October 29th, 2014 · 3 Comments
It’s always good to hear when we are doing something right. We recently heard from Eva K., one of our customers, who had lots of lovely things to say about us:
“I wanted to drop a note to just say how much I appreciate your company. As a new small business just starting up, I have run into my share of bad customer service and getting “taken to the cleaners”…and only in the last few months!
I have come to trust your company for CONSISTENT quality in products. CONSISTENT speed in shipping. CONSISTENT low prices and then coupons that customers can actually use WITH sales! (How amazing is THAT?) Then, a Crystal Rewards Program (FREE) where customers earn FREE credits to use to purchase more products in the future as they make their regular purchases! It can get almost addicting…;-)
I actually had to return some items (which I hate to do and so rarely attempt), but only because I realized I couldn’t use them. I called your customer service line and got a very friendly and professional lady on the phone. Her name was Mariah. Instead of what I get from other companies; “Well, there is a ‘restocking’ fee and we won’t pay for shipping,” I got “How would you like your refund?” and “Oh, why do you need our address? It should be on the label you print out for the shipping.” What? “Oh, no, we certainly wouldn’t expect our customers to pay for a return! And we try to keep our shipping costs as low as possible as well.” Well, duh. I DID know that part. I order enough from your site!
I should not have been surprised by all of this as it is all just basic good customer service. It’s just that it’s so RARE. That’s sad, I know. HOWEVER, Artbeads is doing it right, doing it WELL, and doing it CONSISTENTLY! That makes me a loyal customer and strong supporter of your company. Thank you!”
Thanks for the excellent feedback, Eva! What do you have to say? Check the box on your next order to review our store or add your comments to our Facebook page. You can also email us with your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. You might just be featured right here on our blog!
Tags: Share Your Stories · Top Rated Products & Reviews
Gilders Paste is a great way to add new color to metal, wood, polymer clay, ceramic, wax and resin surfaces. It comes in lots colors and each container provides enough paste for many, many projects. We’ve used Gilders Paste in some of our Learning Center ideas and they all turned out fabulous!
A little Gilders Paste goes a long way in projects like these, so you’ll have your Gilders Paste on hand for a long time. After a while, you might notice it start to dry out. Don’t worry, you don’t have to throw it out! You can refresh dried out Gilders Paste so it is as good as new and ready to use on any project!
Take a look at our How to Refresh Dried Out Gilders Paste Handy Tip to learn the techniques for rejuvenating this amazing paste. Or, if you’re new to using Gilders Paste, learn the basics with our How to Use Gilders Paste Handy Tip.
Now that you know all the tricks to using Gilders Paste, we want to know: What will you make? Leave us a comment below with your plans, or share a picture of your Gilders Paste creations on our Facebook Page!
Tags: Beader's Resource · Jewelry and Craft Ideas
October 14th, 2014 · 2 Comments
We receive lots of feedback from our customers every day! It’s a joy to hear about what people most enjoy about our site. Here’s what Karen V. had to say about us:
“I’ve very much appreciated the excellent quality of Artbeads.com’s merchandise and service. I’ll continue to purchase my jewelry-making supplies from this company because of the discounts, free shipping & handling policy, efficient processing and delivery, and the user-friendly web site of this company. I have no complaints or suggestions for better customer service. And the Artbeads Cafe sessions are EXCELLENT! I learn something from each new episode. THANK YOU FOR A JOB WELL DONE!!!!”
Thank you, Karen, for the excellent review! What’s your opinion? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a review on our Facebook page or our website. You can also leave a comment right here on our blog. If you haven’t discovered Artbeads Cafe like Karen has, be sure to check it out on our YouTube channel.
Tags: Share Your Stories
Did you know you can leave a review on any of our products and upload a picture of the design you made with them? We love seeing all of your creative designs! Here’s one from reviewer jewelryblue:
She used our purple-lined blue TOHOs to add a pop of color to this intricate necklace. As jewelryblue says, “the color was perfect for this project.” They look great with the golden seed beads and the sparkling crystal focals. What have you made with our products? Make sure to share your designs with us and you could be featured right here on the blog, on our Facebook page or on our Pinterest board!
Tags: Customer Gallery of Designs
Our customers send us a lot of feedback and reviews and we love seeing each and every one of them! Here’s a recent review from Bruna P:
“I can always count on Artbeads for quality items and good service. Shipping is free, which is great. I’ve never had to return anything, but they have a ‘free returns’ policy which is great, should I ever need it. They also put together special ‘Designer’ mixes which are just fabulous.”
Thank you, Bruna, for such kind words! Haven’t heard of our Designer Blends yet? We have Seed Bead Blends and Wire Blends that give you sensational color palettes to work with. Want to leave your own review? You can comment here on our blog, leave a review on our website or leave one on Facebook. We want to hear from you: What do you deem “fabulous” about Artbeads?
Tags: I Heart Artbeads
Linda and Tim Hartung, co-owners and designers behind Linda Arline Originals, Alacarte Clasps™, WireLace™, and WireLuxe™, have been designing jewelry for most of their lives. Driven by their faith, love for one another, and passion for beautiful, high-quality jewelry design, the couple has blazed a trail in the do-it-yourself jewelry market creating new tools, techniques and products for designers. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Linda after her recent Artbeads Café shoot to talk about her passion for jewelry, how she came to be a pioneer in the DIY market, what inspires her and what words of wisdom she has for the rest of us.
Jes: Hi Linda, welcome to Artbeads! Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. You have accomplished so many amazing things in your life; I don’t know exactly where to start. Maybe we should start at the beginning, how did you first get into beading?
Linda: Thanks for having me. That is a good place to start. I have been asked this question a lot, so I’ve really had to think about it. Starting as young as five, I can remember walking along the riverbeds to find “friendship rocks” with holes in them and stringing them on my shoelaces to make a necklace. I remember doing that a lot because my mom was always asking me “where are your shoe laces?!” [Laughing] I couldn’t wait to get colored tennis shoes because they had colored laces to make colored necklaces to go with my rocks. My mom was a Girl Scout leader and my little sister I got to tag along to meetings with her and my older sisters to make lariats, and lanyards, and potholders, so I’ve always loved crafting. Lanyards were one of my favorite things to do, so I think a lot of it is just the way I’m built and a lot of it comes from being exposed to it through the Girl Scouts. As I grew up I was into horses, and you know that kind of preoccupies your time, and then I met my (didn’t know then) soon-to-be husband. He was an artist and we would go to craft fairs to sell his art. I wanted something to do, and feathers were big at the time, so I started making feather earrings. I would sell out every time and made enough money to cover the cost of the booth and enjoy some food while we were sitting there. It was just kind of a neat way for us to do things together.
Jes: That is so sweet! So how did selling jewelry for booth money turn into the business you have today?
Linda: Well, then of course I got into the business side of life. I had a couple jobs, had my horse, and then my husband graduated with a graphic design and marketing degree and I decided to represent him, and we grew our business doing that for 25 years. When we had our daughter, I decided I wanted to spend more time raising her, so we made a shift. We decided to downsize, before downsizing was a buzzword, and moved to Forestville, CA. We visited there all the time and thought it was the most beautiful place, and one day we just thought, “Hey, why can’t we just live here?” So we did. We kept a handful of customers, and started to move into jewelry because it was small and manageable.
My husband had made jewelry all through high school and college using The Lost Wax Method* and I liked to create things, so one day we just decided to retire from graphic design and marketing completely and just focus on making and selling our designs. By then, our daughter was off to college and it was something we thought would be small and portable that we could travel with. We would go to jewelry and craft shows near our daughter’s college so we could go visit her and then go to the shows. We started traveling for shows all of the time, and eventually got started with the clasps because we could not find elegant clasps to go with our finished jewelry. We purposely chose to go with high-end costume jewelry because there were so many cool things to work with. We traveled all over looking for someone that would make us high-end, nickel-free clasps that could be customized with Swarovski crystals, and eventually found a few manufacturers in Europe. Once we started using the clasps in our finished jewelry, fellow designers would beg us to sell them some because there just wasn’t anything else like them on the market. So we would sell to them, and that increased our demand for more, and then Bead & Button featured them in an issue, and that increased our demand so much that it kind of pulled us into the DIY market (Alacarte Clasps). Swarovski was just starting to expand into the DIY market at the same time, and they liked the pieces I had been making with their stuff, so I began working with them on their Create Your Style program, and that’s how we really got our momentum in the DIY market. Now I would say I do DIY in reverse, I make pieces for my finished jewelry line or for a magazine and I see what people are interested in learning about then I go back and think “how can I turn this into a project?” So my kits are really designed to take the frustration out of learning to design so that people can focus on picking their colors, and learning the technique, and just having fun with beads.
Jes: Wow, what an amazing journey! I love that your kits are designed that way. I have experienced frustration while trying to learn a new technique on more than one occasion; I think I might need to try one of your kits! It sounds like you are part entrepreneur, part jewelry designer, and part inventor. What inspired you to create WireLace and WireLuxe?
Linda: For WireLace, I had seen a sample of knitted wire in Europe and I let my mind whirl trying to figure out what I could use it for. Eventually I tracked down the manufacturer and we worked with them to see what we could do together. It was so exciting because I felt like we were exploring uncharted territories. Eventually I ordered a full spool of every color and hung them from the wall in my craft room. For years I just admired them and thought about how to use them in my designs. Sometimes I’d make a piece or two with it but I hadn’t really figured out what to do with it yet. One day, the editor of Beadwork Magazine was talking with Tim, trying to find a source for a project that used knitted wire. She mentioned they had a project but could not run it because they had no source in the USA for the material. Tim knew immediately she was searching for WireLace and told her “we have a whole wall of it in our studio!” The editor asked if we would be willing to be listed as the supplier and Tim said “sure”, not really thinking much of it, and all of a sudden my phone was ringing off the hook; everybody wanted to order WireLace! I sent my daughter to the store to get the magazine because I couldn’t figure out why so many people were interested, and it turns out they had put the project on the cover [laughing]. WireLace just took off from there. We ended developing additional colors and sizes to meet the needs of the DIY market.
WireLuxe really just came from knowing the market. I like to look for needs that aren’t being met across multiple channels and try to figure out ways to meet them. In this case, seedbeaders, wire workers, and beaders all had a need for a wide, stable-yet-flexible structure to work on. So I started thinking, “what if I could make an open wire weave structure that was useful for design, but interesting enough to be used alone?” So Tim and I tracked down a company that was willing to build a machine for us. We tinkered with it for over a year. We would try something and that wouldn’t work so we would take it apart and start over. We spent a lot of time on the phone with their support people and they would help us try to figure out what to try next. We ended up having custom pieces made for the machine and eventually we came up with the WireLuxe open-weave structure. I’m really glad we did it because it was a lot of fun and we’re so happy with the finished product.
Jes: Your story is simply remarkable. I really admire your creativity and ingenuity. I’ve got to ask, what inspires you as an artist, designer, and inventor?
Linda: Well my husband and I always knew we wanted to work together. We are deeply faithful Christians and I would say faith is the core of my inspiration. Nature is beautiful and inspirational, and I really marvel at the endless creations on earth, but there is a verse in the Bible that says “…and by Him and through Him all things are created” and I really connect with that. I feel like there is a wellspring within me and creativity will flow out if I just let it. Some people really focus on putting information in and trying to get a certain result; I just focus on letting ideas and creativity flow out.
Jes: That is really special, thank you for sharing that with us. Last question, do you have any words of wisdom or advice to pass on to our Artbeader community?
Linda: Sure, well my advice is to have fun, you know, play with your beads! Lay them out, position them in different ways, and see what you like. Don’t be afraid to waste a little string or wire. Let yourself experiment, that’s how you learn to be a better designer. When I put together a piece I leave the components out at my desk for while. I arrange them in different ways until I see a design that really speaks to me, then I start thinking about how to make it. If you are afraid to waste stringing materials at first, start with a kit. Find a design you love, get a kit for it, practice the technique and then adapt it.
Jes: That is great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today.
Linda: Thank you so much for having me!
*The Lost Wax Method: The lost wax method of casting first began in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome thousands of years ago. This technique is still respected as one of the premiere methods of capturing superb detail in metal. Once an artist carves his or her design into the wax it can be transferred to a variety of metals, and it is often used in dentistry, sculpture, and fine jewelry.
Tags: New Product Introductions
“I’ll never take for granted the air I breathe.” How many of us can say the same thing? Ryan Messinger, one of the amazing employees we have here at Artbeads, lives by the phrase, “Just breathe.” It’s what he and his family kept telling his sister, Amanda, when she was dying in the hospital. Just breathing was all she could concentrate on during those final days. Those two words were so important that Amanda even got a tattoo of the phrase. Amanda had Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening and chronic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog the lungs and airways of the body. This genetic disease affects about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. Two of those people were Amanda and Jessica Messinger. Here’s Ryan’s story of his two sisters:
Jessica Messinger was born on July 21, 1989 and Amanda Messinger was born July 21, 1990. Jessica was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was three years old. Amanda was diagnosed when she was four. Jessica and Amanda both had totally different personalities and it was Amanda who inspired everyone she met…Amanda had to see her sister Jessica die from a disease she had. Sharing birthdays just one year apart, they were like twins—best friends—and they shared everything together. They both helped each other emotionally, physically and spiritually. When Jessica’s CF got worse, Amanda adopted the role of older sister and spent most of her life caring for Jessica. Amanda really helped Jessica with everything: homework, meds, breathing treatments, getting dressed, cooking meals and helping her with her chores. Amanda always stood up for her sister when she was bullied at school for being different and obviously sick with CF. Even though Jessica was not as popular as Amanda they were both a little jealous of each other, but in a good way, just like twins are. Jessica passed away two months after her 16th birthday in 2005 from Cystic Fibrosis. The loss of Jessica took a great toll on my mom and she passed away at the age of 46 in 2010. Amanda passed away on New Year’s Day 2013 from Cystic Fibrosis. Family and friends who knew them will miss them dearly. Jessica, Amanda and Mom are no longer suffering. They sing and laugh in Heaven until we all can be together again. Before Amanda passed away, she asked her best friends and family members to continue to fight for her after her death by helping to find a cure. It was Amanda’s drive [that] pushed us to fight against Cystic Fibrosis.
Now, after suffering from personal loss and spending countless nights in hospital rooms, Ryan and the Pandamanda Foundation his family and friends started are fighting to make his sister’s dreams a reality and to make hospital experiences easier for the families and patients involved. “Spending the night in the hospital can be draining. Lights are turning on and off at all hours, it’s uncomfortable, [and it has] bad food,” Ryan explained. He and his father really needed a place to stay that was close to the hospital but that could also be their safe haven. The better their experience was, the higher their spirits would be, and in turn they could lift the spirits of their family members in the hospital. If they could rejuvenate their own souls they could be the rock for their loved ones.
The Pandamanda Foundation is dedicated to spreading awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and creating a home away from home for families affected by CF and other terminal diseases. Ryan and his team hope to raise enough money to buy a house close to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, WA. The house would be a place where families could stay without having to stay in the hospital. They could cook their own food, sleep in a bed and enjoy the other comforts of home while still being close to their ailing loved ones. This house would be open to families with loved ones in the hospital for any reason, not just those affected by CF like Amanda and Jessica. Although they’re still in the beginning steps, the Pandamanda Foundation has found unique ways of raising money to achieve their goals.
Ryan has been making jewelry to auction off in an effort to raise more money. We’ve showcased Ryan’s astounding jewelry design skills in a previous blog post—so you may already know that he’s a natural designer. Ryan’s pieces are mainly seed bead designs, but he also likes to mix in Swarovski components when he can. Other team members are pitching in with jewelry designs, as well. Jade, a member of the foundation, is making jewelry with a little more bling, and foundation member Jolene has been creating jewelry with more earthy, natural elements. Artbeads Co-Owner and Chief Jewelry Designer Cynthia Kimura recently donated over $300 worth of beads so Pandamanda members can make more jewelry.
The pieces they’ve been making for this cause are now part of a collection—Just Breathe Designs. These designs will be available for purchase on the Pandamanda Foundation website (coming soon). “For a while, I never thought about why I made jewelry,” Ryan says. “Now I know. I now have a purpose for making jewelry.”
Every member of the Artbeads family wishes Ryan and the foundation the best of luck in their fight. We are certainly proud of him for his bravery and tenacity in fighting for a cure and the welfare of other families battling terminal illness. You can visit the Pandamanda Foundation on Facebook to purchase merchandise and learn more about their story.
Tags: Company News · Employee Gallery of Designs
By Kristal Wick
Inspiration…What Does It Mean To You?
Can I do it?
Colors, shapes, and techniques can all be inspirational and seem to be the most common answers to this question. But what REALLY floats your boat? My inspiration always comes from an internal question:
You see, I was born with a slight handicap: only a thumb on my left hand. Everything I do takes me longer than most, especially when it comes to jewelry making. Closing a jump ring or wrapping a loop can be daunting tasks, but always worth it in the end! I couldn’t hold a jump rope as a kid, so my folks had a prosthetic post made for me at age five. The post made it possible for me to grasp on to things like a ski pole or hair dryer, from there it has been a whirlwind history.
If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
My folks were really great at encouraging me to go for it, whatever “it” was. Although it must have been tough watching me struggle, they raised me to believe that all things are possible and to keep on trying. I bring that same attitude to my jewelry designs, particularly when teaching. My motto is, “If I can do it, YOU can do it” and I strive to impart even a speck of this positivity in each and every student. As children, we seem to have a willingness to take risks in the realm of creativity. As adults, we become fearful of jumping off the artistic cliff into new color palettes or techniques. I believe the most important aspect of any creative endeavor is embracing your inner critic(s) or fears and letting go! Give yourself permission to splash around in the sheer bliss of unedited creativity. In the end, it’s actually the flow that counts here my beady peeps, not how perfect your wrapped loops are.
“Don’t Die with Your Music Still Inside You”
One of my fave inspirational teachers is Wayne Dyer and his phrase is permanently instilled in my noggin. Feel free to replace the word “music” with any other passion you have such as cooking, painting, a new business venture, or even jewelry making! It doesn’t matter how old we are, our weight, education, or how many beads we own; everyone can tap into their creative flow and express their deep inner desires. If I can do it, YOU can do it – so go write that book, take up the cow bell (there’s never enough), or learn a new mixed metal technique, and join me in venturing outside the box! When you hear that inner question “can I do it?” I hope you yell back, YES! I know you can, and I want to see the pictures and hear all about your exciting journey…
Tags: I Heart Artbeads
Photo Source: AP Big Story
Pearls bring to mind different images of elegance, like a bride on her wedding day or a classic Hollywood starlet. There’s a reason why these gems are a symbol of timeless beauty—they’ve been enchanting us for thousands of years. From ancient China to the Egyptians and Imperial Romans, pearls are one of the longest valued gems. Working with pearls in jewelry involves a number of things, such as knowing how to care for them, understanding color and being able to distinguish quality. Today, we’ll focus on the origins of the pearl.
How Pearls are Made
What exactly is a pearl? Well, first, there are freshwater pearls and saltwater pearls. Freshwater pearls are formed inside mussels and other mollusks found in lakes, rivers, ponds and other bodies of fresh water. Most pearls you buy and the ones used in jewelry are tended by pearl farmers who use a cultivation process of placing mantle tissue (known as an irritant) inside the mollusk. The mollusk then begins to grow layers of nacre around it, forming the pearl over time. Freshwater pearls are more durable and most common in the jewelry market, which could be due to the fact that a mussel can produce up to 40 pearls. A saltwater pearl is produced in a similar way, except it occurs in tropical oceans and lagoons. These types of cultured pearls tend to be more round than their freshwater cousins because saltwater mollusks are rounded inside. The exception to this is a keishi pearl (free-form pearl). A Tahitian pearl is an example of a saltwater pearl.
Treat your pearls like little treasures because that’s essentially what they are! Each one begins as a tiny speck that slowly grows, patiently perfecting itself inside the safe haven of a mollusk.
Stay tuned for more exciting facts about pearls coming soon, like how freshwater pearls get their color! Check out our website to learn more about beading with pearls today!
Tags: Ask The Experts · Beader's Resource
So many ooey, gooey, delicious things come in brown, and today we want to celebrate the tasty power of this color in fashion. The perfect shade of chocolate brown is a cool complement to other shades and even looks good on its own. Learn how you can add a taste of brown to your jewelry box as either the backbone of a design or in a supporting role.
A Neutral Foundation
Neutrals are appropriate for any occasion, although most people immediately opt for black, grey or white. Brown is a fun twist on the traditional neutral hue, and it enriches any other color it’s paired with. Let it guide the feel of your design, helping build the overall look. This could be in the form of antique brass findings or an awesome chocolate focal. Next, layer on your colors! Beads in robin egg blue or pale pink are just a couple of ideas. In our Iris necklace design, we used a combination of brown and purple for a sweet and simple look. Mint green is another refreshing accent. Try a silk ribbon in this shade to complement a choco-pendant. Gold always looks nice with deep browns, too.
A Sugary Accessory
If your style is more colorful, use a soothing brown to help tie different elements together. Dangle some chocolate drops from your ears (like our chocolate glaze pavé beads) to complete a blue and white polka dot dress. Or, recreate the beauty in our Cosmopolitan Earrings for jewelry with just a lick of chocolate brown goodness. Wherever your imagination takes your fashion, add some tasteful brown tones for a truly sweet look!
Just for fun, we’ll leave you with some extreme chocolate fashion. These are from the NYC Chocolate Fashion Show, where models ruled the runway in chocolate couture…yes, it’s real chocolate. Enjoy!
Photo Source: nydailynews.com.
What’s your favorite way to wear chocolate?
Tags: Beader's Resource · Jewelry and Craft Ideas · Just For Fun!