I am super excited that Fusion Beads is now offering Size 15 Charlotte Czech Seed Beads. There are two reasons why: The first is shape. Charlottes have one flat facet cut into the side of the bead. This facet reflects the light and gives your seed bead piece a subtle sparkle and flair.Second, Charlottes are slightly smaller than 15/0 Japanese round seed beads. (It’s the facet which reduces the overall diameter of the bead). Since it is smaller than a 15/0 Japanese round, using a Charlotte can have a noticeable effect on a weave. For example, a Charlotte can be used in lieu of a 15/0 round seed bead to help cinch the bezel tight around a stone. Below is an example using two identical 18mm Swarovski Crystal Oval Fancy Stones. The peyote bezel on the right uses size 11 Delicas and 15/0 Japanese round seed beads. The bezel on the left uses size 11/0 Delicas, 15/0 Japanese round seed beads and an additional row of 15/0 Czech Charlottes. As you can see, the Charlottes allow the peyote bezel weave to be pulled tighter. The end result is a much more stable and close-fitting bezel around the stone.I recently finished a modified version of our Inspiration Project The Three Graces necklace. The Swarovski Elements Crystal Trilliant Fancy Stones in this design are wonderful but their triangular shape makes it a challenge to hold them in a regular peyote bezel. The designer used right angle weave to solve this problem but I still found my weave was less tight than I preferred. Using 15/0 Charlottes on the inner row allowed me to cinch the bezel tighter and made the irregular shape of the Trilliant less of an issue.The last great advantage of a Charlotte’s miniature size is its design possibilities. With a little patience, these wonderful beads can be used to create delicate embellishments. They can be used to make exquisite little picots or to create ornate designs. Recently, I used the Charlottes to create delicate picot adornments on a peyote seed bead bezel. The Charlottes added a fanciful charm and complexity to the bezel which I found delightful. I hope you will love using the new Charlottes as much as I do!
One of the many perks of my job at Fusion Beads is trying out products. Today, I’m going to share my testing experience using Beadsmith Opelon Stretch Jewelry Fiber Cord. Many of us are already familiar with Stretch Magic for stretch bracelets, but Opelon has a few key advantages over other elastic cords that are worth discussing.
First, Opelon is a fibrous cord that has surprising stretch and resiliency. It has elasticity so stretch bracelets won’t droop or stretch out over time. Secondly, the fibers are very stable so it is to fraying. Lastly, Opelon’s flat structure gives it greater flexibility than Stretch Magic. It can be used like a thread in more complex weaves which makes it ideal for creating adjustable woven rings or bracelets.
To test Opelon’s level of stretchiness and its resistance to fraying I used it in a right angle weave stretch bracelet. I based my design off one of our Inspiration Projects called the Chevron Bracelet.
For my project I simplified the design by decreasing the width to just one row. I used the Chevron instructions to help me establish the diagonal color pattern with three different Fire Polished beads. I selected 4mm Fire Polished Czech Glass Beads in the new Pacifica finish which gave the design a very fresh and bright color scheme.
To start, I measured out about 4 feet of Opelon cord. In order to thread the Opelon into a size 10 beading needle, I trimmed the end diagonally using a very sharp pair of Xuron Thread and Fiber Scissors. This created a long tapered point to feed through the eye of the needle. To further prepare for this project I placed my three beads into separate piles on my bead board. This helped ensure my color pattern stayed in the correct order.
I then started the right angle weave stitch. Since the Opelon is flat I could successfully thread it through the Fire Polish beads 2 to 3 times. The Opelon does have a rough surface texture so it would sometimes get hung up in the bead. However, as long as I pulled the cord slowly with a steady pressure the Opelon would slip through fairly easily after the initial friction passed.
After the completion of each right angle weave section I checked the Opelon tension. The Opelon cord was pulled snug but still relaxed and not stretched out. Once the bracelet length was big enough for my wrist I connected the two ends together to finish the bracelet. I wove the Opelon cord ends back into the bracelet and then tied the ends off with a knot. Lastly, I applied a little Hypo Tube Cement onto the knots to secure.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the performance of the Opelon Stretch Jewelry Fiber cord. This product does have great elasticity and it really held up well during this project. There was minimal fraying at the end of the cord which was impressive considering how many times the Opelon passed through the Fire Polished beads. The Opelon surpassed my expectations and I enthusiastically recommend this great product for any stretchy bracelet.
As the year wraps up I like to start looking towards the future and to begin planning projects I would like to create before spring. I always start this process by taking some time to put away the ransacked holiday supplies, to categorize and reorganize my beads, and make an up-to-date mental “inventory” of my bead stash. Once I have everything sorted I like to switch out my bead boxes and flip the color palettes from the dark and dramatic colors of winter to the pastels and brighter beads suitable for early spring. My favorite storage solution are the 11×7.5 inch Medium Utility Boxes.
I have several of these boxes that I often organize by color or by theme so when I want to make something in tranquil blues and greens I have everything ready to go.
The next part of my cleaning and reorganizing process is to go through my precious metal stash. First, I clean up the mess left by all those last minute holiday gift making sessions. Once organized in the storage box, I single out any sterling items that are starting to tarnish and give them a good polishing to restore their shine. I prefer to use the Pro Polish pads or the Brilliant polishing cloth to clean my findings.
Once I have the sterling findings clean, I pack like items into small storage bags to protect them from further exposure to the air. This keeps the tarnish at bay. Lastly, for an extra step of prevention I add Anti-Tarnish Tabs to the little bags. The Anti-Tarnish Tabs help prevent tarnish for up to 6 months.
The last step in my end of the year reorganization ritual is to store and protect all my new strung jewelry. For many years I used to hang my necklaces up on a hook until a co-worker shared this really great tip with me. Instead of hanging the necklaces place them into a plastic zip lock bag and store them flat in drawer. When you hang your jewelry gravity constantly pulls on the necklace and over the years it can cause the necklace to stretch or create fatigue in the stringing wire near the clasp. Laying it down alleviates any unnecessary stress on the jewelry.
Storing the jewelry in air tight bags also helps keep the metals from tarnishing prematurely. Just like in my box of sterling findings, I add Anti-Tarnish Tabs into these jewelry storage bags to keep the sterling bright and ready to wear. Once I have several bags stacked in my drawer I may even stash the more holiday appropriate pieces in the back and bring forward pieces I like to wear in the upcoming months. I know this may seem a little fanatical and too organized for some people. At my core I am a messy creative person, so this practice was very foreign to me at first. However, over the years I have found this exercise in organization provided a nice break and the opportunity to enjoy a moment of calmness. A few hours of sorting is an excellent excuse to enjoy some much needed “me time” after a hectic and demanding holiday season. Lastly, this little bit of organization really helps me prepare so when the mood strikes to design I am ready to jump all in. I don’t have to fight my stash or wade through a mix of beads to find what I need to start my project. Everything is already at my fingertips and is ready to be part of my next fabulous creation.
If you’re a jewelry designer, you know that your friends and family are expecting fabulous handmade jewelry this holiday season. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but making great jewelry doesn’t have to be too time consuming or break the bank.
Every year, Mari designs a handful of jewelry as gifts to send overseas for her friends and family. She makes some of her favorite simple pieces from the FusionBeads.com Inspiration Gallery, pieces inspired by the gallery, and her own unique designs.
I can’t believe 2016 is wrapping up already. This holiday season has just flown by! Now that all my holiday gifts are all set and ready, its time to turn my attention towards New Year’s Eve plans. Some years I like to stay at home and watch the excitement from the sidelines, but this year it’s all about joining in the festivities. Now all I need is a piece of jewelry to ring in the new year and turn the glam up to absolutely fabulous. For my holiday sparkle I am going with my all-time favorite brand, Swarovski! To bring a little edginess and wow factor to my look I am going with unusual shapes and designs!
Luckily for me, our talented Fusion Beads designers have made some amazing Inspirations Projects that are perfect for this year’s glam look. Now the only hard part will be choosing which one to wear! The first one I would like to highlight is the Spike It Earrings. These earrings are one of my favorite designs because they use the Swarovski Crystal Spike Pendant.
This pendant is defiantly edgy with its crisp, clean angles, sleek lines and elongated facets. The Spike It earrings showcase this pendant’s uniqueness beautifully, but what surprises me most is how this design is reminiscent of the Art Deco period. The strong geometric shapes and juxtaposition of bold metallics in gold, silver and black celebrate the luxury, glamour and exuberance of this time period.
The other Inspiration Project I am deeply in love with is the Three Graces necklace. The shape and design of this piece communicates soft elegance and simplicity, but the facets bring the fire! The triad of Trilliant fancy stones shine brilliantly like bright festive lights on a dark winter day. It is dazzling and will, in turn, help you light up the room!
The Three Graces necklace uses right angle weave to encapsulate the stone. Its simple seed bead bezel makes it easy to showcase this faceted focal and flaunt its crystal brilliance for all its worth. The Three Graces Necklace will go with any black dress and is sure to wow with its flawless and classic beauty.
The last design uses a technique that may be new to some beaders, but I believe it will quickly become a new favorite. The Black Chaton Gold Bezel Ring uses Crystal Clay to set several Swarovski Crystal Chaton Stones in a bezel ring. The beauty of Crystal Clay is its flexibility. You can use different sizes of stones and create any pattern your heart desires. The clay is non-baking, two part epoxy clay with a working time of 60-90 minutes. When the clay hardens, the crystals will be permanently set into place. You will be amazed by all the special designs that can be accomplish by this method. You can find full instructions for working with Crystal Clay in our Jewelry Clay technique section. The Black Chaton Gold Bezel Ring again uses the striking contrast of gold and black, but its main appeal is its myriad of facets. With so many little chaton stones, the shine and sparkle of this ring is something to behold. The sparkle is so enticing you may have a hard time keeping your eyes off your hand.
Any beading enthusiast knows you can never have enough Swarovski in your life, so I encourage you to break out and experiment different Swarovski shapes. I hope you have fun designing a special and brilliant piece to bring in the New Year with panache.
The results of our Treehouse holiday charity drive are in! We sold an amazing 2750 TierraCast holiday charms during our 2016 charity drive this year! Thanks to you, an incredible $2750 donation will go to help Seattle foster children have a merrier Christmas this year! You have truly made a difference in these children’s lives and we thank you for your support and generosity.
Thank you so much from the entire Fusion Beads family! Happy Holidays!