Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Glitter and Resin!

Hello Friends!

Last week Andrea and I had a joint beading table filled with a confection of colored and glitter-infused resin curing in molds. Well........ we popped our resin out of the molds!

The results were just too exciting not to share. We made red glitter hearts and gold stars which will become refrigerator magnets. Multi-colored butterflies will soon be attached to bobby pins and adorn the hair. The really large (and really cool) butterflies are screaming to be hung in a window. The plethora of rounds, ovals, rectangles, and diamond shapes will be made into rings and necklaces.

As we were working, Sarah made a very astute comment: "when you think you have enough glitter, add more". This proved to be the key for making the really intense focal points we were desiring. Some of the molds we poured earlier with less glitter now look dull by comparison. Another discovery was that a thin, clear layer of resin placed in the mold first (and allowed to fully cure) produced a magnifying effect when the next layer was glitter filled resin. Finally, we also discovered that pouring a dark opaque colored resin as the third and final layer really helped to make the colors below it pop.

If you love resin and are wanting to try some molds, check out the selection here.

- Julie

Monday, May 30, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Old Hollywood Glamour

My inspiration choice today is one that is as far reaching in its influence as it is utterly classic.  Recalling the starlets of Tinsel Town's L'Age D'or, one cannot help but visualize the baubles worn by these fabulous ladies.

Now known simply as "Hollywood"

Pearls, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds positively dripped from the necks, ears and wrists of the Hollywood elite.  Grace Kelly rocked a classic strand of pearls like no one else could.  Audrey Hepburn's tiara and multi-strand necklace combo in Breakfast At Tiffany's is still the height of bourgeois chic, and who could forget the Grande Dame of them all when it comes to jewelry, Elizabeth Taylor?  Even as far back as the silent film era, Hollywood beauties like Theda Bara really knew how to punch up a dramatic performance by adding gobs of interesting costume jewels.

Grace Kelly
Elizabeth Taylor

Audrey Hepburn
Theda Bara

Of course, with gold and silver prices what they are today, and the dearth of priceless gemstones at our disposal, those of us who are not stars of the Silver Screen must use our resources as beaders to come up with our own versions of Hollywood jewelry.  Luckily for us, we have Swarovski Crystal to use as ersatz flawless gemstones, and findings galore that possess that je ne sais quoi essential to this particular look.

Here are some glamorous and dramatic free jewelry projects which will hopefully inspire your inner "diva of a bygone era".

Enjoy, and Happy Beading!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Introducing Silver Filled Findings and Wire

You may have noticed that the price of silver has risen lately, and found, to your regret, that many of the beautiful sterling silver or fine silver findings and wire that you counted on being able to use in your jewelry are becoming cost prohibitive. 

Did you know that the price of silver has actually been rising steadily for the past ten years?  When Beadaholique started offering sterling silver beads and findings more than 10 years ago, silver cost around $4 per troy ounce.  Today it costs almost $40!  In fact, the price of silver has nearly doubled in the last year alone.  

What are we poor beaders and jewelry makers to do? Our other main alternative, silver-plated brass findings, while extremely affordable, and ideal for beginners, or younger beaders, has a short life, appearance-wise.  Electroplated silver is mere microns thick, and can easily wear off, or corrode off under normal use.

The jewelry industry as a whole is facing the same conundrum, and manufacturers are, almost in unison, turning to the same solution to the problem.   "What is it?" I hear you cry.

(Trumpet flourish) 

Silver-filled is making a comeback!  Silver-filled, also once known as rolled silver or Sheffield silver, is a relatively thick layer of silver mechanically bonded over a metal core, usually brass or copper. This silver layer, because it is many times thicker, is by its very nature highly superior to and far more durable than a thin electroplated layer of mere silver plate. 

We are pleased to announce the arrival of silver filled findings and wire at Beadaholique.  Silver filled offers the same beautiful appearance and warm shine of solid silver at a considerable savings. Silver filled wire and components can be used much the same as their sterling silver counterparts, and with proper care, these pieces will last a lifetime. Silver filled is usually available less than 50% of the cost of sterling silver, making it an excellent choice for jewelry making. 

When shopping for silver filled items, you will often see in the descriptions numbers such as 99/20, 99/10, 925/20, or 925/10. What do these numbers mean? The first number will always tell you if it is fine silver (99% silver) or sterling silver (92.5% silver) which has been bonded over the core. 

The second number tells you the thickness of the layer. For instance, a 20 represents 1/20th, which means that the silver layer is 5% (1/20th) of the total material weight.  A 10 indicates that 1/10th or 10% of the total material is silver.   So in the case of silver filled, the smaller the second number is, then the higher quantity of silver (which seems counter-intuitive, I know).  Make sure to ask your supplier for these details if they do not disclose them. 
Almost anything you can do with sterling silver, you can do with silver filled. Compared with silver plated findings and wire, whose electroplated layer can easily scratch and come off (and so is best for inexpensive fashion or costume jewelry), the thick silver filled layer enables you to create heirloom quality jewelry that will stand the test of time. 

With silver filled you can use many of your favorite silver jewelry making techniques which were difficult or not possible to do with silver plate. You can create a rich patina with liver of sulfur, wire wrap intricate patterns that will retain their finish, texturize with a hammer, wire work to create your own clasps and ear wires, create chain maille, etc. Once again the world of making jewelry with beautiful, high quality silver components is available to you. 

To care for your new silver filled jewelry, you will want to follow the same guidelines as when caring for solid silver. Store your materials in sealed plastic bags to slow down tarnishing cause by sulfur and oxygen in the air.  When you are wearing your silver filled jewelry, try to keep it away from excess perspiration, chlorine (take off before swimming) and other chemicals. If it does become tarnished, use a silver polish to bring back its shine and luster. Look for cleaning and polishing products that are approved for silver, these will work well on silver filled as well. 

At Beadaholique we are pleased to offer many silver filled items. Wire is available in 6 gauges ranging from 16 - 26 in both half hard and dead soft. We also have a great selection of round seamless beads, head pins, ear wires, jump rings, crimp beads, toggle clasps and several charms. As more and more manufacturers expand their of silver filled offerings, our selection will grow. We will continue to offer sterling silver items as well as silver plated, so now you will have 3 choices and can decide which one is best for you. 

If you are hearing about silver filled for the first time as you are reading this, I hope we answered many of your questions. Silver filled is a beautiful, affordable alternative to sterling silver that can be used much the same way as sterling. 

Widespread opinion holds that the price of silver will not be declining anytime soon and will most likely rise. Out of this, the silver filled industry was born and will continue to grow. You might not have heard much about silver filled in the past, but chances are you will be hearing much more about it in the coming months and years. It is an excellent new resource and one which we are excited to see develop. 

If you have any questions about silver filled, please post them to this blog or to our Facebook page. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BTW: Bead Table Wednesday 5/25/2011

Andrea's and Julie's Joint Beading Table!

This week we decided to try a little something new and are having a blast! We love working with resin here at Beadaholique and have been anxious to expand on some popular resin techniques, push them a bit further. On the table you can see molds where we have added glitter to resin, layered resin, and even tried to duplicate the look of opals. Not shown in the photo is a also a bangle bracelet mold where we have embedded lucite cabochons at staggered heights. Now we are at the hardest part of the process, waiting the 3 days to pop the objects out of the mold! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Steampunk

I must admit that this Monday's inspiration is dear to my heart. Steampunk is a movement that came into the mainstream consciousness in the late 1980's and early 1990's, and has been gaining popularity ever since. Considered to be a sub-genre of science fiction, it is an alternate take on history, one which is dominated by steam power. In this alternate world, the late 19th century Victorian era is the foundation, represented in the clothing, dialog, and overall aesthetic. However, an important deviation from the Victorian era is in the technology of the Steampunk world - it can be far more advanced than that time period (20th century-style zeppelins and computing devices) yet it is still fueled by steam and man-powered mechanical devices (think H.G. Wells and Jules Verne type designs). In many ways, Steampunk brings together the past with the future. 

From a designers point of view, Steampunk presents a very intriguing combination. On one hand you have the fragile, soft and hand worked elements of the Victorian era such as fine silks, old buttons, tatted lace and pieces of old leather. On the other hand you have very rigid technology based elements like brass gears, copper cogs, clock parts, rivets, steel, etc. This combination of hard and soft elements is what makes Steampunk so esthetically intriguing. 

The colors of the Steampunk "era" are usually muted, often sepia tones, black, grays, and browns. It's also important to add a metal or metallic element such as brass, gunmetal, copper, silver, or gold.
Steampunk Lab offers a good array of inspirational designs and Wikipedia has numerous links to examples of Steampunk inspired movies, books, and designs.  

Here are a few free Steampunk projects which you can create from our free instructions and materials available for purchase on Beadaholique

When designing Steampunk, remember to embrace the movement, let yourself go, and have fun! 

- Julie 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Win A $100 Gift Certificate to Beadaholique's Artfire Store!

Sign up for the ArtFire Collection of the Day EmailWant to win a $100 gift certificate to Beadaholique's Artfire Store?  Two lucky winners already have, and you could, too!   

Artfire is giving away a $100 gift certificate to any ArtFire Pro Studio each day as part of their daily email!  Two winners have already chose Beadaholique as the place they want to spend a $100 gift certificate.

Here’s how it works:   Sign up to receive the ArtFire Daily Collection email here.

Once you’ve clicked your confirmation link they’ll send you your own unique “Shopper Code.” Your code will be three letters and three numbers, like ABC-123.

Each morning they’ll select one shopper code and include it in the Collection email. If your code is selected just email contests@artfire.com to claim your prize! Remember to keep an eye out every day to see if they publish your "Shopper Code" !

If you see your number, you have seven days to write in to Artfire and tell them for which Artfire Studio you would like a gift certifcate - Beadaholique, of course!

Staff Favorite: Bead Stopper

There is a very simple, inexpensive little gadget called a Bead Stopper which I personally think is one of the handiest tools in beading. A Bead Stopper literally stops beads from falling off your stringing material. You just attach it to the end of your stringing material, string your beads, then remove it when you are ready to attach a clasp or add more beads to the end you started from.  Gone are the days when you had to restring an entire strand, because your error was near the beginning, and you had already crimped on a clasp. 

One full size bead stopper can hold the ends of several strands at once - its gripping power is limited only by the weight of the beads.  So, also gone are the days when you had to fold a piece of tape around the end of each strand of a multi-strand piece, and then deal with sticky residue when you took the tape off. 

One might ask, with the wealth of amazing beads and complex tools available to me here at Beadaholique, why is a Bead Stopper my favorite pick?  It is because of the many moments in beading when I have dropped a strand, and with the Bead Stopper on, the beads did NOT fall off.  It is because I now have the flexibility to stop a project midway, place Bead Stoppers on, and know that I can come back to it weeks later and all my beads will be right where I left them. Finally, it is because the Bead Stopper gives me the flexibility to change my pattern midway and not have to restart, saving me time and supplies. 

If you are not familiar with a Bead Stopper and how it works, check out this video:

Happy Beading!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

BTW: Bead Table Wednesday 5/18/2011

Andrea's Table

On my bead table today is an omnium-gatherum of silvery pearls to be knotted on persimmon colored silk, two-toned seed beads, caution orange cathedral beads, and some milky white Czech druks. Most exciting of all - some incredible star dangle charm chain that we have just recieved, and that I cannot wait to play with. What I will do with all these funky bits and baubles, I have yet to figure out. I like to challenge myself with odd colors and bizarre combinations, and I think that sums up what you see here.

Julie's Table

This week I challenged myself to do something festive in feel. The obvious choice would have been black, silver, crystal, rhinestones, etc. but I wanted to try something different. I have always loved the cultured coin pearls we have with their intense colors, fun shape, and unusual texture. Combining the golden bronze pearls with the lustrous peacock had a surprise effect of intensifying the blue tones and downplaying the gold (I thought it would have been the opposite).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beads 2011

On newsstands now!

I am thrilled to announce that a project of mine, designed for Beadaholique, has been published in the Beadwork Magazine's Beads 2011 special annual edition!

We submitted a special piece which highlighted some of our new and exciting beading must-haves, and I had the time of my life designing it.  The finished product came out better than I could have hoped for, a fun and summery salute to the outdoors called "Nature's Talisman".

Nature's Talisman

Using oodles of matte gold lent a soft, shimmery element to the interesting color palette of muted carnelian, turquoise, and lime green.  I had so much fun playing with the various Czech glass beads and wood components, topping it all off with the unexpected addition of some colorful aluminum chain.

Want instructions for this project?  If so, go to your local book store or news stand and look for this great magazine--which includes instructions on how to create Nature's Talisman as well as many other beautiful projects, and pages and pages of new beads to fall in love with.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Paris

Paris is called the city of light for good reason; its famously  beautiful boulevards and monuments are illuminated by electric bulbs strewn upon the trees that stand alongside the likes of the Champs-Elysees and the Tour Eiffel.  However, for me, the light of the city comes most from the sense of inspiration, education, and enlightenment it gives me. 

I traveled to Paris for the first time when I was 18 and instantly fell in love with the city, her people, and the abundance of art. If I could describe my perfect day, it would be spent strolling along a sidewalk within Marche Vanves (a fantastic Paris flea market) on a warm Sunday morning. I would then take the Metro over to the fabric markets at the base of Sacre Coeur, followed by an evening at a little cafe with a glass of wine, some dinner with a scrumptious sauce, and chocolate mousse for dessert. Everything about Paris inspires me: the architecture, food, markets, sounds, scents, and of course the art. I simply can not get enough of this amazing city and it influences many of the jewelry pieces I create. 


Just by looking around Paris you will see examples of Neoclassicism, Rococo, and Baroque design.  Doorways, balconies, and even the Metro signs are fantastic examples of Art Nouveau's flowing and organic style.  Lamp posts, park benches and doorknobs scream their Art Deco roots.  Paris also hosts some of the world's most amazing museums, containing a wealth of inspiration.

Thankfully, with all the resources of the modern era, even those of us not living in Paris can be inspired by it.  A simple Google Images search for Paris will pull up spectacular pictures.  For even more fun, type an address in Paris into Google Maps and click on "street view."  Then enjoy a virtual stroll down the street.   I will admit that I have done this on more then one occasion when needing a burst of inspiration.

 Once you feel fully immersed in what "Paris" means to you, you can translate that to your jewelry.  To me, when I close my eyes and think of Paris, the images of faded sepia-toned love letters, brass Eiffel towers, black and gold fleur de lis', and crystal chandeliers comes to mind. For you it might be the blue and yellow French Provencal fabric patterns, toile, and big bouquets of messy wildflowers. It can be anything you want it to be and that is what makes Paris so special. 

Below are a few of our free jewelry designs that were inspired by the beauty of Paris.  You can easily make these yourself, or use them as springboards for your own designs.

- Julie

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chain Maille Madness

Chain Maille fever has struck the Beadaholique crew and is quickly spreading through the ranks.

It all started when Beadalon came out with a new line of jump rings made specifically for popular chain maille weaves.   Available in 4 different finishes, and tons of sizes, these jump rings take a lot of the guesswork out of chain maille, and are ideal for use by beginners. 

Fig, our customer service guru, who has been doing metal work for years, immediately started experimenting with the products and our new Chain Maille Instruction booklets. He willingly gave advice and critiques to anybody who asked. 


Esther's European 4-in-1

Then Esther made an amazing European 4-in-1 bracelet using black links and brought it to work.  Andrea took up the challenge, and worked steadily every evening on a Dragonscale cuff. I wasn't far behind, and started working my way through all the weaves in the booklets.

Matthew's Byzantine and Full Persian. 

Soon Fig, Esther, Matthew, Andrea, and I were all bringing in chain maille projects that we were working on.   Discussions of weaves, aspect ratios, inner diameters and all things chain maille are now regularly heard in every corner of the office.

Andrea's Dragonscale Cuff

Chain Maille is an addictive art form and one we are all still working on mastering new weaves.   So don't be surprised when new Beadaholique how-to videos on Chain Maille start appearing!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blog Love - Cynthia Thornton, Green Girl Studios

Every now and then, we like to highlight other blogs we love to read.  Cynthia Thornton's blog is one of them!

She gets our blog love for her artistic ability but also for the personal accessibility her blog offers--a window into her creative mind. Cynthia's blog showcases family portraits, stories of real life, how-to projects, and her own sources of inspiration. Scattered in the blog are also some of her designs, but the focus is on life and living it to the fullest. 

If you are not familiar with Cynthia Thornton and her Green Girl Studios cast metal pieces, then look forward to being delighted. Her detailed hand-cast designs primarily focus on nature, animals, and mystical themes. Some beads are inscribed with inspirational sentiments while others encourage one to dream and love. Although she started casting in resin, her original designs are now cast in fine pewter, silver, and shibuichi 

Here are some of our favorite Green Girl Studio designs:


In addition to being a jewelry maker, Cynthia is also a painter, sculptor, doll maker, wife, mother, and published author. Her talents are vast and beautifully showcased in her new book "Enchanted Adornments". Every page, every technique and project will get you excited about jewelry-making all over again.  

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