Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Printable Calendar by Kristen Fagan

I created a sweet little free 2011 Calendar for you to download, print and display. Each month features a beautiful free beading project idea by Jamie Hogsett. Project instructions for each design can be found in their free beading project ideas section online. Calendar is a printable PDF file optimized to print onto 8.5 x 11 inch card stock. Click to download your free 2011 Calendar.

After printing simply cut along the guidelines to create the calendar pages. Display pages on a plate stand on your desk, in your bead studio, in your store or wherever you need a little inspiration!

This calendar may also be found in our Free Art & Printables section online.  Calendar is for personal use only and not intended for commercial use.

Many wishes for a very Happy new Year! ~ Kristen

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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spotlight on...Knitting in the Details

Our featured book this month is
by Louisa Harding

This month I decided to review Knitting in the Details by Louisa Harding from Interweave. I know, I isn't a beading book. But, since it is winter and the perfect time for knitting, I decided to review something a little different. This book is split into 4 sections: embroidery, beading, added elements, and in the details. I was pleased to see that the designer incorporated beads into some of the projects. I'm always happy to see the cross-over between my most beloved hobby with knitting, sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, etc. The photos are marvelous. I noticed on the back cover that they stated that the photos and images are from along the coast in France. Trés chic!

Color by Margie Deeb - Holiday Opulence: Mixed Metals
Jewelry Designer - Genea Crivello-Knables
Local Bead Seller - The Bead Studio

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celebration Earrings by Jamie Hogsett

Need a pair of earrings to help you ring in the new year? These Celebration Earrings will feel festive all night long! Inspired by confetti and streamers, the earrings are surprisingly quick to make.

2 clear 9x12mm Czech glass beads

Nylon Jaw Pliers
Flat Nose Pliers
Chain Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers

Finished size: 2"

Start with 7 pieces of wire per earring. Two pieces measuring 2 1/2", two pieces at 2 3/4", and one piece each at 3", 4 1/2", and 6".

Use the 6" wire to wrap around the center of the five shortest wires for about 3/8". Fan out the five wires, with the shortest wires closest to the center wrap and the longest wire staying straight. Use the trips of the round nose pliers to curl the very ends of all the wire ends except for the top center wire.

Use chain nose pliers to continue spiraling the wire ends by holding the start of each spiral flat between the tips of the pliers. Form a wire wrapped loop. Use the remaining wire to string the glass bead to the center of the wire. Wrap the wire around the other wires to secure the bead. Turn all the spiral ends up toward the glass bead. Trim wire ends and attach to the ear wire. Repeat to make a second earring.

Enjoy! Happy New Year to you all!

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fabulous New Gems + Fabulous Gem Coupon

Designer Discount Coupon
Save 50% off Gemstone Beads. Enter coupon code SPARKLE at checkout. Offer good through Friday January 1, 2011 at midnight PT. 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 added a few new gemstones to our online catalog last week. You have to check these out!

Regular Price - $23.00 
With Year-End Coupon - $11.50

Regular Price - $39.00
With Year-End Coupon - $19.50
Regular Price - $27.00
With Year-End Coupon - $13.50

Regular Price - $18.00
With Year-End Coupon - $9.00

Regular Price - $39.00
With Year-End Coupon - $19.50
Regular Price - $26.00
With Year-End Coupon - $13.00

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ask Sara - How do I temper craft wire?

Question: How do I temper craft wire?

Answer: Work hardening the wire (or tempering) is accomplished by pounding the wire with a nylon tipped hammer or running the wire through a pair of nylon jaw pliers. Basically, by working the wire, the molecular structure tightens and the wire becomes more and more stiff. Using nylon is good because it has bounce to it and won't mar or chip the wire. To learn more about tempering and work hardening, visit our school of design.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Ornament by Kristen Fagan

On behalf of Mike, Scott and the entire team at Soft Flex Company, I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Snowflake Ornament by Maria Rypan

Photo and Design by Maria Rypan

I know - it is a little late now for making ornaments. However, I could not let this one pass me by. It is fabulous! You'll need ornaments again next year, right? This ornament is made using Soft Touch .010/Very Fine.  This design was published in Bead and Button's 2009 book, Beaded Ornaments for the Holidays and Beyond, pg 90-91. The designer, Maria Rypan owner of Rypan Designs, offers kits to make it easy to get started. Wouldn't this just make a lovely handmade gift for friends and family next year? You could even hook it right on top of a package as an added bonus and decoration. Super cute!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spotlight on...The Bead Studio in Ashland, Oregon

Our featured bead store this month is 
The Bead Studio

Bead Studio first opened it's doors in 1993 as a small 200 square foot shop in a shared space. The first year was a whirlwind and we knew we were onto something good. 7 months later we moved to our own space just around the corner and had about 800 square feet to work with.

Article - The Facebook Revolution by Lisa Kan
Color by Margie Deeb - Holiday Opulence: Mixed Metals
Jewelry Designer - Genea Crivello-Knable
Good Book - Knitting in the Details by Louisa Harding
Local Bead Store - The Bead Studio

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Colored Pencil Art by Lisa Crone

Recently, Lisa Crone shared an idea from her beading book - A Bead In Time, on our blog - A Bead A Day. This fantastic project uses our Econoflex. It makes a simple ladder stitch look complex and interesting. You can see basic instructions on Lisa's blog. 

Holiday sale - week 8

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beaded Napkin Rings for a Holiday Table - Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hannakuh

Even though we're all grown up, my brother and I still stay at our mom's house every Christmas eve. And, every Christmas morning, while we watch Elf, my brother makes biscuits and gravy for us while my mom and I wrap the rest of the packages that we'll take to our huge family gathering later in the day. It's one of my favorite parts of the holidays because we're all laughing together in our pajamas and my brother is a darn good chef.

My mom likes to set the table and make it as festive as possible, so it was with her in mind that I created these napkin rings. They're a great last-minute gift idea that can be used year-round for any meal and are quick and easy to make.

15 assorted 6-18mm glass beads, 5 each in purple, orange, and green

45mm mandrel (bottle, toilet paper roll, etc.)

Finished size: 45mm diameter, plus beads

Step 1: Use 3" of purple 22-gauge wire and 1 purple bead to form a wire wrapped dangle. Repeat four times, wrapping each bead in a slightly different way with wire spirals or by varying the type of wire wrap. Set aside.
Step 2: Use 24" of purple 18-gauge wire to wrap around the mandrel three times. Use flat nose pliers to bend the longer end of the wire up 90 degrees from the mandrel. Wrap the shorter end of the wire around the longer wire three times. Trim the shorter wire end. Use the other end of the wire to form a wire wrapped loop that attaches to the five dangles formed in Step 1.
Step 3: Repeat Steps 1 and 2 using amber wire and orange beads.
Step 4: Repeat Steps 1 and 2 using peridot wire and green beads.

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holidays: love 'em or leave 'em?

Do you love the holidays as much as I do? I love the holidays. I love the bustle and the busyness. I love holiday trees, cards and baking. I love making gifts for friends and family. One of my new neighbors is in the middle of a brand new remodel. I was in shock when she told me that they were skipping Christmas. "What?! Skipping it entirely?", I asked. Yep, they aren't planning on anything. No gifts, no dinner, no decorations......Even when I lived on my own at a young age and couldn't always afford to go home to Montana to be with my family for Christmas, I always celebrated the holidays in some way or another. Perhaps I need to pack up a Christmas tin for them and leave it on their doorstep.

One important piece of advice that I have found useful over the years is to be flexible when it comes to the actual holiday. Things are not always going to work just as you thought they should. I also try to be mindful to keep things simple so that I can have time to enjoy the holiday too. For instance, this year I plan to make chili for Christmas Eve night. It's easy. People can come and go when they need to and there doesn't have to be an official dinner time. For Christmas, I'm contemplating a stew. So I can throw everything together and then just spend the day really enjoying time with Josh, my Mom, my family and of course Honey. What is your best holiday advice?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ask Sara - Which WigJig is good for a beginner?

Question: Which WigJig is good for a beginner?

Answer: There are 3 options that I usually point out to beginners: Delphi, Olympus-lite and Centaur. If you typically make dainty designs, the Delphi is perfect for you. It has small peg holes, close together. If you prefer a design that is a little more substantial, the Olympus-lite might be your best bet. It has large peg holes, spread further apart. I think it is important to note that both of these WigJigs have their peg holes aligned in the same pattern, the difference is in the peg size and distance. You can make basic findings, components, earwires, etc on both. Finally, the Centaur is one of the newest additions to the WigJig family. It is most like the Delphi in that it has small pegs, placed closer together. However, it offers both the square alignment of pegs as well as the round (as seen in the Electra or Cyclops). Again, it would be important that you like daintier jewelry if you choose this WigJig, but you would get some extra variety in how the pegs lay out and the types of patterns that you can create. All 3 of these options are affordable and a great way to get started.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Gift Wrap Ideas by Kristen Fagan

Who doesn't love presents?!  I sure do!  I love giving, receiving and of course wrapping them! Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite beading inspired holiday gift wrapping ideas.

If you've got crafty friends, using craft supplies like beads, buttons and ribbon is a fantastic way to personalize their gifts and add to their supply stash! They can use the trimmings to make new things so, it's eco friendly too.

Photo from Soft Flex Company - Econoflex Wire Decorated Box
Photo from Sweater Surgery - Beaded Wire Gift Wrap
How great would this be with colored beading wire?!  I think the added pop of color would make this really stand out.  The "wire ribbon" could double as garland!

Photo from Bugs and Fishes - Gift Wrap Idea Buttons
Photo from Country Living -
Photo from Soft Flex - Button Garland Free Project Idea
I love the addition of the bells and buttons on the above packages.  Great ideas for using up leftover beads and buttons. 

If you placed an order with Soft Flex Company this holiday season you should have received a Happy Holidays note with earring cards, shown above, for you to cut out and use for your holiday gifts. For more earring card designs and gift tags for you to print, check out our Free Art & Printables Packaging section online.

Photo from Soft Flex Company - Paper Boxes Tutorial

Jamie Hogsett wrote a lovely tutorial on how to create your very own origami box from paper.  If you need some festive paper to use we have free 8x10 holiday designs available for you to print in our Free Art & Printables Gift Wrap section online. 

Customer Organizing Tip!  Soft Flex beading wire spool clips are fantastic for keeping rolls of wrapping paper from unrolling. I know I’m totally going to use this tip, hope you find it helpful too! 

Many wishes for a very Happy Holiday! ~ Kristen

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Official Top 10 - 2010 Flex Your Creativity Contest

Hey all, the results are officially in my hands. The poll showing on the contest page currently is not correct. We actually went through and made sure that we counted only one vote - per ip address - per design.  Our winners are....

The Time Key by Tammy Johnsen

Time Flies by Diana Shiraishi

 An Alternate Future by Heather Price

TOP 10
DAVIES01SF2010 by Christian LeXi Davies
Braided Collar: A Key To My Heart by Hannah Rosner
The Finder by Andrew Thornton
The Last Ten Minutes of the Lost City by Alyska Bailey Peterson
Keystone by Andrew Thornton
Circle Punk by Kelly Lisko
Caribbean Dreams by Diane Zigabarra

Congratulations winners! I'll be contacting each of  you tomorrow or early next week to discuss your prizes.  A big thank you goes out to everyone that competed. We were blessed with many lovely designs this year. I also really appreciate everyone's feedback about how we can make things better for next year. 

Spotlight on...Genea Crivello-Knable

Our featured designer for this month is Genea Crivello-Knable

Hello friends! I am so excited to be a Soft Flex® featured artist again for December 2010!

For all of those that are meeting me for the first time, here is a quick over view of how I got into glass...

I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. I dabbled in many different art forms before discovering glass in December of 2002. I took my first lampworking class in a local bead shop with a studio and fell in love. I worked on my hot head for over 5 years before upgrading to a Nortel Minor in February of 2008. The difference between torches was like night and day. I was so excited about all of the new techniques I could achieve with glass with all of that extra heat!

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