Mar 302006

New review of BeadRoom an online bead store, is posted. I ordered from BeadRoom on March 19, and was super pleased that my order arrived on March 25. Now, that is super shipping and customer service!

I’m not as happy with PudgyBeads, which I ordered on the same day and just this morning received shipping confirmation. I’m less than patient with suppliers who take over a week to even get my order together and send it out…I want my beads NOW! However, I’ll wait for final judgment until I receive my order…who knows, it may be so fantabulous that I’ll forgive the wait.

Trying out some new items from Beadalon this week. Love the new earrings that are nickel free and have loops to dangle beads and crystals from. Star tipped head pins are really cute when they are finished, but I’m less ecstatic about the quality (or maybe it’s the packaging…they were all bent up when they got here). Because I was on an earring frenzy last night, I didn’t get a chance to try the wire wraps and crimp covers yet. Tonight, tonight!

Mar 302006

Does your Ring have Bling?

Mine does, thanks to Beadalon’s new Cell Phone Straps. These ultra hot, super cool little doodads slide right onto your cell phone (look on the top or side, there is a tiny loop to put them through!), letting you get creative and dress it up! I like Beadalon’s product, the strap is lightweight and slides easily onto my phone, and the loop component where I’ve hung my bling is nice and strong – I tried pulling on it and it stays put!

I’ve used Swarovski crystals on my phone strap, but making one would be a GREAT way to clean up some of the clutter and orphan beads on my table! Just use headpins to create wrapped dangles right on the split ring of the strap, and viola! instant fashion statement.

To attach wrapped loops directly to the ring, hold your round nosed pliers just above the bead on the headpin. Drop the ring onto the headpin, and create your loop…carefully making sure that the ring stays on the inside of the loop next to the pliers. Add as many dangles as you’d like, using beads, stones, crystals, even tiny bells!

Hubby and I have the same model phone (yeah I know, corny, but we got a good deal on two phones at the same time), and there have been occasions when he’s accidently grabbed mine instead of his. Bet that doesn’t happen again! 😀

Mar 292006

If it isn’t warm where you live, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be soon!

Yes… “Spring has sprung, the grass has ris’, I wonder where the flowers is!” Horrid grammer, I know, but it’s the first poem that comes to my mind when the weather starts to warm up. To celebrate warmer weather, shorter hems and bare ankles, why not make a cute “Shelly” anklet? I love the orangey shades these shells are dyed, but if you don’t like orange, you can find shells dyed in many, many different spring or summer hues! Another great option is to use small semi-precious stone chips – I’ve made one anklet in this style using Peridot chips and it was gorgeous. Standard length for anklets is 9 1/2″, make sure you measure your ankle before finishing the ankle bracelet though.

Another great Spring Break project idea is the Palm Tree Charm Bracelet. Nothing says warm weather like palm trees and this bracelet will remind you of sunshine and warm beaches year round.

Mar 282006

One of the comments I frequently hear is that people HATE bracelets with toggle clasps.

“I always lose them.”
“They are hard to put on.”
“They fall off so easily!”

I try to educate the women who make these comments about toggles, because they can be beautiful, stay on, and be easy to get on and off if you know a few important pointers.

1. Bracelets with a toggle clasp must fit properly. They cannot be super loose on your wrist, and you will lose them if they are. A bracelet needs to be just slightly larger than your wrist. Too snug and it will be uncomfortable, not to mention hard to put on; too loose and you run a high risk that the bar will slip right out of the ring.

To measure for a bracelet, put a cloth tape measure around your wrist just above (toward your elbow) the bone. Add 1/2-1″ for your bracelet size (depends on the beads you are using – larger circumference beads require a longer bracelet!). My wrist measures 6 1/4″ and a 7 1/4″ bracelet fits me perfectly.

2. Carefully check the toggle bar to ring (or square, triangle, whatever shape you’ve got on the non-bar end). The bar end should extend well beyond the widest part of the ring on both sides…and make sure if you have an oval or rectangle ring that you check the longer side too! (I made a bracelet for a gal, and the bar kept turning and slipping out of the length of the ring!) If the bar isn’t at least a couple of centimeters longer, don’t buy the clasp!

Don’t be fooled by expense, either. I’ve had cheapo toggles that were made well and held up nicely, and then again, have had some very expensive toggles that were worthless becuase of the design.

3. Finally, when designing your bracelet, leave some leeway for a “threader”. The last centimeter or 1/2″ of your bracelet before you finish with the toggle bar should be comprised of small chain, jump rings, seed beads, or other small beads. The idea is that you should be able to “thread” the toggle bar and a bit of the bracelet through the ring to make it easier to put on. With some practice, even the klutziest person (that would be me!) can put on toggles in a second!

Toggles come in some great shapes and designs, so don’t be afraid to use them. I especially like the designs that have a bowed bar (shaped like an upside-down W), like stock SS-TOG20 at ArtBeads.

Mar 262006

Have spent the morning happily cruising the weekend email specials from FireMountainGems…if you are not receiving their email newsletter, SIGN UP. I’m telling you, there are some wonderful, fabulous buys and totally unique items you are missing out on. Today I ordered carved figure-8 shaped Blue Adventurine, to die for faceted, twisted ovals in Rhodonite, and ruby zoisite (genuine ruby that’s naturally embedded in greenish zoisite) carved leaves that I am literally drooling over. Not stuff you see every day in your run-of-the-mill bead store! Sign up for the newsletter through a link on FireMountain’s home page.

Mar 262006

First show of the new year today, and while spring shows as a rule are not “as good” as fall or summer, I was pleased with it. Lots of custom orders, great interaction and sales with customers, and I found some new “friends” in the folks next to me. I always try to get something out of a show!

One thing I thought I’d mention, in addition to the tips I have posted before, is that you should always, always bring basic essentials to a show. I have a small box stocked with crimps, rings, and take along a small supply of beading wire, clasps and ear wires. Today I made several sales just because I could do some small “changes” on the spot.

One gal loved a bracelet, but needed it a little shorter, so I restrung it. Another woman was crazy about the stones in a Black Line Agate bracelet, but didn’t like the toggle clasp. I quickly offered to change it to a heart shaped lobster clasp, which sold the bracelet. Finally, a woman found the perfect pair of earrings to compliment the sapphire blue Swarovski bracelet she’d picked out, but didn’t care for French Wires. Lacking a pair of lever-backs (her preference), I grabbed a different pair of earrings off the rack, asked if she liked that style of lever-backs, and switched out the wires. Again, a sale I would have lost had I not been able to be flexible, listen to my customer, and had the right supplies on hand.

Obviously, you can’t please EVERYONE all the time. 😉 But do take the time to watch, listen and offer advice to a customer who is on the fence, and you might be surprised at the results!

Mar 242006

My Generation Gems order has arrived!!! Last week (March 15), I told you about some new personalized, engraved hematite and cat’s eye beads that I’d been alerted to. I ordered two hematite beads on March 15, and even though I was told they would arrive in 10 business days…they were at my door four days early!

I’m thrilled with the quality of the hematite beads – really heavy with a terrific sheen. The patented engraving is clean, perfectly lettered and numbered (you can’t see inthe photo, but on the next side of the four-sided bead, birthdates for kids are engraved on “their” bead). Beads were shipped in a nice sturdy cardboard gift box, which then could be used for gift giving if I were inclined to give away the bracelet (which I’m NOT :-D).

Look for a full review on the Media page of BeadingHelpWeb in the next few days…I can say in a nutshell, however, that I would highly recommend Generation Gems for a unique beading experience!!

Mar 232006

Looking for a great handcrafted gift idea for Easter? Check out my Salvation Bracelet, which uses different colored beads to symbolize the Christian faith. These bracelets would also make wonderful Confirmation gift. I’ve used Czech glass and pewter beads, which look rich and elegant at a reduced cost, but you could easily substitute the same size Swarovski crystals (cubes look fantastic!) and sterling or vermeil components.

I love jewelry that tells a story or starts a conversation. Any type of awareness jewelry, from Breast Cancer to Autism to religious faith is a great way to find people who share your interests as well as helping to raise knowledge of your cause.

Mar 212006

More beading and jewelry making contests!

First off, deadlines are looming for these that I just found:
Lapidary Journal and Step by Step Beads is sponsoring a Bead Arts Awards competition. There is a $25 entry, official rules can be found ” target=”_blank”>here. Divisions include: “Clay” bead, Glass bead, Other or mixed meadia bead, Bead necklace, Bead bracelet, Other bead jewelry, Beaded object. Deadline April 1, 2006.

Anytime Necklace deadline is also April 1, 2006…this contest has the unusual qualification that your necklace must be comprised of at least 100 beads (think seed beads ;-)) and must be displayed on a neck. Human or animal (yes, they actually say that!) Awards for top three entries include $50-$100 gift certificates. Public voting on the entries from April 10-21, with winners to be announced on April 24, 2006.

Want a free trip to Hiroshima, Japan? Submit the winning entry in the Treasures of Toho competition by June 30, 2006, and you’ll be on your way! Divisions include Wearable Art, Sculptural Art, Non-Wearable Works (wall hangings) and All AIKO. Entries must be primarily comprised of Toho beads. $25 fee to enter.

Finally, another holiday-centric contest from Master Wire Sculptor Preston Ruether. Enter the Jeweled Egg Contest by April 14, 2006 and have your shot at fame, fortune and gift certificates. Participants cannot have taken first place in any jewelry making contest, and your piece must be comprised primarily of wire.

Good Luck!!!

Mar 202006

Do you like Vintage Beads? I found two great sites over the weekend and have ordered some beauties – Pudgy Beads and Bead Room

Pudgy Beads has a lot more selection in vintage, but BeadRoom is worth checking out because of some of the unique beads they offer. Not only vintage, but some nice lampworked beads as well. Vintage beads are a favorite of mine because I like to imagine the stories that might be behind the beads. What kind of woman wore these, what were they designed into?

If you know of any other great Vintage Bead sellers, email me…I’d love to check them out!

Also spent way too much time at eBay this morning picking up some great buys from eBay seller GilbertandFrech. G&F offers great strands of semi-precious stones starting at .01 and while shipping is a bit more expensive than other sellers, in the long run you will get some great deals.