Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Nottingham Bead and Craft Show 2010!

On Saturday 20th November we organised the very first Nottingham Bead and Craft Show, and it was a resounding success! It was lovely to both see our regular supporters and meet so many new lovely customers, including people from Swansea, Dublin and Finland!

We had local artists including HanMade Beads, Nettynot, Tattered Rose and Stitches and Stars!

We also had a fantastic selection of traders, artists and shops providing a wide range of tempting items!

Knit Nottingham
had a great selection of yarn and also taught the Basic Crochet workshop!

Guzzi Sue spinning with knit nottingham.

Nostalgia Beads
who have the best range of Bead-weaving kits and are so friendly to talk to.

The Knitting Academyhad beautiful, exclusive yarns, including a delightful sparkly purple that Hana brought!

Buffy's Beads brought a beautiful selection of Semi-precious beads and clearly enjoyed themselves!

There was also a Swarvoski showcase including designs from our very own Helen and Rachel!

We also had delicious cupcakes from Alison's Bakery, but alas, these sold so quickly that we couldn't get a photo of the stall! However, we did catch Ana and Phoebe enjoying their cupcakes! (Hana treated all members of The Bead Shop staff to a cupcake!)

The day was so successful that we have already started planning the show for next year! Saturday 19th November 2011 is the date to put in your diary, and as we plan to make it bigger and better than last year, it might be wise to start saving now!

Friday, 5 November 2010

We love Shrink Plastic!

Here at the Bead Shop we love to dabble with new mediums and techniques. Recently we have started stocking shrink plastic which is so versatile! And if you see Lisa's previous post, you can see we've fallen in love with this product!

To celebrate expanding our range to include black and clear shrink plastic, here are a few artists who have really inspired us!

Cuppa Tea And Cake has a fantastic range of tea cup badges, perfect for our tea loving selves!

Oh Badgers features lovely badges of animals including this fox, I love the detail!

orange bird studio has made this sweet birdy badge! I love how happy the bird looks!

She also makes cute handmade buttons and her blog is here if you want to see more!

Hmm, I'm feeling inspired now!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Lisa's Shrink Plastic Addiction!

The Bead Shop is somewhere that I have wanted to work at for a long time, and so when a vacancy came up I applied straight away. I was very happy to be offered the job, and so I left my bar job and entered the beading world.

Before getting my previous job, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University, where I specialised in mould making and casting with resin. Whilst this was always a technique that I loved, I soon spotted a new favourite once I began working here at The Bead Shop – shrink plastic!

I immediately saw the potential of working with this new medium, and rushed out straight away to buy a pack of permanent markers to get designing!
I love this Cityscape necklace...

I have found that shrink plastic has really unleashed my inner child – I remember shrinking crisp packets when I was younger – but whilst reminiscent of that, this technique clearly offers far more scope! I was surprised by the amount of detail you can achieve with shrink plastic, whether through using printed designs or hand drawn ones.

So far I have created many pieces, and find it brilliant that I can bring my love of drawing in to my jewellery making. It is amazing to be able to wear my doodles, and it’s also a cheap way to satisfy my creative cravings.

As I have found myself so encouraged recently, I have been on a mission to do one creative thing every day, and with Halloween fast approaching I decided to draw inspiration from the fantastic Bead Shop window display and design some spooky pieces like the bat. (Shown below).

Although the Ghostbusters necklace isn’t very scary, I do love it. As I wanted it to look authentic, I found it useful to trace the image on to the plastic. I wasn’t convinced that I would be able to freehand draw the circle otherwise!

Out of the shrink plastic pieces I have created so far, I think my favourite has to be the Meg & Mog necklace. I took the image from the front cover of one of the books I used to read at primary school. I almost ended up choosing the cover of The Funny Bones book, but I think that will be one I attempt for next Halloween.

I really love working with shrink plastic, and have really been inspired by its many possibilities. I think I’ve managed some pretty fun necklaces so far, I hope you like them too!

Lisa x

Monday, 11 October 2010

National Knitting Week!

Exciting times as it's National Knitting Week! Here's a message from Knit in Notts!

Yes! It’s that time of year again National Knitting Week, what better time to get those knitting needles back out & get the winter knits started!

Everyone is welcome to pop along & join us, it really doesn’t matter if you are a complete novice, an expert or never knitted before (there’ll be some one on hand to get you started)!

Yesterday saw the start of the week with a tasty roast dinner at The Orange Tree, however there are plenty more events planned for the rest of the week!

Tuesday 12th Oct we will be in our usual spot of Lee Rosy’s for knitting, tea & of course cake from 5.30pm!

Wednesday 13th Oct we’re off to Fade & the hard to find Cafe on Mansfield road from 6pm. We’ll be making the little hats you see on Innocent smoothie bottles in aid of Age Concern – don’t worry if you don’t have needles or yarn to hand, we’ll be bringing plenty along with us.

We’ll be ending the week on Friday 15th Oct in The Lincolnshire Poacher with a pub knit and games courtesy of Knit Nottingham (Nottingham’s new knitting shop, on Mansfield road).

So what are you waiting for!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Sneak Peek: Projects

This post gives you a sneak peek of all our upcoming magazine projects!
First of all we have Sophie's project debut!

This wonderfully bright Autumnal Jewellery set showcases both the filigree and murano glass elements perfectly! This project can be found in issue 20 of Making Jewellery magazine.

Phoebe also has her first project being published!

The playful design shows off Phoebe’s love for funky fun designs and bright colours. This Project can be found in issue 7 of Creative Beads & Jewellery.

Steph is one of our more experienced designers, and with this project decided to test her own skills...

This subtle colour pallet was a little bit of a challenge as pale shades are not her usual cup of tea, but it works well with the strong wire structure creating the cuff. This Project can be found in issue 7 of Creative Beads & Jewellery.

Rae is also a new designer and has created this classic project

This striking necklace incorporates a handmade wire toggle clasp with a selection of semi-precious beads. Rae has taken to wire work, like a duck to water. This Project can be found in issue 7 of Creative Beads & Jewellery.

Helen has created the perfect necklace for any special occasion!

With the amazing disco ball effect, you would be the life and soul of the party! Helen has a great talent for knowing what colours and textures work brilliantly together. This Project can be found in issue 19 of Make Jewellery Magazine.

Rachel seems to be waiting for winter with this beautiful necklace!

The necklace showcases Rachel’s style using unusual links, the crystals emulate the sharp and jagged contours of icicles. This project can be found in issue 21 of Making Jewellery magazine.

I've been busy making this resin star pendant and beaded chain necklace which show cases beads from our Gutermann range.

Look out for this project in issue 39 of Beads & Beyond magazines to see how well it does in their top 20 ‘Sapphire & Steel Necklaces’.

As you can see, we've all been very busy! For more project previews you can always check our flickr. Here we will post all our project photos!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Resin Tutorial: Unlock my Heart Pendant!

Hello! Today's post shows you how to make a resin pendant by embedding items! As resin supplies are one of many new products at the Bead Shop, what better time to try this new medium!

First of all, choose your mould and items that you wish to embed. Most items can be embedded within resin, however some items need a little work before they can be mixed with resin. Paper needs to be sealed with either a varnish or pva glue. To be extra safe I scan paper into my computer and then print it onto glossy photo paper. This means I can keep the orignal safe and once dry can be used without sealing! Flowers and insects need to be dried out before adding as resin will not mix with any moisture. Candy sprinkles and hundreds and thousands are really popular within resin work at the moment, and look really effective!

Make sure the room is well ventilated and that you've covered your workspace with newspaper!

Wearing rubber gloves and a face mask, make the resin following the manufacturer’s instructions. Pour the resin from as low as possible and stir slowly to minimise any bubbles!

Pour a thin layer of resin into the mould. Depending on the mould you may want to coat it with a thin layer of vaseline to act as a mould release! I find that using a plastic spoon will help ensure you don’t over fill the mould and give you more control over the resin. Leave to set for 8 hours.

When the resin has partially set, position the item you want to embed facedown, being careful not to trap air between the item and the resin.

Make a second batch of resin and add a small pinch of pigment dye. More dye can be added for bolder shades. Start with a really small amount, the pigment goes far and it is much easier to add more then take away! The pigments also blend together well. I used Flamingo Pink (which is a really strong pink) and Pearl White to create this colour, so as you can see, the shades you can create are endless!

Slowly pour the mixture into the mould and leave to dry.

When fully cured, pop the resin out of the mould and sand any rough edges.

Secure the pendant in a G clamp, protecting the pendant either side with tissue. Using a hand drill, drill a hole for the bail. If you've created a shape with a domed side, like the heart, drill it flat side up to make it easier, otherwise the drill could slip and scratch the pendant!

Add a bail to the pendant and add to chain/thread/whatever takes your fancy!

And there you go! I'd love to see what you make, so if you do decide to have a go, please add your photos to our facebook page or flickr group!


Friday, 30 July 2010

Life at The Bead Shop by a Newbie...

As has been said to me on many occasions, for a lot of you The Bead Shop would be an amazing place to work. As the (almost) newest member of The Bead Shop’s staff, I decided that my first blog entry on here should be to introduce myself and describe my somewhat swift entry in to the world of beading!

Before working here, my beading knowledge consisted of sewing beads on to canvas, and stringing together basic elastic bracelets for my cousins. Although I had been shopping at The Bead Shop since its days in West End Arcade, my venture with beads had been limited to how I could incorporate them in to my artwork, and how in my teenage days I could fit them on to my shoelaces to be a little more ‘individual’! Having studied, lived and breathed art and painting for so long, I was far more caught up in ways to enhance and embellish my work with beads than how to create jewellery.

The picture belows shows the beginnings of my next project. It's just a background for now, and is certainly a work in progress!

Finding the life of a self-employed artist too solitary, I decided to supplement my canvas habit with retail work. Finding a job where I already used the product I would be selling was just an added benefit! And so I applied to The Bead Shop, already knowing that the staff and environment there were both very welcoming.

Firstly, anyone who thinks that retail work is an easy job, has clearly never worked within it before! Since my days of needing part-time weekend work for extra pocket money, I have been involved in retail in one way or another. It can be long hours; surrounded by often thankless customers; a never ending run of tidying, replenishing and straightening stock; and as for a full weekend off work... don’t even think about it! But as I have discovered over the years, if you can find a workplace that compliments you, it can be a very rewarding job.

This new venture turned out to be a rewarding one for me. From day one, I have found The Bead Shop to be the most enjoyable place I have ever worked at. With its myriad of amazing employees and brilliant customers, the constant behind-the-scenes mad rush of getting things ready for bead fairs/ new websites/ mail-orders/ workshops, the regular introduction of new stock items (most of which I’ve never heard of before!), and the continual job of helping customers with beading related queries, life at The Bead Shop is certainly eventful!

I began working here in January of this year, and immediately felt like I had finally found an employer who I would be happy working with. Many of our customers don’t realise how many staff members actually work here. With our shop, wholesale department, mail-order department, workshops, bead fairs, website, and regular magazine & press appearances we are a very busy company! From the beginning I found everyone to be very welcoming, happy to teach a newbie, and more than happy in their jobs. It made a refreshing change to work somewhere where the general consensus was that of contentment rather than a frenzied rush to the door at home time every night!

And so, settling in to my new environment, I began the task of learning all about beads, jewellery making, and the many new products that I had been introduced to. Little did I know how involved the beading world is!

Since I had only a basic knowledge of this new world, I began to learn about all of the different types of beads. Discovering that beads weren’t simply beads, I set about learning all the differences! I discovered pony beads, delicas, Xilions, seed beads, rivolis, and all of the other varied names and types of beads that I never knew existed! But I was eager to learn, and so after only a week I had the chance to sit in on a Japanese bead weaving workshop with one of our tutors; Machiko. As one of the more intense workshops, I admit to finding it a little challenging; not least because I had never woven beads together before in any shape other than one long string! But I stuck at it, and was very proud of the necklace I produced.

And so began a new hobby for me. I now scour charity shops for second hand jewellery to rework in to more modern styles. I have been given enough jewellery making tools and equipment to set up a small shop, and have beads spilling out of so many jars and boxes at home that my boyfriend fears they’re taking over. But as I’m sure many of you know, it’s addictive!

Through everything I have experimented with so far, I have found wirework and chainmail to be my favourite techniques. I have a semi-precious necklace with handmade wire findings that I created being featured in a magazine article by The Bead Shop, and so that has inspired me once again to see what new creations I can come up with. However since I admire the polymer clay, dichroic glass and resin designs made by my workmates so much, I may be experimenting with my own take on them in the not too distant future!

With our regularly updated window displays, I have been given the chance to contribute to many different styles. I have created nautical themed bracelets, tribal inspired necklaces, pirate earrings, Japanese hair slides and wire wrapped pendants. And since January I have had a go at most techniques in some form or another; whether for my own curiosity, a gift for a family member, or our shop window.

With their constantly changing and evolving worlds, jewellery making and beading techniques have become another art form to me, and more than ever I love to include them in some way in my mixed media projects. However, even creating and selling a canvas which I’ve spent many an evening painstakingly embellishing with the tiniest beads available doesn’t come anywhere close to giving my mum a pair of earrings which I’ve learnt how to create from scratch especially for her.

And so my beading journey will continue with new techniques, projects inspired by all of you wonderful customers who are always happy to share ideas, and designs dreamt up during my canvas work. I just hope that my next six months here at The Bead Shop will be just as fun and eventful as the first!

Hope to see you in the shop soon!


Sunday, 9 May 2010

Microwave Dichro Kiln Test!

Tonight I will be testing the FuseworksTM microwave kiln in the hope that it produces good enough results for us to both stock it and teach workshops using it.

I've been making fused glass pendants for over 3 years now but have only ever worked with bullseye glass and a 'proper' kiln (a Paragon SC2) so it will be very interesting to see how a microwave kiln compares.

I will be testing the Beginner's Fusing Kit which includes the microwave kiln, kiln paper, an assortment of glass, a glass cutter, hot mitts, bails & instructions - I'm intrigued to find out if the kiln works the same with my usual Bullseye glass but those experiments might have to wait till another day.

The kiln has to be pre-fired before it's first use and then left to cool for 30 mins which will give me plenty of time to prepare pieces to fuse. My initial reaction on unpacking the kiln is wow that's tiny (8.5 x 12cm) - I wasn't expecting it to be large but did expect it to be a lot closer to the size of the box than it is! The surface available to fuse on is a 7cm circle but when you take into account a sensible gap the maximum piece you could make would be 5.5 x 3cm or 4.5 x 4.5cm I think. Probably only a maximum of two small pieces at once e.g earrings.

The glass cutter provided is one of the ones that work dry (without cutting oil) - I found this much harder to use than my usual cutter but this could just be a case of what you're used to, also the glass is fairly thick and can't be broken by hand (at least not by me!).

Right kiln paper cut, glass cut, piece assembled; time to fire! My microwave is 800w so 3-4 minute fuse time is recommended (this seems crazy to me as I'm used to programme which takes over 2 hours for the kiln to reach fusing temperature, ~800c, and 5 hours to complete the cycle). After 3 minutes I take a peek - the glass is hot but hasn't fused yet so I try another minute, amazingly after this the piece has fused. I now have to leave the lid on for at least 30 minutes to let it cool down slowly and anneal (vital for durability of the piece without proper annealing a glass is liable to break, not necessarily straight away though it could happen many weeks or even months down the line).

My first attempts are disappointing,

with sharp burred edges. I know a bad workman blames his tools but I can't help feeling that it could be related to the kiln paper, which feels rough like fibre paper so I'm going to try my next piece using Bullseye Thinfire paper. My hunch was right the Thinfire paper made all the difference! However as shown in the photo,

what I thought was a transparent red which I put dichroic glass underneath was a striking opaque - d'oh! I think I'll have a go at a channel pendant next...........

Hmnnn turns out that any glue can cause the glass to shatter in a microwave kiln as it heats up too quickly, which would explain these two sorry affairs!

So now I need to make some nice examples and as i'm already cheating by using thinfire I guess I might as well use nice glass too! (The glass in the kit is quite a good colour selection but is very lacking in the clear department)

In conclusion the microwave kiln works! It's very different to fusing in a kiln and although it's very quick, if you want to make more than 1 piece in an evening, it's very slow (as you have to wait for it to cool down completely before using it again); so is only suitable for making pieces for yourself or as gifts etc. (Personally I'd be wary of selling pieces that weren't kiln annealed anyway). It's also very difficult to control the results and improbable that you'll be able to, if not impossible to achieve consistant pieces. However if you want to start fusing glass and your budget is nearer £100 than £600 then the microwave kiln could be for you.
Hana -x-

The Bead Shop's First Post

We've been thinking of creating a Bead Shop blog for a while now, so after months of intending to I've finally got round to it! The plan is that this will be in addition to our newsletters - which are more focused on new products, projects and tips and special offers. And to our facebook page which has lots of interaction with our lovely customers and photos of fantastic jewellery made by them along with pieces made by bead shop staff.

This blog will hopefully provide the perfect forum for up to the minute news that might not surface in the shop or online for months! Things like products we are testing - which if we don't like might never see the light of day, ideas for new workshops and sneak previews of new products!