Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Project Runway

Preview for Episode 7 featured above.

I so love Project Runway. Editor Nicole Smith of CraftStylish has been posting a nice break down of almost every episode, showing the designs from multiple angles and allowing the readers to vote for what they liked the best and the least. I thought that I'd share.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5 is missing? I don't see it.
Episode 6

And just for fun,
2009 Emmy Fashions

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tequila Sunrise in The Best of Stringing

Guest blogger: Jamie Hogsett
The Best of Stringing 2009

One of my favorite necklaces of late - and one that I actually wear - is back in my possession after spending the summer in Loveland at Interweave Press. Tequila Sunrise was made with lampworked glass beads from Nancy Tobey; citrine, aquamarine, and turquoise from Soft Flex Company; and natural brass beads and findings from Vintaj. I love the combination of colors in this necklace!
I was honored when Danielle Fox, editor of Stringing, asked me to design a new piece for the first ever "Best Of" issue of the magazine. For those of you who don't know, I was the second editor of Stringing and the editor who brought it from a special issue to a quarterly publication, so I've always considered it to be my "baby." I'm so proud of how popular the magazine has become and I love that I've been involved in every issue in some form or another, as editor, technical editor, and/or contributor.
It was a great surprise to flip through the pages and count that I have 24 pieces in this issue - wow! I guess that makes sense, considering I've made close to 300 projects for Stringing in the over five years it's been published. All the same, it was pretty cool to see five of my bracelets on this page of the bracelet spread.
Thank you Danielle, and everyone else at Stringing, for letting me still be a part of this lovely magazine!

Jamie Hogsett is the Education Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. Contact her at or via her blog at

Coral on NPR

This morning I heard a great little article on NPR about coral.

Researchers in Florida are growing new coral and transplanting it onto damaged reefs. They're using techniques developed, not by a marine scientist, but by the owner of a tropical fish company. With $3 million in stimulus money from the federal government, the project is being expanded.

Monday, September 28, 2009


So one of my ideas that I hope to expand upon as I have more and more time to work with it is using our beautiful Soft Flex Colors in hair accessories. Here is a simple braided headband that I whipped up using the 24 karat Extreme Soft Flex Beading Wire. I simply created a loop on either side of the braid using a 3x3mm crimp tube and mighty crimping pliers. Then, I attached a ribbon that I could tie behind my head in a bow. Really simple, but very pretty.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

School of Design

We have so many great tools on our website. It is flabbergasting at times. So I thought that I would walk through some of the best places to look for advice, inspiration and information about beading.

The most used feature on our website is by far our Bead Store Finder. Finding a local bead store near you has never been easier. Simply put in your zip code, click to search and find your local bead store.

Most of our best features have a home in the Soft Flex School of Design.

Spotlight on... was started in 2005 and gets updated monthly with a new article, book review, designer feature, bead store feature, color inspiration by Margie Deeb & free printable art created by our very own web graphic designer Kristen Fagan.

To see October 2009, click here.

Article Archives
Color Archives
Designer Archives
Book Archives
Store Archives
Free Art & Printables

Tips and Tricks covers a variety of subject matter. We've broken it down into 4 main categories.

(beading wire info, stringing, crimping, knotting, etc)
Wire Work
(craft wire info, connectors, dangles, knitting spools, wigjigs, etc)
Reference Materials
(charts, bead shapes, bead sizes, birth stones, wire gauges, etc)

I love, love, love the Fashion Trends Section. We just started it and look forward to updating it from time time. It shows some affordable and hip fashion mixed with our free project ideas.

Free Art & Printables is another area that gets updated every single month. We offer artwork for your desktop, bookmarks, design cards and, gift tags. Kristen Fagan is the designer and although I am fairly biased as a friend and co-worker, I think she does an amazing job.

Desktop Wallpaper
Free Bookmarks
Free Design Cards
Free Gift Tags

Another area with heavy traffic is our Free Beading Project Ideas. Who doesn't love inspiration? We try to offer project ideas that aren't your typical design. We work to think outside of the box and offer things that are new or different. It is more fun for us and for you!
Men's Jewelry
Home Accents & Crafts

We were proud to be the first beading wire manufacturer to Go Green! We offer tips for everyday ways you can start go green too. It is an ongoing process for each and every one of us, but if we can contribute step-by-step together, we will make the world a little better.


And of course, you can always "Ask Sara". Yep, that's me. You can ask me any of your beading questions, 7 days a week 24 hours a day. Just drop me an email.

If you need immediate attention or just want to chat, between the hours of 9am-4pm (PST), you can click to talk to a live customer service rep on our Free Live Chat. This is available on any School of Design page, top left corner.

And of course you can find us on:
Email Newsletter

So the question is, what don't we offer that you want? Are we missing an online feature that you would love to see us offer?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fusion Beads

20% off sale on beading wire at Fusion Beads!
Remember, ask for Soft Flex by name. It is simply the best beading wire.

Find your local bead store.

Survey says....

On our latest survey we asked, "If you could use
only one word to describe Soft Flex Company
to a friend or fellow beader, what word
would you use?" The answers have been cute.
Many customers cannot possibly
describe us in one word.
Other customers seemed to know their answer right
away with the most frequent answers being
"best", "quality", "great" & "good".
Sounds about right to me.
Please feel free to weigh in on the
Soft Flex Survey.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall Fashion

Rachel Zoe (about a Glamour shoot that she styled) "With the shoot, I'm going to illustrate a lot of the trends that I saw on the New York runways: leggings, layering sweaters, fitted little jackets and tons of sequins." What is your favorite trend this fall? I love the idea of sequins on really comfy and casual clothing pieces - like vests & t-shirts. Spice it up a little. I also love, love, love leggings and tights in fun colors and textures. Scarves and boots make Fall & Winter fashion tons of fun!

In the jewelry world, I noticed last weekend when I stepped into Gap that they had either really chunky mixed media designs (as shown above from Bebe) or uber dainty & delicate pieces, but not much in between. Upon inspection of my Fall Instyle and Vogue, I saw a lot of chunky mixed media designs. These designs combine different gauges of chain, leather, zippers, ribbon, beads etc. They are very messy looking and therefore probably look very sexy when worn with the right outfit or dress.

I was really excited to see that InStyle was offering DIY tips! Us bead fanatics so often forget that beading is not exclusive to jewelry. Handcrafting hair accessories, embellishing shoes, bags, belts, etc are also serious options.

Pictures From InStyle Magazine
September 2009
(click to get a better view)

These pages in InStyle Magazine's September Issue inspired me. I have a few sketches for ideas that I'd like to flush out. I have been working hard all week to ebb out some time to sit down at my bead table and explore the ideas that are floating around in my head as well as write instructions for some of the projects that I have already created this year. Instructions are always the hardest part for me - but as I do like to share my ideas, inevitably they have to be written.

My cousin, Virginia Barrera, designed the above free project idea quite a few years back. I couldn't help but think of it as I looked over the hair accessory options in my Instyle Magazine. I can picture updating this same design using big jet black crystal bicones. Wouldn't that be awesome?!

For more Fall & Winter tips:

JustATish showed some a nice Fall Color Guide from on her blog.

You can buy a full Fall/Winter 2009 Color Report from Margie Deeb for only $9.95. Margie Deeb, "There's no substitute for great color. You can be a brilliant designer, but if your color is weak, so is your jewelry." Very true!

Also, see what will be hot Spring 2010:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On My Book Shelf

I opened up my mailbox to find 2 new books from Interweave this week. Books are a constant source of inspiration for me. I look forward to reviewing both for the Soft Flex Spotlight!

"Seed Bead Fusion"
by Rachel Nelson-Smith
$16.47 on Amazon

"The Encyclopedia of Comtemporary Jewelry Making Techniques"
by Vannetta Seecharran
$17.79 on Amazon

I have two books that I look forward to owning in the future. I love the work of Cynthia Thornton, Melinda Barta & Danielle Fox. All 3 designers have an eye for detail. Cynthia is the owner of Green Girl Studios. Danielle Fox is the editor for Stringing Magazine & Melinda Barta is the editor for Beadwork Magazine.

"Enchanted Adornments"
by Cynthia Thornton
$16.47 on Amazon
Not realeased yet, but I think it comes out in November.

"Mixed Metals"
by Melinda Barta & Danielle Fox
$15.62 on Amazon

Happy Birthday Mike!

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to youuuuuuuu! Happy birthday dear Miiiiiike! Happy birthday to you!

Today, September 23 is Mike Sherman's (Owner Soft Flex Company) birthday. It is a little confusing this year because he is overseas in China. So really his birthday was yesterday? Regardless, let's celebrate. There are a million great to things I could say about both Mike & Scott as bosses, as friends and practically family members. Mike is the creative force and energy that pushes Soft Flex Company forward. He has a million great ideas. So many that sometimes it can be exasperating to keep up with him. His jewelry designs are exceptional as he has very good taste. He also happens to be one of the most generous and thoughtful people that I've ever come across. Although he is always teasing me (and I mean ALWAYS), I have no question in my mind that he is also always rooting for me and all of my co-workers to be the best that we can be. I am so thankful to have him be such a huge part of my life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Smoldering Embers

Guest Blogger: Jamie Hogsett
Stringing Magazine, Fall 2009

I received the cover image from the Fall 2009 issue of Stringing Magazine today from the fine ladies who edit it. Isn't it a gorgeous cover? I love the color combination. It's just one more thing that's getting me excited about fall. This issue of Stringing will be on the newsstands in early October, and subscribers will start receiving their issues next week!

Included in this issue is my Smoldering Embers necklace. The focal bead and the lampworked glass rondelles are made by the awesome Lori Greenberg. I love the colors she used to make the focal bead, as well as her patterns of circles and dots.

Lori's beads matched up perfectly with the Vitality Trios set, so I used it to string three strands of Lori's rondelles, pearls, and carnelian. I added them to a section of chain I purchased just before I moved back to Colorado last year. I really like the fact that the focal piece can be worn in front or on the side. I look forward to seeing the way the girls at Stringing photographed the piece.

In addition to the necklace, I also have a bracelet and three pairs of earrings in this issue. This bracelet - strung on Fluorite beading wire and featuring lampworked glass beads from Nancy Tobey - is my new favorite and I'm delighted to have it back after the more than four months it spend with the magazine. The bracelet, along with the three pairs of earrings (you'll have to get the magazine to see them), will be great accessories to my fall wardrobe.

Jamie Hogsett is the Education Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. Contact her at or via her blog at

Aloha from various parts of the world!

Aloha! It is that time of year again. Time for the Soft Flex Company Glass Art & Bead Festival in Hawaii. Sadly, I will not be there. However our wonderful Hawaiian Soft Flex'ers will be. The beautiful and talented Jennifer Wilson (Soft Flex Trade Show Manager) will also be on on hand. Perhaps she will send me a guest blog to post so that we can all be jealous? If you happen to go and bump into Andrew Thornton of Green Girl Studios, it is his birthday this week and you should wish him a happy birthday. So, if you are in Hawaii and would like to attend, here are the details. It will be the Most Spectacular Beading Event of the year in the Hawaiian Islands.

Ward Warehouse on the Second Floor
1050 Ala Moana Blvd - Honolulu, HI 96814

Friday, 10am - 6pm
Saturday, 10am - 6pm
Sunday, 11am - 5pm

No admission fee!
Juried Show of 30+ Exhibitor Spaces
Beads, Gemstones, Findings, Collectible Glass Art & Jewelry


And to further spread out our Soft Flex family, you can find some of our team this weekend in Portland, Oregon at BeadFest. Details are as follows. Don't forget to sign up to win $1,000 in free Soft Flex products at the front entrance. Look for the large and impressive treasure chest.

Oregon Convention Center
777 NE ML King, Jr. Blvd.
Portland, OR 97232

Thursday 9/24, 5pm - 9pm
Friday 9/25, 10am - 7pm
Saturday 9/26, 10am - 6pm
Sunday 9/27, 11am - 5pm

Admission: TBD

And finally (as if all of that wasn't enough to be doing in one weekend), Soft Flex Owners Mike Sherman & Scott Clark are in China at the Asia's Biggest International Jewellery Fair. Soft Flex Company is proudly sharing space with Oriental Gemco, one of the best sources for fine gemstones, in the Asia World Expo - Hall 3 - #3J02, 3J04, 3J06, 3K01, 3K03, 3K05. If you happen to be in China and would like details, please visit their website to learn more about times and location. Let's all hope that Mike & Scott will send us photos of their experiences in China. I know that I for one would love to see and hear about what they are doing in Asia, but I can't make any promises since they are and will be very busy selling and demonstrating the superior quality in the very best beading wire that the world has ever seen. Overkill? Maybe. I can't help it. It is really and truly what I believe.

So as you can see, we are all busy little bees this week! Hopefully you can join us at one of our 3 locations!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall in the Desert

It is a common misconception that we don't have 4 seasons in the desert. I don't agree. Our Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring may not be conventional, but you can definitely feel the changing of the weather. Basically summer is our reverse winter. We hide out inside, we head to the movie theatre, we get out of town in search of cooler weather. Summer runs from June-August. September, October & November (Fall) are still warm but, I find by mid-September I can get out and hike, walk my dog, ride my bike, etc. January & February are cold. Okay, it isn't REALLY cold - but it is coldER, especially as compared to 116-117 in the middle of Summer. Winter comes and goes in a blink of an eye (much like Summer for most of you non-desert dwellers). And Spring seems to last the longest. It starts to warm up in February and reaches 100 degrees sometime in May. Although we don't have a changing of the leaves or snow to mark the movement of the seasons, I can definitely feel the seasons change. For instance, the temperature finally dipped down lower than 100 degrees this past week. Guess what I did? I hung my Halloween lights and hung my pumpkin wreath on the door. Then, I laced on my hiking boots and took the nearby city park - Piestewa Peak (Squaw Peak to natives) for a hike. I didn't have to look at the calendar to know, it's officially Fall. Low and behold, today is the last day of Summer. Being a desert dweller, that is wonderful to hear. Yay for Autumn!

If you are a designer, the above Fall coupon code will be emailed out tomorrow for a discount on our single strands clasps. Make sure that you are signed up to receive the email blast for future sale coupons and daily deals! You only have 24 hours to purchase, Tuesday 9/22.

This offer is not valid with any other discounts. If your purchase qualifies for two or more discounts, you will receive the best discount, but not a combination.

We love beads too!

Guest blogger:
Lisa Dwelly

Most Soft Flex employees are beaders just like you! We love beads too!

Maria Maxwell (Soft Flex Book Keeper) and I visited Fort Bragg a few weekends ago. Fort Bragg is a beautiful little coastal town in California. We did a little shopping and had a fantastic lunch at the Wharf Restaurant. The local bead store Rubaiyat was definitely our favorite shop. The owner was so nice and showed us his very best stuff! Maria has already made a nice necklace and bracelet. So pretty!

I still have my beautiful items in the handmade bag. He makes his own bags from newspaper - very green! I've also heard that people use newspaper to wrap presents, the comics can be especially colorful. I took a quick photo of my new stash and thought that I'd share.

Lisa Dwelly is the Customer Service Manager for Soft Flex Company. Contact her at

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Free Project Ideas can be Printed

Did you notice that you can now print all of the free project ideas? In the header of each of the free project ideas, there is now a link that reads "click to print". Here is an example for the earrings show above:

Tranquility Earrings
Designed by: Jamie Hogsett
Skill Level: Beginner
Click to print

The printer friendly pages save on ink and give you just the pertinent details that you need to recreate our free project ideas.

For teachers and stores, any of our designs can be put into a more professional looking pdf copy. Some designs already have the pdf linked next to the printer friendly page (see example below). If you would like to have a Soft Flex Free Project Idea put into a pdf form for a class, all you have to do is ask - email

Mixed Metals Bracelet
Designed by: Jamie Hogsett
Skill Level: Beginner

Click to print | Click to download PDF file

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Winning Day at the Show

Guest Blogger: Cynthia Markson
of Malachite Moon Jewelry
A Winning Day at the Show

It is funny how the universe works. I'm a massage therapist working at The Garden Spa at MacArthur Place (Sonoma) when I saw your show was coming up I was bummed because I work on the weekends and didn't think I would have an opportunity to attend. So that Sunday, I had two cancellations in a row, which gave me close to two hours to get there, see everything and get back to work. So I set my cell phone to alert me to leave the show in time, rushed down to the Vets building where the show was being held and proceeded to fall in love with beading again.

I left before I could purchase anything because there was just so much to see and my time was short. Now here's where the universe stepped in. I grabbed a quick lunch at Broadway Market (best cheap sandwiches in Sonoma) on my way back to work and bought a lottery scratch off ticket saying out loud that if I won any money (which rarely ever happened!) I would go back and spend it at the show if my schedule could be changed so I could get there before closing.

And then it happened. I won $60! Which of course was the largest amount I ever won, and thanks to the universe working, my last appointment of the day cancelled and I was free to get to the show before it closed and spend my winnings and start my jewelry design career.

Because of that show in August of '08 I have since made and sold a number of pieces at the spa where I work, a gallery on the Plaza called Artifax, and to people directly that I come in contact with (even at my bank one of the tellers had to have a necklace I made). My favorite moment so far was when an 80 year old woman went to Artifax, saw my piece called "Blue Nile" and decided she had to have it. That made me so proud.

I create necklaces using stones and crystals for their various healing properties so you feel good while you look good. I buy most of my stones and Soft Flex wire and findings from Sonoma Rock and Minerals (just off the Plaza) and am so happy making jewelry that sometimes I'm at it till three in the morning! The creative force is strong and the Soft Flex wire and findings makes it so easy to work with that time really does fly when I'm having fun!

So that's my story and I'm so happy your company held that show because that is where it began. Thanks for letting me share this with you.

Cynthia Markson is a Soft Flex customer. She can be reached at

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