Jewelry Making Poll

Jewelry Making News, Tips, Tutorials, and Reviews

Archives for Beads and Findings


10/25/07 | TQB Designs

TQB Designs - Neck Wrap Bettys Apron - on Jewelry Making at BloglanderI was quite taken with these interesting beaded jewelry pieces from Lisa of TQB Designs. She creates each of these wonderful small “circles, dots, rounds and spheres” by weaving a gourd stitch pattern with seed beads on top of a wooden core, and then uses them in her jewelry along with hand-crafted metal findings.

From far away, the little seed bead rounds look amazingly like nuts, or fruits (particularly, some sort of berry). The care and time that go into making each of these little rounds must be tremendous; I know because we do beaded rings and they take a long time - and it probably takes much longer to create a whole sphere like these. Each bead has between 50 and 500 individual seed beads!

Lisa is self-taught and has been making these bead rounds for over a decade. Shown above is the Betty’s Apron Neck Wrap, which contains seven bead rounds (in duckling, tangerine, cinnamon, mushroom, cilantro and chartreuse colors) along with brushed oxidized and sterling silver findings.

TQB Designs - Garnet Dot Earring - on Jewelry Making at BloglanderShe has some “harvest” colors available that are meant for the Fall season - warm shades of red, brown, orange and gold. Here’s an example of one of the earrings using a garnet red color for the bead rounds - they are paired with silver handmade ear wires and filigree bead caps. I can’t believe how much they look like natural berries!

Neck Wrap - Betty’s Apron - $120
Garnet Filigree Dot Earrings - $38
available at TQB Designs

9/27/07 | Bead Loom

Bead Loom on Jewelry Making at Bloglander

I was surfing around looking for interesting beading things to write about and came across this Bead Loom Kit from Shure Products. I haven’t actually tried out the product, but was hoping that if a reader has gotten this item they could chime in as to how they like it in the comments. I’m especially interested in whether this is something an adult might enjoy, because at first glance it definitely looks like a kid’s toy - they say that it’s meant for 7 years and up due to the small beads and the skill needed to put them in the loom.

They say that you can use the loom to weave bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings. The loom itself is wooden - I’m not sure how sturdy it is though and I wonder if you could just go to the Home Depot and make one yourself. They give you a starter selection of glass and seed beads (over 1000), cord, jump rings, and clasps along with an instruction booklet. The patterns that are shown look sort of like some of the Native American beading styles. While I’m a bit hesitant how worthwhile this bead loom might be, the price is definitely not too bad, and a bonus is that if you’re starting out making jewelry you can use the leftover beads for other projects.

Bead Loom - $24.95
available at Amazon.com
also available at Jo-Ann.com

Jewelry Making at Bloglander - Beading Tray Idea

If you are using large quantities of smaller beads, you’re probably going to want to figure out some way to contain the beads such as a beading tray. When we first started out making jewelry, we didn’t really have any type of workstation for beading. So most often, we would simply dump out the beads we needed onto a smooth surface like a desk or table - and away we would go. This actually isn’t so much a problem - it’s the cleanup that can be tough, especially if your beads accidentally get mixed up on the table.

In addition, those round beads tend to have a mind of their own and we’ve ended up more than once with a shower of them on the floor after they rolled off the table. You can alleviate this by putting some sort of coarse fabric under the round ones so they don’t roll as much. But we found that using a beading needle (or simply the end of some beading wire) to pick them up through the hole got to be difficult because the end of the wire or needle would often “catch” on the fabric - especially if it was fuzzy.

They do sell a number of beading trays and devices that you can use. One quite handy tray, which is meant for necklaces, contains a circular form for you to place the beads in so that you can see the order before stringing them, and several sections for you to place loose beads in. Another one, which we actually use sometimes for seed beading, is a harder plastic rectangular tray with straight sides but no compartments. You place a large amount of small beads in there, and in the corner of the bead tray is a little hole with a screwcap on it. Cleanup for this tray is quite easy - you just tilt the tray so that all the beads run to the corner with the screwcap and then unscrew it over your seed bead container. The beads run right out into the container.

Continue reading “Ideas for Beading Trays” …

12/19/06 | Cherry Quartz Beads

Jewelry Making at Bloglander - Cherry Quartz

Cherry Quartz is a very popular manufactured type of glass that we’ve been using in our designs for a few years now. It is characterized by clear to light pink transparent glass with lots of red swirled inclusions inside of it. (Sorry about the picture, which looks more opaque than transparent). It is manufactured in many different shapes including all manner of standard spheres, ovals, nuggets, drops and briolettes.

Unlike pressed glass, these pieces are not made in molds which is the reason they look so much like actual gemstones. Instead, the glass is actually cut and faceted and polished like normal precious stones. And because the manufacturing process involves swirling different color combinations within the glass first and allowing it to cool, each piece is different. This seems to be what attracts so many jewelry makers - the fact that it’s synthetic but it retains individual characteristics.

Continue reading “Cherry Quartz Beads” …

Value Pack Etch Barrel Clasp-Silver

Barrel Clasps are a particular type of jewelry clasp that is sometimes used for necklaces. They are two part cylindrical screw clasps that look like barrels (hence the name), each with an eyehook or connector loop. They usually feature some sort of ridges around the barrel for easier grasping when trying to fasten - you simply rotate one part into the other.

We use these clasps quite frequently for necklaces. They provide greater security than magnetic or hook type clasps, though they are a bit more difficult to attach around the back of your neck. Barrel clasps do seem to be easier than lobster claw clasps to open up which is why we often prefer them for necklaces.

Continue reading “What are Barrel Clasps?” …

The latest jewelry poll held a big surprise for me. We asked readers what their favorite type of glass beads were. Admittedly, there are always only 4 choices in our polls so I’m sure many other different types of glass beads were represented. But anyhow, the winner was Lampwork Beads.

Here are the complete results:

I fully expected Czech Pressed Beads to come out by far on top as far as the “average” jewelry makers who mostly do beading were concerned. This is because they aren’t super expensive, and have a lot more consistency in quality and tend to be more “refined” in look than just your ordinary cheaper glass beads from Michaels or Joann.

Granted, at 171 votes the Czech beads nearly tied Lampwork’s 181 votes. Seed Beads were just about where I expected they’d be in third place with 102 votes - it’s extremely useful to have several hanks of various colors around at all times, but I don’t think they’re anything to write home about for appearance. But I’m sure some jewelry designers who wake those wonderful woven seed bead creations are going to beg to differ!

Well, I gotta admit that a lot of those Lampwork beads are indeed gorgeous. I actually confused everything by throwing in “Furnace Glass” into the mix which is sort of related to lampwork. But I believe that Furnace Glass is meant to refer to those beads that look like candy or licorice. They are made using long thin rods of glass that are melted and fused together and then cut into chunks.

Whereas with Lampworking, they actually may add other colored glass to the surface of the existing glass bead in order to create vibrant designs. I think that’s the difference, but again correct me if I’m wrong on that. Anyhow, Furnace Glass brought up the rear with only 57 votes. I still like these beads that look like colorful candy pieces quite a bit, and it’s evident some of you do too!

Our next poll asks what your favorite gemstone shape is. Again, I only have the four slots for my poll, so I’ve combined several of the shapes together.

Sorry everyone, I know a lot of people have sent in questions for the “From the Mailbag” section and we basically have not answered ANY of them yet. Too much jewelry making, not enough time! =) Anyhow, I’ll try and start catching up over the next couple months. Here’s one for today:

From the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag:

Heidi F. writes: “I am looking for a cheap base metal finding. I have been buying them at Michaels Craft store, but they stopped selling them. The package calls them rhinestone settings, but they are not the kind that crimp around the rhinestone, the rhinestone is just glued to the top of the piece and it has loops on either end to string them together.”

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: I haven’t really used the rhinestone settings that you described before, but I think I know what you’re talking about. I’ve seen small base metal (brass or copper?) cups that are meant to hold beads or stones at Joann’s before. But I’m not sure if they had loops or not… actually, I wonder if they may be listed as “Bead Caps” instead of “Rhinestone Settings”?

A quick search on Rings n Things and Fire Mountain doesn’t show many results for rhinestone settings, but it does bring back quite a few on bead caps. The pic at left is from another site I found (jansjewels.com) and seems to be what you’re talking about with the loops on either side.

The only thing is that it DOES seem to have the four crimps that are meant to go around the stone. Also, it is a concave instead of a flat surface, though if you’re gluing something down this might actually be better because it’ll cup the stone more securely and probably make it so it doesn’t get knocked off as easy. I didn’t see any that didn’t have the 4 crimps on them, though there are a variety with open / closed backs and 0, 1 or 2 loops. Maybe someone else knows if we’re on the right track… ?

I promised to show off some of the items we picked up at the IGJS we attended this month. One of the types of jewelry making components that we saw quite a bit of are precious stones, beads and mother of pearl shell that had large holes in them. I had to do a bit of searching, but I think a common name for these interesting pieces are “jewelry donuts”.

Now, we aren’t huge fans of following trends so we have no idea whether this has already come and gone. Interestingly, I did see them featured in the latest Fire Mountain catalog. I know I’ve seen this type of bead many times before made of various types of gemstone, glass and even wood. But at the show it just seemed like it was EVERYWHERE. What was mostly interesting is that in addition to the usual “round” jewelry donut, they also had different shapes like squares, rectangles and even triangles and trapezoids.

Continue reading “Square MOP Jewelry Donuts” …

We got the new Fire Mountain Gems catalog in the mail the other day. Fire Mountain is a fairly decent wholesaler of beads, gems, jewelry findings, and other beader related things. We’ve used them quite a bit and would recommend them for their excellent customer service, at least for the orders we’ve done.

Anyhow, featured on the front of their June-September 2006 catalog were Cane Beads Assortments. So what are these colorful cane beads anyhow? They are actually furnace glass beads made using Italian glassworking techniques. They get their Furnace name from the fact that they require a large (fairly large anyhow) glass furnace and an annealing kiln to make.

They get their “Cane” name because they are made using several colored canes of glass that are fused together on a mandrel. The resulting long fused glass piece is then cut across into various shapes and sizes. Cane beads can be cylindrical, square, rectangular and triangular in shape. The resulting beads have what look like vertical stripes because of the many different colored canes fused together.

Beginning jewelry makers often use cane beads in longer necklaces that feature pieces of random size, shaps and color. It seems to be much easier to go this route rather than try to find beads of the exact same size and color scheme (and they’re great for beginners because you don’t have to worry about matching). They are often sold in complimentary color lots and sizes so that you can just pick up a handful and string them up.

This particular assortment pictured above is from Fire Mountain and made by glass bead artist David Christensen. The package scheme is called “Crayon” and features between 280 and 580 glass cane beads per pound.

Sharon Unlimited Jewelry Supplies

I’m currently working my way through a ton of email submissions… I need to set up some sort of official policy to handle these, but for now I just try to do them in the order received. Also, please remember there are so many that I can’t possibly write about all of you!

This one is from sharonunlimited.com, a fairly new online shop (actually, it opened only last month) created by Sharon Marzonie to provide unique jewelry making supplies and findings for artisans. They do have some nice things for sale there, so I decided to make a writeup.

A tiny bit from Sharon’s site:

“It is a place where artisans can come together to browse, shop and share in one anothers creativity … Our goal is to provide you with a unique offering of products and a high level of service that might be otherwise difficult to find.”


Continue reading “Sharonunlimited.com” …