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Thursday, February 28, 2013

OK - this is it - Drumroll please ...

Our new website is coming – Today!

Our new website should roll out some time on Thursday, February 28 during the day. 

We'd like to welcome you to come and check it out! We're very excited about it! 

Why – well – here's some of the new features!
  • Better search function (yay!)
  • Bigger, better picture viewing, and more of them too!
  • Faster shopping and more capable shopping cart!
  • Wish list – remember items for later purchase
  • Online order tracking and notifications
  • Order history (double yay!)
  • More flexible organization (we can now put things in more than one place – to make it easier for you to find related items!) - plus – did we mention the new search function?
  • Portable shopping cart (log in, and put items in your shopping cart. Resume shopping on another computer or on your tablet – when you log in, your order-in-progress is still there!)
If you have an existing account on our website – you will have to create a new account on the new site, as accounts will not transfer to the new site. However – you will only need to do this once, and it's a good opportunity to make sure the data is up-to-date and we have your current address!
If you have a business account or bead society membership – email us a quick note with your name and email and we'll update your status. You won't have to dig out your business licence or membership card and send it to us again. 

As with any move - we're still trying to figure out a few things, like where to put that enormous antique sideboard, and how to make the inspirations work on the new site – but rest assured – we'll get it all straightened out soon. Things like the monthly contest, the inspirations, etc., will remain, but we may have to do some more work to get them properly integrated. 

We do suggest that if you have an order in progress – you place it – even if you place it as a callback and email us to say hold it – as the new site will know nothing about your half-completed order. Or – just wait for the new site to come online – and have fun exploring! 

If you get lost or confused, or spot something weird, just email to and we'll sort it out! I'm sure there will be lots of little things - but we'll get them all done.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bead&Button Bead Quilt

Every year, beaders from around the world pick up their needles and thread in support of Bead&Button's Bead It Forward Project in support of breast cancer research. Beaders stitch squares using a variety of techniques incorporating a chosen theme. This year's theme is flowers.

The squares are stitched together to create the most amazing bead quilts which are then auctioned off at the Social Night held during the Bead&Button Show in June.

BeadFX's Opening Beading Night grew out of creating jewellery in support of The Corsage Project. A gathering of beaders using their talents to make jewellery for young women attending their proms, who are not in a position to have their own special adornments.

The BeadFX Open Bead Night gang continued their charity work this year by taking on the challenge of creating squares for the Bead Quilt. As I write this, I know that some of my sparkling ladies are still stitching to finish off their squares. The first set is on its way to Milwaukee right now.

I have been truly amazed at what the ladies have made. Some are experienced stitches, others have never stitched even count peyote in their life. Lets save odd count peyote for another time!! I did my best to teach and guide everyone with the use of the great info and charts available at

Thank you to:
Barb Scott
Marion Gardiner
Vanessa Gardiner
Bonnie Cottingham
Dawn Cottingham
Claudette Bunting

Special thank you to Marg Yamanaka for donating a tube of Delica 11/0's for each square submitted.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jean Power coming to BeadFX

You've seen her in the magazines. You've seen her books. Now you can see her at BeadFX.
Who am I talking about? Jean Power, of course!

Jean Power
Selected as a 2012 Beadwork Designer of the Year, Jean is an award-winning jewellery designer, writer and teacher based in London, England. In June, Jean will be travelling to Canada to teach three classes at BeadFX.

As a lover of seed beads, I've tried a couple of Jean's projects in her latest book, Geometric Beadwork. Her instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Of course, there is nothing like learning in a class setting from the master herself!

To sign up for any of these classes, please call or visit the store. Payment can be made over the phone with any major credit card. Full payment is not required; a deposit will be sufficient until the date of the class. The store can provide all the details.

Special savings when registering for more than one class!
  • Register for any one class for $175 per person
  • Take 2 classes for $315 (save $35)
  • Take 3 classes for $475 (save $50)
Join us for the following classes:

Interchangeable Cuff
Zinnia Flower
Interchangeable Cuff and Zinnia Flower (2 projects in one class)
Friday, June 21
10:00am - 5:00pm
Interchangeable cuff: Learn how to make an interchangeable set of jewellery which ensures you can mix-and-match to your heart’s content! Using beadwork (not bead embroidery) you’ll cover your cuff and learn the basic method needed to create a bezelled crystal (or other cabochon) which can be swapped in and out.

Zinnia Flower: Learn how to use some fun peyote stitch techniques to create a dramatic flower which is perfect for a brooch or necklace centrepiece. The class will also cover making a matching beaded chain.

Frame Bangle
Frame Bangle - a brand new design from Jean!
Saturday, June 22
10:00am - 5:00pm  

The class will cover how to make the basic components and then how to combine them to create a variety of different styles. Learn how to switch from peyote stitch to brick stitch to create these versatile frame bangles which can be beaded in an endless variety of ways to create armfuls of bracelets.

Geometric Stars
Geometric Stars
Sunday, June 23
10:00am - 5:00pm

Learn the basics of creating the very useful components needed for these stars and then learn how to assemble them to make stars, beaded beads, bails and more…Plus new for 2013- learn how to add hanging holes directly to your stars.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A treasure trove of free ebooks

I'll admit - I'm a late comer to the world of eBooks  I love new tech toys, and when I can afford it - I'm the first to jump on the chance to play with a new toy.  An e reader disturbed me though - I love my books, and the feel of holding the book, turning the pages is part of the appeal - how could I possibly snuggle up with a good book, and not be holding an actual book? That was me a year ago - I now have over 1000 books (no exaggeration) loaded on my tablet. I can take my books anywhere and everywhere I go. Aside from my large collection of classic fiction, I also have a large collection of pdf's for jewelry making techniques - both paid, and even better, free.

I love being able to take the tablet wherever I go - into the studio, on the couch, a friends,  or into the kitchen - to reference the instructions of whatever project I'm currently working on.

Interweave Press, offers a huge selection of free ebooks that you can download to your eReader of choice. Everything from mixed media, metal working, bead weaving, stringing - a ton of free resources to get you started. Of course, if you haven't got yourself an eReader yet - you can print them out.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Joy of Metal Clay: Paper Clay, again


A third use for paper type clay is to use paper punches and cut out shapes to appliqué to your metal clay creations.

Art Clay paper type clay is a bit thicker than PMC paper type clay; therefore, Art Clay paper clay will create a thicker appliqué.

I prefer to sculpt with metal clay but I still have one piece in my collection that I used this technique on:

Admittedly,  this is not my favorite piece and was created in a rush but it does provide a good example of the technique.

The basics to using paper type clay is fairly straightforward.  First, create a metal clay base to apply the appliqué too.  Then cut out your paper type clay.  To apply, all you need to do is to apply paste to the base and add the paper type clay piece. Use very little paste as paper type clay doesn't tolerate moisture.  When dry the piece should be kiln fired although small items can be torch fired.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Business Chat - your booth shot

The mantra for real estate is location location location. Here in craft show land we have our own mantra, display display display.

You might be the most talented designer, have the best workmanship on the planet, great pricing and be all round awesome however if your booth looks like a church flea market you will suck at a show. A bad booth display will sink you so faster than the iceberg sunk the TItanic.  

Before you even get to that show you have a major hurdle to get over with your booth design. Most show applications will ask you for a photo of your booth display. Oh boy, here’s a challenge. What’s a crafty girl supposed to do if you haven’t done any shows yet? Or any real shows?

Let’s get creative.

When an organizer asks for a booth photo they are looking to see if you know how to set up an attractive booth or if you plan to put product out on a folding table like at a church rummage sale. They are looking to see that you understand the concepts behind a booth and that you will be a positive part of the show experience.

In an ideal world, 8 months before your first show you will have oodles of space in your home to create a brilliant booth and get a professional photo taken.

In the real world your application is due tomorrow and you don’t even know what you are going to make let alone how to display it.

No problem.

They are not looking to see the tiny details of your booth. You can work those out later. 99% of applications will be fine with a decent drawing done to scale on graph paper. The other 1% are beyond you anyways so you can apply to them in a couple of years.

The main components of a good booth are:
  • Proper signage – we are not talking about price tags here, we are talking about company signs visible from all directions
  • A separate cash and packaging area
  • Decent storage
  • Good use of the whole space. A 10X10 booth is 100 square feet of space, don’t just use the front 2 feet and then fill the rest with Rubbermaid bins.
  • Proper lighting for indoor shows
  • Proper weatherproofing for tents at outdoor shows
  • In or out? Do customers walk into your booth, or do you push everything to the front?

Indicate where you are putting your company banners, posters or any other large images. Mark the height of items such as shelves or tables. Make notes of details such as the colour of the curtains or tablecloths you use.

Pick up some graph paper, and start playing. If you have a decent amount of empty floor space in your house a really great idea is to mark out with masking tape a booth area. What looks workable on graph paper is very different in reality. A 2 foot space between tables may look workable on the graph paper, but from personal experience I can tell you it is not enough space for people to squeeze through without knocking everything over. Oops.

If you end up with a booth that is different from the one that you sent in don’t panic. Unless your booth is seriously awful no organizer will check your original design. Most organizers are looking at several hundred applications so they won’t remember what you sent in 8 months later.

Quick tip: table top displays are frowned upon.  By table top I mean sticking a table under a tent and laying your work on it. In fact, several shows specifically state that you cannot use a table top display. Use risers to raise the table to a more workable height, a decent table cloth and find some shelving for height.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

1001 Beading Nights

This week – we're holding back the new stuff, as we are making the final push to get the new website ready – and given that we can only do so much with what we have – new stuff for this week will have to wait.

So instead, I thought I'd entertain you with an account of my trip to Tucson – and my sampling of the 40 days and 40 nights of bead shows that are a feature of this time of year in Tucson, Arizona.

One of the things that struck me was massive quantities of beads and gems – rather like some fabulous tale from the Arabian Nights. So, without further ado, I give you:

Scheherazade and her Voyage to Tucson.

And Lo, the Genie lifted Scheherazade onto the flying carpet, and they were transported into the air, and though they were beset by terrible demons that cried “Take off your shoes” and “Empty your pockets,” still, they arrived safely in a new land. The air was warm and all about them grew exotic palm trees and giant cactus shaped like a man, but taller than a man standing on a man's shoulders, and with grotesque shapes and twisted limbs. And the Genie deposited her at a dwelling place and said, “Be here in the morning as the clock strikes 9:30, and I will show you the wonders of this place.” And so, Scheherazade went and rested for the night. Strange beasts howled all night, and in the morning, giant flying creatures screamed overhead – but still, she met with the Genie in the appointed place at the appointed hour.

And they went forth together to a place called the Gem Mall – and the wonders of it were such that it took her breath away. The Gem Mall was a vast tent – not a tent as you might pack on a camel and carry from place to place, but a tent such that you might build a village under and be forever sheltered from the sky. And, wonder of wonders, not just a single such tent, but two such tents, identical in every way. In side the tent there was, in fact, a village -- a village market place, but such as you have never seen before. Each seller had his or her goods arranged as their custom was, on tables, in piles, and all about were strung very bright lights that glittered and reflected from the dazzling goods below, and warmed the air until the tent grew hot.

“Look,” said the Genie, “This vendor is an honourable woman and will give you a fair price. Look upon her goods and choose that which you would have.” And Scheherazade looked, and the vendor had many, many stones of wonderful colours, cut into cabochons and donuts and many other fabulous shapes. She caressed the stones and chose amongst them – choosing from precious Tigereye and Amethyst and Jasper and Fluorite and some stones even so rare and precious that she had never seen them before and need must ask their names.

And then the Genie said, “Linger not here, for we have much else to see” and so they walked on through the aisles, marvelling at all the goods. Vendors called out to them - “Come see our wares,” “I have very fine turquoise.” “Come see my crystal skulls,” cried one – “very rare – no others like it.” But Scheherazade was not deceived, for she could see others like it at other booths, and so she passed on.

“Here,” said the Genie, “Is another honourable man, and he has wondrous beads made from glass in far-away Czech, and many of them have two holes though them, and can be strung in most magnificent ways together, and are called by the name 'Czech-mates.' These beads are new and so I command you to select these and gather them up and we will take these with us.” And then the vendor came out from the booth, for he recognized the Genie and said, “Master, you honour me with your presence. I will not suffer you to carry these – only select that which you desire, and I will convey them to you.” And it was so.

And it was thus that the first day passed, with the Genie taking Scheherazade to sellers that were known to be fair and honest, and together they looked at many, many things. There were piles of gold and silver and copper, and there were strands of opals and turquoise and sapphires and jacinths and rubies. There were treasures enough to ransom all the kings of the land, and everywhere they looked, the wonders of the earth were spread before them.

And at the end of the first day, the Genie said, “I will take you to a place I know and we will feast,” and so they went to a fine place, and food was put before them, and Scheherazade noted that everything they ate had avocados in it – even to being sliced into wedges and rolled in batter and deep fried, but these were wondrous good, and she ate many of them.

And the Genie returned her to the dwelling place and said again, “Meet me on the morrow at 9:30 and tomorrow we will explore more wonders, for we have not seen yet one tenth of the magnificence of Tucson.”

And so on the morrow morning, Scheherazade once again met the Genie at the appointed hour and place, and they went forth again, this time to the famed “I-ten strip.” And here, they found travellers' inns known as “motels” - where sellers had taken a room that opened onto a common courtyard, so as to better enjoy the warm sun, and they had transformed their rooms into tiny stores, every one, with tables draped with rich velvets, and their goods piled high upon them for all to see. And the custom was to wander in and out of the rooms, and so, going from room to room, see all the wares from all the world.

And they saw such amazing wonders as a dining table fashioned entirely from golden tigereye, and a Parcheesi board also formed from stone, but this being the green stone known as Malachite. They saw crystal balls for fortune tellers, some so large you could have seen the fortune of the whole world in them, if you were so gifted. They saw geodes – split open stones from the ground that contain fine crystals of amethyst growing from the walls of the hollow inside, but so large that a person could climb inside. They found a tent with a young man who had travelled all the way from Ethiopia, with many, many sacks of fine opals, still uncut, but flashing in the sun like a trapped rainbow, straining to release itself. And Scheherazade said unto the young man from Ethiopia, “I would buy some of your opals,” and he said, “Ah good woman, then you are a stone cutter of much good taste.” “Nay,” she replied, “It has been many years since I cut a stone, my good man, and I fear that my skills are not worthy of these fine stones.” “Well then,” he replied with puzzlement, “Why have you interest in these stones, as beautiful as they are, for these are un-cut.” And Scheherazade looked him square in the eyes and said, “Because they are opals,” and the man had no answer for this, and so he sold them to her.

And by and by they came upon a seller with stones carved in many wondrous shapes, horses and dragons and other magical creatures, and they were so taken with them, that they purchased some, knowing that many of their friends back home would also be so taken with them they they would want some.

Finally, as the day came to a close, the Genie took her to a place that was another tent, and in it it was filled with pearls – pearls from the sea, piled high in drifts such as the sea leaves in the sand, and as fabulous as any treasure ever seen, and such that it would have made the mighty queen Cleopatra fall to the ground weeping with envy, tearing her hair and beating her breast.

And on the third day, it was not the same, for this time, though they met in the morning, the Genie did not take Scheherazade to a place of riches, but to a secret place, where they met another Genie, who talked much about his trade and the magic that he could do and the treasures he could cause to have made. And they spend half a day looking at his wondrous treasures and selecting those which they would take home, and even designing new treasures. And this Genie taught Scheherazade a new trick for stamping metal and making a good clean imprint, which Scheherazade tried and found to be impressively good, and she will share it with you all by and by.

And so on the fourth day, it was more like the first, with more sellers and more treasures and wonders, only these treasures were not so simple as beads fashioned from fine stone and glass, but things that are made by skilled goldsmiths and jewellers, fine craftspeople and skilled leather workers. Scheherazade and the Genie marveled together at the wonders they saw: leather as soft and supple as butter; a magnificent skull of a crocodile, glittering and covered with rhinestones as clear as water; clasps for holding jewelry fashioned cunningly to resemble shoes and turtles and other objects; delicate wire spun in all the colours of the rainbow and woven and knitted together in such as way as to make fine fabrics and ribbons for the fashioning of beautiful items for adornment; beads fashioned from clay and glass and heated to make them permanent and strong and beautiful.

But finally, Scheherazade said, “Oh great Genie, you have shown me many wonderful things and I am filled with awe. We have purchased many fabulous items for trade and we will take these back home, and people will be much amazed and desirous to buy these things for themselves, but I have been too long from home and must return.” And the Genie said, “It is so,” and so on the fifth day, Scheherazade was transported once again in the air and so safely home, and by the auspices of the Genie, managed to avoid the perils of a terrible storm, and still arrive home.

And so it was that Scheherazade journeyed for the first time to the almighty place known as Tucson, and partook of the riches there. And it was good, and so she vowed to return again, for truly, one can not see all the wonders that are Tucson in a single visit. And that is the story of Scheherazade's first visit to Tucson.

As always, wonderful things where ever you look! 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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lark Books - Call for Entry

A shout out to all of our talented customers! I know we have quite a few that work in both mediums. 

Lark Jewelry & Beading seeks images of beautiful metal clay and polymer clay jewelry designs to include in a gallery of inspirational work throughout Clay Combinations (working title) by Cindy Silas.
Clay Combinations will feature a wide range of exciting projects that showcase both metal clay and polymer clay. Each of Cindy’s twenty-five projects (pendants, earrings, bracelets, and brooches) will demonstrate different ways to connect the two mediums, along with a variety of both metal clay and polymer clay techniques.
This intermediate book, written for metal clay and polymer clay artists, is designed to inform and inspire readers on how either or both mediums can benefit their work. It will teach standard and innovative techniques for metal clay, polymer, engineering connections, making tools, textures, sculpting, carving, and
A photo gallery of gorgeous, innovative metal and polymer clay jewelry images will be interspersed throughout the book to serve as examples and to provide inspiration.
Clay Combinations is scheduled for release in Spring 2014. Selected artists will receive full acknowledgment within the book, a complimentary copy, and a discount on the purchase of additional books. Artists retain copyright of their work.
Images, all entry forms, and the attached photo license agreement must be postmarked by April 1, 2013.

Be sure to visit the Lark website for more details regarding submissions and forms.

Fun, Friendship and Sharing at Happy Hour Torching

The term "Happy Hour" usually refers to a time of pre-dinner cocktails and drinks with friends and co-workers. In BeadFX's case, "Happy Hour Torching" is a gathering of like-minded lampworkers who get together twice a week over a torch and colourful rods of glass. "Happy Hour Torching has been going on for about three years," says Malliga Nathan, BeadFX's Studio Manager. Malliga, a lampworker herself, often joins in on Thursday evenings.

Carol Cooper facilitates Happy Hour Torching and is available to answer questions and give tips and tricks to new lampworkers. "Lampworking is an artform and lampworkers are, by nature, very generous in sharing ideas," explains Carol. "We try to keep the atmosphere welcoming and inclusive. Newbies are always welcome."

Happy Hour Torching sessions are not lessons, so participants must have taken a lampworking course, familiar with all of the safety procedures and the basics of how to create beads using the torch and rods of glass.

Happy Hour Torching takes place Mondays and Thursdays from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. The lampworking studio can accommodate up to 8 people per evening. Best of all, the studio rate is "two for one" - a great way to gain practice time or to create beads for projects. Glass rods are available for purchase or you may bring your own.

The kilns are available for use and the beads will be removed from the mandrels and available for pick-up the next day.

It is always best to call ahead and reserve a torch. To do so, simply call the store at (416) 701-1373 and indicate your interest. A staff member will add you to the roster. If you're in the store, just sign up on the lampworking calendar located just outside the metal studio. Studio cards are available from the store during working hours. A 10-hour minor/mega studio card is $130 (HST included).

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Business Chat - A visual chat

It's time to get visual today, let's talk about photos. 

It's that time of the year where I am up to my  elbows in paperwork and the top of the pile are show applications. Argh. Even though I've been filling these things out for 10 years they still are a chore. And the worst part of them? You guessed it, the photos. 

After you've filled out a dozen or two applications the bio, the show list, the artist statement become easy. But deciding which 5 images to send is never easy. Because the photos you send will make or break your application and how can you possibly nail your whole collection down to just 5 images? 

Images are the most important tool you have for your business. When you sell online the only thing a customer has to judge you by is your photography. When you submit an application you are selling yourself to the show organizer and the only thing they have to judge you by is your photography. However there is a world of difference between the sort of image you use to sell a product and an image to submit to a show jury. 

When you are sending images in for a show application you want to give the jury a good idea of what you do. The images need to be clear, simple, well shot and representative of your work. It is not about showing how fabulous a photographer you are, nor about what a great fashion shoot you can create. It is a catalogue of your work, unadorned. 

There are no set rules for product shots but these are some good guidelines.
  • Use a plain background, preferably white. If your image is good enough that the show wants to use it for publicity it must be on a white background.
  • One piece of jewelry per image. 
  • No models, no fashion shots, no props, just the jewelry. 
  • Each image should be of a different style. 
    • There is no point in sending 10 images of the same pair of earrings in 10 different colours. They get it. If you send 10 images, send 10 different pieces of jewelry. 
  • Focus. Make sure the images are absolutely clear.
  • Use good lighting. Diffuse natural light is best. Avoid heavy shadows. 
  • Label each image on the BACK of the image. If your images fall onto the floor, would they be able to identify who's work they are? Use a printed label with your name, company name, image description and price. 
  • If you send digital images make sure they are of a decent size. Do not send files that are HUGE, nor files that are tiny. 
  • If you send files on a CD make sure you send a corresponding image list so that the jury knows what they are looking at. 
Some jurying committees sit in a room and project your digital images onto a large screen. When you blow up a painting to 6 feet that's one thing, when you blow up a photo of your earrings to 6 feet that is a whole different ball game. Make sure the work you shoot is the best work you can do. Clean, dust free and beautiful. And careful of those photoshop touch ups, they might not be visible on a computer monitor, but on a giant screen? 

Now that cameras are so cheap there is no excuse for having bad photos. It doesn't require an expensive camera, just a lot of practise. Read your camera manual, and then practice over and over and over. There are tons of great photo tip sites online as well as free image editing websites. I personally use Photoshop Elements, a much cheaper ($100) version of Adobe Photoshop however I also use Picmonkey ( which has great tools like cropping and basic editing and is totally free. 

If you're not super busy selling work these days spend a little time making your images better. They can always be better. After a while it's even fun!