye candy!

It's Inspiration Friday, and for the first time in two weeks, extenuating circumstances are not preventing me from having something to post. I know we have some talented readers out there. Show me what you've got. If you can send me a pic of your eye candy before say 7pm?
Please send to - subject line inspiration friday.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding and the Engagement Ring

Well - it's the big day for William and Kate tomorrow, and everyone seem to using this as an excuse to have a jolly old party. And why not? Watch the wedding, marvel at the pomp and ceremony, raise a glass to their health, and be really grateful that the entire world doesn't watch every little thing that you do!

My email box has been filling up with offers for "genuine reproductions" of the royal engagement ring.

And they've been so popular - retailers can't keep them on the shelves. As you can see from the photos, any blue oval surrounded by white stones seems to qualify as a replica - and given that the original would be about $500,000 - based on the quality of the centre sapphire - replicas are a good idea!

That's the original below, btw. That is one honkin' big sapphire. The sapphire alone contributes about $300,000 to the aforementioned $500,000 figure.

I personally think that it's wonderful that this has inspired lots of folks to go for an engagement ring that is more creative and colourful than the plain diamond choice. Long live the coloured stones!

If' you've a mind to make your own Royal Engagement Tribute Ring - check out this pattern from Bead and Button! We have the supplies - click on the images to go directly there.

We have the 18 mm Rivoli in Light Sapphire

s15608 Swarovski Vintage Rhinestones - 18 mm Rivoli Cut Pointed Back Foiled Rhinestone - Light Sapphire (1)

the 2 mm round crystals

27750000900001 Swarovski Elements Bead - 2 mm Faceted Round (5000) - Crystal (72)

silver lined crystal 11/0 Japanese tubes

db0041 Delicas - 11/0 Japanese Cylinders - Silver Lined Crystal (7.5 g)

Size 15/0 Japanese silver seedbeads - sterling silver plated, no less

mb15-961 Japanese Seedbeads - 15/0 Miyuki Seedbeads - Bright Sterling Plated (5 grams)

And size 15/0 blue (we don't seem to have them in charlottes - amazing - there's a bead we don't have!)

mb15-973 Japanese Seedbeads - 15/0 Miyuki Seedbeads - Silver Lined Royal Blue (5 grams)

Needles (the higher the number, the thinner the needle - just like wire gauges!)

74323032 Needle - #13 Beading Needle (Japanese) -  (Pack)

and the Fireline.

helfl04cr50 Thread - .006 inch Fireline - Braided Bead Thread - Crystal (Spool)

There you are - you can make your own Tribute Ring (I like that much better than "replica"). Cheers!

New This Week!

Clasp me!

s28846 Sterling - Box Clasp w Stone -  Round Glass Button - Volcano w Crystal (1)Come on now, everybody - clasp your hands together. Or, more to the point, clasp your strands! We have a boat load of those handsome, decorative clasps that are either the perfect finishing touch, or the jumping s28832 Sterling - Box Clasp w Stone - Mediumer Stick Pearl - Irregular Shape - White Pearl (1)off point for a fabulous design.

Perhaps you are starting to plan some s28835 Sterling - Box Clasp w Stone - 3 Strand Round Pearl in Cup - Cream Pearl (1)wedding jewelry (what with June barreling down on us like a loaded donkey) and are thinking about pearls? A pearl clasp would surely look most awesome. We have a traditional style, or you can go for baroque.

s28842 Sterling - Box Clasp w Stone - 2 Strand Round Glass Button - Vitrail Light w Crystal (1)These clasps with molded glass cabochons are made with glass buttons in some truly amazing colours. They shift colours with the angle you view them from - and we have them in a variety of strand options, so you can really build something awesome.

s28893 Sterling - Box Clasp w Swarovski - 2 Strand Round Rivoli - Crystal (1)s28895 Sterling - Box Clasp w Swarovski - 3 Strand Round Rivoli - Jet (1)If crystal bling is your thing - then we have Swarovski Rivolis, mounted in a clasp. Ah heck - just go check 'em all out!

s28808 Findings - Clasp - Hook and Eye -  Double D - Vermeil / Crystal (1)Unless it's the look of gold you want - in which case, check for the new Vermeil clasps! ;-)

27759400020280 Swarovski Elements Bead - 14 mm Becharmed Rondelle (5940) - Jet (1)

If you were thinking that our Pandora-compatible Swarovski Becharmed Bead page looked like it could use a few more items and choices, well, here there are!

11724930080001 Swarovski Elements Rhinestones - 20 mm Chessboard Square (2493) - Crystal (1)And we added a few more really b.i.g. rhinestones. I meant BIG. And then I turned one into a ring. You know it's gotta be huge if I only needed one!

s28824 Metal Cone -  Confetti Celebration - Sterling (1)s28817 Tools -  Looping Pliers - Wubbers (1)Other assorted goodies this week, cones and caps, those looping pliers that you have all being asking for and other goodies around the site - so click on a link or a picture above, or start with the Main Page, if you are intrepid (there is a LOT of stuff there), or chunk it down into bite-size portions by checking out the categories: Click on a link and go crazy! Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools. Look for the "new" tags!

Or maybe check out all our free, yes, free projects. A new one every week.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

From the web - 2 wire clasp tutorials

I've recently come across 2 wire clasp tutorials that I think you all might really like! Enjoy making these clasps, and be sure to have a look through the blogs - tons, and tons of inspiration to be found!

The first one, from Art Bead Scene is the Garden Gate Clasp.
Art Bead Scene - Garden Gate Clasp

The second comes from Cindy Wimmer of Sweet Bead Studio

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


If you're wondering what's in store for the month of May at beadFX, here's a recap. There are two bead shows, a few new classes, and even more classes.

The much anticipated Toronto Bead Society Fair is April 30th & May 1st. You can drop by at the store to pick up a $2 off the admission fee flyer. If you can't make it to the store, you can print the flyer online here.

Also, there is the Lampwork Trunk Show. The Lampwork Trunk Show is taking place at beadFX Sat May 14 10 - 5pm. There will be lots of handmade glass beads to purchase, demos, snacking, and socializing. If you're a beginner lampworker, this is the perfect event to meet other lampwokers and enjoy demos.

Here are just a few of the classes scheduled for May:

Let's Wrap Them Up with Rae Huggins, May 10 6 - 8pm


Kumihimo Basics with Angela Peace, May 15 11 - 2pm


How to Start & Run a Successful Microbusiness with Catherine Winter, May 26 6 - 9pm

Sailorgirl Logo

Adios Amigas!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Silversilk Capture - Adding End Caps

Last week we rolled out the new SilverSilk(tm) Capture - which is a totally cool knitted wire chain with a bead chain "captured" inside.

I admit to being quite taken with the look of this chain - it has a dimensionality and sheen and suppleness to it that is more reminiscent of rattail - but is more complex on closer inspection. It is handsome in it's own right, and makes a fine partner for a single, flashy pendant.

s28724 Silver Silk - Knitted Wire -  Capture - Starlight (1 foot)And - when push comes to shove, the single, flashy pendant is what I am really, really good at. (Being the queen of the honkin' lampwork focal.)

s28735 Silver Silk - Knitted Wire - Single End Cap - Gunmetal (1)I'm really impressed with the endcaps that go with it too - what a nice, finished end they make for it. Put together a chain with this and your friends are going to swear you bought the whole thing at some swanky boutique in the tony section of town.

To use, cut your chain to the length you want it. Mix up a little bit of glue - use the 2-part epoxy. (Actually - I tend accumulate things that need gluing, and do a bunch of things at once - but this often includes household repairs, such as gluing ears back onto beloved ceramic horses.)
Mix up the epoxy (use a disposable surface, like one of the zillions of tiny plastic bags that beads come in) with a toothpick - mixing until it is thoroughly blended (Count, 1-one thousand, 2-one thousand - up to 60). Start by mixing around the entire pool in a circle - ensuring the two parts are pulled and mixed together, then concentrate on the edge, making small circles, pulling the compound from the outside to the centre, then larger circles, making sure each quarter is thoroughly blended, then mixing the whole again.

s23242 Tools - Pliers -  Smooth Jaw Flat Parallel -  (1)Use a fresh toothpick to push a little blob inside the end cap, then push the chain inside, and using your parallel jaw pliers, squeeze it shut. (Parallel jaw pliers won't mark the surface, and you need quite a bit of oomph to shut these - they are not flimsy.)

If you got too much glue and it squeezes out the side, wipe it off (if it persists and makes a mess, wipe clean with vinegar - it cuts through the un-cured epoxy like a dream) - and then leave it to cure (24 hours.)

Attach your clasp - a lobster claw works very well - and the ring on the end cap is large enough to accommodate most of them without an additional jumpring, if you so desire.

Et voila! A gorgeous and sophisticated chain that enhances the pendant without overshadowing it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Joy of Metal Clay - Big Beautiful and Bronze Dragonfly

Over the past couple of weeks I have mentioned my plans to make a bronze brooch using the inexpensive brooch findings and also my plans to make a dragonfly. This weekend I "killed a bird with one stone" and made a bronze dragonfly brooch. Unfortunately, it is not dry enough to fire, but I will post pictures of it once fired soon.

Here it is in process:

1.I rolled out a body making one end thicker than the other.

2. Then I slit the top of the thicker end to help make the "buldgy" eye shape.

3. I cut out four wings (free hand). I used a piece of screening as texture.

4. I attached the body to the wings.

5. I added a rope of clay along the bottom wings, then three lavender CZ's at the bottom edge of a wing. (I hope they hold???)

I will post a photograph after it is fired.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Business Chat - Bad Customers

Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it isn’t you, it’s them, they are just plain old miserable people who aren’t going to be happy with anything and now they’re your customer and you have to deal with them. Oh joy, lucky you.

It’s just a part of running a business, take a deep breath, deal with them nicely and they will go away. Here’s a couple of tips from someone who’s had her fair share of "fun" customers over the course of 150 craft shows and 3 years of online selling.

First, always keep your cool. No matter what, never let them push your buttons. Sometimes you have to allow the other person to "let off some steam," acknowledge the person's anger and empathize as appropriate and let the other person know you understand the issue. In all cases, try to establish a solution, a compromise or some other positive outcome for the situation. And remember...stay professional, no matter what. Watch your language. Don't show impatience or place blame on other people or organizations. Try avoiding curt, negative, dismissive, or accusatory language or phrases such as never..., I'm too busy to..., it's not my fault that..., you must have..., etc. Sure, it can be really hard not to get defensive, but it will save you time and energy in the end when you patiently send a professional and friendly response at the outset.

Always stand your ground. If you have made a mistake, acknowledge it and fix it. If the problem is the customer, do not let them talk you in to giving them something for free, or giving a discount or whatever they want. It won’t make them any happier and you will have shown that you can be bullied. Your work has value, even if they refuse to see it.

Always communicate clearly to all customers. Is the problem that the customer doesn’t understand what is going on? Maybe they’ve ordered online and are angry because they feel that their package isn’t there fast enough. Did you let them know as soon as it was shipped? If you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge that it’s your fault and do something about it. Especially in busy times like holiday rushes, things can fall through the cracks. If you’re late shipping an order out, you could apologize and upgrade to express shipping for free.

Make sure you have a refund policy and that the customer knows it. If there’s nothing you can do about an unhappy person, then refund their money and send them on their way. Sometimes you just have to walk away, because nothing is going to make the situation right. If you find yourself taking too much time away from working on your business or handling your other customers, it might be time to cut your losses. While you want to do everything you can to turn them all into smiling satisfied happy shopper, there will be times when all you better off by letting them go. Don’t worry, once they’re gone a flock of lovely people will descend and make it all better. There’s so many more lovelies out there.

Inspiration Friday - Or not ;-)

Oh boy, I know I promised a double inspiration post today - when will I learn?
It's been a whirlwind of activity with my mother in law visiting for Easter. I had completely planned to spend a few hours in the studio tonight giving my husband and his mom a few hours to catch up on things. Instead, we had a lovely dinner at the Mandarin, then we sat and chatted til just recently drinking far too much wine. I don't have any hope of making anything now :-) LOL

Instead, for those of you who celebrate Easter - Have a happy Easter (and those who don't - enjoy your long weekend!) and don't eat too many of these:

Or these: (for the record, I can be bribed to do just about anything for a little carton of these little eggs!) They come with the cutest little purple spoon. It's so easy to make me happy :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Weekly Update

Just testing - trying to figure out how to make the weekly update available in more places. This is a duplicate of what is on the site and what went out in the weekly update email - so if you've already seen that - no need to re-read it. Unless you want to, of course.

Collective Unconscious

s28951 Magazine - Step by Step Wire Jewelry -  2011 - April MayYou never heard of a thing - and suddenly - it smacks you over the head a million times. Both Step by Step Wire and Australian Beading have projects for making jewelry using zippers. Yep - you read correctly - zippers. Ok - fine - it's a fun idea - but then I was s28949 Magazine - Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist -  2011 - Aprilleafing through the new Lapidary Journal (which is still my favorite magazine - even though most of the projects in it are beyond me - it makes me feel like a jeweller just to read it!) - anyway - I found a multi-page article on Van Cleef & Arpels (famous jewelry makers) - and right there - a gorgeous gold and diamond necklace - made to look like - you guessed it - a zipper.

OK - you really want to see those, don't you - the zipper jewelry? Alrighty then: (goes and gets camera, shoots quick shot of pages, crops, renames, uploads, creates links) Aus Beading, SBS Wire, and Lap Journ. See?

The Van Cleef & Arpels creation was made in 1952, no less - so it's not a new idea. Everything old is new again.

So - having said THAT - I'm here to talk about all the new stuff we have this week. Er - well really - some of it is new. Some of it is new to us! And hopefully, it will be new to you!

tc94-2344-27 Metal Charm/Pendant -  Deco Key - Antiqued Brass (1)We have a plethora of metal things this week. For tc94-2336-12 Metal Charm/Pendant -  Treasure Box Key - Antiqued Silver (1)starters - we have new metal charms from Tierracast - with a lot of focus on keys and locks. Actually - a buncha new key shapes, and colours. These would look great as charms on a bracelets - worked into a steam punk design, or tc94-2343-27 Metal Charm/Pendant -  Heart Lock Frame - Antiqued Brass (1)maybe a lock and key as funky, unmatched earrings.

New from SilverSilk is a new chain style called s28724 Silver Silk - Knitted Wire -  Capture - Starlight (1 foot)"Capture" - and it has captured my imagination for sure. This is a knitted wire chain with captured metal bead chain inside - giving the look of metal beads in a wire cage. It is supple, yet substantial, and has a s28735 Silver Silk - Knitted Wire - Single End Cap - Gunmetal (1)wonderfully finished look, especially when paired with the matching end caps.

s28762 Metal Beads - 18 mm Keystone - Antiqued Brushed Silver (1)New metal beads too. These coin beads look like booty from a pirate treasure. Arrr Matey! Cool new offerings in the brushed silver beads, and in the fancy metal s28758 Metal Beads - 10 mm Slotted Stardust and Bright Rounds - Silverplated (1)beads too - these have brilliant-cut shiny spots contrasting with textured areas - interesting cut-outs too - so all sorts of stuff going on here.

This week's project is a riff on Jen's Bird's Nest ring - writ smaller, if you will. Just think of the possibilities!

Many metallic goodies - so click on a link or a picture above, or start with the Main Page, if you are intrepid (there is a LOT of stuff there), or chunk it down into bite-size portions by checking out the categories: Click on a link and go crazy! Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools. Look for the "new" tags!

Or maybe check out all our free, yes, free projects. A new one every week.