Trekking to Tucson!

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It’s that time of year again, when the entire beading industry is buzzing and one word is on every beader’s lips, escaping with a mix of awe and excitement: Tucson! If, as a jewelry-maker, the mere mentioning of Tucson doesn’t immediately fill your daydreams with gemstones, pearls, fossils, and more, allow us to explain why you should be excited!

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is a mind-boggling event that has been happening every year in Tucson, Arizona since 1955, and it is spread out over the entire city. There are over 40 different locations hosting mini-conventions, happening all at once, from January 31st through February 15th. Items being sold at the shows range from raw (uncut) gemstones, to fossils, glass beads, pearls, finished jewelry, and more! Every space in the city that can be converted into a “mini-convention” is taken over for the 2-week span: hotel bedrooms, lobbies, parking lots, tents, and lawns. Due to the sheer volume of vendors and customers present during this season, it is considered one of the premier gem & mineral shows in the world. And guess what? Blue Door Beads gets to go again this year!

To help make room for all of the fabulous, amazing, delicious goodies we plan to bring back, we are having a Pre-Tucson Blowout SALE starting Friday, January 30th through Saturday, January 31st. It’s time to start fresh and embrace “out with the old, in with the new,” so all of our loyal customers will get to enjoy 20%-50% off merchandise storewide! When you come to Blue Door Beads for the sale, be sure to add a few items to our Customer Wish List, which is posted at our front counter. We will do our best to find all of your favorite goodies!

Then be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, February 21st and Sunday, February 22nd, when we will be hosting our Best of Tucson Trunk Show! Be one of first to see the latest treasures from our trip and pick up beads, pendants, and other cool pieces you won’t find just anywhere!

In case you missed the link above, here is a shortcut to more info about how the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase came to be. Enjoy!

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Learning to Speak the Language – Part 3: Tools of the Trade

Back in October, we published our second post in our Learn the Language series, and it was all about bead styles and shapes. Then the holiday season hit, and we got quite busy (woo hoo!) so we didn’t get the chance to shower you with great facts and helpful tips about jewelry-making terminology. But fear not — we’re back in the blogging game, and this week we’ll be talking about jewelry-making tools, so get ready to start making a list of cool tools you’ll want to add to your stash!

The Basics for Stringing and Wire Work
The following tools are what we consider to be the absolute essentials when it comes to jewelry-making. They’ll get you where you need to go when it comes to basic stringing projects, as well as creating earrings and wirework necklaces or bracelets — and beyond! Most, if not all, of these tools can be found for under $15, and they are well worth the moderate investment.

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Chain Nose Pliers
These are a crucial, all-purpose pair of jewelry pliers. It’s best to purchase a pair of chain nose pliers meant for jewelry-making as opposed to those meant for household projects because 1) the jaws are smaller, making them easier to use for fine work and 2) the inside of the jaws are smooth, unlike most pliers one can find in a hardware store. Smooth jaws won’t scrape beads or mar soft wire, such as sterling silver and gold-filled.
Uses: wrapping wire, holding onto small components, tucking wire ends in.

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Round Nose Pliers
These are what we consider to be our primary “loop-makers,” although you can also use them to hold jewelry pieces in place and keep an already-existing loop round. They are ideal for creating loops on headpins or eyepins, one of the most important steps in making earrings and other wire jewelry.
Uses: creating wire loops, rounding out an existing loop that’s been smushed, holding components

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Flush Cutters
When beading, you should always have a pair of flush cutters handy for two reasons: one, scissors won’t work for cutting stiff wire, or even beading cord made with flexible wires (such as SoftFlex or Beadalon), and two, any time you cut wire, the part you leave behind should have a blunt (flush) tip, not a sharp tip that can scrape your skin, catch your hair, or snag fabric.
Uses: cutting Craft Wire, sterling wire, gold-filled wire, woven beading wire (SoftFlex, Beadalon, etc.)

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Crimping Pliers
When it comes to finishing off a project using SoftFlex/Beadalon, nothing beats the strength and security you will achieve by using crimping pliers with your crimp beads! Crimping pliers have a unique set of jaws with two notches, each very crucial to the crimping process. (Simply do a search on Pinterest for “crimping pliers” and numerous how-to videos will pop up.) Crimping just takes a little bit of practice — you’ll be making secure necklaces & bracelets in no time!
Uses: attaching/anchoring crimp beads to Softflex or Beadalon beading cord.

That’s all for this week, but stay tuned for Part 4: Specialty Tools of the Trade!

All photos courtesy of The Bead Smith.

New Year’s Resolution: Get Your Craft On!

The hectic holiday season is over, things in the shop are a little less crazy, and we finally have time to sit down and make some jewelry! We have many goals for 2015, including exploring more jewelry-making topics and mastering more jewelry-making techniques, but we definitely wanted to start the year off right by jumping right in and getting our craft on!

We found many, MANY lovely and inspiring photos of pieces we wanted to make on Pinterest, and we got busy putting our own spin on the unique — yet easy-to-do –designs. Below are just a few of our recent creations, and we hope they inspire you to be ambitious and get YOUR craft on in 2015!

Earring design  and photo courtesyt of Judie Mountain.

Earring design and photo courtesyt of Judie Mountain.

Earrings created by Lydia Chapman. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Earrings created by Lydia Chapman. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Quartz & brass necklace designed by MoonshineDivineCo on Etsy.

Quartz & brass necklace designed by MoonshineDivineCo on Etsy.

Necklace created by Lydia Chapman. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Necklace created by Lydia Chapman. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Hammered copper disc earrings design by AllowingArtDesigns on Etsy.

Hammered copper disc earrings design by AllowingArtDesigns on Etsy.

Earrings created by Lydia Chapman. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Earrings created by Lydia Chapman. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Earrings created by Lydia Chapman. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Earrings created by Lydia Chapman. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Hammered copper earrings by JudysDesigns on Etsy.

Hammered copper earrings by JudysDesigns on Etsy.

Copper earrings created by Briana Oliver. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.

Copper earrings created by Briana Oliver. Photo courtesy of rerephoto.com.