Blog for Beaders

A creative place to share jewelry making information, ideas, and inspiration! Hosted by Artbeads


Entries from August 2012

What is Strass?

August 31st, 2012 · 1 Comment

Every woman wants to shine, and every woman loves shoes. Strassing combines these two loves into the perfect pair of pumps. The term strass is traditionally a synonym for rhinestone, named after Georg Friedrich Strass who invented the flint glass as an alternative to gemstones. This technique is simply put—not simply achieved—as the act of covering your shoes in Swarovski flatbacks. Some designers stick with just the heel while others go all out in a crystal-encrusted shoe surface.

Photo Source:

The trend of dialing up the dazzle on expensive shoes exploded after designer Christian Louboutin fashioned a pair of fierce high heels for Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City 2, a fabulous off-white pair covered in glistening gold sprinkle. If you’re willing to shell out more than one pretty penny you can get the exact same shoe, or roll up your sleeves for an all-night DIY project at home!

Shimmer like a movie star and re-vamp some old favorites at the same time by flatbacking an old pair of high heels. If you have an idea of which shade of Swarovski crystal you’d like to use but are having trouble finding the right color shoe to match, take your shoes in to get dyed. This may be more difficult or easy depending on the type of material your shoe is made from. Next, gather an assortment of flatbacks in various sizes and have a placement pattern in mind. You can use loose Swarovski flatbacks and glue then with an adhesive like E6000, or work with Swarovski hotfix flatbacks that come with heat-activating glue on the back of the stone. Hotfix flatbacks are not recommended for leather, water-resistant material or other porous surfaces, and both Hotfix and no Hotfix flatbacks should be tested on the material with one or two stones before a full application. This will ensure the adhesive you use will work.

After all of the prepping it’s just a matter of patience to get the final result. Strass may be a good way to relieve stress by keeping your hands and mind busy! You can try recreating our A Brilliant Night shoes with our FREE instructions and putting your own twist on it with different colors!


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Tags: Ask The Experts · Beader's Resource · Jewelry and Craft Ideas

Jewelry Design Star – Round 5

August 30th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Congratulations to our Jewelry Design Star, Allison Hink! You can learn more about our latest star and her inspiring design on our Jewelry Design Star Spotlight page or view other great designs from our honorable mentions over on the Showcase page.

Do you have an eye for amazing designs and want to share them with the world? Enter our next Jewelry Design Star contest for your chance to be the next winner!


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Tags: Customer Gallery of Designs

Customer Service Special Delivery

August 29th, 2012 · 3 Comments

There’s been a trend buzzing around the Internet where pizza patrons take advantage of the special request box in the online order forms. When pizza orders are placed online, there is often a blank box labeled “special instructions” or “notes” where customers can give special requests. The requests were meant to be pizza-related, like to cut the pizza into squares or for extra sauce, but customers took advantage of the blank space and instructed what they wanted drawn on their pizza box. You can find some examples of instructions for the pizza delivery here.

Some Artbeads customers have been catching on to this craze and have put special requests in their orders for things they want drawn on their invoices. Anna in Customer Service took care of these fun requests, drawing everything from a goldfish to a dinosaur on customer invoice sheets. Here’s some of her lovely artwork before it got shipped off:

Ryan in Shipping also pitched in one day! There was a request for a wizard to be drawn on the customer’s envelope and he came through with this masterpiece.

We want our customers to know that we really listen to what you have to say—even if it’s a request for something drawn on your order! It’s little things like this that make our Customer Service team and everyone here at Artbeads great.


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Tags: Employee Gallery of Designs · Just For Fun!

Pearls in 2012 Fashion

August 28th, 2012 · No Comments

Pearls, the quintessential symbol of classic beauty, are here to stay! This elegant treasure from the sea was prominent in the 2012 Chanel Spring/Summer Fashion Show in jewelry, clothing and hair accessories.

The theme of the show was “pearls from the sea,” incorporating stark white coral props and a sandy white runway. Instead of belts, the designer strung pearls across the models.

The idea behind this show was to showcase beauty that has been shaped by the ocean floor, being perfected for millions of years and always evolving for modern times.

You too can follow this fashionable idea with either freshwater pearls or Swarovski crystal pearls, both of which offer elegant shine and unlimited sophistication.

Our Learning Center team is already ahead of the pearl game! Jewelry Designer Teri made these hair accessories for another Artbeads coworker to wear at her son’s wedding. The pieces in the first image are simply Swarovski pearls wire wrapped onto plain bobbi pins. When they’re worn in hair, you won’t even see the wire! The side comb in the second image is just a glimpse of how elaborate your pearl projects can be! Browse our collection of pearl beads for a variety of colors and shapes to create your own style for the end of summer.


Photo Sources: The Guardian and

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Tags: Beader's Resource

Devin and Cynthia’s Trip to Murano

August 27th, 2012 · 2 Comments

This summer, Artbeads co-owners Devin and Cynthia traveled to Murano, Italy, to learn the truth behind Murano Glass. Murano glass is most commonly made using a lampworking technique, which requires melting the glass in order to mold it into the desired shape. The raw glass is made up of various particles, including siliceous sand, soda, lime and potassium. These components are first melted together in an oven which turns it into the molten glass material. Then, the artist removes it from the oven and is ready to mold. Manipulating the glass can be done with instruments like pliers and scissors, or glass blowing. This ancient art form began in the 9th Century and continues its legacy today.

While in search of real Murano glass, Devin and Cynthia met amazing new people who opened their eyes to a new way of appreciating this special glass. The rise of Murano glass’ popularity brought with it the integration of “Murano-Style” glass, a cheaper version that is nothing like the real deal. This was why Devin and Cynthia wanted to share their experience—to prove to customers that the Murano glass we sell is just like the ones they found in the city.

Devin and Cynthia first started out in Venice before venturing to Murano. In order to reach the small Italian island, the two had to ride a taxi boat over. The various canals that made up Murano were bordered by numerous little shops selling glass pieces. Though Venice had more glass jewelry, Murano shared with Devin and Cynthia its share of incredible jewelry as well as beads and vases.

They met the Meretti family who make Murano glass, including the shop keeper and master glass maker. Devin and Cynthia got to tour the family’s museum which included a peek inside their hot shop, but then received a special glimpse at their personal gallery. Inside this gallery were tall chandeliers, intricate vases and delicate figurines all handmade from glass. It’s a 25-year commitment, they found out, to become a master artist. You must go through an apprenticeship and have the creative drive to be successful. This commitment is getting harder and harder to find in the new generations, making the Murano glass even more unique. You can tell if a Murano glass piece is real by spotting the master’s mark. Each master leaves a special mark on the surface.

Devin and Cynthia, and all of us at Artbeads, want our customers to know how much we care about providing them with quality products. We love knowing that there’s a story behind each bead we sell, and we enjoy telling you its adventure so far. The journey of a bead is never really complete until it’s wrapped up in purple tissue paper, delivered to a doorstep and strung onto a design.


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Tags: Beader's Resource · Company News

Go Green With Artbeads!

August 24th, 2012 · No Comments

Ready to go green? This beautiful bracelet will help you spread the word on environmental awareness, celebrating the beauty of our planet. Read the FREE instructions for our Let’s Be Green bracelet idea in the Learning Center to get started!


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Tags: Jewelry and Craft Ideas

Artist Spotlight – Jill MacKay

August 22nd, 2012 · 5 Comments

Artbeads is proud of every designer we feature on our site. Our purchasers research each and every artist and their offerings in order to determine which products our customers would like best. We always keep our designing customers in mind because we are designers ourselves. Jill MacKay is one of those artists whose work is so amazing that we have built a great relationship with her and have great adoration for her components. She designs and manufactures clasps, findings, chains, beads, chandeliers and more, and is known for innovation in the jewelry-making marketplace. We’d like to share with you the person behind some of the great components we supply—Jill MacKay.

Jill admits that there isn’t a time in her life that she hasn’t been creating. “Basically I owe my career to my high school art teacher…she encouraged me to improve upon my talents and had me selling my work to local audiences at a young age. This taught me very early on that I could make money by doing the work I love.” It was in high school that MacKay learned silversmithing. She loved jewelry making from the start and loved learning all the different techniques, from casting to fabrication. “The beauty of that glowing moment when a solid piece of silver turns to liquid and allows you to change its shape and form was just thrilling, still is” she exclaims.

Her resume is nothing short of amazing: she’s most recognized as being the jewelry designer for The Guiding Light and working on Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, and has sold her lines of components in all the major craft chain stores under her own name. Jill is a self-proclaimed “bead freak.” She still loves working with silver, but recently has branched out into stainless steel and bronze. Learning the new techniques required of designing in new metals is exciting for Jill because she loves to learn and it teaches her how far she can push a medium. “There’s been a learning curve especially with the Stainless but I think I’ve got it now!” When asked to pick a favorite piece, Jill explains that the end results are secondary to the process. This journey to a finished product is the best part for her. “I am all about the process of design. Spending time drawing and envisioning things in 3D that do not yet exist is a great workout for my brain…If you take care of the process, the end result will be successful.”

The inspiration for her designs comes from the patterns, forms and colors found in nature. As Jill puts it, nature is always right there to observe and study. Life is always evolving and changing, as is Jill’s work. “Paying attention to beauty in nature is how I spend an enormous amount of [my] time.” One of the most important things Jill would like others to know about her is that she’s been a self-employed, creative person for 29 years now. “Next year when we reach 30 we are going to have to have a party!” It’s that fun, expressive personality that makes Jill MacKay a wonderful artist to work with. We love carrying her products! You can get your hands on Jill MacKay jewelry supplies and find out for yourself what makes her pieces so special.


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Tags: Beader's Resource

Seed Beads 201

August 22nd, 2012 · 4 Comments

After graduating from Seed Beads 101, where you gained a basic understanding of these tiny little beauties, you’re now ready for Seed Beads 201. Welcome! This lesson will teach you all about the two leading names in Japanese Seed Beads—Miyuki and TOHO. As you well know, selecting quality seed beads can mean the difference between professional designs and unsuccessful projects. Japanese seed beads are known for having consistent size and finish, compared to Czech seed beads. Japanese seed beads tend to have larger hole sizes than Czech beads of the same size as well. This uniformity is what makes Japanese seed beads popular with jewelry designers, even today. Let’s delve a little deeper into Miyuki and TOHO individually.

Miyuki started out as a dream, about 60 years ago, when its founder Seiichi Katsuoka discovered the beauty of glass seed beads. His fascination became a passion when, in 1949, he dedicated his time to learning how to produce these beads. Quality was the most important factor when making Miyuki beads, and this still rings true today. Through the generations, each company president has continued to search for innovative ways to produce new types and styles. Miyuki has become one of the most successful seed bead companies by holding on to the founder’s origin al intention, and has set the standard for others.

There are various different types of Miyuki seed beads, but the most common are Delicas, Tila, Square and Hexagon. Delicas are high-quality beads shapes like cylinders with consistent size and shape, offered in numerous colors and finishes. Tila beads are flat beads with angled corners and two stringing holes. These are ideal for more intricate projects, like multistranded jewelry or bead weaving. These should be handled with care to avoid chipping because of their sharp angles. Square and Hexagon are basic cuts that are shaped as their name implies.

TOHO seed beads are also world renowned for their consistency in size, shape and color. Established in 1951, TOHO has always strived to improve its techniques in designing and creating new beads. In English, “TOHO” actually means “Eastern Treasure,” which is exactly what these lovely little beads are! TOHO prides itself on earning the respect of designers around the world, and claims right as being the top maker of glass beads. When shopping for TOHOs, there are endless choices for size, shape and color.

Their tube-shaped Bugle beads make ideal spacers, and the teardrop shape of the Magatama beads give looks a cool asymmetrical finish. In fact, “Magatama” means “curved bead” in Japanese. Another cool collection from TOHO is their Hybrid seed beads. TOHO teamed up with Czech glass makers to produce some of the finest pieces. First, the TOHOs are created in the traditional Japanese style. Then, the beads are sent to the Czech Republic to receive the signature finish of Czech glass seed beads. The end result is a bead with consistent size and shape with a brilliant shine!

So, are you Team Miyuki or Team TOHO? Either way you’re sure to be impressed. Both brands will add value to your designs, whether you choose to use them in looming, weaving or jewelry making. Mix and match them both with some of your other favorite beads for unique results every time!


*Information Sourced from both TOHO and Miyuki company websites.

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Tags: Beader's Resource

Opportunity Awaits You in the Boreal Forest…

August 21st, 2012 · No Comments

Have you been waiting for the opportunity to showcase a fantastical summer project? Try this multistranded necklace that incorporates beautiful seed beads, lampwork glass and bold chain. The great part about this necklace is that the links on this chain are actually open jump rings so there’s no cutting required. You may have seen this necklace before in beading magazines, and now you can read the free, easy-to-read instructions to recreate it at home! Learn how to make our Boreal Forest Necklace, inspired by the beautiful woodland area that stretches across North America.


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Tags: Jewelry and Craft Ideas

Swarovski Plastic Rondelles are Here!

August 17th, 2012 · 2 Comments

If you’re looking for lightweight fun and elegant year-round sparkle, try our newest plastic rondelle beads from Swarovski! These little plastic components are designed for use in all types of accessories because of their lightweight appeal and continued eye-catching shine, opening up new possibilities for jewelry makers. Their size and shape is ideal for spacing between larger crystals, and their plastic material allows for less friction against finer components.

Available in different finishes and different colored stones, these mini rondelles offer your looks versatility while maintaining sophistication. Since they’re waterproof they would be perfect to use in athletic wear or for sweltering summer styles! Whether you want to stay classy by the pool or meet a hot date right after work, the plastic rondelles help create the perfect jewelry for any occasion. Browse all of our Swarovski plastic rondelles that can be incorporated into any idea!


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Tags: Beader's Resource · Company News · Jewelry and Craft Ideas

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