Coupon for This Weekend’s Bead Bazaar

The Bead Society of Northern California is holding their annual Bead Bazaar this Saturday, May 18th at the Oakland Marriott in downtown Oakland!

The BSNC Bead Bazaar is the LARGEST one day show in the U.S. With over 120 studio artists and bead exhibitors, selling ancient/vintage/modern beads, finished jewelry, findings, books, and more, you should definitely check out this show! Print out the coupon below to receive $2.00 off admission.

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Consider taking BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit ) or an AC Transit bus, saving yourself from paying the $24.00 parking fee — which you can spend on beads! An easy-to-use trip planner for BART, Muni, and AC Transit is available at: www.511.org.

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We’re Suckers for Steampunk!

Gear & filigree earrings. Photo courtesy of beadinggem.com

Gear & filigree earrings. Photo courtesy of beadinggem.com

Cogs and gears and rivets, oh my! It seems like steampunk culture is everywhere, from embellished bags, to sculpture (R2D2 is our fave!), to clothing. Where we have enjoyed seeing it most, however, is in jewelry. We can’t think of a better way to justify keeping those oddball bits and pieces, like orphan keys, watch parts, and other bits of metal, than by using them to create fabulous jewelry!

Although the term “steampunk” has been around since the late 80s, and hints of this sub-genre of science fiction can be found in the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley, it has really taken off as a fashion genre in recent years. People have embraced steampunk as a culture and a lifestyle (as Wikipedia can tell you), and although we are impressed by these folks’ commitment to their lifestyles, we are happy to pay homage to the genre by creating jewelry that alludes to the fantastic world of steam- and spring-powered technology.

Below are just a few amazing steampunk-inspired pieces we thought you’d enjoy! If you are interested in making your own steampunk jewelry, come on down to Blue Door Beads and we’ll show you how to combine cool components from Vintaj with watch parts, rivets, rings, and more to create jewelry that reflects your own steampunk style!

This steampubnk owl is a great combination of watch parts, hand-stamped metal, spacer beads & Swarovski crystals! Photo courtesy of riverpathstudio on Etsy.

This steampubnk owl is a great combination of watch parts, hand-stamped metal, spacer beads & Swarovski crystals! Photo courtesy of riverpathstudio on Etsy.

Adorable polymer clay hummingbord with steampunk wings & tail! Photo courtesy of DesertRubble on Etsy.

Adorable polymer clay hummingbord with steampunk wings & tail! Photo courtesy of DesertRubble on Etsy.

A cool combo of watch faces & watch hands! Photo courtesy of PuddinAndPeanuts.

A cool combo of watch faces & watch hands! Photo courtesy of PuddinAndPeanuts.

Polymer clay steampunk unicorn pendant. Photo courtesy of Freeheart1 on Etsy.

Polymer clay steampunk unicorn pendant. Too cute! Photo courtesy of Freeheart1 on Etsy.

Watch part & filigree ring. Photo courtesy of LondonParticulars on Etsy.

Watch part & filigree ring. Photo courtesy of LondonParticulars on Etsy.

The Stages of Design

Sandra tearing into her latest purchases. It's like Christmas!

Sandra tearing into her latest purchases. It’s like Christmas!

Sandra, one of our artists-in-residence, came to the shop recently with a package she’d just received. She wanted us to see the latest jewelry components she’d ordered, in part because she knew we would appreciate her latest sparkly purchases (who doesn’t love sparkles?!), but also because she said she may need “design moral support.” We asked her what she meant by that. She said that there were times when items she ordered didn’t always turn out how she expected, and her initial reaction might be disappointment. She wanted us there to give her some hope that she could still use her less-than-thrilling components, if that’s what they turned out to be. She (half-jokingly) said she went through the same “stages of design” with almost every jewelry project. We decided to expand upon the stages she described, because we’re pretty sure many jewelry designers go through the same process, and we wanted you to know that you’re not alone!

Excitement: “Ooo! Something new to work with!”
There’s nothing quite like purchasing a particularly awesome pendant, inspiring strand of beads, or another cool jewelry component. You can’t wait to take your new item home, haul out your bead stash, and start designing. You’re not sure what you’re going to do with it yet, but it’s so pretty! You’ll find a way to use it, you’re sure of it.

Anxiety: “Is this going to work?”
You bring out your boxes ‘o beads, lay out your bead board, and start thinking about what you are going to make. A necklace? Hmm… Sure. Is it for you? Well, maybe. But your best friend’s birthday is coming up, so maybe you should make something for her. Would she like this pendant/strand/other cool doodad? Hmm… You’re not sure. Maybe this necklace should be for you, after all. But do you have other beads/spacers/etc. that will work with your latest purchase? Oh, geez. You’re not sure if this is going to work.

Dread: “This is never going to work.”
You shuffle your beads around in your tray, play with different lengths, multiple strands, different clasps…and nothing seems to be working. Either the proportions aren’t right, the colors are all wrong, or the end result just doesn’t get you excited. It’s missing something, but you just can’t quite put your finger on it. You leave your project for a little while, come back to it…and still nothing. Argh! Why is this so hard?! You give up, walk away, and leave your project for a few days. Just like during a tiff with a loved one, sometimes you just need time to cool off.

Hope: “Hmm…this could work.”
Now you’ve had some time to think. You’ve looked up some pictures in your beading magazines, you’ve gone online and done some searching for design ideas, and you’ve asked some fellow beaders (like the gals at Blue Door Beads!) what their thoughts are about your problem-child project. You’ve compiled a group of sketches of designs that intrigue you and have done a little more planning. Those spacers that you thought were perfect for this design? Scratch them. The brightly-colored beads that popped out at you at the beginning? Let’s try ones that are a bit more subdued. They’re equally pretty, and they may be just what this necklace needs. The gears in your brain start turning, you start putting things together, and then…

Sandra's finished necklace! She wasn't sure how to incorporate the mother-of-pearl components at first, but she made it happen, and the results are stunning!

Sandra’s finished necklace! She wasn’t sure how to incorporate the mother-of-pearl components at first, but she made it happen, and the result is stunning!

Satisfaction: “Woo hoo! This totally works!”
You weren’t sure if you’d ever get there, but lo and behold, you have a completed necklace. And it’s FABULOUS! It was frustrating at first to have to change things around so much, but it was worth it. This is a piece you LOVE, you feel great wearing it, and it’s just what you had hoped for. Even if the style is much different than what you are used to, or if it’s a color you don’t wear very often, fret not. Keep in mind that, if you find later on you don’t wear it as often as you thought you would, you can always re-work it into something even more beautiful. True, you may have to go through the “stages of design” all over again, but that is part of the creative process. You may not go through all of the stages with each one of your projects, which is OK, but if you do, that’s OK, too. Just remember we can’t always control where our designing brains takes us. The important thing is to enjoy the ride!

Check our Sandra’s work in person here at Blue Door Beads on the third Thursday of every month from 6pm-9pm during the Piedmont Avenue Stroll.