Click here to visit ...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Creativity Abounds!

As an instructor, I'm always amazed how many students claim they're not inventive and can't make creative decisions about their projects. Trust me, you don't need to re-invent the wheel, but inspiration is all around you. Use what you already have, look around you for inspiration and make your jewellery your own.

Here are three places you can look for inspiration:

1. Hardware Store
A lot of people are stymied by colour. Trust me, if you can pick colour for your clothes, you can pick beads! It doesn't matter if the colour is on you, the walls of your home, or in jewellery - it all works the same way. A great way to help you pick colours is by using paint chips found in any hardware store. All paint producers have the single colour chips, as well as suggested combinations for room decor. I've put together a small photo album for myself in which I have room combinations and suggestions. You may not find the exact bead/crystal colour or combination but it gives you a good foundation.

2. Fashion magazines
Fashion magazines, such as Flare, Elle and Vogue, are full of jewellery ideas. I go through the magazines and pull the pages of the jewellery that speaks to me. In almost all of the cases, the jewellery has been fabricated and may not translate directly to your own medium but you can still use it for inspiration.

My Bombay Cuff was inspired by a fabricated piece of jewellery in the November 2013 issue of Flare. I liked the general shape and texture of the Herm├ęs cuff but I don't work in metal or wood. Using the only paper available (a serviette in the restaurant where I was reading the magazine) I wrote down some notes. Here is the result:

3. Beading magazines
There is a plethora of beading and jewellery-making magazines available both in printed and digital formats from around the world! If you're into seed beading, you're probably quite familiar with Beadwork and Bead and Button (both American magazines) but check out Australian Beading, Beads and Beyond (Great Britain), and Perlen Posie (Germany). Each magazine has their own look and so do the projects they feature. Go ahead and substitute your beads and colours and make the jewellery your own. If you're in the Toronto area, you can come into the store and peruse our back issues of magazines and books.

Take a look around you with new eyes and play. Rip pages out of magazines; take photos; collect paint chips and soak in all the inspiration! You can do it!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

InspirationFX: Pip The Magic Dragon: Bracelet!

Pip The Magic Dragon: Bracelet! 

by: Anne Marie Desaulniers

Have you ever closed your eyes, and wished to be in another place? A place where faeries and dragons still exist, and all is right with the world? Dragons breathe fire in this magical place, their scales are painted teal and lime, and when their breath touches the earth, beads and flowers grow. Faeries are free to flit about, chores are non-existent, and dragons spend most of their time relaxing.

This bracelet is a continuation of my "Pip, Pip, Hooray" Pendent and Earrings set that was posted in April. Even Count Peyote forms the base, and the edges are embellished with my leftover Pip beads (if you've already made the pendant/earrings, you will have more than enough Pip's for embellishment).


If you are familiar with even count peyote stitch, this is quite an easy project. If you have never attempted this stitch, you may need to ask a friend, Google "Even Count Peyote Stitch", watch a You-Tube video, or familiarize yourself with the instructions in a book or magazine.

* Cut a comfortable length of Fireline (I like to use one arms length, at minimum).
* Thread your needle.
* Add a stop bead to the end.
* String enough cube beads to circle your wrist lengthwise (I used 42 beads).
* Start your second row, by adding a bead, and then skipping a bead, until you reach the last cube.
* Start your next row, and continue the process until you have a total of five rows. You need to end up with a total of five beads on each end of the bracelet.
* When you need to add more Fireline, simply weave it through the beads (up and down, 3-4 rows) making sure that you cross the threads several times. Tie off the ends with a surgeon's knot and trim close to the knot (a Thread Burner really helps!).
* You will end up with a bracelet with even ends, and a rather jagged edge, along the length. One cube up, then one cube down, and both sides should match.
* Embellish your edges, using the colour sequence of your choice (I started with the darkest blue, ended the sequence with the lightest green, and then repeated as necessary)! To embellish, I used one size 15 seed bead/one Pip/one size 15 seed bead, for each edge cube bead. Needle through these beads a second time, to reinforce the embellishment. You may need to change to a finer needle. Those 15's are tiny!
* I embellished all the 'down' cubes on the first side, and then went back and embellished all the 'up' cubes.
* When you've finished embellishing, repeat the process on the other side.
* Now you're ready to add the three-hole tube clasp!
* Position your needle so that it's coming up through the second cube bead, on one end.
* Add two size 11 seed beads/three size 11 Delicas/two size 11 seed beads. (Note: I started with just the seed beads, but I found the fit a little tight, so decided to add the Delicas for colour, and movement. You could use all Delicas if you wish.)
* Needle back through the same bead and come up through the next bead, adding more beads/Delicas.
* Repeat the process for all three holes in the clasp.
* Reinforce your stitching a minimum of two more times (going through the seeds and cube beads again).
* Tie off the Fireline as noted above (or if you have enough Fireline left, needle/wind your way back through the beads, to the other end.
* Unhook the clasp (if you have not already done so), and repeat the process for the other side (don?t forget to reinforce the seed beads/Delicas).
* Tie off the Fireline as noted above.
* Hook up your clasp. Congratulations, your bracelet is complete!


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.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

In praise of praise

By: Cindy Goldrick

Most days I work alone at home on various aspects of my business, from correspondence and other office stuff to making stock for sale and, what satisfies me most, designing. The only real-time feedback I get is from the dog and maybe one of the cats strolling by. Of course, there are the days I post to Facebook and get instant feedback on my work in progress, and then my favourite days when I teach, but I usually feel like I'm working in a void. 

So when I receive feedback and words of praise, it makes me think that my efforts have value and have touched someone else. And there's nothing more exciting and fulfilling than that. 

So why am I musing about this right now? Well last week I hit a trifecta of praise and it really drove home to me exactly why I do this -- and why it fulfills me so much to teach and design. And I wanted to share how much just a few words of thanks, a quick email with a photo of something you've been inspired to create after learning a new technique from me in class, or bringing an enthusiastic new student to class with you, means to me. 

I was excited to see my first published design in the Fall 2015 Wirework magazine. I received lots of congratulations in person and online but I was totally overwhelmed last week when I received an email that read, in part:

"One of my co-workers is turning 50 (along with two high school friends) this year and asked if I'd be willing to guide her in making 3 bracelets to commemorate the big year. I gave her a few magazines...and she decided she wanted to make your infinity bracelet...
"We used stainless steel wire for its strength...and she selected three different coloured Unicorne teardrops that I have in my stash. I guided her on the first one. Then she made the other frames and took them home to complete the bead attachment on her own. 
"This was her first time making any sort of jewellery and was very pleased with how they turned out and best of all her friends loved their gift...
"Thank you for your design and easy to follow tutorial. It was such a joy to assist in the creation of these bracelets."

She attached a photo and then told me she was happy to let me quote her and also noted she was happy that her friend chose my design since I'm a local artisan. 

As a reminder, here's a picture of my Infinity Bracelet. 

I taught a Foldforming class at Beadfx last weekend and received this interesting and unusual email from a student:

"Thanks again for the class and your attentive guidance with me. Here's how powerfully the copper pounding affected me. 
"I went to a copper folding class, lots of hammering. In the evening a big drum circle, lots of vibration. Afterwards a dance club with a girlfriend, lots of jumping, dancing and sound vibrations. I imagined I was the copper being pounded by the light of Divinity and whatever had to get shifted was being worked on. My body recalibrated...thank you for helping with this process."

Whew. Likely the most intense, poetic and intimate feedback I've ever received after a class. 

Then I was teaching a class here in St Catharines and one of my students told me her husband told her not to come home from a class cranky again. He said she's always frustrated when she takes a jewellery class and never brings home a completed piece. Well, when she left my class she was wearing two bracelets and a smile from ear to ear, looking forward to showing off to him her finished work and her happy disposition. 

So, going forward, every time I question my direction or why I'm doing this, I'll remember these students and readers and smile too as I keep on designing and fabricating and teaching!

Thanks to all my faithful blog readers. Please feel free to comment on this and the posts of my colleagues. We thrive on your feedback. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Seedbead Sizes - Debunking the myth

"Hi - I'd like some seedbeads that are larger that these 11s? How much bigger are the 13s?"

If that sentence made you giggle - then congratulations! You have the seedbead sizing thing figured out. No doubt about it - seedbead sizes are confusing because  - like wire gauges - they run backwards to your intuition. Bigger numbers mean smaller beads!

So not too long ago, I overheard someone authoritatively telling their friend that "Size 6s are called that because there are 6 in an inch."

Whoa - really?

Wouldn't that be nice? Damn - that would be so nice and simple. But no - I know that there are more than 6 6/0s in an inch.

But then, darn it, I heard it again, from another source. Wait a minute - now this piece of mis-information is developing traction.

So - giving it the benefit of the doubt - I thought - let's just check this out.

I grabbed a bunch of seedbeads from the store and started measuring and counting. I locked my calipers on "1.000 inch" - and let me tell you - manipulating them to be 1 inch to 3 decimal places of accuracy was no mean feat either!

The colours I chose were selected for their ability to show up in a photo and be easy to see. The Czech seedbeads have a natural randomness to them that is part of their organic and natural appeal - and I made no attempt to "weed" them out for better or worse beads.

I set the beads up against the pre-set caliper, and shot them up close so that we can count them together. I freely admit that this would have been more scientific if I had measured multiple samples and multiple colours. But I do think that these sample are fairly representative.

Ready? Let's go.

First up - Size 13/0s. 13/0s are considered small - even by die-hard beaders.

25 size 13/0s in an inch.

Next up - size 12/0s. Just for fun. We only have 2 colours of 12/0s. 12/0s are an unusual size and you don't see them often.

 22 size 12/0s in an inch. 3 less than the size 13s.

All right now - let's get serious. Size 11/0s - flat out the most popular size.

20 size 11/0s in an inch. 2 less than the 12/0s. You can see that I didn't get the beads at the start lined up with the beginning of the inch, so I counted the first full bead, and took the last half bead as a full bead to compensate.

Size 10/0s, very nearly as popular as the 11/0s.

17 size 10/0s to the inch.

Next up - the size 8/0s. Our 8/0s don't come strung, so I had to string a few. I put them on wire for easy of stringing.

13 size 8/0s to the inch. Again - not a perfect match to the start of the inch, so I counted the end half as a whole bead.

Next up, last one - size 6/0s. After working with 11/0s, 6/0s seem enormous, and can handily be used as spacers in bead stringing projects and other styles of beading other than bead weaving and traditional seed beading - where the object seems to be to use progressively smaller and smaller beads as you become more proficient, or go blind - which ever comes first. ;-)

10 size 6/0s in an inch. Again - the alignment thing. You get it.

So - totally debunked. There are NOT 6 size 6s in an inch, or 11 11/0s in an inch, etc. 

But wait, as I went to clean up, the size 6/0s, without their wire support, fell over onto their sides - where they are much wider.

Seriously? Could it be that there are 6 size 6/0s to an inch if you measure them on their sides? Who would do that? You don't use them that way - how would that be at all helpful?

Better measure them to check.

Almost. 6 and a half size 6/0s in an inch. Benefit of the doubt - it could be said that there are 6 6/0s in an inch. Although not in any orientation that you might use them in, unless you were embroidering them or doing some sort of funky miniature 2-needle ladder stitch.

Guess we'd better go back and check the 8/0s in this orientation too. Just in case.

Whaddya know? Eight size 8/0s in an inch. Let's keep going.

Size 11/0s. Let's try those. Our 11/0s are sold on strands, but we do have mixes that are loose in vials. So they are not all the same colour - but they are the same size. Or given the variation in size - that same size family. ;-)

Ah - it falls apart. 12 size 11/0s to the inch.

Last one. For real. Size 13/0s. And let me tell you - lining up an inch of size 13/0 seedbeads on their sides in a straight line is heroic task of dexterity too.  There's a reason why seedbeads aren't my particular cup of tea.

16 size 13/0s - on their side. Well - that theory fell apart.

So - the size 6/0s are 6 to the inch - yes - if you measure them on their side in a way that you would never use them. Not too helpful. Is it relevant to the way that they are named? Size 8/0s fit the pattern, but not 11/0s and 13/0s.

To re-cap

Size beads per inch
13 25
12 22
11 20
10 17
8 13
6 10

So there you have it folks. The number of the bead size has no particular relevance to the number of beads in an inch. Converting the numbers to beads per cm doesn't make it any better.

Size beads per cm
13 10
12 9
11 8
10 7
8 5
6 4

Now you know!

Go forth and bead happy!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pearls - get your Fresh, Juicy Pearls!

s2248 Freshwater Pearls - 8 mm Near Round Pearl - Multi Peach (strand)
Pearls - gotta love 'em. Whether you've always wanted that classic, "I've arrived" pearl necklace - hand knotted (you can do it yourself - it's EASY) or you want to make something edgy and avant-garde, pearls are the classic of the classics - a something-old that can readily adapt to a new twist!

So while we have a boatload of new, freshwater pearls, that probably needs absolutely zero in the way of explanation - allow me to point out some highlights anyway!

Our particular emphasis for this season's selection (we usually only get to purchase pearls s16741 Freshwater Pearls - 3.5-4 mm Premium Near Round Pearls - Cream (strand)once or twice a year) is on natural-looking colours.

I should point out here that due to modern processing techniques, virtually all the pearls that you see are probably manipulated to enhance their colour, either by dyeing or bleaching, mostly to get more uniform colour. When we do find uncoloured pearls - we note that in the description - but be aware - they will be premium price!

In fact - we do have some natural pearls, undyed and unbleached, classic near round pearls. And they are $50.40 per strand. Don't say you weren't warned! ;-) They will, however, make a pearl necklace of heirloom quality - your great-granddaughter will be thrilled to be married in these pearls and will wonder at the indulgence of you owning them!

s2236 Freshwater Pearls - 6 x 7 mm Near Round Pearl - Cream Rose (strand)However, on the more accessible side of the price scale - we have a bunch of strands that are much easier on the wallet!

And just because we didn't select a lot of wild colours - doesn't mean we didn't find innovative items!

s6706 Freshwater Pearls - 13-14 mm Center Drilled Coin Pearl - Cream (6)These large disk pearls are definitely different!

s16742 Freshwater Pearls -  Stick Pearl - Cream (strand)And these sausage-shaped stick pearls with the hole drilled lengthwise are also definitely different.

s2285 Mother of Pearl -  Polished Pearl Nuggets - Sage (strand)And these "polished pearl nuggets" - tumbled mother of pearl - are also very fun and very funky. In Cinnamon, Sage and Smoke. These have the random and chaotic look that is so appealing and is such a source of creativity!

So - if you love pearls - this update is for you! And if you don't think of yourself as the girl-with-the-pearl - maybe there is something here for you anyway!

Check out all the new items here or click on a link or image above! Go forth and create and be happy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Let's go walkabout!

Does anyone but me, think that it’s a tad strange to see (and feel) the temperature soar to almost 30C (or did it surpass that) yesterday? We were already geared up for warmer temps, but that high and this early in the year? Toronto is quite unpredictable! Winter, spring and summer, in the space of a couple of weeks…and I’m not exaggerating!!! Is everyone prepared for the change? No of course not, but as true Canadians we’ll adapt, and soon be complaining about how freaking hot it is!! I still need to clean my air conditioner filter, and I haven’t even transferred over to my summer clothing yet. Sigh!
In light of the warmer temperatures, I dusted off my trusty Canon, then spent a pleasant afternoon going walkabout, around the Toronto Botanical Gardens (Edwards Gardens) on Sunday. I snapped tons of photos, but focused mainly on close-up shots of the last remaining tulips, and some fabulous blossoms. The smell was incredible, despite the fact that I tried not to get too close to the lilacs (achoo!). But what does this have to do with beads, you say? Well, (and I think that I’ve said this before) I believe that you can get your colour cues from just about anything. If you’re ever lacking in inspiration, I highly recommend a walk in the park, don't forget to take your camera along, and take photos of anything that catches your eye. Don't worry about composition, you're looking for colourful ideas! The exercise will freshen your brain, and your muse will appreciate the reminders. When you download the photos, you’ll be able to take a second look, and should easily spot a colour scheme or two. If you don’t own a camera (and yes, there are some people who don’t), simply cut out any magazine photos that grab your attention. File them in an "Inspiration" file, and trot them out whenever you’re stumped for ideas! Even better, bring your images to BeadFX, and we'll help you pick out the colours!
My photos have been downloaded, but I admit that I haven’t had a chance to focus on future projects (although I am rather fond of the colours cues in the first and last photos). However, I did complete two new Freeform Peyote Rings. The first was based on a soft, almost Victorian colour scheme, and the second on a Facebook photo I shared last week (of a turquoise door, surrounded by a brick wall). I’m teaching a ring class on Friday, and I’m hoping to design one or more new ones, inspired by my photos. Hmmm, I wonder which photo I'll choose? By the way, feel free to borrow some of my colour cues! I have a million of them!! Close your eyes, and imagine the necklace or bracelet you could make with these colours? Or how about creating something with Ice Resin, Alcohol Inks or Epoxy Clay? Wouldn't they be wonderful?
I encourage you to go “walkabout”, in the hope that it will prod your muse into action! Immerse yourself in colour, and let the summer begin!!!! After all, we deserve it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Step into Summer Classes

Ahhh...the month of June. The end of a school year. Graduations. Finalizing summer vacations.

Before we get our summer in gear, let's have some fun now and take a class or two! You'll notice that we have lots of new classes including a new wire brooch project with Jen Rosen. Jenn Jevons and Liz Reynolds will be teaching separate classes to metal clay enthusiasts how to use this amazing medium for more constructed shapes and designs. Genevieve Habib is sharing her love of hubble stitch with a new design that combines hubble with ndebelle (aka herringbone). Pauline Peskoff brings four new projects that incorporates various techniques to create beautiful jewellery. We also have more encore classes and open session to whet your creative appetite!

Here are the classes scheduled June 1 - 15:

Thursday, June 2
Tic Tac Tila Bracelet
Instructor: Pamela Kearns
5:00 - 9:00pm

Open Metal Studio: Kiln Enamelling
Facilitator: Christine Woollacott
5:00 - 9:00pm

Saturday, June 4
NEW Wire Wrapping: Beginner Brooch
Instructor: Jen Rosen
10:00am - 1:00pm

NEW Construction and Hollow Forms in Art Clay Silver
Instructor: Jenn Jevons
10:00am - 4:30pm
(Class continues Sunday, June 5; 10:00am - 4:30pm)

Bead Stringing 101
Instructor: Nadine Foskin
2:30 - 4:30pm

Sunday, June 5
NEW Basic Ndebelle Hubble Bracelet: Circles in the Sky
Instructor: Genevieve Habib
12:00 - 3:00pm

Thursday, June 9
NEW Hunter's Pendant
Instructor: Pauline Peskoff
6:00 - 9:00pm

Wire Wrapped Stone Bracelet
Instructor: Bonni Poch
6:00 - 9:00pm

Friday, June 10
NEW Honeycomb Statement Necklace
Instructor: Pauline Peskoff
2:00 - 5:00pm

NEW Desert Rose Bracelet and Ring Set
Instructor: Pauline Peskoff
6:00 - 9:00pm

Saturday, June 11
NEW Linear Design in Metal Clay
Instructor: Liz Reynolds
11:00am - 5:00pm
(Class continues Sunday, June 12; 11:00am - 5:00pm)

Beading Without a Net: Intuitive Bead Embroidery
Instructor: Anne Marie Desaulniers
11:30am - 2:30pm
(Class continues Saturday, June 25; 10:00am - 5:00pm)

Sunday, June 12
NEW Lantern Earrings
Instructor: Pauline Peskoff
10:00am - 5:00pm

Complete information about each class and open session is on our website. Click on 'Classes' and follow the links to the June class calendar.

Bring your projects and join us at our FREE open beading sessions! 
Wednesday, June 8
Wednesday, June 15
Open Bead Night
Facilitators: Bonnie Cottingham, Pamela Kearns or Malliga Nathan
6:00 - 8:00pm

Thursday, June 2
Thursday, June 9
Afternoon Bead Tea
Facilitator: Pamela Kearns
1:00 - 3:00pm

We are pleased to offer these FREE sessions; however we request that you use our merchandise in our facility. Thank you.