Sunday, October 31, 2010

Faux Barb Wire Bracelet

Do you need a last minute bracelet idea that is perfect for Halloween? Try my Faux Barb Wire Bracelet idea. I get lots of compliments on this bracelet idea all year long!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ask Sara - Beading Classes

Question: Where can I take a quality beading class?

Answer: First and foremost, find your local bead shops. Click here to use our bead store finder. Bead shops often offer classes and are a wealth of information about beading. Second, check to see if there are any bead shows or bead societies in your area. Click here to see the bead shows that we attend regularly. Please realize that there are a ton more out there. Some shows offer educational opportunities. I specifically suggest Beadfest and Bead and Button.  Click here to see a list of bead societies. Next, check to see if anything is offered at your local community college. Lastly, you can search event listings, craig's list, your local freebie news source to find postings for classes in your area. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Glass Art and Bead Festival in NYC - Recap

I was not able to go to our Soft Flex Glass Art and Bead Festival in NYC this year. Josh and I spent the weekend in lovely Sedona for a wedding, so it has taken me awhile to get pictures and feedback from co-workers and friends who exhibited or visited the show.

It sounds as if it was a huge success. The bead society reported that we had a few hundred more people came through the door as compared to the previous year. It is really nice to see this show continue to grow. They also reported that all of the vendors that they spoke to seemed to be pleased with the turn out and their sales. Yay! 

The BSGNY also mentioned that shoppers appreciate the "diversity, craftsmanship and uniqueness of the Soft Flex vendors" at this show. After 5 years of partnership, I cannot say enough nice things about the Bead Society of Greater New York. All admissions that are taken at the door are donated to the BSGNY, which over 5 years has totaled well into a 5 figure range. It is wonderful to be able to share this show with them. 

We were really excited to include the Fashion Institute of Technology's Jewelry Club this year! Here is a message from them that I received a few days ago.

All the members of FIT's jewelry club would like to say THANK YOU! for inviting us to participate in your show at FIT last weekend!  It was such a great opportunity for us and we got a lot out of it.  It also really helped to jump start our year, got our members to work together, and will help to make a lot of our future projects possible.  We really only just formed the club last year, so we have been working hard to develop our identity and become involved in the jewelry community.  The Soft Flex show was a big success for us and we hope to continue to be active like that in the beading world.  So thank you again!  We really, really appreciate it!

Best regards,
The FIT Jewelry Club

As usual, everyone seemed to enjoy the streets of NYC. I received photos of flowers, marquees, art, and buildings. Here are a few of my favorites....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spotlight on...Metal Clay Origami Jewelry by Sara Jayne Cole

Our featured book this month is
Metal Clay Origami Jewelry
by Sara Jayne Cole

I recently received a copy of Metal Clay Origami Jewelry by Sara Jayne Cole from Lark Books. It is always so fun to thumb through a project book that uses an unfamiliar technique. I think that I'd really enjoy working with metal clay. Specifically, I think that I'd love to make flowers using metal clay. There were a few flower projects included in this book that I really loved. The step-by-step photos look fabulous in this book, which is great because I am terrible with written instruction.

Jewelry Designer - Lori Mendenhall

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Treat - Part Four by Jamie Hogsett

Here's a truly versatile piece that I'll wear this Halloween and on many other occasions, I'm sure. Technically, I guess it's a lariat, though it can be worn so many ways: folded in half and worn true lariat style, wrapped around your neck three times as a choker, wrapped around your wrist eight or so times for a funky cuff, or ...
The super-sweet skull bead is from my friends at Green Girl Studios, and the old key from Glass Garden Beads. The Czech glass cathedral beads and spiderweb red agate are from Shipwreck, and the brass hook and crimp covers/spacers from Vintaj. I used 20-gauge Orange Soft Flex Craft Wire to wrap the skull, Black Onyx Soft Flex Wire .024 diameter for the braid, and sterling silver 3mm crimp tubes to secure it all. Halloween this year will find me at a concert and this necklace will make the perfect costume!

Hope you all have a wonderful Halloween!

Guest blogger Jamie Hogsett is the Education Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. Contact her at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Market & Build Trust by Kristen Fagan

The key to marketing success is to do a variety of things, creating your own marketing mix for your business.

First things first, it is really important to know who your target audience is, how they perceive you and why they pay for your service or product. Ways of sourcing your audience are past customers, Internet research, networking efforts and personal referrals. Be sure to create a good database of your targets and this can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet.  This crucial step will make marketing easier on you as your business grows.

Here are some traditional marketing ideas:

Keep up your mailing/emailing lists and use them for mailing postcards, fliers and coupons.  Customers are looking for bargains today more then ever and coupons are experiencing a resurgence. Think about how you can incorporate a coupon or free shipping offer to your customers.

Maintain website, blogs, and social media outlets. Keep your information up to date, announce new products or promotions and most importantly connect with your customers.

Window signage.  If you have a brick and mortar shop, be sure you have your logo, hours and a display in the window if possible.  If you are located in a well traveled area think about adding lighting to your shop windows at night.

Write articles, teach a workshop, demo in your booth.  Become an "expert" in your field. This is particularly valuable if you want to lead more workshops or write more articles. Demonstrating within your show booth helps to draw a crowd, show your expertise and engages customers.

Marketing isn't only about promoting, it is also about how you conduct your business overall. In today's market there is a lot of emphasis placed on connecting with your consumer.  Control has shifted from brand to consumer and as a result, trust and authenticity are increasingly the way consumers are being motivated to purchase. 

Here are ways you can market and build trust in your brand:
  • Create the best product you can
  • Price your items appropriately
  • Interact kindly with people in your shop, show booth and social media outlets
  • Handle business calls and email in a professional manner
  • Be a source of valuable information for students in your classes
  • Think about community and connectivity as precursors to a sale
  • Exceed expectations
It is more important then ever to build relationships with your target audience.  Alyson B. Stanfield has a great post on her blog titled Marketing Isn't About You and it is dead on.  I highly recommend signing up for her ArtBizBlog emails while you are there.  She is a wealth of information for artists marketing themselves.

Guest blogger Kristen Fagan is the Website Graphic Designer for Soft Flex Company. She also has her own blog and etsy shop.  She'd love to hear from you! So, please feel free to leave comments or email her at

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ask Sara - What size of crimp tube do I need for my project?

Question: I'm confused about what size crimp to use with the heavy Soft Touch.  Charts seem to indicate a 2x2 but the wire will not go through.  Is the 3x3 the correct size?  Which is the inside measurement - the first number or the second? Thank you.

Answer: The first number indicates the width, the second number indicates the length - width x length. When using our .024 Heavy, we suggest the 2x3mm crimp tubes. Even though the 2x3 is supposed to just be 1mm longer and not wider, it does have a little bit more width and fits the .024 very well. If you need to match the correct diameter of wire with the correct size of crimp, check out this handy dandy chart. 

Basic Usage
Crimp to Use
Ideal for embellishing, weaving, crocheting and stringing very small beads.
Ideal for soft materials, seed beads and fresh water pearls.
Ideal all purpose wire. Great with glass, mineral, and metal beads.
Ideal for abrasive materials, large stones, lamp work and bracelets.

To learn more about crimps and crimping - visit our tips and tricks section in our school of design!

Do you have a beading question? Ask Sara!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bead societies

Are you a member of a bead society? Sprinkled throughout the world, you will find groups of beaders who come together regularly to share their love of beads and beading. Often societies offer lectures, classes, bead bazaars, retreats, events and so much more. I figured that it would be nice to pass along information for a few societies that I keep in touch with regularly. If your bead society is not mentioned, please click below on "need your opinion" and leave details for your society too.

In no particular order...

Bead Society of Greater New York - The BSGNY meets on the last Wednesday of each month at 6pm at FIT in New York City, New York.

Bead Society of Orange County - The BSOC meets every 4th Saturday of each month at 10:30am at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana, CA (excluding July and November).

Northern Virginia Bead Society - The NVBS meets on the 1st Thursday of each month at 7pm at the Vienna Community Center in Vienna, VA.

Northern California Bead Society - The NCBS meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7pm at the Sheraton-Four Points in Emeryville, CA (excluding December).

Rocky Mountain Bead Society - The RMBS meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 6pm at the TACtile Textile Art Center in Denver, CO.

Baltimore Bead Society - The BBS meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 6:15pm from September through July  at the Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City, MD.

Bead Society of Greater Chicago - The BSGC meets on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7pm at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3579 (except December - usually at a different location).

Main Line Bead Society in Pennsylvania - The MLBS meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7pm at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Springfield, PA.

Bead Society of Greater Washington - The BSGW meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7pm at the Chevy Chase Community Center in Washington DC.

Northwest Bead Society - The NWBS meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 7pm at the Greenwood Masonic Lodge in Seattle, WA (except July and August).

Upper Midwest Bead Society - The UMBS meets on the 1st Monday of each month at 7pm at the Textile Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Bead Society of Kansas City - The BSKC meets on the 2nd Friday of each month at 7pm, early bird beaders meet at 5pm in Mission, KS.

High Desert Bead Society of Northern Arizona - The HDBS meets on the 3rd Saturday of each month at 1pm at the Mountain Artist Guild in Prescott, AZ.

Austin Bead Society - The ABS meets on the 4th Monday of each month at 6:30pm at Murchison Middle School (except July and December).

Bead Society of New Mexico - The BSNM typically meets on the 4th Monday of each month at 6:30pm at Heights Presbyterian Church - Room 407 in Albuquerque, NM.

Indiana Bead Society

Bead Society of Victoria

Bead Society of Great Britain

There are tons more. Please comment with your suggestions! For those of you that aren't currently a member of a society, please consider joining your local group for some bead-y fun. You'll meet great people, learn, share and grow from your beading endeavors.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Time to vote!

The entries are in for the Flex Your Creativity Beading Contest and now it is up to you, lovely reader, to vote. Please pass the link along to your friends and family to vote too. The more votes the better. Please also note that this year, you can vote 3 times! It is too hard to choose just one design.

Speaking of steampunk style jewelry, did you see the November issue of Bead Style Magazine? There is a special section about steampunk. I can't wait to carve out some time to check it out!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spotlight on...Designer Lori Mendenhall

Our featured designer for this month is Lori Mendenhall.

I've been creating jewelry for over five years in my home studio in Southern California. Most of my pieces feature a unique resin or polymer clay component. I have just as much fun making the pendants and charms are designing the finished jewelry.

Designer - Lori Mendenhall

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween Treat - Part Three by Jamie Hogsett

Love this wrap bracelet with the witch charm flying toward the "moon" of yellow and orange Czech glass! I'm calling it Midnight Flight. 

Since I'm doing Halloween projects, it was only right for me to use the Trick or Treat Trios wire set in at least one of the pieces, and it worked perfectly here. All of the other materials were donated by Shipwreck Beads to specifically work with this Trios set, so the wire colors and beads coordinate perfectly.

Can you picture the witch speeding through the sky with a full harvest moon and lots of sparkling stars? I heart Halloween!

Guest blogger Jamie Hogsett is the Education Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. Contact her at

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bead Heaven in Sedona, AZ

Any time I'm on the road, I love to keep an eye out for bead shops. This past weekend Josh and I drove up to Sedona, AZ for a wedding. On our way up, I spied a bead store and I mentioned it to Josh. Being the wonderful fiancé that he is on our way home today he pulled into that bead store for me on the way home, without my even having to ask. I never know how to act when I go into a store for fun. Obviously Soft Flex is a huge part of my life professionally, but I love beading personally too. I always look to see if the store has our product, but I almost never say anything about my being from Soft Flex if I'm there for fun.

Bead Heaven has a beautiful view of the mountains around Sedona. I was expecting to see inflated prices being that Sedona is considered a somewhat expensive tourist town, but the prices were right. I poked around and picked out a nice strand of turquoise. "When in Rome, do as Romans do," right? Plus, I love the color of blue turquoise right now.

I was happy to see that Bead Heaven not only carried Soft Flex but Econoflex too. Yay! The woman in the store, I dare say the owner, was very pleasant. If you are ever in the Sedona area, I highly recommend paying a visit to Bead Heaven.

Is it strange that I don't mention who I am and who I work for when I visit a bead store on my own time?

Are you going on a trip any time soon. You can use our bead store finder to plan ahead.You never know what you might find at a bead store. They often have the best and most unique selection of beads. They also know a thing or two about quality, which I appreciate whole-heartedly.

Ask Sara - What color beading wire for clear crystals?

Question: I've been a bit bothered with the color of the wire when I string clear crystals.  I use the basic color of Soft Touch, is there a better recommendation?

Answer: You should try white. There is something very special about white under clear crystals that is stunning. 

Do you have a beading question? Ask Sara!
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