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!

Beads with Purpose

Back in June of 2012, one of our first blog posts ever was titled “Beads with Meaning.” One of the bead companies we highlighted was Kazuri (www.kazuribeadsusa.com), a company that started out as a backyard business (literally!) and soon expanded to become a help center for women in need of steady jobs in Kenya.

Here at Blue Door Beads, we believe that conscious consumerism is one of the most important tools for social change. In the months since we wrote “Beads with Meaning,” we have found several more bead & jewelry businesses whose primary focus is to empower others. We decided to write this week’s post in honor of these worthwhile companies, and we hope that you find their stories as inspiring as we did!

BeadForLife – Eradicating Poverty, One Bead At A Time

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BeadForLife’s mission is to create sustainable opportunities for women to lift their families out of extreme poverty by connecting people worldwide in a circle of exchange that enriches everyone.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 2.56.46 PMWhat started as a chance encounter between three friends and a woman making paper beads in a crowded Uganda slum has turned into an inspiring company. BeadForLife promotes education, supports fair trade, and encourages folks from all walks of life to host bead parties to support the artisans.

Read more about ways you can donate, volunteer, or just find out more about BeadForLife by visiting their website!

Raven + Lily – Empowering Women Through Design

spring-blog-post-2Founded by Kirsten Dickerson and Sophia Lin who share a close friendship and passion for fashion and ethical design, Raven + Lily was created as a platform to utilize those passions to alleviate poverty among women.

Each piece of Raven + Lily jewelry has a unique story, like the Telau Gold Braid Long Necklace (pictured above). Each necklace is handmade by HIV+ women who live near Entoto Mountain in Ethiopia and comprised of recycled silver, copper, and brass beads created from melted down bullet casings. Their Ethiopia collection transforms what was once meant for harm into something beautiful!

Read more about Raven + Lily on their website!

Same Sky – Employing to Empower

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.04.32 PMIn addition to providing employment to underserved women here in the U.S., Same Sky also provides women in war-torn Rwanda the chance to rebuild their lives. Even though Rwanda’s horrific genocide happened 20 years ago, many women still live with the after effects. Same Sky’s mission is to help them (as well as others in need worldwide) reconnect to their creativity, build skills through artistry, restore confidence, and reopen doors that once seemed closed.

Inspiring factoids:
– One Sky Bracelet buys an artisan a year of healthcare
– One Prosperity Bracelet provides a month of clean water for an artisan
– One Hope Necklace buys a year of education for an artisan’s child
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Find out more about the Same Sky story by clicking here!

P.S. Unicorne Beads from Placentia, CA, is the bead company that supplies Same Sky with the distinctive teardrop-shaped beads used in many of their designs, like the Sky Bracelet pictured at right. We carry Unicorne teardrop beads here at Blue Door Beads!

Do you know of an inspiring bead or jewelry company that we should feature in an upcoming blog post? Please email us at info@bluedoorbeads.com.

Photos courtesy of BeadForLife, Raven + Lily, and Same Sky. A special thank you to Briana for discovering these companies and recommending we include them in our blog. 🙂