Gift the Gift of Jewelry Making this Holiday Season!

With the holidays right around the corner, you may be racking your brain for the perfect gift for a dear friend or family member. Holiday shopping can be stressful and some individuals can be difficult to buy for.  Have you considered giving someone (or even yourself!) the gift of a craft, providing them with basic materials to create something beautiful?  Beading and jewelry making is an enjoyable hobby for all ages and it can be the perfect gift for someone in your life who enjoys being creative.  Potomac Bead has everything you need to give the gift of jewelry making to someone and I’d like to share those with you! Whether it’s basic stringing, wireworking, or beadweaving, the Potomac Bead Company has everything you need- tools, supplies, tutorials, and patterns – to give someone the gift of jewelry making this holiday season.

BASIC STRUNG JEWELRY GIFTS

Perhaps the simplest form of jewelry making, basic jewelry stringing materials are the perfect gift for individuals of all ages.  Stringing projects are usually quick, uncomplicated, and you don’t need more than a handful of supplies to create beautiful jewelry.  Stringing includes single strand jewelry, but also multi strand projects, and pearl-knotting as well. The Potomac Bead Company actually sells pre-assembled kits for stringing, containing everything you need, making your shopping for supplies much easier!  The kit does only contain 4 strands of beads, but you can always purchase additional beads like gemstones, freshwater pearls, Czech fire-polished beads, and more to add to your gift..

STRINGING SUPPLIES

2241-2THere is a list of everything you need for basic stringing.  Like I said, you can purchase them in a convenient kit, or separately if you want other options.

Be sure to check out this video below on how to use these basic tools for stringing jewelry.


BEADWEAVING GIFTS

You may think that beadweaving is too ambitious, and not an easy craft to adopt.  The truth is, every seasoned beadweaver started out as a beginner. You can give the gift of beadweaving to a seasoned and highly experienced beader, but you can also gift it to someone with no experience at all!  The Potomac Bead company carries a number of kits for various levels of ability, including a basic starter kit for those with zero experience.

BASIC BEADWEAVING STARTER SUPPLY KIT

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Essential Starter Beadweaving Kit

For your convenience, Potomac Bead sells an Essential Starter Beadweaving Kit for beginners that includes all of the basic beadweaving supplies and materials you need, along with three printed beadweaving patterns.  It really is the perfect gift for yourself or someone else who is looking to dabble in a new craft.  You can choose to purchase the starter kit, or pick and choose exactly what you want using the supply list below!

BEADWEAVING PROJECT KITS

Potomac Bead carries a number of pre-assembled project kits that include everything you need for a specific design including a pattern and all beads and findings.  This is a great grab-and-go gift option since the pattern and color selection are already done for you. You can find the projects below and so many more at potomacbeads.com.  Click here to check them out!

POTOMAC BEAD SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

Have you heard about Potomac Bead’s Subscription Boxes?  The subscription boxes are the next best thing and a great gift for yourself or someone you know!  Subscription boxes are sent out monthly and are available in two sizes. Depending on the size, the boxes come with one or two patterns and all the beads and findings you would need to complete those projects, plus more!  You can purchase a 1-month subscription, 3-month, 6-month, or if you’re feeling super generous, a full year of beadweaving projects delivered to your door each month. Click here for more details on Subscription Boxes and check out the video below.


WIREWORKING JEWELRY GIFTS

Last but certainly not least are the wireworking projects you can gift to yourself or someone else.  There are endless things you can do with wire, but I’m going to point out some basics that would make great gifts.

Before getting started with any wire jewelry project, you want to make sure you have a good set of tools incuding needlenose pliers, flat or chain nose pliers, and cutters.  These are essential for wireworking and you can buy all three here!

CABOCHON OR STONE WRAPPING

Cabochon or stone wrapping is a great starter project for jewelry making with wire.  Potomac bead has a number of Youtube videos on how to wrap cabchons, sea glass, donut stones, and more.  Each video gives detailed instructions on how to create these beautiful pieces of jewelry and provides with you a list of all materials you need.  Perhaps you have a stone or a shell you found and you’ve been holding on to – why not turn it into a piece of jewelry?

CHRISTMAS EARRING KITS

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Potomac Bead has a number of beautiful and adorable Christmas and Holiday earring kits that contain everything needed to create them (except for the pliers!).  They are a thoughtful and inexpensive kits that are perfect for the upcoming holiday season.  Here is a list of all the adorable earring kits.  Grab yours before they’re gone!


UTILIZE YOUTUBE TUTORIAL VIDEOS!

If you’re picking up a new craft or gifting it to someone, be sure to remember to use Potomac Bead’s Youtube channel to find tutorials on how to do pretty much EVERYTHING!  If you’re stuck on how to do a specific stitch, or need a reminder on how to coil eye-pins for earrings, be sure to utilize all that Potomac Bead’s channel has to offer.


I hope you  have an amazing holiday season and enjoy gifting to others!  If you’re stuck on what to get someone, try giving them the gift of jewelry making!

 

 

 

 

 

YOUTUBE TUTORIALS

Potomac Bead’s Best Bead Storage and Handling Tips!

A question we get quite often at The Potomac Bead Company and in our Facebook Beading and Jewelry Making Group is – What is the best way to store beads and jewelry making supplies?  You’ve probably asked yourself this very question as you’ve rummaged through a box of bead supplies looking for that small bag of crimp beads.

As you do more and more beading work, you can expect to accumulate supplies quickly you’ll soon be looking for bead storage solutions to keep you organized.  It’s important to find a solution that allows you to find the beads and beading tools you’re looking for quickly, but also so that you can easily take inventory of the products you do have and don’t make unnecessary re-purchases of things you can’t find.

I’d like to share with you some recommended tips and bead storage ideas from The Potomac Bead Company and what has worked best for us!


TIP 1: PLASTIC TUBES ARE THE BEST – AND OUR FAVORITE!

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You may have noticed that the Potomac Bead Company sells a large majority of beads, both seed beads and many others, in clear plastic bead storage tubes.  This is because WE LOVE TUBES and they are a great seed bead storage solution for a number of reasons.

  • They Are Clear – Using clear storage is a big advantage because you can see exactly what bead and what color bead is inside.  Although things like old film canisters or pill bottles are great storage options, you can’t see what is inside without popping the lid off and that can be cumbersome when it has to be done repeatedly.
  • The Lid Is Secure – Unlike plastic bags that can tear and are sometimes difficult to close, the tubes we use at Potomac Bead have secure, well-fitting lids that keep your beads safe and reduce the risk of accidental spillage. For extra security, you can store your tubes in plastic bags just in case a tube breaks.
  • Storage Hook for Hanging – If you’re workspace allows for hanging storage, the hook on the lid makes this a great option.  This keeps the beads up and off your workspace with easy visibility.
  • Easily Repurposed – Probably the best thing about tubes is that they are SO easy to repurpose!  Don’t throw tubes away! They make great storage solutions for beading needles or for beads that are sold in strands.
  • Informational Label – Labeling is a key factor when it comes to storage of beads.  At Potomac Bead our tube labels provide all necessary information; bead names, bead type, price, color, item number, weight, and more!

TIP 2: USE CLEAR CONTAINERS WITH SECURE COMPARTMENTS

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When plastic tubes aren’t large enough, or don’t make sense, stick to CLEAR containers with secure lids and separate compartments when the beads you are storing are tiny.  In some cases, plastic bags ARE a good option, for things like cabochons, cup buttons, and other large products, but when it comes to small beads or findings, stick to something more secure.  At Potomac Bead we love the Bead Smith Storage Circle and the Bead Smith Storage Stack Jars as storage options for beads and accessories.  These will keep your beads and accessories separate and give you easy visibility and access to them. We especially prefer this solutions for metals and findings and we recommend keeping metals of one kind together.  Therefore we suggest using a separate container for all your sterling, gold plated, pewter, and so on and labeling it as such  This will ensure your metals stay separate and you will only need to access one container when working with a specific metal type.  


TIP 3: USE PLASTIC TRAYS OR BEAD CUPS WHILE WORKING ON A PROJECT

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While working on a project, it’s important to stay organized.  While we don’t recommend this for storing beads, we do recommend using plastic trays or cups to hold beads while you’re in the middle of a project.  This will prevent your beads from sliding around and mixing up on your bead mat, especially if you’re working with a large number of different beads.  When you’re ready for a specific bead, you can grab your cup or tray and dump what you need onto your bead mat!


TIP 4:  LAYERED BEAD MATS FOR NO-SLIP PROJECT STORAGE

If you’re on the go a lot and prefer to take your beading projects with you so that you can continue working, you may have wrestled with different ideas on how to transport them.  After trying many things out, we’ve discovered a pretty inexpensive solution that works well! Simply take a bead mat, cut it in half, place it on a plastic tray or in a plastic shoe box and place your project on top. You can then layer the other half of the bead mat on top to help prevent the project from moving around.  From there you can even continue layering more projects on top, each project sitting on it’s own bead mat. When you’re ready to work on your project, you simply lift out the mats and grab the project you need!


TIP 5: A BEAD SCOOP EEZ IS YOUR NEXT BEST FRIEND

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If you don’t have a bead scoop, you should get one!  Although this basic metal tool may seem pointless, I assure you it is not and it makes bead project clean-up a breeze.  After you’re finished up with a project, the bead scoop is great for separating out beads that may have been mixed together, gathering them up to put back in storage tubes or bags, and even getting them out of the edge cracks of Bead On It Boards.  A Scoop Eez makes bead clean-up quick and easy and is worth every cent!


TIP 6: PLASTIC SHOE BOXES WITH LABELS

Our last and final recommendation for storing beads is all about how to organize and categorize them, and what we use to accomplish that!  When storing the actual tubes of beads, we prefer to use CLEAR, plastic shoe boxes that stack together with bold, visible labels on the end.  Again the clear plastic allows for good visibility and the labels eliminate the headache of rummaging through boxes to figure out what’s inside. We recommend organizing beads by brand, and then by size in the plastic boxes.  After all, it’s how we do it at the Potomac Bead Warehouse! So for instance Miyuki 11/0 seed beads would be stored in one plastic bin, Miyuki 15/0s in another, 4mm Potomac Crystal rounds in one, RoundDuos in one, and so on.  It’s not important to separate and organize beads by colors, but it is by brand and size. You don’t want to mix Miyuki 11/0s in with Toho 11/0s because although they are technically the same “size”, they do have their differences.  In the same way, you do not want to organize purple 11/0s with purple 15/0s, purple crystals, purple delicas, and more. You will spend a lot of time digging through your box of purple beads looking for the 15/0 size you need. Keep beads together that can be interchangeable and when you’re selecting beads for a new project, you’ll have all the sizes and types organized ahead of time for easy selection.


I hope these 6 tips are helpful to you when storing, organizing, and handling your beads.  If you have a solution that you love, please SHARE YOUR IDEAS with us! We are always looking for new and better ways to do things and love input from fellow beaders!

Happy Beading!

-Lindsay

Five Common Beadweaving Mistakes

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Designing and creating beautiful beaded jewerly is a great source of fun and relaxation for many and its a great way to express one’s creativity. While beadweaving is enjoyable MOST of the time, it can also be the source of some serious frustration! I want to highlight for you the five most common mistakes in beading that designers face and solutions for you to avoid them.


1.) Too Much Thread

Some beading designs require a LOT of thread, especially more advanced projects. Many attempt to start off a project with more than enough beading thread to complete their project, thinking this will save them time in adding new thread. While this sounds ideal, it is not, and can give you quite the headache during the beading process! There are a number of things that can go wrong with this scenario. Extra long sections of thread are more prone to knotting and tangling and you’ll spend ample time undoing knots. In addition, when you use a lot of thread, you will spend a LOT of time pulling the thread through each bead before you can sticth the next bead. Thread that is constantly subjected to being pulled, untangled and unknotted will lose its integrity, weaken, and wear out faster.

How much thread should I use?

The main solution for using too much thread is to use less! Using shorter lengths of thread will be less likely tangle and knot, require less time pulling, and will help avoid wearing out your thread. The idea of adding more thread during a project may seem like an unwanted interruption and a waste of time, but its actually simple and the best solution for all the problems associated with using too much beading thread to begin with. Adding more thread throughout your project is simple and effective. Check out this video for simple instructions to accomplish this and avoid one of the most common mistakes in beadweaving!


2.) Splitting The Thread

Another common error in bead weaving is accidentally splitting your thread. This split-scaled-2560-e1572630487262-scaled-2560.jpghappens when your beading needle passes through the fibers that make up your thread. Many threads are available – Hana 100% Nylon Beading Thread, Wildfire, Fireline, and so on. All of these threads are comprised of tiny fibers that are woven together to create the actual thread. When a needle passes through those fibers, separating and splitting your thread, it can lead to some unwanted problems! Splitting thread weakens the overall strength and integrity of the beading thread, and therefore weakening the project. In addition, split threads can also cause the beads to lay incorrectly and not flush with the rest of the project. And lastly, sewing through thread can make it difficult to go back and undo bead stitches to correct any issues you find in a row of beads.

How do you avoid splitting beading thread?

Thread splitting happens most often when a beader is trying to correct a beading error and attempts to stitch backwards through a project. Whatever you do, DON’T STITCH BACKWARDS! The correct way to fix an error in a beading project is to first, REMOVE THE NEEDLE and then pull out the thread to remove the beading. Stitching backward almost always end with you sewing through your thread. In addition, when making multiple passes through a bead, try to keep your needle flush to the inside edge of your bead to avoid going through previous stitches. If you do split your thread, tie on a new piece and continue on.


unnamed3.) Incorrect Thread Tension

Thread tension plays a big role in the end result of your beaded project. How tight you are pulling the beading thread will directly affect how your project will lay and drape. Incorrect tension, whether it is too tight or too lose, can leave you with a finished project that doesn’t meet your expectations. Too tight thread tension will cause your project to buckle and curl and not lay as desired whereas loose thread tension will bring about gaps and inconsistencies in your work. You will also see more thread between beads and rows of beads.

How do you make sure thread tension is correct?

Achieving correct thread tension requires lots of practice. To help avoid incorrect thread tension, as you’re creating your project be sure to stop throughout and observe how the bead stitches are appearing and how the beads are laying. After each stitch, be sure to pull and tighten the project before moving on to the next stitch. Don’t wait until the end to do this. If you tie off a project with too tight tension, unfortunately there is no way to correct this. With loose tension projects you may be able to go back and fix issues by pulling, or by reinforcing with more thread, however this is not ideal and its best to check your project as you go.  Lastly, make sure you are using the correct type of thread for your project.  If you need help deciding what to use, check out this youtube video for help!


4.) Attempting Projects that are Too Advanced

You’ve probably heard the phrase “don’t bite off more than you can chew.” This is great advice, even in beading, and your level of expertise should be taken to consideration when beginning a new beading project. You may have the necessary tools and beads for a particular project, perhaps even a pattern with instructions, but that does not mean you are ready for it. There is a good chance you’ll run into a handful of issues if you try to tackle a project thats too ambitious. Advanced stitches and maneuvers are difficult and will likely leave you frustrated and disappointed. You may spend a few hours tackling a difficult project a notice you missed key steps along the way, and then need to undo your project or start over.

How can you become proficient enough for advanced projects?

Practice makes perfect. You will not be able to master advanced beading projects without first mastering basic beading skills and stitches. It is important to be patient with yourself, take up easier projects first, and learn from them as you move on to more complex ones. Stick to your lane – most tutorials will indicate the skill level required and be sure to reference that when choosing your next project. Potomac Bead has a plethora of tutorials on Youtube to teach you everything you need to know.


5.) Not Trying New Beading Techniques or Products

There are so many beading techniques, stitches, and products available to try, leading toWildflower Reversible Flower pendant with materials-1 endless possiblilities in creativity and beading design. Trying new stitches may be intimidating and overwhelming, preventing you from trying to tackle them. However, not attempting something new will only hinder your growth as a beader and surpress your creativity. As I mentioned above, it is not in your best interest to jump ahead to advanced projects before you’re ready, but it is important to try out new tecniques as you’re ready for them. Try to avoid falling into the negative mindset of not trying something new because it appears impossible.

How should you tackle new tecniques?

Start with the basics! There are many beading stitches and you do not have to learn all of them at once. Start with basic stitches like ladder, peyote, and brick and take time to master them. Find out what you like by trying different methods to see what works for you.


Practice makes perfect, the more you get your hands on more beading projects the more familiar you will get, learn the mistakes and how to avoid them. It takes time to perfect an art, beading included.