Mar 302007

Got into a discussion on the Jewelry Artist message board recently about jewelry making/beading suppliers who sell finished product. Fire Mountain Gems was mentioned specifically, and none of the jewelry artists discussing the topic were happy about the even slight shift of suppliers to selling finished “work”, rather than components for jewelry making.

I tend to agree. Fire Mountain Gems (along with other beading and jewelry suppliers) have been in business for decades marketing products that allow hobbyists, casual and professional jewelry makers to create unique and handcrafted items. To also sell produced, manufactured pieces of jewelry alongside individual components seems an insult to our craft.

How many craft shows have you been at that have pitted handcrafted works of art against “resale” jewelry? Can a jewelry artist compete against “made in (name your country)” that is priced at a quarter of the price? While some consumers recognize the artistry and craftsmanship in hand tooled work, many just look at the bottom line.

My opinion? Companies who have built their business reputation on being a supplier for jewelry makers should stay out of the “resale” market. Don’t propagate the illusion that cheaper is better. Be a friend and supplier to the jewelry artist, not to the reseller who will undercut our business.

I’d be curious to know what my readers think as well. Feel free to leave comments on the blog, or email me at

Mar 262007

I had wanted to pick up some color changing beads from Rings N Things for a while, so when I went to the trunk show last week and they were laying out….well, I just couldn’t resist. Kind of an impulse item, but I thought they’d be fun to try.

Reminiscent of the mood rings of the 70’s, the beads change color according to your mood. 😉 (I think it’s actually tied to your skin temp, so I guess if you are “hot under the collar”, it will mean you are stressed out!) From deep blue (calm and relaxed) to yellow-ish green (stressed), all of the shades are actually quite pretty.

I made up a couple of different styles of rings using the beads today, they have pretty large holes, and can accommodate up to 16g wire (one pass through the bead). I like using 18g half hard best, however, it holds up shape and is easier to work with. The 18g wire will pass through the bead twice, which worked for one style I tried.

Photo posted is the style I prefer – the wire is wrapped twice around the ring mandrel (creating a more substantial shank), wrapped around the bead, and then finished by winding around the shank. It’s comfy to wear, allows the bead to touch my skin (which means it will change color), and looks good too.

Mar 232007

I neglected to mention on Monday that I’d been able to make it to the Rings N Things trunk show in Omaha. If the van is coming to your area and you are a R&T customer, be sure to stop in! (You must show your invite, sent to current customers, in order to be admitted to the show.)

At the trunk show, you’ll see table after table after table of gemstones, pearls, wood, Bali silver and more at 50% off retail, plus an additional 15% off…and no shipping makes it a shopping trip worth saving for! In addition, R&T brings items that aren’t discounted, but “bread and milk” that you probably need anyway (crimps, tools, findings, etc.,). I had some fun with a couple of ladies who were looking at the bracelet buddies (it’s a tool that helps with putting on bracelets)…they didn’t know what it was for until I demonstrated, and sold a couple of them on the spot for R&T! (You’re welcome, Russ. :-))

I scored a number of strands, including some nice turquoise, Bali, and assorted large hole pearls. I also got a “Russ Troll Bead” – a replica of the founder of Rings N Things, Russ Nobbs – and got to chat with R&T employees, including Russ’s son Skyler.

Great people and great products. Be sure you check out the official trunk show schedule for a showtime near you!!!

Mar 192007

I had an interesting experience yesterday! I had been asked to do a jewelry project for ladies at a local retirement home, and after discussing with the owner of my LBS, decided on memory wire bracelets.

I picked up some packets of mixed color beads in what I thought were pretty large sizes. It turned out that while the ladies didn’t have much trouble with picking up the beads, some of them did struggle with holes in the beads. My son had come to help me, and between us we helped out anyone who had difficulty, letting them tell us which beads to put on the wire, and then stringing the beads for them.

Overall, a success – 7 ladies who proudly sported their new bracelets to dinner that night, and an invite to come back and do another project.

Suggestions on projects for senior citizens?

Mar 192007

Wanted to remind everyone that Beading Help Web’s spring contest – “Is it Spring Yet????” is up and running! Design a piece of jewelry that shows just how ready you are for the winter snows and winds to be over and send a photo to Winning entry will receive a $25 gift certificate to!

Entries are due no later than March 31 – see the home page of Beading Help Web for contest rules and details.

Can’t wait to see YOUR entry!!!

Mar 172007

Interweave Press has two great new beading books that will be released in April…I was fortunate to get advance copies and have the reviews for you to take a look at on Beading Help Web.

Stringing Styles 2 is geared toward experienced stringers – there are fresh new styles that perked up my interest in stringing again!

Beadwork Creates Jewelry contains over 50 projects – all types of beading – with wonderful photos and detailed instructions!

Both are available directly from Interweave Press – order now for delivery in April 2007!

Mar 092007

I don’t know why, but I’ve never bothered making Memory Wire Bracelets before. I am teaching a class at a local retirement home later this month, had the project suggested to me as one that seniors would like, and so I made up a couple of sample bracelets to try them out.

I found that a Memory Wire Bracelet is just fun to make, and so easy and quick, I can do one in just a matter of minutes! Sure, cutting and bending the ends is a little tricky (NEVER NEVER NEVER use your good pliers to cut memory wire!!!) but the possibilities are endless with this style.

For this bracelet, I just used some mixed Czech glass and added in some Hill Tribe silver beads that I had around. I really like the rich colors of the beads, and like I said, it was so fast and easy to make, I’m sure I’ll be making more!
Mar 062007

I’m gearing up for my first craft show of the year, coming up this Saturday. I’ve printed and am checking off items on my Craft Show Checklist…need to make sure I have everything I need!

Craft shows can be a nerve-wracking experience if you feel like you aren’t prepared…rush rush rush in getting set up and it always seems like you’ve forgotten something! I usually try to pack my car the night before the show so I can just get up, get showered and dressed, and jump in my car. For the first show of the season though, I really need to make sure I have everything, so will probably go through my checklist on Wednesday or Thursday!

If you use the checklist and find something you believe is essential is missing, please drop me a line. Let’s all help each other be ready for our big events this year!

Mar 022007


Here in the Midwest, it was a great day for making jewelry…a blizzard that pounded us with nearly a foot of snow, blowing snow, and ice kept me inside most of the day.

Aside from other commitments, I managed to cut, tumble and sort about 1000 jump rings and make a bracelet that I had in my head for a couple of days. It uses some 15mm green jade donuts and tons of sterling silver jump rings in various sizes. Right now, it’s in the tumbler, and I can’t wait for it to come out!

Today is the start of Beading Help Web’s Spring Contest – the winner will receive a gift certificate from for $25! It’s pretty appropriate (to me, that is!) that the theme for the contest is “Is it Spring Yet????”….I could sure use some daffodils today!!!

Here’s hoping the old adage comes true though, and March goes out like a lamb. I could use some warmer weather. 🙂