Monday, July 28, 2014

Teaching at BeadFest

by Staci L. Smith

I will be an instructor at BeadFest this year!  I am so excited to be teaching here for the first time.  I am offering a Painted Polymer Fossil Talisman class.

here is what the class samples look like

In the class you will learn to form an organic focal and accent bead in polymer clay, and then use paints and other materials to create a crackle antiqued finish on it.  To finish it up, you learn to make it into a necklace mixing many materials, teaching some organic style wire wrapping, and using sari silk in your designs, along with chain.
In order to make sure I was prepared, I had some lovely ladies to my house for a test run of the class.  I am so thankful I did.  They were wonderful with tips about things they liked and didn't like in instructors they have had in the past.  It also helped me to make a timeline for my class, so it runs smoothly.  The practice class really helped me to nail down how to work through the project. I write a lot of tutorials, and teaching it live was a whole new ball game! 

I was thrilled to see everyone work through all the stages of the class and go home with completed and wonderful projects!  They did amazing....and I know it has opened a lot of possibilities up to them.

Here are the extra beads they got to make, since we had plenty of time to play

And here are their finished necklaces

Didn't they do so great???

I came away from the day with an amazing feeling- so, I know I am on the right track and that teaching is a good fit for me.
I also got great feedback from the ladies.  They said it was packed with techniques and it was a very fun class to take.  That was great to hear, because I really did want the class to cover a multitude of techniques (and who doesn't want their class to be fun?)

So, I will open this up to you guys as well, because I want to be the best instructor possible.....

I am open to tips, suggestions, and / or just fun stories of teaching or taking classes! 

If you are interested in taking my class at Beadfest, you can sign up here

If you plan to come to Beadfest to shop, you can print this coupon and save $10 at the door- make sure to stop by and see me Booth #371!  I will be selling my beads there as well!

Never been to Bead Fest?  Check out my blog from last year after the show!!!!

It's a great time on the East Coast....I have more fun every year I go!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

mary jane dodd

mjd 2014

a leaf releases from the branch it was attached to.
perhaps rain or wind helped it along,
but there was no fight.
life happens.
the actions of others are outside of our control.
take care of your actions, your words
and thoughts -
consider how they impact the world.
do no harm
move with grace
let go.
like the leaf drifting through the air
landing on the earth from which it came,
let go.
and return
to your original self.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Win $50 or $25 to spend online at Auntie's Beads

I know your first question is, "How?" Not only will it be easy, but I think you might find this to be a useful way to win a giveaway on top of it!

The drawing will be held in the evening of Sunday, July 27th. There will be two gift certificates given to the first two people randomly picked from the comments. The first person will receive $50 and the other $25.  Those will be good to spend at Auntie's Beads. This is open to everyone. Please leave a way to contact you in your comment or it will not be able to be counted.

Here is what we are asking from you. Please visit this LINK. It starts off on a page like the screenshot below.

Once you read about the online jewelry calculator, please visit this jewelry pricing calculator link to see how it works.

Here is what we would like you to do.

Share your ideas about how to make this calculator the most efficient, easy to use calculator for pricing jewelry. What do you like? What would you like to see added or changed?

Being that we create handmade at LMAJ, one of our suggestions was adding something about the handmade aspect whether it is beads that are handmade or found, skill level needed to make a piece unique, etc.

Carol suggested a field for a product that would signify earrings, bracelet, etc, as well as possibly a size option for length of a necklace.

Those are our suggestions. Now we would like some of yours. My guess is that some suggestions might overlap. That's okay! 

You might want to visit Auntie's Beads for a little more exploring. And, you might be the lucky winner who receives the coupon code for $50 or $25.

I would also like to ask that you please promote this on your social network sites.

Thank-you for participating in this giveaway and GOOD LUCK!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making Ceramic Beads with Wire Loops

When I find the time to be in the studio and work with my porcelain or chocolate stoneware clay with the intention of making beads, I put on some good music, pull out my tools and sit and hope for no interruptions (which has been quite difficult this summer with kids and a basement room renovation).
Right now I am working on some bead stock for D7 Studio and Thornburg Bead Studio for their bead shows, and Staci Louise for her class at Bead Fest Philly.
I would really love to get some up intop my Etsy shop too...
These are small textured cones I love to make, that are perfect for earrings.
I first roll out my clay, then form a cone shape, which is then textured. 
Once I work through that batch, I insert the small Nichrome wire loop that I have pre-made.
I use memory wire cutters to cut this very hard wire, and my triple step concave jaw pliers to create the "loop".
As I am making these teeny U-shaped loops - which are first cut to 3/4" (19mm) in length, then bent in half, I try to bend the ends of the wire to almost touch itself.
The wire I use is Nichrome Wire, which can withstand the high temperatures (2230 degrees F) that I fire my beads to.

I feel that when you are working with ceramic clay (or polymer clay, paper clay, and other mediums that do not fuse the metal wire to the bead such as silver wire and silver clay fuse to make one piece) it is important to have this bit of wire to cover up - see the gap in the clay where the wire was inserted in the photo below:
That clay is then immediately smoothed over with a rubber tipped detail tool to capture the ends of the wire down into the clay, where it will not wiggle loose or come right out (as it could if it were just a straight U-shape).
It is just one of those teeny extra steps that a bead maker should take to ensure that the bead is of high quality for the jewelry designer and eventual wearer of the bead.
In the photo above you can see some of the shapes of the loops as they are when first formed.
I will make the edges almost touch before putting it into the bead.
And for those people that prefer holes to wire loops, some of the shapes can be skewered by bamboo or other teeny tools.
I make sure to poke it through both sides and tap the edges down to make sure there are no pointy clay pieces that will be annoying later down the line.
They are all put into little bowls, are dried and then fired to Cone 04 or about 2000 degrees F (the bisque firing - they do not fuse together at this stage, so they can be stacked like this) to make them more durable to then paint with ceramic glaze.
The image above is the finished glaze firing load fired to cone 5 or about 2230 degrees F.
Every piece has to suspend individually as to not touch in the firing or else they will fuse together.
And when they are out, I pair them up with their mates (just the way I work - I like to work with the intention of making sets).
If they end up coming out of the glaze firing as a set, that is how I sell them.
Sometimes individuals come out too - but not too often.
One thing I really enjoy about a fresh load of glazed ceramic beads is having them all there so I can pull out other artist beads from my stash and match them up.
I am actually thinking of selling these matched sets - just simply because it is not that easy to color match through online shopping.
This will satisfy my need to shop for artist beads AND allow others to shop with confidence for beads in the same color family...
My Friend Nikki of Thornburg Bead Studio shared this image of her flower beads and my ceramic beads that she quick whipped up with a few jump rings and ear wires!

The design possibilities of using beads with loops is amazing!
Have you tried them yet?
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