Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

In the last few years I have really noticed a dramatic shift in the beading world, a bead renaissance if you will. With the introduction of so many new multi-hole Czech glass beads, beaders have enjoyed the opportunity to truly stretch their weaving skills. There is a myriad of amazing 3 dimensional weaves and patterns out there now, making it a really exciting time to be a seed beader. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend trying one of the free patterns for CzechMates. These patterns will show you some amazing and imaginative ways to use these multi-hole glass beads that you are sure to love. We are proud to offer an entire selection of free patterns that will challenge you and make you a weaving pro in no time. Below are a few of the many amazing patterns we offer at FusionBeads.com!

Protect Me Bracelet Pattern for CzechMates by Iulia PosticaSlytherin Bangle Pattern for CzechMates by Rae Burns
Luna Rosa Bracelet Pattern for CzechMates by Carole Ohl

Glowing enthusiasm aside, the only thing I don’t love about these beads is the occasional, but dreaded, blocked second hole. Czech glass beads undergo a special manufacturing process which sometimes leaves extra material in the hole. Today’s tip is how to avoid blocked beads and save yourself from a beading headache halfway through your project.

As is often the case, it is all about preparation. I know many of us creative types can’t wait to delve right into a project, but setting aside a little time for prep can ward off time-consuming problems in the future. Before starting any project, cull out any beads with a blocked hole. You can visually inspect the bead by holding it to a light. If the light shines through you are good to go. The second method is to use a needle to simply poke through the holes to make sure there are no obstructions. Once you have a good batch set aside, dispose any of the blocked beads so they won’t creep back into your supply. Nothing is worse than completing a section of weaving only to find a blocked hole stops you dead in your tracks.

A little time spent beforehand will save you a lot of frustration later. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to stretch your skills and try a new weaving technique with these wonderful glass beads. We are sure you’ll love them as much as we do!

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

 

Over the last few years I have been dabbling in silversmithing. As with anything, it took quite a lot of practice before I could manipulate the metal and successfully solder anything. But thankfully, a friend has shared a little tip about annealing sterling silver with me that has really made a big impact on my metal work, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

When manipulating sterling silver wire, either by shaping it or texturing it with a hammer, the wire will start to become inflexible. This is called work hardening. Work hardening is the process when the molecules become interlocked after too much manipulation.  This causes the wire to become too rigid to shape. You can make your wire soft again with a process called annealing.  Annealing requires torching the sterling silver to a specific temperature. The heat causes the rigid structure of the molecules to loosen up, thus making the wire flexible again. It takes a little experience to know when you have applied enough heat to properly anneal sterling silver, but this great tip will help you master the technique.

Use a Sharpie pen to mark your sterling wire prior to torching it. As you bring the temperature up you will see the metal give off a dull inner glow and the Sharpie marks will dissipate. When the Sharpie mark burns off completely, you have reached the perfect annealing temperature at about 1200F.  At this point, remove the flame and quench the wire in water. Your sterling wire should now bend easily!

If your wire is not yet fully annealed, you can begin the process again and allow the wire to get hotter for just a little bit longer. Proper annealing only takes 30 seconds at the correct temperature, so take care not to heat your sterling too long. If the sterling starts to become shiny or have a liquid surface then you have raised the temperature beyond the safe annealing point. Avoid overheating your metal or else it will become brittle or melt completely. I hope this little trick will help you the next time you delve into more advance wire work.

For more tips on metal working, please visit our extensive Techniques section! You can find techniques for fusing fine silver, sawing or texturing metal, making your own findings and so much more!

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

There have been some pretty amazing Czech Bead innovations in the last few years. The ever expanding collection of Czech 2-hole glass beads provide beaders of all skill levels new ways to create and grow as beading artists.  My favorites will always be the popular SuperDuo and MiniDuo 2-Hole Czech Seed Beads because they are so versatile and easy to use.

SuperDuos have a very pleasing tapered design that allows them to interlock beautifully. You can create a myriad of designs from flowers, snowflakes, geometric forms and so much more with these fun beads! The MiniDuos are the same shape, but just a bit smaller so you can use them to create more intricate or smaller patterns.

Below I’m going to illustrate the difference between the two with a few of our favorite Inspiration Projects!

SuperDuos are one of the most popular shapes. Its 2x5mm size is perfectly proportioned so it can work together with other beads, like daggers, drops, SuperUnos, seed beads and much, much more! The Dagger Duo Bracelet Pattern for CzechMates is one great example of SuperDuos in action. As you can see in the picture below, the SuperDuos work seamlessly with the size 8/0 Japanese Round Seed Beads and Mini Dagger Czech Glass Beads.

As mentioned before, the MiniDuos are the exact same shape but just a tiny bit smaller, measuring 2x4mm. The advantage of the smaller size allows you the freedom to make intricate woven designs that won’t be too large to wear. The Inspiration Project, the Rose Windows Bracelet Pattern for CzechMates illustrates this point perfectly. The smaller MiniDuo beads give a delicate, lacey feel to the overall design. The diminutive size helps to allow this piece to be visually complex without it being too chunky or overwhelming. 

For avid fans of the SuperDuos, we’re excited to announce that we are now offering Duets! SuperDuo Duets have a different color on each side of the bead so you can get creative, add a pop of color, or create visual complexity in your pattern! You can see an example of the Duets in our newest Inspiration Project, the Zip it Up Bracelet. As you can see, the mirroring blue sides of SuperDuo Duets create a very intriguing color stripe and add the sense of forward motion to the piece. We can’t get enough of these new SuperDuo color combinations!

How would you use these fun new beads in your DIY jewelry designs?

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca

How To Take Care Of Your New Cat!

Many of us know owning a cat is a challenging yet rewarding experience, but this cat will bring you years of enjoyment with little hassle! Here are a few steps on how to care for and love for your new cat.

  1. Let the cat out of the bag! Cats love to hide, but we need to introduce them to the world. Let it out so it can begin its new life with you.
  2. Cats like to hang out and be near you. This cat will want to be with you all the time. How about adding it to a lovely charm bangle bracelet so it can hang out with you and be your constant companion. 
  3. Cleaning your cat. For the most part your cat will take care of itself, but if it should get dirty, simply use a green solution on it and gently rub it with a soft cloth. It will look purrrfect in no time!
  4. Cats crave attention. Take your new cat out and show it off to your friends! This cat will definitely enjoy making a statement and being adored by others!
  5. Some cats like to be alone, but this kitty loves company! Invite some more kitties over to play. This cat craves friends so the more the merrier. Check out some of our other kitties that would love to be your cat’s newest chums.
  6. Avoid boredom. Cats love shiny things to play with. Add some Swarovski Crystal Pearls or Swarovski Crystal Round Beads to your bangle bracelet and watch your cat tussle in delight with its new bright and shiny toys.
  7. Enjoy your new cat and have fun!

Happy April Fools’ Day! – Rebecca

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

I absolutely love bead embroidery. It is like making a magnificent painting but using beads instead of paint! I usually create my pieces with an abstract design or random pattern, but there are times I want the symmetry of a design to be the most noticeable element. I’ve found two simple ways that really help ensure a piece will turn out perfectly symmetrical.

If you happen to have a simple picture or paint program on your computer you can use it create a general template for your bead embroidery piece. The first step is to create a very simplistic grid. Draw two straight lines that intersect in the center. This will form a “x-y axis” to plot your design.

Draw in a shape that will be a place holder for your focal bead. For example, if you plan on using a Swarovski Crystal Fancy Stone, draw a shape to represent its position. You can then draw in other elements to the right and left of this focal bead.

Once you have a few elements plotted on your template, print it out and transfer the markings to your Lacy’s Stiff Stuff  beading foundation. Glue your Swarovski Crystal Fancy Stones into position with E6000 adhesive. Once your main pieces are locked into place you can then begin beading.

The second method is quick, easy and won’t require any computer expertise. On your beading foundation use a ruler to draw your x-y axis. Use a pencil so the marks will be concealed underneath the beads once they are stitched down. Place your focal on the intersection of the lines and then trace the shape of the crystal. I recommend flipping the Swarovski Crystal Fancy stone over onto its front side so it is easier to trace. Once the position of your focal bead is finalized place your other stones on the foundation. Move the crystals around until you find a location that looks best. You can then trace the crystal at this point. If you want to be really precise, remove the stones and measure the distance from the center of the tracing for your focal bead.

 

Create a new line on either side of your focal crystal using this measurement. This will ensure a nice symmetry. Once your planning is complete and you feel happy about the design glue your pieces into place.  Once the glue is set you can begin the fun part – beading! One last tip. I find it works really well to sew down a few seed bead rows on one side then go to the opposite side to repeat the motif. It is easier to switch stitching on the left and right side as you progress rather than trying to recreate an entire finished design. You can use two sets of needles and thread for the left and right side so switching off is hassle free. For more tips please visit our Bead Embroidery Techniques page.

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

Making a memory wire bracelet is one of my favorite beading activities. I love how I can combine leftover beads from past projects together to make an eclectic, bohemian bracelet. There is literally no restrictions or rules when making a memory wire bracelet. It is a very versatile, fun and forgiving beading project. The only question most beaders have is, what size wire coil will fit my wrist best? Today I’ll discuss choosing the right size coil for your project.

Round memory wire is our most popular shape for bracelets. We offer four different size coils so everyone can find a size that will fit well and look great! Below is a little chart that shows the round bracelet memory wire we carry and the recommended wrist size for each.

Round Memory Wire

Our in-house designers prefer to use the 2.25-inch diameter for most of our memory wire Inspiration Projects. This size creates a bracelet with an 8-inch diameter so it will fit many different wrist sizes. For those that have small wrists, a 2-inch or 1.75-inch diameter may work better. Our Inspiration Project Coral Crush Bracelet uses a 1.75 coil and, as you can see from the pictures below, the bracelet is quite compact.One more important tip for sizing; If you plan to use large beads, the inner diameter of your finished bracelet will be smaller. In this circumstance, I recommended using a wire one size larger than usual to ensure the bracelet will fit comfortably on you.

If you need help making a memory wire bracelet, be sure to check out our detailed Finishing Memory Wire tutorial for step-by-step instructions!

Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca