Monday, February 28, 2011

Bead Soup Party

Photo from Lori Anderson

Hello all! Have you seen and heard about the Bead Soup Blog Parties? Learn about them by clicking here!  There is a really large international presence this time around. There are 210 participants and 34 of them are international. So set aside some time, grab a cup of java, click and enjoy. Maybe you can participate next time around? Heck, maybe I'll participate next time around. Fun!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Upcoming Bead Shows - Honolulu, Oakland and Santa Fe

It will be the Most Spectacular Beading Event of the year in the Hawaiian Islands. 
Join us at the Ward Warehouse
March 4-6, 2011
FREE Admission and FREE Parking

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

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

Juried Show of 30+ Exhibitors
Beads, Gemstones, Findings, Collectible Glass Art and Jewelry
A truly exciting bead shopping Extravaganza 

March 5, 2011
Oakland Marriott City Center
1001 Broadway - Oakland, CA 94607
10am - 6pm 

March 10-13, 2011
Santa Fe Community Convention Center
201 W. Marcy St - Santa Fe, NM 87501
Friday and Saturday 10am - 6pm
Sunday 11am - 5pm
Admission: $12 a day; $14/two day; $16/three day

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ask Sara - Dressing Pliers for working with craft wire

Question: Do you have any tips for using metal pliers with the craft wire?

Answer: When working with wire, it is always a good idea to dress your tools to avoid marring the wire. Here are some tips for how to best dress your tools when using our Soft Flex Craft Wire.

  • Buff tool tips with 00 steel wool, then follow up with 000 steel wool.
  • Dip tool tip in “Tool Magic” coating, dip just one tip to maintain a better grip 
  • Use a smooth tape like masking, cloth or painter’s tape to cover tool tips 
  • Soften your grip 
  • You can also use nylon jaw pliers. Due to the nylon jaws, the wire is less likely to be scratched or marred while being worked on.
  • Practice really does make perfect. Try practicing with some plain bare copper wire. When you are to a point where you no longer knick your wire, move on to the many colors and gauges that we offer!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spotlight on...Designer Barbara Svetlick

Our featured designer for this month is Barbara Svetlick

Artists will always tell you that they have been an artist for as long as they can remember but no matter what road they take in life the dream of being nothing but an artist always is on the cusp of their dreams. The first bio I wrote about myself was thrown out because I didn't write it in the third person, however, I find it very strange to talk about myself that way so I'll just be artistic and tell you how I became a lampwork artist.

Article - Headaches and Creativity by Lori Anderson
Color by Margie Deeb - The Promise of Pink
Designer - Barbara Svetlick
Good Book - Great Wire Jewelry by Irene From Peterson
Bead Store - 1 Stop Bead Shop

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Magical Crimping Pliers - 60% Off

The Magical Crimping Pliers are on closeout, 60% off their regular price. Although they state that they are for .014 beading wire. I actually have used this same pair for both .014 and .019 beading wire. These pliers are great for embellishing: making dangles, connectors, anchoring beads in place on the wire, etc. They will take a crimp tube and compress them onto the wire in a round shape that looks like a little metal bead. Buy them now! We have a very limited quantity left.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coral Rose and Blue Curacao by Jamie Hogsett

As Sara mentioned a couple of days ago, Margie Deeb's Spring/Summer 2011 Color Report is now available! I was fortunate to once again contribute jewelry to Margie's awesome report. Margie is a pleasure to work with and I'm always inspired by all of the fabulous information she includes in her reports. It's also a thrill to see the amazing pieces that others designed for the report.

My two colors this time around were Coral Rose and Blue Curacao, which just happen to be shades of colors that I absolutely love. My first piece is strictly Coral Rose. I was pleasantly surprised at how many beads and elements I had in my stash for this piece.
Materials used were:
Orange and Vintage Bronze Soft Flex Craft Wire.
Resin Donut (used as toggle ring) from Lillypilly Designs.
Lampworked glass heart pendant from Zoa Art.
Tagua Nut Beads from Antelope Beads.
Lucite beads from Beadin Path and Fusion Beads.

For Blue Curacao, my assignment was to use Blue Curacao as the main color, with accents of Coral Rose. I also added a bit of dark brown, mostly because I wanted to use the striped bead.
Materials used were:
Baby Blue Soft Flex Craft Wire.
Lucite beads from Beadin Path.
Kazuri beads from Antelope Beads.
Resin drop from Natural Touch

Fun, fun, fun!

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Margie Deeb's Spring/Summer 2011 Color Report for Bead Artists

Margie's latest color report is available. I'm in love with the colors: pea pod, honeysuckle and coral rose. The color report is a great way to get an inside look at the hottest trending colors. You can find Margie Deeb on our website each and ever month. If you have been enjoying her monthly articles on color, I highly suggest you buy her color report.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Guest Post - The Lost Art of Lost Wax Casting

The Lost Art of Lost Wax Casting
by Leon Harris

These days, most jewelry is made by machines that pour and press metal into perfectly molded shapes
and sizes that retailers can sell for less (thanks, mass production). And while some consumers have
no problem with wearing the same ring or brooch that hundreds or thousands of other women are
sporting, there are still a few out there who prefer the old-school method of jewelry-making. Lost wax
casting is not necessarily easy, and it does require some equipment and know-how to pull off. But with
just a few simple steps you can have the unique jewelry you desire. And the best part is that you can do
it all in your own home. Here’s how.

1. The model. You’ll want to start by creating a wax model of the piece you intend to create.
Whether you’re forging a simple, chunky ring or a masterpiece of delicate web-work for a
pendant, you’re going to need the right type of wax. It comes in a variety of densities, so you
should probably try some soft and some stiff to find the one that works best for your particular
style, although likely you will use different levels of firmness for your various projects.

2. The sprue. Once the model has been perfected (and you should perfect it since if all goes well,
your final product will look exactly like the model), you need to prepare for the molding process.
This is done by setting your piece on a pedestal, more or less. You’ll attach a thin pole of wax to
the piece (choose a location that won’t interfere with any pattern you have on your work). This
is called the sprue. The other end attaches to a base, virtually suspending your model in midair.

3. The mold. Your base will attach securely to a small chamber (like a cup) that surrounds the
model, leaving only the top open. Now it’s time to mix the mold. The molding material is up to
you, but most people prefer a plaster mold. It is not only relatively cheap and easy to make, the
mix is readily available at craft stores and online. Plus, it hardens quickly and is heat resistant,
which will become important in a moment. For now, simply mix and pour.

4. The metal. When your mold has set, you’ll need a way to get the model out and the metal in.
So the next step involves drilling or digging a channel down to the model. As soon as you see
wax, you can put the plaster mold into an oven (or kiln) with the channel facing down. The wax
will melt and drip out, leaving an empty chamber in perfect negative of your model. When this
is done, you are ready to pour the metal. You can either melt your scrap in a forge or with a
blowtorch. Centrifugal casting is the most common (and least expensive) method of pouring
the molten metal and it involves a makeshift centrifuge comprised of a drum that holds a swing-
arm with a housing assembly on the end. You’ll secure your mold in the housing, attach the
container with the molten metal so that a hole links up to the empty channel in the mold, and
then spin the arm so that the centrifugal motion forces the metal into the mold.

5. Final touches. Once the metal has been “poured”, you’ll immediately cool the mold to set
the metal inside. Then it’s just a matter of cracking the mold to get your finished piece. Of
course, you’ll have to remove the molded metal sprue and do some grinding and polishing to
get it gleaming, but you’ve just created your own jewelry the same way other artisans have for
thousands of years. And it’s one-of-a-kind.

Leon Harris writes for Pennsylvania Precision Cast Parts, a leading medal casting manufacturer
specializing in investment castings. At PPCP you are sure to find the highest quality products at a rapid

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flex Your Creativity Beading Contest

I received a really sweet email from one of our 2010 contest winners. She kindly agreed to let me share that message with you!

Hi Sara, 

I wanted to thank you and all the staff at Soft Flex Company!  

Your contest was a great opportunity for a designer to think outside the box and it gave me a few new techniques to use in future designs (using Soft Flex brand beading wire).

Last week, I received my returned design - "Caribbean Dreams" along with my choice of trios beading wire and DVD's of professional photos.  The photos are beautiful, I'm so pleased with the creativity and attention to detail.  And, I'm also excited to use the trios wire on my next projects.  My package was sent to me in pristine condition and the prizes were placed strategically around my necklace - packed decoratively to please.  It made my, Kudos to all of you.

Thank you again for this amazing contest experience.  I'm very appreciative for my design to be displayed along side you - Soft Flex Company!

Diane Zigabarra

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ask Sara - Soft Flex Craft Wire Ear Wires?

Question: Can I use Soft Flex Craft Wire for earwires?

Answer: Yes! Due to the coating, the wire is actually hypo-allergenic as well as non-tarnishing. If you use a WigJig, you can customize your own earwire shapes. After creating your shape, it is important to always work harden the wire. Check out this post about making earwires using Soft Flex Craft Wire.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spotlight on...Color by Margie Deeb - The Promise of Pink

The Promise of Pink
by Margie Deeb

With winter dragging on, Valentine's day ahead, and spring on the horizon, I am thinking pink. I'm eager for it's sensuality, vitality, and charm.

In her lighter, brighter versions, pink is such a flirt. She's a coy, coquettish version of red; a siren luring you to sensual pleasures. After these last months of bundling myself in sweaters against the teeth-chattering temperatures, I welcome her seductive warmth.

Article - Headaches and Creativity by Lori Anderson
Color by Margie Deeb - The Promise of Pink
Designer - Barbara Svetlick
Good Book - Great Wire Jewelry by Irene From Peterson
Bead Store - 1 Stop Bead Shop

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hearts and Spirals by Jamie Hogsett

Don't you just love these happy dotted heart beads from Rings & Things? I do. I love their bright colors! I added pale blue Czech glass rondelles and Swarovski Elements crystal rondelles in crystal chili, plus a sterling silver heart toggle clasp, and wire-wrapped them all together using 22-gauge Soft Flex Craft Wire in Bare Copper and Non-Tarnish Silver. This was a fun, fast project that was even good for stress-relief, since I was able to use my chasing hammer and bench block!

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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Beads from Rings and Things

Glass beads from Rings and Things

I love LOVE. I do. And not just because I have the world's best and most handsome Valentine (which I do), I love LOVE because it is just such an amazing and wonderful feeling. I have a big pile of romantic comedies. I often write love notes to my love, all year long. I never miss an opportunity to tell someone that I love them, including friends, family, co-workers and the love of my life Joshua. I just think it is such an important part of life. Having said all that, you can probably gather that I enjoy Valentine's day. I hope that you have a very Special and Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Global Genes Project Looking F or Bead Donations

I was recently contacted by a really neat organization called the Global Genes Project by Elizabeth Joshi. Elizabeth's son has a rare genetic disorder called Joubert Syndrome, characterized by a defect to the brain's cerebellum. As a result of his condition, he is visually impaired and cannot stand, walk, speak or eat solid foods. She has been a part of The Global Genes Project for over a year. I suggested that Elizabeth share a few words about the project on the blog. She was kind enough to send me this information:

There are approximately 7,000 rare diseases and disorders, with more than 20 million kids in the U.S. alone living with rare diseases, disorders and conditions. Most have no effective medical treatment and many have no foundation or group to turn to for support.  The Global Genes Project volunteer team is collecting blue jean inspired bracelets (in color and/or material) to give to families living with rare conditions. It’s part of a campaign called 7,000 Bracelets for Hope. To help raise awareness we’re asking jewelry designers to donate one bracelet each to show support for rare kids.  Starting at the end of February, around World Rare Disease Day, each bracelet will then be donated to parents/caregivers of rare kids.

Please sign up to donate on and mail the bracelets to the address listed in the registration section for the Children's Rare Disease Network. Please email a photo of any bracelets being donated and your reasons for donating to Amy Grover atamyg [@] so they can be shared with The Global Genes Project community!

We, Soft Flex Company, donated wire to this project. Do you possibly have beads or supplies that you could donate too?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ask Sara - Soft Flex Craft Wire color question

Question: In regards to 22 GA SILVER PLATED GOLD SOFT FLEX CRAFT WIRE, the picture shows the item in gold, but the description says silver plated gold.  Is the outer color gold or silver? 

Answer: All of the Soft Flex Craft Wire has a copper core. Some items are then plated in silver and some are not. The silver plating allows for a brighter color coating. This specific item is plated in silver and then covered in a "gold color" enamel and clear coat of poly urethane. The coating allows for this wire to be non-tarnishing as well as hypo-allergenic. This item is gold in color.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Winner Announced - Crimping Pliers and Crimps

Our winner is Sherri Auld. 

Each month of 2011, on the First Friday, I'll post an item or an array of items that I'm going to giveaway. In order to enter, you answer a question by clicking on the link below that reads "need your opinion" or "post a comment". The next First Friday Giveaway is 3/4. 

After 2 shows back-to-back, I'm exhausted. So I plan to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing 3-day weekend with Honey and Josh. They missed me and I missed them!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Linky Love from CHA and Tucson Best Bead Show

If you have been following along on my CHA and Tucson Best Bead Show endeavors, you may have noticed a whole lot of pictures but no links. I blogged from my phone and the application wouldn't allow me to link. Although I had my laptop, the hotel in downtown LA only offered internet at a rate of $13 a day....that's right, A DAY! Can you believe that? The hotel in Tucson offered wireless but the signal was so weak, there was no way I could write and post a blog. At any rate, I went back through and added links, but I thought that it would be nice to do a linky love list for all of the fun companies, products and people that I encountered over the past few weeks. This list by no means captures everyone and everything but does show my highlights! It is sort of an odd list, so I made notes next to each one.

CHA - Craft and Hobby Association
Pomegranate Seeds - Bead Store in Vallejo, CA
Beadtopia - Bead Store in El Segundo, CA
Craft Chica - Designer/Artist
Pattie Wack - Designer/Artist
Suzann S. Wilson at Beadphoria - Designer/Artist
i love to create - Make-it-Take-it (glitter patch with Crafty Chica)
GCD Studios - Make-it-Take-it (leather bracelet)
Stampington and Company - Magazines (Belle Armoire, Belle Armoire Jewelry, etc)
Bead Unique - Magazine
Vintaj - Make-it-Take-it (decorated pendants)
Aleene's - Make-it-Take-it (jewelry folio)
Plaid - Make-it-Take-it (glitter painting)
Hampton Art - Make-it-Take-it (folded envelope book)
Simply Swank - Make-it-Take-it (soldering)
Rings and Things - Bead Store in Spokane, WA
Lisa Kan - Designer/Artist
Blue Willow - Restaurant in Tucson
Saki Silver - Manufacturer/Seller
Atlantic Gems - Bead Store in Silver Spring, MD
Nancy Pilgrim - Designer/Artist
Lilly Pilly Designs - Manufacturer/Seller
Jones Art Glass - Designer/Artist
Green Girl Studios - Manufacturer/Seller
Fusion Beads - Bead Store in Seattle, WA
Kalmbach - Magazines (Bead and Button, Bead Style, etc)
Interweave - Magazines (Beadwork, Stringing, Step by Step etc)
Dakota Stones - Manufacturer/Seller
Harold Williams Cooney - Designer/Artist
David Christensen - Designer/Artist
Donna Nova - Designer/Artist
WigJig - Product

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spotlight on...Headaches and Creativity by Lori Anderson

Headaches and Creativity
Written by: Lori Anderson

Last year, I decided I would drastically cut the number of shows I did, excluding all outdoor shows, choosing my top five grossing shows, and instead concentrate on my newly revamped web site, creating new styles of jewelry, and finishing my lampwork studio. To that end, I had March to August marked as "off". The plan was to make things, experiment, get organized, all without show after show looming on the horizon. You know, do all the things I normally do, but in a relaxed manner, without show after show pushing me to do, do, do.

Article - Headaches and Creativity by Lori Anderson
Color by Margie Deeb - The Promise of Pink
Designer - Barbara Svetlick
Good Book - Great Wire Jewelry by Irene From Peterson
Bead Store - 1 Stop Bead Shop

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Whole Lotta Green Bracelet by Jamie Hogsett

The Twist N Curl is one of the tools that I demonstrated a lot last week in Tucson. So much so, that a deep grove formed in my thumb nail from forming these wire beads! I love making these little beads - they're fun, quick, and very easy. 

Using 22-gauge Craft Wire in Peridot, I pre-strung the beads (small beads 5mm or less work best), coiled the wire for about 1/2", coiled back over the previous coil twice (back and forth for a total of three layers), then incorporated the beads into the final coil. Once the beads were formed, I used 20-gauge Peridot Craft Wire to wire wrap the beads together. The final step was making the toggle clasp, using 22-gauge wire and a Sharpie marker mandrel for the ring.

When I showed Sara the finished piece, her first response was "Wow, that's a whole lot of green!"

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mike Sherman - A Spinal Cord Injury

The Tucson Best Bead Show was our first big show since we announced Mike's injury at the tail end of November. So many people still had not heard, and it is never easy being the one to share this kind of news. So many care about him and it almost feels as if you are punching them in the stomach, even if you can soften it with all of the good news about how his recovery is progressing. 

I personally can't count the many nice things that both Scott and Mike have done for me over the years as an employee and a friend. I was hired at Soft Flex in 1999, a few days after my 20th birthday. Being that I started with them at such a young age, I have always felt like they in some ways helped to raise me into the woman that I am today. I am only one of many. I've seen them in action. You'd be hard pressed to find two more generous and loving people. In many respects, they are the kind of people that would give you the shirt right off their back if they thought that you needed it. 

We collected cards, donations, beads and such for Mike and Scott over the course of the week. It was really touching to see a physical manifestation of love for them in a pile of things that people wanted to give or say to them. I have to admit, it made all of us Soft Flex'ers a little weepy. Personally, I'd like to say thank you to anyone and everyone that contributed and showed their love. I can't imagine there being any better medicine for recovery than to feel loved. If you didn't get a chance to sign the cards, leave a present, etc or wanted to send something in addition, you can always send stuff directly to Mike and Scott. 

Mike Sherman and/or Scott Clark
c/o Brian Clark
Po Box 80
Sonoma, CA 95476

Brian will make sure that your card or note gets to the right place.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tucson Day 4

Design from Wonderful, Wearable Wire book

Wedding Beads from Atlantic Gems
Bookmark by Nancy Pilgrim

It is finally warming up in Tucson. I tried to pay visits to some of my favorite vendors today, including but not limited to, Saki Silver, Atlantic Gems and Lilly Pilly. I chose beads to possibly use in wedding jewelry. I cannot believe my wedding is in only 9 months. Time sure does fly by sometimes.
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Friday, February 4, 2011


Soft Flex Demo Table

Sharon Hessoun knitted her lovely necklace with our new Soft Flex Craft Wire!

I wish that I had more time to take photos here in Tucson. I have been so busy demoing, I barely have time for bathroom breaks. Today I took the entire day off. It was so nice. I went to the Tucson Museum of Art. The beads shown are from my friend Lisa Kan.
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