Saturday, October 31, 2009

I hate/love/hate the business end of it all

Laura McCabe got to my idea of the best business name ever before I did. She called her business, "Just let me bead."

I hear that spoken as a plea, "Just let me bead!" As in - please, please, don't make me market! Don't make me do bookkeeping! And so on...

Some of you, I know, are geniuses at the other side of the beading biz. Some of you may even actually enjoy it. But, if I'm right about how Laura McCabe meant it, I can certainly relate. Most days, I'd rather have a root canal than market - but short of developing a sugar daddy or winning the lottery, I'm pretty sure I'm stuck with having to handle the business end whether I like it or not. So I'm always pleased to hear the voice of experience speaking.

Stacey Cornelius is self-confessed "raving idealist and idea junkie." Fortunately, she's begun to leak ideas at her seams and they have flowed into a blog called, "The Studio Source."

Her banner announces her purpose:
"Do what you love and make a living at it. The Studio Source is here to help build extraordinary businesses by focusing on approach - how you show your stuff, how you connect with your customers, and how you manage the business side of creativity."

Stacy has a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, solid experience in retail management, the IT industry and she owns and operates her own successful business. As someone who knows her, I can tell you she has impeccable taste, huge creative talent and a solid grasp of the business end of craft. Stacy Cornelius is one smart cookie.

The Studio Source could be the poster-blog for good blogging practice - Stacey offers solid practical advice and food for thought - but she also challenges us to think for ourselves - How do we market our work? WHO is our marketing target? Do we know the 15 tips for an effective website? Does our website and business card reflect our individual sense of style? Whose advice do we take? Do we listen to our customers and if so, what can we learn? The blog is presented in short, well-written and readable bites. I've found that I come away from even some of the briefest entries with plenty of food for thought.

And she's funny. Human. This may be the voice of some hard-earned wisdom, but she's as beleaguered and beset with the vicissitudes of life  as the rest of us. Witness a note from the beginning of her latest entry:

"Editor’s note: I am in a state of what my friend Thea calls “crankass.” Ants are jumping on my head as I write this. I am only exaggerating a little—we are experiencing a small ant invasion, and my desk sits directly below a beam where the little monsters are jumping off to get access to the rest of the house. Mostly I hear a tiny “thwap” as they hit the desk and try to meander off, but occasionally one will land on me. It’s a little disconcerting."

Perhaps you'd like to check for yourself. Participation is encouraged, so please, if you have a personal experience to share, or a question - feel free. Subscription to The Studio Source is easy. It will NOT garner a flood of unwanted spam or solicitation, will not ask for your cash, but will bring alerts to your email as entries are published.

Happy reading!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Swarovski amethyst 5201 - the old stock being replaced by...

Swarovski amethyst 5238 - more cuts, more light reflection

Hands up everyone who loves Swarovski crystal. That's what I thought.Hands up anyone who has considered taking out a second mortgage on their house to buy enough Swarovski crystals or pearls to complete a big project. Uh-huh.

I decided to do some price comparisons.

Using suppliers I'm familiar with and Smadar's suggestion, I used two colors in the same price range: amethyst & violet 4mm in plain, AB and AB2x. Because suppliers sell in varying quantities and some give a price break for quantity, you'll see highest price first and the lowest price, applied to quantity breaks, second.

To eliminate the confusion created by trying to compare lots of different sizes,
I calculated the price per single bead.

Here we go!

E-Crystal Beads (Hong Kong)   I used the lots of one gross – 144 beads  
4.8 cents Plain    5.5 cents AB         6.2cents AB2x

**e-crystals also sells in smaller lots – and at under a gross, their price is not much of a bargain, but they offer some colors in wholesale lots of 1440 and those break down as low as .04 cents per bead.

In addition, for an order of $80-$150 U.S., they offer a 5% discount; $150 - $200 U.S. they offer 7% and over $200 U.S. – 10%.

This was by far the most interesting site. Check the sales. And note: They ship free all over the world and say, “Contact us if you any inquiry or need more bigger support.” Smadar
has dealt with this company successfully and this link is her recommendation.

5.6 cents Plain  6 cents AB  8 cents AB2x

Jewelry Supply

8-7 cents Plain 10-09 cents AB14-10 cents AB2x              

Crystal Bead Shop
8 cents Plain  10 cents AB  13 cents AB2x


9-7 cents Plain  11-9 cents AB  14-12 cents AB2x

9-7 cents Plain  11-9 cents AB  12-10 cents AB2x

Firemountain Gems    (48 pc price to larger price break)
13-6 Plain  8-7AB cents AB 9-.8 cents AB2x

**I had an AWFUL time trying to figure out Firemountain and might be just plain wrong about this breakdown. I find their online catalog so rambly and their pictures so low quality that it's difficult (10 pages later) to remember if you are looking at the same bead in a different quantity. On the other hand, their print catalog is gorgeous!

11-9 cents Plain  13-11 cents AB  15-13 cents AB2x

BeadFX     Canada
.19 cents Plain  .23 cents AB  .27 cents  AB2x 
Go Canada? I love BeadFX but this was a shocker.

When you look at the per piece prices, it may seem that the suppliers differ by very little,
but imagine you are beading something that requires 800 4mm bicones - If you purchase an AB from E-Crystal at 5.5 cents each, it will cost you $44.00. If you purchase from a supplier who charges 9 cents per bead, the cost is $72.00 - and once you add shipping, the cost of your time etc. that will obviously push the selling price up by a hefty chunk.

A note in closing on Rivolis. I was having a difficult time finding larger Rivolis in a variety of colors and these are the sites I've found doing a quick search:

Thatbeadlady (Cathy Lampole) has a good assortment of sizes like 27mm in lovely colors
like Vitrail Medium and Volcano. She carries some vintage and different shapes. I've dealt with Cathy and can recommend her from experience. She's a delight to deal with and ships
very quickly. Cathy is in Canada - and her prices are in Canadian dollars.

Dee's Place offers a range of Swarovski cabs in the larger sizes - both new and vintage, and also has a variety of shapes. Dee's looks interesting but I haven't ordered from this shop so I'm simply sharing the find.

If you need "more bigger support" please contact me!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Tera Belinsky-Yoder's beads always make me grin. In a kind of I-need-to-buy-that-right-now sort of way. They are fabulous, artisan-quality, exuberant, saucy BIG honkin' beads - and once you've seen a Beadygirl bead, you'd recognize her work anywhere. There are many, many fine craft artists out there, but finding one whose work is so unique and whose style is so distinctive is a major coup.

She's loved glass all her life and has been designing and making her own unique beads for over three years now. 

Tera lives in Des Moines, Iowa with "four kids, one husband, one cat and several caterpillars." How that leaves a person with enough time to light up the torch and produce enough to do bead shows and keep up an Etsy store, is beyond me. But then, she's a Gemini and one rarely find a Gemini sitting still. And really, caterpillars are low maintenance.

My favorite quote from Tera? "I think I hear a Terradactyl, outside."

What have designers done with a Beadygirl bead? Here's one of Tera's buttons on a cuff by one of my favorite bead artists, Patrizia Tager of Triz Designs:

and I used one of her focals in this necklace entitled "Hooplazuma":

In addition to Etsy shops you can find Tera Belinsky-Yoder on her own site, here. And click this link for more of Triz's work. I can be found on Etsy under Wild Wicked Beads.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Clasps are going out to number 18, Marsha Wiest-Hines! Congratulations, Marsha.

If you aren't familiar with her lively, beautiful and original work, you can find her at her Etsy shop, Haute Ice Beadwork

"Pepper Profusion"
Haute Ice Beadworks

Thank you to everyone who wrote and threw their name in the virtual hat. I'll let you all know when the next give-away is coming.

Next post, I'll be spotlighting the lampwork beads, buttons and focals of Tera-Belinsky Yoder of Beadygirl Beads. Please stay tuned!

Saturday, October 17, 2009



No math questions, no proof of purchase! I'll be numbering email responses and using a random number generator to choose the winner.

I bought these at Bamiyan Silver, a wholesaler in Toronto. I absolutely cannot remember what i paid for them - but I know that several years back, the top clasp advertised for $18.00
on one site. I haven't seen it in any of the supply shops lately. They are both gorgeous clasps and would be perfect for bracelets, cuffs or multistrand necklaces. The top clasp is much brighter silver than the picture shows, although both are oxidized.

Here's what you do:
email me at and put "I want the clasps" in the subject line.
In the body of the email, please enter your name and mailing address in case you win. If you would like to be notified of future give-aways, add a note to that effect.

That's it! I will not use your email or delivery addresses without your permission. If you wish to be notified about the give-aways - those be the only emails you receive from the blog.

Good luck!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Robert Rosenkranz (photos by permission & links to Robert below)
Left, top to bottom: Very clear agate/ Fire Agate/ Black Plume Agate
Right, top to bottom: Rare Jasper/ Parrot Wing Chrysocolla/ Bull's Eye Laguna Lace Agate

Joyce Kilmer wrote,"only God can make a tree." I'm right with him on that. I'm a big fan of trees. But I have to wonder if the poem might have turned out differently if he had been looking at the stones shown above...

You don't have to be an expert to purchase cabochons on line, but they have a kind of magic that draws you in and it is fascinating to learn about them. Your customers will love it if you can tell them about the special stone you've used in their jewelry.

It follows that the best dealers to buy stone beads and cabs from are rockhounds. I tend to put more trust in a site if there are enthusiastic and knowledgeable descriptions of a cabochon - type of stone, origin, size, etc. and the shop owner states his or her credentials.

The more spectacular the color or patterning on a cabochon, the more expensive it will likely be and there are times when it's more than worth it to splurge on a really beautiful piece. After all, how many  long hours will you devote to embroidering a cuff or weaving a spectacular necklace?

Still, most cabochon dealers have a stock of good cabs under the $20.00 range. I've seen beautiful cabs for beading at $4.50. Sometimes we want the stone to do the talking, but if we use our imaginations, even a plain, inexpensive stone can look quite wonderful once we've done the bezel and surrounding work. For example:

The stone I used (above) in "Gauntlet for a Saturn Return" was a Honey Calcite 'worry stone' purchased for about $3.00 from a local new age store.  It was warm and beautiful and exactly what I needed for this piece. Other times, I've fought to the death to nab more expensive stones - but in the end, it's what you do with the focal that counts.

Tips for buying online:

1. Remember that computer monitors vary in representing color. Sometimes under bright light, a stone will appear very vivid but be paler when you get it. Be prepared for there to be some differences between the photo and the actual piece. Rose quartz (for example) is pale rose. Not a strong medium pink. If it's a definite medium pink, it's been treated.  Another example is turquoise. It's almost always "stabilized" because it is too soft and crumbly to live in real world jewelry and that's perfectly legitimate. But "reconstituted" turquoise is basically glued turquoise dust. Go ahead and use it if you like, but be honest about the materials when you sell.

Browse through websites and familiarize yourself with what stones look like in their natural states. Robert Rosenkrantz's sites are a great place to learn and a wonderful place to simply fall in love with color and pattern. I've found that Fire Mountain Gems' free catalog is useful too. They state the grade of their stones, and tell you outright whether a stone as been heat-treated or dyed to bump the color up.

2. This may seem so obvious that I'll sound like a blithering idiot - but your cabochon will be less dramatic than the 3" x 4" HUGE picture when it arrives in it's actual 30mm x 40mm size!

3. Don't be afraid of eBay, but always check the shipping price because that's where the dealer is sometimes making real money. Look very closely at the picture of the gem for cracks, flaws etc. Remember #1. I suspect that the odd less-than-scrupulous dealer  saturates color in the photographs and your "red" markings may turn up as orange or brownish. **At the bottom, if you are interested, I've added advice about using a sniping program if you choose to buy at eBay auctions.

4. Many people believe that stones have healing properties. The best book on the subject, for my money, is Michael Gienger's Crystal Power, Crystal Healing. Gienger studied chemistry and mineralogy before coming to healing and the first half of the book concerns itself with the origins of minerals, crystal systems, chemistry and properties. The second half is full-color pictures with detailed descriptions of the properties of stones - scientific type and composition, traditional uses and meaning and use in healing. Being able to tell your customer about the properties of the stones you've used is a great value-added feature.

5. If it calls to you and you can afford it, buy it. You'll be looking at that stone for a long time, bead work being the labor-intensive work it is. And I'm one of the people who subscribe to the theories in #4. I'm always amazed at how the properties of a cabochon I fall in love with perfectly fit my state of being at the time.

Here are some links to cabochon dealers to start with - genuine dyed-in-the-wool rock geeks online!

Just Cabs While Dale carries more expensive stones - he also offers moderately priced cabochons and calibrated ovals so reasonably priced that you can try a handful at a time. Right now there are some great buys in Rocky Butte Jasper. Keep checking. Stock comes and comes quickly at these sites - and everything is one of a kind.

Color Wright  Vast selection here. And some amazing pieces on sale right now. Take a minute (or days) to browse.

If you'd like to deal with an Etsy artisan, you might try these links.
To search on your own, try the term "semi-precious stone cabochon."

Happy hunting! Feedback greatly received.

**Those who don't wish to use eBay can stop here. But if you do like auctions, then this last word:

I started to win auctions when I began to use a sniping program. An auction sniper is a tool that records your bid and enters it in the closing minutes of an auction. In my case, living on the Atlantic coast, that is often 3:00 a.m. when, frankly, I do not want to be sitting in front of the computer. The one I use is so simple a ten year old could use it and your first three wins are free. After that, it will cost you pennies per win - and you only pay the pennies if you win. The fact that you do not openly expose your bid prevents you from escalating a bidding war - and if you simply enter the highest price you're willing to pay and walk away, you won't get caught up in bidding fever. The program will notify you if you've been outbid, won or lost. I use EZ Sniper

Coming up on "All things Bead.." glass focals, links to video tutorials kindly provided by Smadar and more links to bead suppliers...

Over and out!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


 My glass focal spotlight will posted soon, but I've found a sale!

Nedbeads asks where to find charlottes, size 15 beads and hex beads in precious metals.

Answer: Harlequin Beads - and right now, they have a 20% off sale. These babies are not budget beads, so I wanted to make sure the link was posted in a timely fashion. Go to -
Click on "Seed Beads"
If you chose Czech charlottes and enter size 13, you will find 24K gold electroplated beads in hanks of 12 - 8" strings. Regular price $18.00, during the sale $14.00. If you'd like a larger amount, order 12-12" strings at a sale price of $30.00.

I did find size 11 hex beads in precious metals and it was a bit of a hunt because most suppliers seem to carry the size 8s. It's a Delica. Beadies Beadwork has the range from 22K gold, to white gold to silver - and the prices are pretty good as precious metals go. You can find Beadies' page here:

Fusion Beads has regular seed beads in size 11 in 24K gold, as well as copper plate, silver, nickel etc.
Here's the Fusion link:

Hope this helps Nedbeads and anyone else hunting the elusize sizes and shapes of precious metal beads.

And of course, I can't leave you with no eye-candy!

 This gorgeous purse is by the gold hunter herself, Nancy Dale of Nedbeads. Her shop, if you'd like to see more, can be found at

Cheers everyone!

Monday, October 12, 2009


A high price sometimes means a better quality product. But not always...

I go through mad bead-embroidery phases and because a single 2.5" to 3" x 7" cuff can take me 30 or 40 hours to complete, I want the bead backing I use to wear like steel for the next millennium. And I want it to be able to dye it, color it with fabric pens and easily put my #13 beading needle through it. I want to be able to place a stitch a hair from the edge and have it stay there - and no fraying allowed, ever.

Enter Lacey's Stiff Stuff. A miracle! Finally!

I always wondered, though, why on earth a single standard 8.5" x 11" sheet of it was so darn dear.

How I happened to find Sova Enterprises and their alternative to Lacey's, I'll never remember but they carry a product which is, for much less of my money, indistinguishable from Lacey's. As of today's date their product comes in packs of 6,  6" x 8" sheets and sells at $4.75 US. They also sell by the yard at an even less expensive price. When I checked the site today, they showed a "sold out" button on the discount yardage, but Kathleen from Sova informs me that it's back in stock now. 

You can find them online at
Click on "supplies and tools" on the left hand side of their home screen, and then click on "bead backing."

Below is a collage of my embroidered cuffs - done on Rita and Dave Sova's bead backing.

Next time: Fabulous glass - the focal bead