Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

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It is hard to believe that the holiday season is already upon us! At Fusion Beads we want to make sure you get everything you need in time to make and ship your special gifts to your loved ones. Here are some shipping guidelines to keep in mind to ensure your orders arrive to you in plenty of time.

With the huge increase in online order sales USPS and other shipping carriers are definitely feeling the impact. In response, our shipping recommendations are generous. We don’t want you to be disappointed, especially if you are sending a gift. You are welcome to risk a later date if you want!

Don’t forget we have free standard shipping on all US orders from now until the end of December so please take advantage of the savings!

Holiday Shipping Guidelines 2016!
FusionBeads.com will be closed December 26th, 2016. We will not ship any orders on this days.

To receive your order by Friday December 23rd, 2016, we recommend that you order by the dates below.

United States Shipping

US Standard Shipping – December 9th

UPS Ground – December 15th

USPS Priority Mail – December 15th

USPS Express Mail – December 20th

UPS 2nd Day Air – December 20th

UPS Next Day Air – December 21st

(Delivery times are estimated and not guaranteed.)

International Shipping to Canada only

Standard International Canada – December 5th

USPS Priority to Canada – December 12th

USPS International Express to Canada – December 19th

(**USPS mail delivery times are estimated and not guaranteed.**)

International Shipping – all other countries

Standard International – December 1st

USPS Priority – December 5th

USPS International Express – December 14th

(**USPS mail delivery times are estimated and not guaranteed.**)

Please note that FusionBeads.com’s Fulfillment Center is open Monday through Friday. Our regular days of operation do not include Saturdays or Sundays and US Federal holidays.

We hope you enjoy making new and wonderful creations for your friend and family for this holiday season. As always, we at Fusion Beads wish you happy beading!

 

Sparkle For A Cause 2016

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We’re thrilled to share that our 9th annual Sparkle For A Cause Auction was hugely successful! There were hundreds of beautiful handmade jewelry items donated by our employees, instructors, vendors, family and friends. There was delicious food, great company and all in all we managed to donate over $14,500 (!!!) to the Treehouse Little Wishes program, which helps Seattle-area foster children pay for extracurricular and school activities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.  Special thanks to all who attended, donated, and contributed to our event – we couldn’t do it without you!

Thank you

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

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One of the things I find the most rewarding when beading is the opportunity to problem solve and create jewelry using unexpected materials. I get immense satisfaction when I am able to complete a project by thinking outside of the box a little. Today I am going to demonstrate how to use a seed bead finding called a slide end tube to make an edgy chain fringe earring.

Slide end tubes are a simple but elegant way to finish off a seed bead piece. The tube has a slight opening down the center that slides over the last row of a woven or stitched seed bead piece. The tab on the end of the tube is then folded down thus holding stitching securely in place. This finding creates a nice finished edge and provides a loop for attaching the clasp.

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We offer a nice selection of Brass Slide End Tubes by Nunn Design in four plating options: antique gold, antique copper, antique silver and sterling silver. Though specifically made for seed bead projects, the tube is open just wide enough to slide over the end of a steel ball chain. Several rows of chain can be loaded into the tube compartment to create a unique earring with a “curtain of chain” effect. 2I experimented with the 24mm and 34mm Slide End tubes. The 24mm tube worked quite well with the petite ball chain. The 24mm tube accommodates 10 rows of 2.5mm ball chain or 11 rows of 2mm ball chain.3The 34mm tube has a slightly larger tube diameter which was just wide enough to accommodate a larger ball chain. The 34mm tube will fit 10 rows of 3mm ball chain.4My first challenge was to figure out the amount of chain I would need to purchase. I discovered a total of 4 to 5 feet was enough to complete a pair of earrings with a modest fringe length of 2 inches. Since the steel ball chain is very reasonably priced I ordered a little extra so I could have the freedom to make a longer fringe if desired.

For the earring design included below I cut the longest length first. This length served as the center row and the foundation for the rest of the graduated design. For each subsequent row to the right and left of the center I cut off one ball segment to create a tapered effect. 5Cutting the chain was challenging but I found that if I placed the chain into the tube I could then hold it up and cut the chain by eye rather than measuring each segment with a ruler. This was particularly useful when I needed pairs of chain segments. I placed two chain segments into the tube together and then cut them to match. 6Once all the chain segments were cut, I placed them in graduating order and used a piece of scotch tape to keep them side by side as I loaded the chain ends into the tube.

I closed the tube end then attached the ear wire to the bail to complete. Lastly, I added a little dab of Hypo Tube Cement inside the tube compartment to keep the ball chain in place. Hypo Tube Cement has a very small needle tip applicator perfect for squeezing the glue into tight places. I applied a small amount of glue along the length of the tube. Then I hung up the earring on the edge of a cup and used tweezers to move the chain rows into position. I distributed the chains evenly across to make sure the earring would remain balanced. This little step helped ensure the earring would hang properly and would not dip down to one side.

The earrings turned out incredibly well and I am super excited that this little experiment proved to be successful. I think you will enjoy making these little fun fringe earrings as well. I encourage you to play with different versions of the steel ball chain, experiment with mixed metals or extend the fringe length to make a dramatic pair of earrings perfect for a night on the town!

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca

Rebecca

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

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Over the years I have picked up many bead weaving tricks the hard way by fighting through frustrating setbacks or reworking projects that never quite came together as I hoped. I have learned that bead weaving takes practice, a lot of patience and some important preparation to achieve success. Today, we are going to talk about conditioning threads and how a little thread preparation can make all the difference in your finished projects.

If you talk to many veteran beaders you will quickly find the practice of conditioning thread is really a personal preference rather than a hard fast rule. Though it is not necessary to precondition your thread, there are some surprising benefits to consider.

Thread conditioning is applying a product to thread to make it less vulnerable to moisture, reduce knotting and fraying and protect against breakage. There are three products you can use to treat your thread; beeswax, synthetic (microcrystalline) wax and Thread Heaven.beeswax-bar

Beeswax

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Synthetic Beeswax

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Thread Heaven

Beeswax and synthetic wax are virtually indistinguishable in terms of texture, application and purpose. The sticky texture of the wax binds threads together which helps prevent tangles, knots and fraying from occurring as you weave. Wax also helps maintain control over thread tension. The wax prevents the thread from loosening so structured three dimensional shapes can remain rigid and locked into position over time.

Many beaders like to use synthetic wax instead of beeswax because it is softer, stickier and spreads more easily along the thread. Both waxes are equally effective so the decision is often based on personal preference.

There are a few things to keep in mind when using wax. The wax layer on top of your thread will make the diameter thicker so you will have less space to place with as you pass through beads with tiny holes. Excess wax can accumulate outside of beads or on the needle after many passes. The best way to prevent a pile up of wax is to use your finger nail to scrap a thin layer off the thread before you start to weave. Due to the wax’s stickiness you may also see some dirt stick onto the thread causing discoloration. One trick is to use more thread than you need and if the thread becomes dirty from too much handling you can cut off the affected area and add new thread into the piece.

Thread Heaven conditioner and protectant offers many of the same benefits of wax but functions in a slightly different way. Thread Heaven is a non-toxic, hypo-allergenic and acid free synthetic compound that uses static electricity to repel threads away from each other. It helps prevent tangling and fraying like wax but it has a smoother texture that allows the thread to glide through the beads with less drag

Unlike wax, Thread Heaven is resistant to UV rays, to mold and mildew and will not break down or crumble due to age. Thread Heaven does not melt so it can be exposed to heat, laundered or ironed without changing color or staining surrounding fabric. For many beaders the slicker hand feel of Thread Heaven doesn’t accomplish the same tight tension as wax but its easy application, manageability and clean results are compelling reasons to prefer it.

I personally recommend trying each product to see what will work best for you. All three products are proven to prevent annoying knots and provide great protection to your thread.  I think whichever product you choose you will be happy with the benefits they provide.

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca

Rebecca

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

7.16-TIPS-AND-TRICKS-BANNER-IMAGEOne of the most amazing aspects of beading is its interconnectivity with other craft art forms. We have all seen beads and crystals used to embellish knitting projects, quilts or clothing. But have you ever thought of how items traditionally used in fabric arts can be repurposed in jewelry projects? Take for example the extremely versatile button. Buttons not only make great closures but they can also be used as a center piece or as a component. Today we are going to cover two wonderful ways to incorporate buttons into jewelry.

Perhaps the most popular use of a button in jewelry is as a clasp on a wrapped cord bracelet. Buttons are the perfect choice for this type of bracelet because the hole on the button shank is big enough to accommodate 1-2mm leather cord. We have a wonderful selection of buttons that work beautifully in this respect as seen on many of our wrapped cord Inspiration Projects.

We are super excited because we have just expanded our amazing selection of buttons to include a new line of beautiful and intricate Czech Glass buttons. What I love about these Czech Glass buttons is their wonderful vintage look! Often, the button motifs are directly based upon patterns produced decades ago, so these buttons instantly communicate that old world charm.mm2997-main-0mm2998-main-0As you can see on our new wrapped cord Inspiration Project the Teal Tourmaline Bracelet the Sunflower Czech Glass button brings a delicate elegance to the bracelet and exquisitely echoes the soft teals and metallic greens in the seed bead palette. The impact of the button as both a focal and as a closure of the bracelet is undeniable.teal-tourmalineOne other wonderful way to use a button is as a charm or component. For example, I have used the Sunflower Czech Glass buttons as slider beads in my three strand Swarovski Crystal pearl bracelet.bracelet-1To use a button as a component it is very important to compensate for the weight of the top of the button. This is best accomplished by placing beads and spacer bars underneath the button on either side of the button’s shank to keep the button facing directly upward. In this bracelet I used a couple tricks to keep the buttons in place. First, I used two strands of Swarovski Crystal pearls on either side of the center strand to flank the button. This prevents the button from tipping either up or down.bracelet-2Secondly, I used spacer bars to keep the pearls straight and locked into their respective rows. Spacer bars help maintain pressure against the pearls to keep them in an orderly line. The resulting tension is enough to keep the buttons from moving, forcing it to lock into position.

The last trick is to create just the right amount of space between the two spacer bars to compensate for the curvature of the button shank. I used three size 11/0 Delica seed beads on strand one and three to match the space taken up by the button shank on the middle strand. The goal is to make sure all strands are spaced equally and that the spacer bars remain aligned perpendicularly to the strands. You can experiment with different seed beads until you get an equal amount of space between the bars to achieve this delicate balance.bracelet-3I encourage you to experiment with buttons and see what other ways you can use them. I am sure you will greatly appreciate the charm and beauty they can bring to your designs.

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca

Rebecca

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

7.16-TIPS-AND-TRICKS-BANNER-IMAGEHere at Fusion Beads we love stretch bracelets! Stretch bracelets are brilliantly simple to construct but are far from basic. They can be simple or very dressy and chic depending upon your preference and the beads you wish to use. Best of all, stretch bracelets are highly customizable! You can create different stretch bracelets as gifts for friends and family members and each bracelet can be personalized by color, pattern or material to best complement the receiver.

We love this bracelet style so much that we have recently launched a great collection of stretch bracelet kits showcasing fire polished glass beads and gemstones bead. These wonderful kits include enough beads to make three stackable bracelets. All the design work is done for you so you can create a set of perfectly coordinated bracelets literally in minutes!Fire Polished Stretch Bracelet Set Kit?resizeid=9&resizeh=1000&resizew=1000

Gemstone Stretch Bracelet Set Kit?resizeid=9&resizeh=1000&resizew=1000

If you would like to design your own bracelet we have two great technique pages available to guide you. Stretch bracelets can be finished in two different ways; by crimping or by knotting the elastic cord. We will briefly discuss both methods but first, let’s talk about what size cord to use. You can use any elastic bead cord but we really enjoy using Stretch Magic elastic cord, which is available in 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.8mm and 1mm diameter. It is best to use the thickest elastic cord you can to add strength and durability to your bracelet. However, the holes in your beads will ultimately determine what size cord you can actually use. Select a diameter size just slightly smaller than the size of the drill holes in your beads. The next step is to decide which technique you would like to use to complete your bracelet.

The first method is to use a crimp. You can find step-by-step instructions for this on our Crimping Stretch Magic technique page.

Crimping Technique:

When you have strung all your beads on your Stretch Magic cord, take the two ends and feed them through a 2x2mm crimp so each strand will exit the crimp in opposite directions. Pull the Stretch Magic cord ends until the beads are flush with the crimp on either side. It is important to keep the elastic cord relaxed at this point and to not pull it too taut when you join the ends together. This will ensure the bracelet will fit comfortably around your wrist when completed. Squeeze the crimp flat with a pair of flat nose pliers. Trim the excess elastic cord with small, sharp scissors.

Crimping Stretch Magic : Step 3Crimping Stretch Magic : Step 4Crimping Stretch Magic : Step 6

Knotting Technique:

Second method is to knot the elastic cord and secure with a dab of glue. You can find step-by-step instructions for this on our Knotting Stretch Magic technique page.

In this technique you will use a square knot, which is essentially a double knot, to secure your cords together. Once you have completed stringing your beads, cross the right elastic cord end over the left end making an X shape. Bring the right cord behind and around the left cord end to form the first part of the square knot. Next, take the left cord end and cross it over the right end. Wrap the left cord end behind and around the right end to make a second knot above the one completed in the previous step.

Knotting Stretch Magic: Step 3Knotting Stretch Magic: Step 4Knotting Stretch Magic: Step 5

Pull the cord taut, cut the excess cord with small, sharp scissors and apply Hypo Tube Cement to the knot to keep the cord ends securely fixed into place. Make sure to let the glue dry thoroughly before you wear your bracelet.

Knotting Stretch Magic: Step 6Knotting Stretch Magic: Step 7Knotting Stretch Magic: Step 8

Just like that, you are all done! You can wear just one bracelet or stack multiple bracelets on top of each other for a more multi-layered look.

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I think you will enjoy making these fantastic stretch bracelets and will be pleasantly surprised how fast and easy they are to make!

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca

Rebecca