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Monday, November 30, 2015

The beauty of raku

Raku is a traditional style of Japanese pottery, especially bowls created for traditional tea ceremonies. The word itself translates as "comfort" or "ease."

Here in the Western World, raku-style firing is different than the kiln firing processes that were passed down through families in Japan. Basically, by placing the red-hot fired piece in an aluminum container that allows carbon dioxide to pass through a small hole, you create a reduction chamber. This induces a reaction between oxygen and the clay minerals and metal elements of the glaze. By closing the container, after combustible materials in the can such as sawdust or paper, catch fire, the reaction pulls oxygen from the glazes and clay. Luster is created in the glaze because it's been deprived of oxygen. The matte black colour of raku pottery is achieved on pieces with no glaze, as the oxygen is pulled from the clay minerals.

From Wikipedia:

"It is raku’s unpredictable results and intense color that attract modern potters. These patterns and color result from the harsh cooling process and the amount of oxygen that is allowed to reach the pottery. Depending on what effect the artist wants, the pottery is either instantly cooled in water, cooled slowly in the open air, or placed in a barrel filled with combustible material, such as newspaper, covered, and allowed to smoke.[6] Water immediately cools the pottery, stopping the chemical reactions of the glaze and fixing the colors. The combustible material results in smoke, which stains the unglazed portions of the pottery black. The amount of oxygen that is allowed during the firing and cooling process affects the resulting color of the glaze and the amount of crackle.

"Unlike traditional Japanese raku, which is mainly hand built bowls of modest design, western raku tends to be vibrant in color, and comes in many shapes and sizes. Western raku can be anything from an elegant vase, to an eccentric abstract sculpture. Although some do hand build, most western potters use throwing wheels while creating their raku piece. Western culture has even created a new sub branch of raku called horse hair raku. These pieces are often white with squiggly black lines and smoke-like smudges. These effects are created by placing horse hair, feathers, or even sugar on the pottery as it is removed from the kiln and still extremely hot." has a great overview on raku in jewllery-making.

There are a growing number of artists creating raku pieces for jewellers to use as components in their work. One of the best-known is Marianne Kasparian. She has an etsy shop, where you can check out her work. I suspect you'll recognize her signature hearts right away, since bead artists such as Sherry Serafini. This picture shows some of her small pieces that I've bead embroidered.

Duane Collins has an etsy page as well and I adore his small components, graceful birds, and squares in matte and luster finishes. I love the squares with holes for bead embroidered pendants but you can also just put a bail on the back of some pieces or string the bird on leather cord or chain.

Odd Designs sells at Bead and Button and has an interesting take on pendants to add into your jewellery creations. Urban Raku, another Bead and Button vendor, blings their raku pieces up with crystals.

Recently, I've been raku firing on copper using enamels. Basically I fire the piece until it's red hot then put it in an aluminum can and smother the burning paper. The unpredictability of the firing outcomes makes every piece an adventure.

If you've used raku in your work recently, or know of other raku artists we should be watching, please comment below. Let's keep the conversation going.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

InspirationFX: Spike It Up

Spike It Up
by: Dwyn Tomlinson

Classy, dressy and so luxe. Make a pair for the upcoming Christmas
functions. Or your birthday. Or just because.

I used two jumprings per earring - for more movement and swing. One
would have also had the teardrop pendant facing sideways instead of
forward. ;-)



Go to our components list for this project and to buy what you need!
Need some help with some of the techniques? Check our tips page.

Friday, November 27, 2015

1-Step Looping Pliers

Wondering about the one-step looping pliers? This is Rochelle's favourite tool! Watch how to use it in this video!

You can purchase it here:
 s37088 Tools -  1 Step Looper Pliers - Regular (1) Tools - 1 Step Looper Pliers - Regular (1)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Winter Craft Sale Continues #handmadeholidays

You're in luck - the sale continues! The holidays approach fast now, and if you haven't gotten it in gear - you're shaving it mighty fine, my friend. If you are already on a roll - you are probably running out of stuff - so here's your chance to take a quick minute and restock!
25% off everything* in the store. (*Ok, almost everything. Some select items excluded. But some stuff is more than 25% off. Way more!)

*OK - sale rules: The exceptions are:
  • No discounts on class fees  
  • No discount on gift certificates. 
  • No discounts on Studio time/lampwork cards, lampwork tools, glass and lampwork supplies.  
  • No discounts on special order merchandise, or special bulk orders.  
  • The discount cannot be combined with Art Clay large volume or instructor discounts

  • Some items ARE excluded from this sale. Some metal clay items, some big tools, and previously discounted items, and a few other items that are priced so low - they are already wholesale! You will be able to see online if an item is discounted. Remember - you always get the best possible discount - so if something has been discounted more than the sale discount - you will get the better discount!
Things tend to get a little-bit crazy around here during a sale, so we have a few rules to make it go more smoothly.

  • No frequent beader points awarded on sale or discounted merchandise 
  • No frequent beader points will be redeemed during the sale 
  • The discount is NOT retroactive and does not apply to previously purchased merchandise.  
  • No special orders or special bulk orders will be accepted at the sale prices. 
  • No Rain Cheques. No backorders. When it's gone, it's gone. The early bird gets the beads. Online orders will be picked in the order in which we receive them.  
  • Sale ends Midnight, Wednesday , December 2 (Toronto time) (Well - in-store it ends at closing time - because we won't make the staff stay until midnight.). If you haven't checked out by then - the items in your shopping cart will revert to regular prices. (And we can't change that - sorry.)  
  • If you are placing a phone or fax order, please ensure that you have the sku/product numbers ready, as well as the description. Same goes for email orders - as we'd prefer to not have our order picking staff have too many nervous breakdowns. It's always painful to find them hiding in the studio, surrounded by empty Ben n Jerry buckets and clutching a sticky teddy bear.
  • We will be VERY busy during the sale. Having this information ready when processing your order, will help us get your order out the door in a reasonable time frame.

We do anticipate that shipping will most likely be delayed by a day or two from our usual timeframe.
So click on a link and go crazy!

Don't forget our inspirations - 100s of free projects - and classes - if you are stuck for ideas! We have oodles of classes - including some fun 1-hour mini-classes to get you going!

Hot Connections:
Interlocking Ring

10:30am - 5:00pm

Serendipity Earrings
Winter Mini-Class

1:00pm - 2:00pm

Honeycomb Earrings
Winter Mini-Class

2:00pm - 3:00pm

Dagger Fern Earrings
Winter Mini-Class

3:00pm - 4:00pm
Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Play and the art of gift giving!

Where has the year gone? Yikes, it's that time again! Time to start thinking about what you're going to do about holiday gift giving. Yes, I'm aware that some of you, have been preparing for this for months, but I'd like to think that you're in the minority. The vast majority (myself included), need the cooler temperatures, to get our collective rears in gear! The thermostat has dropped (and late this year, at that), so it's time to make some fast plans. As a dedicated crafter (now billing myself as a Mixed Media Artist), I've been making handmade gifts for years. I started with sewing related items (stuffed animals, pincushions, clothing, cushions, placemats and napkins), then quilting and applique (including framed landscapes), and now paper, beads and all sorts of mixed media projects. I'll begin with a photo of my Mother's toy sewing machine. Nope, nothing to do with beading, and not being gifted to anyone, but as photos of most of the earlier items are nonexistent; I thought that I would give you a little peek into my crafting history. The thimble was my maternal Grandmother's, and although small in size, is really quite beautiful!
Now back to gifts! Are handmade gifts more economical? Can you really afford the time? Will they be appreciated? Are you stuck for ideas? I guess the answers to these questions are very personal, and something that you will need to answer for yourself. However this type of gift, does give you an opportunity to show someone that you care. It doesn't need to be expensive, not everyone will appreciate it (just don't continue to give to those people), but there's a big sale on at BeadFX (25% off, almost everything in the store - runs until December 2nd), the books and magazines are chock full of ideas, and you might even have time to squeeze in a workshop or two (check out the class calendar, on the BeadFX website). You know, you want to!!!
As for ideas, I have a million playful ones (because you know that you love making stuff)! Here are just a few: beaded &/or bead embroidered necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants, brooches, bezels, rings, ornaments, key rings, eyeglass holders/chains, pincushions, needle books, boxes and perhaps a little doll! A simple quilt block, collage, embroidery or landscape would look great framed, but don't forget to add beads, for an extra dash of pizzazz! Metal, polymer and metal clays present many options, as do Crystal Clay, Apoxie Sculpt and Ice Resin. How about making stitched and beaded covers for cell phones, tablets, eReaders and even handmade books? All this fun, is almost too much to stand!!
If you're anything like me, you'll probably be making gifts right up until the last minute.
But, do yourself a favour, and don't forget to treat yourself to something nice! Think of it as your reward, for getting through another holiday season (even though you probably won't be able to start working on it until January) Now get moving, relax and enjoy the playful journey, of making some very special gifts!!! Heh, heh...easy for me to say...I haven't even started yet......
By the way, no current holiday gifts have been exposed in this blog post, so don't start wondering, if one of them could be yours! LOL!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

December classes: Creativity isn't finished yet!

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
- J. B. Priestley
13 September 1894 – 14 August 1984; an English author, novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, social commentator,and broadcaster whose career straddled the 20th Century.
Yes, 2015 is starting to wrap-up but there are still many opportunities to express yourself creatively and learn a new skill at the same time. Looking for a fun evening? Join Angela Peace, Pamela Kearns and Anne Marie Desaulniers for three holiday-inspired classes in three hours at our Holiday Class Bash! Maria Rypan is sharing a new brooch project before it is published in an upcoming issue of A Needle Pulling Thread. Iris Rogers Melamed is introducing a new ruffled bangle. You can also finish up your last-minute mixed media gifts at Anne Marie Desaulnier's Mixed Media Evening. Of course there are encore classes being offered - all perfect for last minute gifts.

Here are the classes scheduled December 1 - 15:

Tuesday, December 1
Snowflake Dome Brooch and 3-D Snowflake Extravaganza
Instructor: Maria Rypan
2:00 - 5:00pm

Thursday, December 3
Freeform Wire Pendant 'Musette'
Instructor: Deborah Beesley
6:00 - 9:00pm

Wire Wrapping: Coiled Pendant
Instructor: Jen Rosen
6:00 - 9:00pm

Friday, December 4
Holiday Class Bash - Festive Fix earrings, Netted Snowflakes and Chilly Wire Icicle
Instructors: Angela Peace, Pamela Kearns, Anne Marie Desaulniers
6:00 - 9:00pm

Saturday, December 5
Hot Connections 1: Introduction to Soldering
Instructor: Iris Rogers Melamed
10:30am - 4:30pm

Mad for Plaid
Instructor: Angela Peace
11:00am - 4:30pm

Sunday, December 6
Altered Dominos 1
Instructor: Anne Marie Desaulniers
10:00am - 5:00pm

Thursday, December 10
Crisscross Sparkle Bracelet
Instructor: Pamela Kearns
6:00 - 9:00pm

Saturday, December 12
Hot Connections: Ruffled Bangle
Instructor: Iris Rogers Melamed
10:00am - 4:00pm
Taking Alcohol Inks to the Next Level
Instructor: Anne Marie Desaulniers
11:00am - 5:00pm

Complete information about each class, including course descriptions and fees, can be found on our website. Click on 'Classes' and follow the links to the December calendar.

Bring your projects and join us at our FREE open bead opportunities: 
Wednesday, December 2
Wednesday, December 16 (last session for 2015) 
Open Bead Night Facilitator: BeadFX staff members Bonnie Cottingham, Pamela Kearns or Malliga Nathan   
6:00 - 8:00pm

Thursday, December 3
 Thursday, December 10
Thursday, December 17 (last session for 2015)
Afternoon Bead Tea Facilitator: Pamela Kearns 
1:00 - 3:00pm

  BeadFX is proud to offer these FREE sessions. In return we ask that you use please our merchandise in our facility. Thank you.