Click here to visit ...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Interview: Bead Photographer

Q. So you're the person that takes the photos for the website? How did you get that sweet gig?

A. Well - it sort of came with the rest of the job as being the person that processes everything, writes the descriptions, and gets it onto the website. You gotta have pictures ... .

Q. Absolutely. Walk us through the process - what goes into photographing a bead?

A. I start with a box of beads - usually all from one wholesaler. I'll empty the box and sort it, and get a sense of what I need to do. If it is all consistent items, say, a new shipment of Swarovskis where it is two or three shapes in a rainbow of colours - then I sort them.

Q. Why sort them?

A. Well - it's much faster to process them afterwards if they are in some sort of order.

Q. Fair enough. Then what.

A. Then I start shooting. I start by taking a photo of the invoice, then the package ...

Q. Wait a minute - the invoice? the package?

Yep - it's how I can be certain that I match up the correct product with the correct information. That's one of the reasons why I love digital photography - you can use photos to store information like that.

OK - then what?

I take them out of the package, arrange them on a stage, shoot them, and then re-package them.

That sounds like less fun than I imagined!

Well - I'm pretty sure that if I dumped them all loose in a box - the gals at the store who then have to re-package them for sale would kill me!

How many pictures do you take of each item? One or two?

Five - fifteen - more. As many as it takes. Depends on how cooperative the bead is being.

Really? Then you must take a lot of pictures.

Yep - 500 - 700 in a day's shooting is not unusual.

Wow. Do you have any tips for the rest of us who are trying to improve our own picture-taking?

Well - I have some specific and concrete tips, or I have a general philsophy.

Let's hear the specific tips first.

OK -

  • one - Get the subject in focus.
  • two - make sure the background is not cluttered
  • three - get enough light on the subject, and
  • four - take LOTS of pictures.

Is that it? That seems pretty simple. Nothing about f-stops and aperatures?

Yeah - that's it. Look at the picture enlarged - find out where the camera focused. Not on the background, hopefully. "Take  lots of pictures" is the most important. I find that if you take lots of shots - your chances of having one good one are much better. The focus may be a little out on one, or, you might move the item and the light hits it a little better. I use 3 lights, and I often pick one up and move it around as I shoot, looking for the most flattering lighting.

You make it sound like you are shooting portraits!

That's actually how I think of it - bead portraits. I'm trying to capture the character of the bead - not just a product shot.

Have any favourites?

34760200075001 Swarovski Elements Pendant - 37 mm Spiral Helix Drop (6020) - Crystal AB (1)Geez - there have been soooo many! I'll fall in love with one for awhile - but soon, there will be another, better one. I will say though - shooting the really big Swarovski pendants in Crystal AB is always a treat! How can you not love those colours!

s33417 Czech Seedbeads - 8 mm Seedbead - Archeology (strand)And matte finish beads seem to be particularly photogenic - I really loved the way these came out.

So if that was the specific tips - what about the "philosophy."

OK - I heard this from another photographer a long time ago - and it helped me a lot - but I'm not sure that it will help anyone else. What he said was, "Don't shoot the object - shoot the light." I spent a lot of time thinking about that - I still do think about it.

Oh - and the other thing is - keep at it. Practice, practice, practice.

Any other tips or tricks?

Hmm - some colours are hard to capture accurately. I've found that you get a truer red with a black background, sapphire beads look like cobalt, and cobalt beads are just impossible to shoot. They never look right.

Can you show us a picture of your set up?


I bought the entire set up from Table Top Studio.

Geez - that's - um - kind of cluttered.

True - I said the photo should be uncluttered, not your desk. But notice, it's well lit and in focus. ;-) Also - I took two photos - just to make sure that one would be ok. And if they both sucked, I would have gone back and taken more.

And what kind of camera are you using?

A Nikon D5000, with the stock 18 - 55 mm Nikon DX lens.

That's a pretty high-end camera, is it?

No - it's what they call - "Pro-sumer" - somewhere between amateur consumer and professional grade. The enthusiasts' camera, I guess.

Do you take photos for fun as well?

Actually, I do.

What kind of photos are those?

I like to shoot a lot of sky and scenery shots - and I use the camera a lot to take photos of dogs - mostly casual or action shots. I like to capture the moment - not stage it.

Can you share some of those with us?

OK - here's a couple of favourites.

What do you like about these two pictures?

The first one - the silhouette - captures, for me - that bond, that partnership - between a dog and his human - plus - the sky is just great! There is the awesome sunset - and a sun pillar in the background too as an added bonus!

The second one is more painterly - and the way the tree trunks echo the colour of the dog - it really ties him to the environment - shows him as a creature that is as comfortable in the forest as he is on the couch - a little echo of his wild ancestors. You can easily imagine him - slipping through the trees - silently stalking ...

Well - thank you for your time. I think that wraps it up for now!

If you have any questions for our photographer - post them in the comments!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Joy of Metal Clay: Easy Make-it-Yourself Textures

I bought some Scratch-Foam Board to try out as I have heard it is a quick and easy way to make your own textures.  It a thin white foam board that you can easily "scratch" your texture onto the board.

The instructions say " With just a pencil, lollipop stick or ball-point pen, any child can 'cut' a block". I tested it and it really is that easy.

My fish bone print.  I hope to use this with a pottery dish I am going to be making for my cat.

A random heart print.  I am not sure if I like this one.  I may work on this one a bit more.
Personally, I would prefer that the print could make an indentation rather that be raised but  I imagine  I could reverse the print using an alternative medium such as a molding compound or polymer clay. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Business Chat - You're in the drivers seat.

It’s that time of year again. No, not the I-can’t-believe-I-ate-all-that time – it’s that time where everybody starts talking about resolutions. Ho hum. We make them then we break them, both personally and professionally.

It’s darn easy to be sitting on the couch with a beverage and some chocolate and talk about all the great things you will do for your business starting on Tuesday January 1. Until that alarm clock goes off on morning of the 1st and it goes downhill from there. So this year don’t even go there. No promises to faithfully blog twice a week. Or to tweet 10 times a day. Or to build that new website by January 15th even though you don’t know how to code. Stop right now.

Although I think resolutions are stupid, I do believe that intentions and goals are the key to success. Imagine getting in your car and having no destination. You just randomly drive and drive. You get nowhere. Occasionally that might be what you want to do but on a daily basis? It’s no way to live and it’s no way to succeed in business.

You need to know where you are going.

You are in charge of where you are going. You decide.

It’s your business, you make the calls. Sometimes life will throw a curveball at you and you have to change your path (hello recession!) but ultimately it is up to you where your business will go.

I want you to stop and ponder this for a bit. Grab a notebook and a pen. (What, Santa didn’t bring you a new notebook?) Really spend some time on this one because this is super important.

This time next year what does your business look like?

Here’s your homework. Write a letter about what 2013 brought you professionally. Then describe your business as of December 31, 2013.

As you write this you may notice a little voice in your head saying stuff like “you can’t do that, you don’t know how”. Or you may finish every sentence with a “but” and a reason why you can’t. Do not listen. This is an exercise in possibilities. Your inner critic has no place here.

Think about what your work will look like. Did you create a solid body of work? Maybe you built a good collection. Or took some great classes and learnt a new skill.

Think of what your work space will look like. Will you work alone at home, or in an outside studio? Do you have an assistant?

Where will you be selling? Did you do any craft shows in 2013, if so how many? How did they go? Maybe you finally got a new website or opened an Etsy shop. Speaking of sales did you hit your target numbers?

On December 31 2013 what do you want your business to look like?

(found in a shop window on Queen St West, Toronto).

Friday, December 28, 2012

What a Year It's Been!

It's hard to believe that 2012 is almost over.
And what a year it has been at beadFX!

There was THE MOVE to end all moves. All those beads and goodies that were packed up, moved over and unpacked. It was really a group effort and wild when you realize that the store was closed for less than a week!

Then there was the inventory of every single item in the store....that was quite the job and a big thank you to everyone who came out and helped with that endeavour.

The new store, for those of you who haven't been in to see it, is about three to four times bigger than the old store. There is a room full of Japanese beads - Miyuki and Toho's - and all sorts of stringing materials and needles to go with the beads. And of course the Kumihimo disks and accessories are there too.

There is another room filled to the brim with Swarovski crystal beads and pendants, pearls, hotfix and flatbacks, chatons and rivolis and oodles more. I keep thinking we need to hand out sunglasses when you enter that area.

The beautiful classroom, the metal working studio and the lampwork studio. The trifecta of learning rooms at beadFX.

So much bright light infuses the store, from the moment you step inside.

There are glass cases filled with samples of projects to be made in the many class offerings on the calendar.

There are also glass cases showcasing the latest trends in the industry and what new products beadFX has to offer.

There are many cases filled with beautiful jewellery from the Inspirations that are posted every week.

There are so many more books available in the two huge book racks that are new to the store.

There are also tables full of artisan made lampwork for you to drool over and of course, buy to make something special from.

On the social media front, we have a very active Facebook page where we are always teasing you with photos of to die for/must have/can't live without items. We hope that you will like our page and post photos of your work using items you have purchased from us. Here is the link to our page:

We also have a Pinterest page - have you been caught up in the Pinterest craze yet? You can lost for hours in this realm of virtual bulletin boards. You can follow us here ----->

We have lots planned for 2013.... lots of exciting, sparkling goodies and events. Book signings, staff appearing in magazines, "celebrity" teachers from near and far.

From our beadFX family to yours, we will you a 2013 filled with lots of sparkle, health, happiness and of course beads.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

State of the Onion

Inside of the StoreNo new stuff this week - so we thought we'd do a little recap of last year and give you a peek into the future as to what is coming up in the new year!

About this time last year, we were madly packing - as we were moving into new premises. We doubled our floor space, increased our back office/counting/packaging/shipping area, and added a big classroom, a metal-smithing studio, and a redesigned, state of the art lampworking studio.

Around the middle of the year - we installed a new point of sale system in the store for faster and more accurate checkout, and which finally, finally, talks to our website, which means that our incidence of items showing as being available online, but actually being sold out has dropped right off. Less frustration for all!

We also saw some new ideas in jewelry making, like the embossing tools, Regaliz leather, the Mirrix looms, and the Soutache.

We added over 3200 products this year - all individually photographed and described. We don't believe in using stock photos that show you "one bead," or worse - show all the sizes as the same bead, enlarged. We also believe in supporting the small wholesalers, who aren't in a position to provide photos, or have one-of-a-kind items that you just won't see anywhere else!

We show you actual pictures of the beads - so you know that we really do have them. We measure them and list the dimensions, show you the backs of items, and give you the same amount of information that you would get if you came into the store and handled the beads yourself. Sorry - until we all get robotic arms with tactile feedback - we can't simulate rolling the beads around in your hands! (That would be pretty cool though!)

This coming year - we're going to be giving the website a major facelift that will give you modern features that we have all come to expect from websites - like better search function, more consistent navigation, choice of sort order, zoomable pictures, saveable shopping cart, (and easier to use!), access to previous orders, view status of orders, and a bunch of other friendly features that we don't want to say anything about until we test them!

We'll be doing some online re-organizing - because it's just time! We could use a few on-line testers - if you want to drop me a line and volunteer. ;-)

As for new beads - in the immediate future, well - more Swarovski's. That's a given. I see Freshwater Pearls in the near future. More metal, ooo and some vintage beads that we don't want to reveal the nature of yet. Spoil-ers! And that's just January! Our buyer is already planning her trip to Tucson in February to pick up fabulous goodies for you, and plotting and planning to find the greatest and most inspiring stuff!
So - while 2012 was fabulous - we're really excited about 2013. It's going to be Awesome! 

Holiday Hours

We are CLOSED straight through until the new year - re-opening on January 2. This gives everyone here a chance to have some quality time with their family, reacquaint themselves with the strangers with whom they live, and generally just recharge their batteries.

However - we are carrying on our tradition of giving you 12 inspirations over the 12 days of Christmas. This year - Stephanie has agreed to do the 12 days of Christmas jewelry - with the theme of "Bling in the New Year." We await her creations with breathless anticipation!

So - from all of us - to all of you - we wish you a wonderful and happy holiday season, and may all your wishes come true!

As always, wonderful, wonderful things - all over the site. I leave you to explore at your leisure. Click on a link or an image to go straight to the item mentioned above, or go to our massive list of everything, or if that page seems overwhelming - which we freely admit it is! - then try for bite-size portions by checking out these categories: Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Beading to all and to all a Good night!

by popular request - we're running this post again this Christmas eve. 

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!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Joy of Metal Clay: Cutting Tools to Use with Stencils

Last week I mentioned that I got the QuikArt Standard Stylus (from Art Clay World USA - retail $5.79) to use to cut stencil shapes with metal clay  (I usually use a pin tool rather than a craft knife; often, I find mya craft knife will accidentally notch the clay).  This week I managed to test the QuikArt Stylus.  I compared it to my favorite pin tool, the Ultra Clay Pick (which I bought from Cool Tools US - current retail $11.97) and to an Economy Needle Tool (I picked mine up at a pottery supply store for a dollar or two).

Above is a photo of the results of using each of the tools mentioned above to cut out a curved leaf shape.  The far left was the needle tool.  In my experience the needle tool is the least effective is cutting and leaves a very jagged edge compared to my Ultra Clay Pick and the QuikArt Stylus.   It may be hard to tell in this picture but the edge it the most jagged.

The piece in the middle was cut with the Ultra Clay Pick.  I still love this tool as it is sturdy and I am used to handling it.  I gives a cleaner edge to the needle tool.

The piece on the far right was cut with the QuikArt Stylus.  It seemed to produce the cleanest cut.  I think this would be especially useful for intricate stencils.

Overall, when testing it numerous times I didn't find a large difference in the way the Ultra Clay Pick and the QuikArt Stylus cut the edges.  I am used the the feel of the Ultra Clay Pick in my hands and the QuikArt Stylus was a little different to get used to.  Its tip is fine and I am a little nervous it may get bent or broken if if it the cover is not put back on it (which knowing me may actually happen in a rush).

Given the price point, I think the QuikArt Stylus is worth a buying, but I am still quite fond of my Ultra Clay Pick.

For those who are new, the other essential cutting tool is of course a craft knife.  Remember to keep your craft knife blades sharp as the dull blades leave to pool cuts.

Also a note about the pieces above, I did not finish them because I wanted you to see a fresh cut.  But after you cut a piece remember to run your finger around the edge to soften the imperfections before the piece dries.

Another side note, it that I used reclaimed clay for this test which can lead to more tears when cutting the clay. For the smoothest edge use fresh clay.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Business Chat - Your "I'm great" list

Well I don’t know about you, but on December 23 I have to say that business is one of the last things on my mind right now. Even I, as a hard-core seller am done with it for the year. At least I’m done with all the making, selling, photographing, writing, admin-ing, social media-ing work of running my business.

There is still one last task to do. It’s a fun one (depending on your definition of fun). My last task is 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.

There are 3 steps to my annual review:
  • 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 2012?
  • What did not go well in 2012?

I must admit, being December 23 and being surrounded all this holiday festivities, I had a hard time concentrating on this task today. And so I decided to just work on one small part of this for this week. I’d think this is something every single person should do.

The first question is “what went well in 2012?”

Take a few minutes to think about this. Make a list. Now is an excellent time to celebrate everything you have accomplished in 2012.

When you work for yourself there is no one to give you a performance review and tell you how great you are except yourself. If you are like me, you have a to-do list the size of a phone book (I am assuming that you are old enough to remember what a phone book is). It’s a very natural thing for us as small business owners to only ever look at all the things we haven’t managed to do yet.

It’s time to give ourselves a pat on the back.

Let’s spend this pre-Christmas time focussing on the positive and celebrating all the things we did manage to do. Go ahead. Write them down each and every single accomplishment no matter how small. Think of new skills learnt, books read, knowledge acquired, tools bought, sales made, everything positive you managed to do in 2012. I’ll bet it’s a bigger list than you realize.

It’s a nice way to end a year, celebrating how much you managed to do. Now, don’t you deserve a treat for being for fabulous? 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Dixon Chick Picks

Hiddy ho!

I thought I would post some of the products that I picked this week for our new feature on Facebook - The Dixon Chick Pick of the Day. Every day I share one of my favourite items available at beadFX. I realized that not everyone who reads our blog may be on Facebook. I could not deprive our faithful blog readers, so I thought I would share some of my MOST favourite picks.

If you have not been assimilated into the cult of Facebook, it's really not as bad as you think. There are lots of "fan"pages on it that you will like, including ours!!! Here is the link to our fanpage:

Stone - 45 mm Donut Pendant - Turquoise Impression Jasper
You can find it ------>

8 x 6 mm Faceted FirePolish Donut - Amazon-ious
You can find it ----->

Swarovski Crystal Yarn - Cotton Yarn with Crystals - Copper / Crystal Copper. I like to use this in combo with chain for a pretty necklace. You can find it ------->

Glass Rings - 9 mm Cheerios - Brown Iris
You can find it --------->

I won't be blogging again until Boxing Day, so I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!!! I hope you get all the sparkles you want!!!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's beginning to look - not even remotely like Christmas

26740519P1001 Rhinestone Bead - 19 mm Crystal Mesh Ball Pendant - Crystal AB (1)Well, here anyway. Some parts of the country have snow and cold - Vancouver has been crippled by a staggering inch of snow - businesses are closed and the roads are a mess. But it's been insanely great weather 26740515B0202 Rhinestone Bead - 15 mm Crystal Mesh Ball Bead - Aquamarine (1)for December here - sunny and mild. Consequently - speaking personally - Christmas has snuck up on me - yet again. Along with the apocalypse, apparently - to which I have to say - what, another one? We survived the last three end-of-the-worlds. I'm not worried about this one.
If you'd like to ornament yourself, instead of the tree (or as well as) - you couldn't do much better than these Swarovski Crystal Mesh Balls. They come in Pendants, or Beads and are about as festive as you could wish for.

27758901000104 Swarovski Elements Bead - 14 mm Becharmed Pearl (5890) - Cream (1)If you need a quick gift for a friend who loves to collect Pandora charms - or any of the other compatible Euro-style charm bracelets - then check out the new Swarovski 27758902000204 Swarovski Elements Bead - 14 mm Becharmed Pearl (5890) - Jade (1)Becharmed charm-beads. Crystals, and now, new elegant pearls and classic gemstones.

67901023 Czech Seedbeads - 2 Hole Twins - Cotton Candy Pink [Solgel]
And, if you are planning on curling up with a seed beady project - yet more colours of the twins! We've added more happy-happy colours - which lightens up the somewhat somber collection as it first came out.

26003002 Wire Armature Form - 6 inch Snowflake Ornament -  (Pack of 5)And we have a new supplier for the snowflake ornament armatures. This is a slightly thinner wire, making them easier to bend loops into, and more versatile in the range of beads they will take. (They now take some 10/0 and 11/0 seedbeads!)

We are also doing a holiday food drive. No one should be hungry while others feast - or at any other time, if it comes to that - and so we are collecting canned and non-perishable goods for the food bank. We are halfway to our goal of 250 pounds - so if you are coming into the store - please bring a can or two, some peanut butter, a box of rice - something to give a hand up. Every little bit helps! Alternately - if you're not coming into the store - we'd be delighted if you made a donation online on this page at the Daily Bread Foodbank care of team BeadFX!

Holiday Hours

We will be CLOSING at 3 pm on Christmas eve - and REMAIN CLOSED straight through until the new year - re-opening on January 2. This gives everyone here a chance to have some quality time with their family, reacquaint themselves with the strangers with whom they live, and generally just recharge their batteries.
Because we are closed over the holidays - and so, we have no update that week, we don't want you to feel lonely and bead-reft - so we are carrying on our tradition of giving you 12 inspirations over the 12 days of Christmas. This year - Stephanie has agreed to do the 12 days of Christmas jewelry - with the theme of "Bling in the New Year." We await her creations with breathless anticipation!

So - from all of us - to all of you - we wish you a wonderful and happy holiday season, and may all your wishes come true!

As always, wonderful, wonderful new things - all over the site. I leave you to explore at your leisure. Click on a link or an image to go straight to the item mentioned above, or go to our massive list of everything and look for the "new" tags.

If that page seems overwhelming - which we freely admit it is! - then try for bite-size portions by checking out these categories: Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools.
And don't forget to check out our free, yes, free projects. Over 300 to choose from - a new one every week!

Lampworking Studio is Now Open - Please call ahead to check availability and reserve a spot.
Don't forget - we are at our new location - so don't automatically drive to the old place by mistake - details on our About Us page.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eye Candy

Sorry folks - couldn't resist. "Eye Candy" - lampwork pendant and a selection of copper components, some glass and gemstone beads. All from the store.

Apologies to Steph and anyone else who is creeped out by the eyes. ;-)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Joy of Metal Clay: Cutting Tools

I got a new cutting tool last week from Art Clay World USA.  It is called the QuikArt template cutting tool. It marketed for use with th QuikArt templates.  I have yet to put it to work, but here are some thoughts. Here is a photo:

Here is the QuikArt cutter and my other pin tools:
  1. Standard pottery pin tool - I rarely use this to cut clay.  I use it only when can't seem to locate my ultra clay pick which is number two as it just isn't as fine.  
  2. Ultra Clay -  this has been my favorite cutting tool to date.  
  3. QuikArt

The QuikArt  has a 0.0015 inch tip.  Extremely fine compared to my other tools pictured below. I will let
I will will show you pictures next week on how it compares to my Ultra Clay pick.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Business Chat - The final push

One more shopping week people!

One last crazy push to not only get all your own shopping done, but one more week to make sales! It’s an insane time of year for those of us running our crafty businesses, we’re juggling a lot of balls right now and it’s tempting to let a few of those drop. Here are some tips to try and help you stay sane and make the most sales you can in the final push.
  1. Send out a newsletter telling your customers your LAST shipping day. Offering your customers an express shipping option (for a price) can boost those very last minute sales.
  2. Blog your final sales or shipping news.
  3. Blog or facebook quick gift ideas. Last minute shoppers are impulse buyers, give them something easy to buy.
  4. Decide if you'll be closing up your online shop for a week or two and let your customers know.
  5. If you have a calendar or holiday-themed item, make sure you push them so you don't get stuck with oodles of snowman jewelry.
  6. Share photos of your wrapped products or shipping envelopes to remind your customers they only have a few days left to shop!
  7. Remind people that you can ship to a third party and include a gift card with their choice of messages.
  8. Decide what little gift you're going to give yourself once it's all over.  This might be a physical item or a nice box of chocolates or a night out with friends.

Many small businesses shut down their online shops for a period between Christmas and New Years for a well-deserved break. Me, I stay open. I’ve found that I can do quite well during this period if I stay on peoples’ radar screens. A lot of people receive cash for Christmas, why not give them a place to spend it?

Stay focussed people! We're almost there! And there's a couch and chocolate just waiting for me! (in January). 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Big Book Excitement!!!!

I am super excited to share the news that the printing of the CREATE YOUR STYLE with Swarovski Elements Ambassadors' book, Crystal Jewelry Inspiration is ahead of schedule!!!!

As one of Canada's two CREATE YOUR STYLE Ambassadors, I am proud to announce that one of my Sparkle Sprocket projects is included in the book.

Crystal Jewelry Inspiration from the CREATE YOUR STYLE Ambassadors features projects from 25 of these talented designers from North America. The CREATE YOUR STYLE Ambassadors approach crystals from every conceivable angle in projects as diverse as the SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS they’ve used. Wide-ranging techniques, from modern bead stitching and elegant stringing to intricate wire crochet, help beaders polish their favorite skills plus learn something new. Styles range from vintage to funky to show-stopping glam, all sporting the sparkle that only crystals can provide. Jewelry makers will get first-hand information, expertise, and instruction from the most enthusiastic and passionate crystal jewelry designers working today. The gallery will inspire you with projects from Ambassadors around the world.

Let's see a show of hands for who wants an autographed copy???? We need to make sure that Marg orders enough copies of this, sure to be, best seller.

I'll be having a book launch and mini tour, together with some special classes. We are still working out the details, but I am sure you will want to join us.

Below you find the table of contents of the book. I am so honoured to among such amazing designers and teachers.

I've been told my copy will be sent out next week!!! I can't wait to see it.

A special thank you to the great staff at beadFX and all my amazing students from past classes. You have helped make my dreams come true.



The Swarovski Tradition
The Ambassador program

by Diane Whiting

by Tammy Honaman

Check It Out
by Lisa Pavelka

Audrey’s Torsade
by Linda Hartung

Stepping Stones
by Diane Fitzgerald

by Sandra Lupo

Little Black Dress Approved
by Jamie North

Tribal Princess
by Pat Riesenburger

Royal Jewelry Suite
by Leslie Frumin

Spangle Bangle
by Brenda Schweder

Surprise Party
by Crystal Wick

Victorian Garden Party
By Valeen Hirata

Pink Orbits
by Leslie Rogalski

Sparkle Sprockets
by Stephanie Dixon

Mermaid Song
by Laura Timmons

Blooming Earrings
by Lilian Chen

Crystal Clay and Chain Necklace
Debra Saucier

Mandala of Glamour
by Fernando da Silva

Medieval Elegance
by Kim St. Jean

Two By Two
by Marcia DeCoster

Fabulous Fade Necklace
by Jamie Hogsett

Crystal Prints Cascade
by Katie Hacker

Totally in Love
by Monica Han

by Nadia Sánchez Ramos

Whitewashed Garden Bib
by Renata Sánchez Ramos

Netted Twins Necklace
by Anna Draeger

Encaustic Pins
by Debbie Simon

by Margot Potter

Fluttering By
by June Beach

Simply Toggles
by Diane Hertzler

Gallery of Jewelry from international CREATE YOUR STYLE Ambassadors

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Let it Snow, Let it Snow-flake, Let it be snowflake Obsidian!

s34799 Stone Beads -  Keystone - Snowflake Obsidian (1)Appropriate for December, don't you think? Snowflake Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass. My sources tell me that it is formed when "Felsic lava that is extruded from a volcano cools without crystal growth." Which - of course - sent me off to my good friends, Google and Wikipedia, to find out what felsic lava is.

It's very easy for me to get all distracted by the stuff I find on Google, but the skinny is - when rock is molten in the ground, it is called Magma. Once it leaves the ground - it is Lava. Lava comes in three consistencies - thin and runny (Mafic), thick and gooey, (Felsic), and some that is somewhere in between, called, less interestingly - Intermediate Lava.

s34801 Stone Beads - 20 x 10 mm Double Drilled Rectangle - Snowflake Obsidian (1)It is the thick and gooey stuff that we are concerned with here - the Felsic lava - which has a higher content of silica, and when it cools rapidly - it becomes that glossy black stone we know as obsidian.

Snowflake Obsidian is the inclusion of small, white, radially clustered crystals of Cristobalite to give it the snowflake pattern. I looked up Cristobalite too - but honestly - did not get any answers I understood - except that it is named for Cerro San Cristobal, Mexico.

Obsidian is pretty cool stuff, and has been in use pretty much as long as humans have been picking up shiny rocks and hitting things, which is, essentially - always. It has been used as tools, knives, arrowheads, etc., since long before recorded history - as when it is prepared correctly, it is sharper than steel.

Metaphysically - it is said to calm and sooth, and teaches you to value mistakes as well as triumphs, to let go of unhelpful mental habits and promote dispassion and centering. It also is said to have many connections to "truth" - from use in scrying to bringing hidden truths to the surface in dreaming.

27753011260005 Swarovski Elements Bead - 4 mm Faceted Xilion Bicone (5328) - Crystal Silver Night (36)Design-wise - it is a handsome black and grey neutral look - so you could add small splashes of color, like red, to make it pop, or go with a classic look in the same palette. Try it with Swarovski Crystal Silver Night to stay with the same colours and add some sizzle.

s34786 Stone Beads -  Spike - Iris Quartz (1)If you are looking for something funkier, with more drama than escaped dachshund and a coffee s34785 Stone Beads -  Spike - Gold Quartz (1)table full of appetizers, I suggest you take a look at these Quartz Crystal Spikes. Each of them, the Gold and the Iris, have been gussied up, in much the same way as AB beads are blinged up.

And, finally if you are a fool for tools, then you should know about these four new tools.

s34827 Scissors -  Serrated High Durability Shears - Xuron
These Serrated High Durability Scissors are for cutting through those uber tough stringing materials like Fireline and Power Pro and Kevlar. One blade is finely serrated to grab onto the line as you cut it, and hold it in place.

s34826 Scissors -  Non-Serrated High Durability Shears (for Metal) - Xuron
These High Durability Shears are for cutting metal - up to 0.8 mm - and solder.

s34828 Pliers -  Tweezernose Pliers  - Xuron
These Tweezernose pliers have tiny, 1.48 mm, tips, small enough to get in there and squeeze down those annoying ends of wraps on earrings and dangles. We suggest hiding them, writing your name on them, or embellishing the handles with nail polish to prevent you-know-who from absconding with them. Either that, or buy them a pair too.

s34829 Tools -  Micro Shear Flush Cutter w Retainer - Xuron
And last, but most certainly NOT least - these Micro Shear Flush Cutters WITH RETAINER are da bomb, or the bees' knees, depending on your generation. (Bee's knees or Bees' knees? All the bees, or just one bee?) Anyway - the retainer grabs the end of the wire as you cut, and bingo - no small piece of wire zipping across the room to lodge in the carpet and lurk there, waiting for unsuspecting bare feet (or knees, bee's or otherwise). No awkward hand repositioning to catch the wire - just "snikt" - your wire is cut, and the end is still there. WooHOO!

So, as always, wonderful, wonderful new things - all over the site. I leave you to explore at your leisure. Click on a link or an image to go straight to the item mentioned above, or go to our massive list of everything and look for the "new" tags.

If that page seems overwhelming - which we freely admit it is! - then try for bite-size portions by checking out these categories: Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools.
And don't forget to check out our free, yes, free projects. Over 300 to choose from - a new one every week!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

EMERALD! Pantone Colour of the Year 2013

PANTONE COLOR OF THE YEAR 2013 - Emerald 17-5641

PANTONE COLOR OF THE YEAR 2013 - Emerald 17-5641

"Lively. Radiant. Lush… A color of elegance and beauty                      
                        that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony."

“Green is the most abundant hue in nature — the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said in a press release. “It’s also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity — no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity.”

The firm characterized emerald as “vivid, verdant” and “promoting balance and harmony,” according to the release. In contrast, 2012′s  “spirited” hue Tangerine Tango “provided the energy boost we needed to recharge and move forward.”

Emerald stones

I'll be sharing with you some exclusive designs incorporating emerald coloured beads. There are so many available to you at beadFX. If you go to our search page, and type EMERALD in the search box, you will be amazed at all the search results!!!!

There are even some inspirations that come up in the search, like this oldie but goodie, Emerald City.

I am going to have fun with this colour of the year!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weekly Class Update

I almost can't believe how close we are to the end of the year! I realized just how close we are to Christmas  as I was perusing the class schedule this week. Are you ready? I'm not....really need to get busy any time now ;-)

We're winding down the year with two more fabulous classes.

How to Start and Run a Successful Micro-business with Catherine Winter - Wednesday, December 12th from 6pm to 9pm

Want to sell your creations? Perhaps it is piling up around the house, all your friends have all the jewelry they can ever wear, and now you are wondering what to do? Or maybe you would like your hobby to pay for itself? Or maybe you would just like to throw off the shackles of the corporate lifestyle and go out there on your own doing something you love? Whatever the reason, if you are considering selling your jewelry — you owe it to yourself to take this course.

This course will cover:
  • definition of micro-business
  • what is success
  • aims of this course
1. Starting Out
  • the setup
  • licenses and permits
2. A Business Plan
  • do you need one?
  • the structure of a plan
  • setting goals and defining the paths to meet your goals
    (business plan worksheets and templates included)
3. Product: Making it is the easy part of business!
  • pricing
  • packaging
  • inventory levels of products and raw materials
4. Sales and Marketing
  • promotional materials
  • public relations
  • mailing lists
  • wholesale versus retail
  • a web site
  • building a clientel
5. Day to Day running your company
  • a book-keeping system and accounting
  • your network
  • taxes
  • office paperwork, and office systems
    (worksheets and templates included)
6. Paying Yourself
  • this is the point
  • pricing your beads
  • pricing
    your labour
  • pricing your jewelry

Braided "Pandora Style" Cord Bracelet with Angela Peace - Thursday, December 13th from 6pm to 9pm

 Learn this Pandora style braided cord technique to show off those special one-of-a-kind lampwork and metal clay beads and pendants.
This technique can be used with a variety of materials to create a range of looks from the delicate to bold man-jewelry.

Wouldn't these be great for Holiday gifts?

Technique: Fiber Arts: Cord Making
Skill Level: Beginner
Prerequisite: N/A

Be sure to check out the December class schedule for a full class listing. To register for any of our classes, please call 416.701.1373 or toll free 1.877.473.2323