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Earth Day 2014 – Charity Results!

The results of our annual Earth Day charity drive are in, and they are absolutely incredible! 1068 TierraCast Tree of Life charms and buttons were purchased in our Earth Day charity drive, which means that we were able to make a $1068 donation to the National Wildlife Federation!

For over 75 years, the NWF has been working across the country with diverse partners, state and federal conservation agencies, businesses and other conservation groups to protect and restore our native wildlife and the habitats on which they depend. Your generosity and thoughtfulness will truly help make a difference!

Thank you so much from the entire family!


Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210Finding the right prop for a photo can be tricky. Black velvet is a classic way of displaying your work. But one way you can cultivate a unique look for your photos is to find a signature set of photo props! The first place I start looking for props is in my kitchen. It may be surprising, but I’ve raided my cabinets more times than I can count for things to prop up my rings, hang my earrings and even hold my bracelets.

A cup of dried grains or beans makes an interesting background and helps stabilize rings when you photograph them. I keep small stashes of rice, mung beans and coffee beans in my craft cabinet to reuse for photos.

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Vases, glasses and mugs are great for hanging earrings. Finger prints and dust really stand out against shiny ceramics and glass, so remember to clean any reflective surfaces before you take a photograph with them. Think about the style of your jewelry when choosing a prop. For a pair of pearl earrings I’m likely to use a patterned porcelain cup. But a more modern earring looks better against a solid color coffee mug.

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A wine glass can become a wonderful neutral bracelet or ring stand. Just flip your glass upside down to create a platform for your jewelry!

T&T - 04 22 14 - 4 (1 of 1) editedIf you follow our Weekly Bead Challenge  you’ve probably seen all kinds of different photo props! What have you used to display your work?

Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen

DIY Upcycled Beads

To commemorate Earth Day this year, I decided to make beads of my own with upcycled materials. I started with the idea of making paper beads, similar to the ones we carry on our website. I love these paper beads so much! They are so colorful and lightweight and a fun way to add some whimsy into a necklace.

photo_3_The only problem was that I’m not a scrapbooker, so I don’t have fun papers around the house to use. I was originally just going to take some magazines and find ads and images in colors that appealed to me, but then I remembered the tons of scrap fabric that I have in my house that I’m just hanging onto for a project like this. I used the same technique that you would use if you were making paper beads, but I just substituted pieces of fabric instead!

photo_2_Here’s what you’ll need to make your own paper or fabric beads!

Steel mandrel (I had these around from my Coiling Gizmo!)




Mod Podge


Rotary cutter or scissors

Cutting mat

Iron (if using fabric)

Parchment Paper

Triangle Pattern for beads


Triangle Pattern for BeadAnd here’s how to make your own beads:

1. Using your rotary cutter or scissors, cut out several triangle pieces of fabric or paper. Mine were about 1 inch at the base and 4 inches long. photo_4_2. Prep your work space! I laid down the parchment paper to protect my table and got a little tray for my Mod Podge and paintbrush.

3. Using one triangle of fabric and your steel mandrel, start wrapping the thickest part of your triangle around the mandrel. After wrapping the fabric once around the mandrel, apply a line of Mod Podge to the fabric close to the mandrel. Continue wrapping the fabric, stopping every so often to apply more Mod Podge to the fabric. As you near the end, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the entire tip of the triangle and finish rolling your bead.

4. Transfer your bead to a toothpick to dry.

photo_5_5. Continue making more beads. When all of your beads are done and dry, apply another layer of Mod Podge to the outside of each bead and let dry.

6. You’re done! Now string up and use your beads in a beautiful piece of jewelry!

photo_6_This was a fun and fast project, and easy to do with kids as well! (I think I’ll make some more with my niece!) Show us what you have upcycled into jewelry on our Facebook page!

- Katie

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210It takes practice to master a new bead weaving stitch. Each time I learn a new Technique I make a 1-2 inch sample piece of bead weaving. Making these swatches helps me learn something new without committing to creating an entire piece of jewelry. I often use bigger beads that I would normally choose, like a Size 6 Round Japanese Seed Bead, so it’s easier to see which step I’m at and identify the inevitable beginner mistakes. Swatching is also a great way to use up leftover beads!

If I get on a roll a swatch can develop into a complete piece of jewelry, but I usually just add the completed swatch to my bulletin board. Keeping a swatch board means I have a quick visual reference for all of the techniques I’ve tried. It makes it easier to choose a stitch for a new project or can serve as a quick reminder for why I’ve been avoiding a particular Technique!

Can you name all the sample stitches on my swatch board?

T&T - 04 15 14  (1 of 1)editedHappy Tuesday! – Gretchen

Customizable Sports Jewelry!

It’s that time of year – baseball season has begun! One of my favorite annual Opening Day preparations is to make new jewelry for the season in Detroit Tigers colors, so I decided to rework two of our existing inspiration designs for this season’s pieces.

Our sports jewelry designs are easily customizable; you can switch out one team’s colors for your team’s colors with no hassle at all! I took our Opening Day Earrings and changed out the colors for the Tigers’ blue and orange hues.

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You can even take a design and switch out the beads and charms to feature an entirely different sport! Our sports theme page features a huge selection of all the sports motif beads, charms, and stamping tools that we carry, making it even easier for you to find the right pieces for your personalized design! I chose one of our soccer designs, the Eternal Blue, Forever Green Necklace, and made it into a baseball design by switching out the charm and changing the crystal colors.

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Not sure what color beads will best fit your team’s colors? You’re in luck, because we’ve done all the work for you! Check out our Swarovski Crystal sports team color charts, available for all MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, and NCAA FBS (Division I-A) football teams, and get beading!

Eat ‘em up, Tigers! -Gabby

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210With Earth Day just around the corner it’s a great time to think about giving new life to old jewelry! I love scouring thrift stores for jewelry to take apart and turn into something completely different. You can use today’s tips when you’re picking out jewelry to upcycle!

Before you buy jewelry at a thrift store, make sure that the piece is usable. Check for any stains, cracks, breaks, chips and even strange smells on all of the jewelry you handle. You wouldn’t buy a sweater with all the buttons missing, so find out if the clasp works on a bracelet and see if all of the crystals are intact in a rhinestone brooch. Check for loose findings, rust, tarnish and rotten thread. These don’t matter so much if you’re taking the piece apart, but do make a difference if you plan on wearing the piece as is!

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Sometimes even a broken piece will catch my eye. Make sure you can easily fix anything that is damaged or missing a part. Often the projects that require the most work are the least likely to ever be finished. If you instantly have an idea of the finished piece, you’re more likely to use the item!

Keep your eyes open as you browse. Strands of beads can be cut apart and reused. Single earrings can become pendants. Parts of several jewelry pieces can be recombined together into something completely new!  Lots of thrift stores keep their pricier items in glass cases, so you may have to ask for assistance. Look for bargain bags of broken jewelry and findings – you never know what treasures you’ll find!

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Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen