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!

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All That Sparkles: Photos from our 3rd Annual Jewelry Collective!

We are proud to say that this year’s Jewelry Collective was our most successful to date! 16 local artists displayed their work here at Blue Door Beads through December 22nd, and it all started with a wonderful Opening Night on Thursday, December 17th! Below is a collection of photos we took that night, and you can see more close-up examples of each artist’s work by visiting our More Fun Stuff page. Enjoy!

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Katie setting up her jewelry display. We want that wooden swivel box!

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Katie’s completed display, streamlined and lovely — gift boxes included!

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Janet and Cheryl (Bellacarisma) having fun setting up their jewelry!

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We liked the subtle elegance of Cheryl’s display — very clean lines, and easy to see her pieces.

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Janet had lots of cute textured “trees,” and she featured her work at different heights for variety.

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Chau (Beaded Girl) and Dawn (Dawn Boyer Jewelry) were getting in the holiday spirit! 🙂

Chau kept her display simple so people could happily pick up and try on her jewelry with ease!

Dawn’s “earring trees” were super cute, and she enticed customers with candy — yum!

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Jewelry by Tanya Moss of Laurels & Moss — a perfect example of letting jewelry speak for itself. Her dainty gold-filled pieces stood out against both her clean white and dramatic black jewelry busts.

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Sara giving Kelly some encouragement during her set-up.

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Jewelry by Kelly Rathmann of Subtle Spark Jewelry. Kelly’s display was low-fuss, with subtle texture and a range of shapes to keep it intriguing.

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Jewelry by Stacy Presson of Joyful Jewelry. Stacy’s display was another great example of featuring jewelry at different levels to add visual interest.

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Karen Deford posing with her jewelry (D4D Creations).

Karen’s colorful jewelry showed up nicely against her dark blue, subtley-patterned backdrop.

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Revola of Revola J setting up her vibrant display!

Revola’s big, bold jewelry called for an equally bold display with lots of shimmer and shine!

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Danya of Jolie Bijoux. Danya’s delicate pieces looked terrific on her rustic, vintage-style box!

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Courtney of Feisty Kitty Jewelry

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Courtney’s whimsical, seasonal display. We loved the snowflakes & candy canes!

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Phred Swain-Sugarman of ph.RED. Phred used a creative mix of romantic pieces (perfume tray, ornate frame) and pops of color to show off her upcycled pieces.

Phred, Courtney, and Danya with their lovely jewelry!

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Sydney having fun serving champagne to all of the guests!

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We had a full house all night long!

Our fabulous artists! Left of overhead light (L-R): Margaret, Cheryl, Katie, Stacy, and Revola. Under light (back to front): Janet, Danya, Chau, Courtney, and Dawn. Right of light (L-R): Karen, Phred, Tanya, Kelly, and Vida.

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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WTF? or The ROI of Open Studio Time

Iris’ classes are consitently our most popular — and for good reason! Iris makes all jewelry-making techniques very approachable, and students who take one of her classes instantly become fans of her workshops. So, it is no surprise that Iris was one of the first of our instructors to jump on the Create Space bandwagon. We’re so glad she did! Thank you, Iris, for your time, patience, and kind words about our Create Space hot & cold studios. See you soon!

Sandkuhler's Blog

Forging into new territory? Read the story of how one student benefitted by registering for Open Studio time at Create Space, Blue Door Beads, Oakland California.

Today we started an experiment. I work as an independent contractor at a really cool bead-store-cum-art-space in Oakland, California which is located in the East Bay of San Francisco. As an independent contractor, I pack up all the tools, materials, equipment and handouts for a particular workshop, drive down from the North Bay, arrive at Blue Door Beads, teach my metals workshops (www.sandkuhler.com), go home, unpack, reorder, restock and get paid for it.

The problem is, many of my metal-smithing students need time to acquire their tools and practice their skills. We’ve had many requests about offering a supervised open studio space at the shop, where they can practice until they are comfortable enough to work alone. I live too far away (bridges, traffic…

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