Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About SoftFlex

Although the jewelry-making “family tree” has dozens of branches (including soldering, fusing, and PMC, just to name a few), probably the most well-known jewelry-making branch would be the one of stringing beads into necklaces and bracelets. Bead stringing is relatively quick & easy — it’s the designing that can be tricky! — but what really makes it pleasurable is working with the right materials. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours designing and constructing a necklace or bracelet, only to have it break after a few wears due to inferior-quality stringing material. Luckily, there is a product whose quality we have relied not just since we opened Blue Door Beads, but since we started beading over 20 years ago: SoftFlex Beading Wire.

SoftFlex is one of those products that is ubiquitous in the beading industry, and for good reason. Their patented cord, comprised of woven stainless steel wires coated with heavy-duty nylon, is one of the most durable materials a beader can string with. However, there are so many variations that it can be hard for beaders to know which variety is best for each of their jewelry projects. We have always told our customers and students in our Basic Stringing class that the general rule of thumb is to use the thickest SoftFlex cord that can fit all of the beads in their jewelry piece. Although this is true, there are quite a few factors you may want to consider the next time you sit down to string up a beading design.

Fortunately for you — and us! — SoftFlex recently posted a series of incredibly helpful and informative YouTube videos to help beaders feel confident in their SoftFlex decision-making! Posted below are links to their videos; the first few are the ones we felt were the best “crash courses” in basic SoftFlex facts, with some additional design inspiration. The last link is the longest video; it bundles all of the shorter videos together, including a few not linked here, in case you’d like to absorb all of the SoftFlex info all at once!

Crash Courses & Inspiration:

Choosing The Right Diameter Of Soft Flex Beading Wire

Choosing The Right Brand Of Soft Flex Beading Wire

Various Ways To Use Soft Flex Beading Wire

The full-length video (approximately 40 minutes):

Beading Basics With Soft Flex Company

The SoftFlex Company is based in Sonoma, California, and we are proud to support a local business. SoftFlex helps our customers bead happily and boldly — thanks SoftFlex!

Meet Our New Instructors!

After a short hiatus from classes for the holiday season, they’re now back & better than ever! Our Spring 2017 class season not only includes a wide range of new classes, but also a great group of new instructors! Allow us to introduce you to a few of our newest team members:

Carol Bernau 

Carol’s true love is weaving seed beads, because seed beads show endless possible permutations of color, shape, texture, and reflection of light. Join her in learning a new seed bead weaving technique in her Friday, April 21st class, Herringbone Weave Bracelet.

 

 

Jen Laursen

Inspired by the beautiful leatherwork from Mexico, 6 years ago Jen went on a quest to teach herself this time-honored tradition. She now teaches private lessons and group workshops to kids and adults, and loves every minute! Jen’s Leather Punched Jewelry class is coming up on Thursday, March 16th.

 

Elizabeth McKinley

Elizabeth is a Registered Yoga Teacher and teaches groups and individuals yoga and meditation, emphasizing the body-mind-spirit connection. Join Elizabeth for Malas & Meditations on Saturday, March 11th and explore mantras and methods of meditation using a mala you will create in class!

 

Rae Rodriguez

Rae has been designing jewelry for over 18 years, and she finds metal clay fascinating in many ways — and also very fun to teach! Join her Saturday, March 18th for her Intro to Metal Clay class, where students will explore molding, forming, and firing this amazing material.

 


Joe Silvera

A master jewelry with over 25 years of jewelry and teaching experience, Joe’s classes provide a great foundation in the fundamental skills of jewelry, mixed with laughter and creativity. On Saturday, March 11th, Joe will be hosting his Saw, Hammer, & Rivet class — a great introduction class that demonstrates how to use a jeweler’s saw, hammering techniques, riveting, and polishing by hand.

Click here to meet more of our instructors!

We’ve Been Nominated!

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 6.01.19 PMWe’re excited to announce that we’ve been nominated in several categories for the 2016 Work Local Awards, a celebration of the best local employers in the Bay Area. The categories are:

  • Coolest Workspace
  • Best Co-Workers
  • Best Employer: Retail
  • Most Community-Oriented Employer
  • Most Fun Place to Work

The Work Local Awards highlights the boutiques, cafes, nonprofits, startups, and all the local employers that make our local communities thrive. Blue Door Beads is proud to be counted among the local businesses who have been nominated for at least one of the Work Local Awards!

The awards are presented by Localwise—the local job community in the Bay Area—in partnership with other local businesses. Localwise is a mission-driven organization focused on helping local businesses hire great local people.

Thanks to all of our loyal customers, fellow community members, friends, and loved ones who nominated us for these awards! We’d like to invite to to join the fun by submitting your RSVP for the celebration event on April 28th.

Check out some of the lovely things our supporters had to say:

“Blue Door Beads has the best vibe on Piedmont Avenue! I know I will always be greeted back as if I’m their best friend walking through the front door! I know it’s the most fun place to shop for awesome jewelry-making supplies and art!”

“This is one of the few bead stores left in the East Bay and they are super-cool, friendly, and conscious! They do more than retail – they provide a place for artists, for classes, and for all kinds of jewelry and other media artists to showcase their work. Plus, the vibe is fun and exciting!”

“Community-minded, customer-oriented, responsive, caring, creative, upbeat, supportive, innovative, fun and, again, creative. The owner is amazing. Sara really cares about her store and her customers. She goes out of her way to make people feel well-taken-care-of. She’s good with everyone – the kids, the millennials, the over-50’s. The store is well-lighted, clean, brimming with possibilities, and the shared center table for people who want to do their beading in the store is a magnet for shared creativity.”

“Blue Door Beads is a great fit in the Piedmont area of Oakland. Sara is a wonderful owner, boss, and neighborhood advocate. They support local artists and have great social events to encourage customers to use their services and those of the businesses around them.”

Happy Holidays & Bead Merry!

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Sydney & Lydia get into the holiday spirit by wrapping some boxes for decoration!

Fall & Winter are a couple of Blue Door Beads’ favorite seasons. Not only is the weather crisp enough for us to break out our chunky sweaters & scarves, but new customers are coming into the shop, excited to get started making their holiday gifts!

Of course, we’re always happy to help anyone who would like assistance in making jewelry, but we especially enjoy the enthusiasm that newbies bring to the shop. They come in with a mix of emotions — glee, anxiety, excitement — and we explain that it’s all part of starting out on a beading adventure when you’ve never done it before! We show them all of the beginner-friendly projects and kits we have, make sure that they’ve given themselves enough time to get lost in the creative process — and before they know it, they’ve dived deep into the world of beads, and their lives have been changed forever! (We assure them that this isn’t a bad thing. :-))

Very often, people who are new to the shop this time of your are actually not jewelry-makers themselves, but are rather shopping for gifts for the beader(s) in their life. We have lots of goodies for them, too: pre-made chainmail kits, snowflake forms for making holiday decorations (a great stocking-stuffer!) and tool kits for every level of beader, no matter what kind of jewelry they enjoy making.

Check out the holiday gift ideas below, and then swing by the shop soon to get everything you need for a very sparkly holiday season! Bead Merry!

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A close-up of some super cute ornament earrings!

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Tool kits are perfect for anyone wanting to make earrings, necklace, bracelets, and all sorts of bead-related projects!

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