Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Specials friendships at 1 Stop Bead Shop

One of my favorite stories is from a special 1 Stop Bead Shop friend – Marilyn – a resident of Springfield, who found us one Saturday morning and stayed to bead for 5 hours on her first visit. She came EVERY Saturday for several months and called 1 Stop Bead Shop her “Special Place.” 5 years later, Marilyn still stops in every couple of months and spends a few hours at our tables making jewelry and chatting. We helped her pick out the perfect beads for her daughter’s wedding jewelry and for the mother & grandmother bracelets when the 1st grandchild was born (we even got to hold the baby!). For her next big life milestone, Marilyn is about to celebrate her 60th birthday with us this spring! Thanks Marilyn for making us part of your life!
Mom & baby - wearing the necklace she made the day we got to hold the baby!

Another of my favorite “bead friends” stories has repeated itself over and over again. A couple of people see each other in class – they’ve never met before. Maybe they strike up a conversation, or maybe not. But, next week, they see each other again. Over time, conversations are struck up, and the next thing you know there is ride sharing, signing up for classes together and dinners out. The quintessential example is a group of three ladies who love to hang out at 1 Stop Bead Shop, love to hang out together and even bring their husbands with them, so that we’ve gotten to know them too. It was spooky one Saturday when they ALL ended up here at the same time, and none of them had told the other they were coming. The best people really DO hang out in the best places!

When I opened the store, as most of you have heard me say, I envisioned the “Cheers of Beading.” Once I began to see these friendships forming, I knew that we had achieved even more than I had ever dreamed – a place where people can belong & make friendships, which can be hard to find in our hectic, busy world.

I’m sure there are countless stories I could share, but I’d rather hear them from you. Will you please share your special 1 Stop Bead Friend story?

I have opened up our settings so you can share your story right on our Blog, or you can share on our 1 Stop Bead Shop Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This Week's Blog dedicated to Tierra Cast

I got this email from Tierra Cast today and thought it was worth sharing. During the entire time we have been in business, we have been extoling the quality of the Tierra Cast Lead Free Pewter. See what their research showed about the metal finding industry as a whole.

Principles of TierraCast
Lead Free Pewter

You see us promote these
phrases all the time:
Lead Free
Made in the USA
Original Designs
Quality in the Making
— but why do we stand by
them, and how do they guide
decisions at TierraCast?

Why it Matters to Us

These days virtually all pewter products are advertised as "Lead Free Pewter". This is not surprising since public awareness has grown in response to concerns about toxic content in pewter, and recalls of cast jewelry from overseas manufacturers.

However, advertising claims don't always hold up. We recently commissioned an independent lab test of sample products advertised as Lead Free Pewter, and discovered that only 35% actually turned out to be pewter (many were zinc or steel). And of the samples that were pewter, none were lead free. Results like these make it clear that consumers need to be cautious and informed when making purchases.

Results of our tests
of other "lead free
pewter" products.
Click here.

TierraCast has been requiring our metal suppliers provide us with safe
pewter alloy long before it was mandated by law. Not because we
hope it will help us sell more parts; but because our values dictate it. We
don't want to sell a product that could be potentially harmful, especially
when safer alternatives exist. To view chart showing test results of TierraCast's pewter alloy, click here.

Whether you'll find this true throughout the marketplace isn't quite as clear, so it's crucial that you know what is and is not "lead free pewter." We'll help by clarifying the definitions below.

What is Pewter?
In order to be
presented as pewter,
a product must
contain at least 90%

What is Lead Free?
The industry
standard is no more
than 500 parts per
million (ppm) lead
by weight.

We're committed to providing quality products that are safe to use. So when you see Lead Free Pewter on our products and advertising, you can rest assured we mean it. We tested it; and we can prove the claim.

1 Stop Bead Shop is proud to be Ohio's largest retailer of Tierra Cast beads & findings. We have a long track record of using Tierra Cast findings in our jewelry which even pre-dates the store. Visit or stop in the store to check out our entire selection. Can't find the Tierra Cast product you are looking for? Just ask! We can order any product they make for you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Fanciful Fire Polish Bead

My love affair with beads began with Seed Beads & Fire Polish beads. In fact, you could say that those 2 beads are the main reason 1 Stop Bead Shop exists today. I couldn’t find enough of them, and I wanted a broader and more consistent selection of colors & sizes. I always valued the Fire Polish bead because it was easy to use as an accent bead with seed beads, didn’t cut my thread the way crystals could, was less scratchy than a Swarovski bicone bead, and was so much less expensive than Swarovski beads. When I traveled to the Czech Republic on a bead trip, I was able to witness how they were made, and was astonished that they are as inexpensive as they are.

Fire Polish beads are one of several types of glass beads that have been produced in the Czech Republic (formerly Bohemia) for centuries. Sources vary on the century in which these beads emerged, but the majority seem to agree that it was between the 12th & 16th centuries that the Venetians and Bohemians were competing fiercely with each other in the glass bead market. Toward the end of that period, competition finally eased when the Venetians stayed with their signature Lamp Work styled hand-made beads, while the Czech preferred to utilize emerging technologies to mass produce their glass beads.

The interesting thing about that technology is that 500 years later it remains relatively unchanged. When we think of mass production technology in the US, we tend to think in terms of long automated machine lines run primarily by computers with some human oversight at certain key points in the process. The bead making machines in the Czech Republic still require a laborer to process every step and are in essence more like giant tools for grinding several beads at a time rather than machines that operate on their own.

There are several steps in making a fire polished bead:
1. First the glass is melted from a huge cane of glass, much like our lamp work canes but several inches thick and about a meter tall. Most of this cane is still made in Germany & shipped to the Czech Republic.
2. Then the molten glass is poured into a mold that will hold several beads – quantity varies based on the size of the bead and the choice of the manufacturer.
3. That mold is fired in a kiln to allow it to fully melt into a round shape w/ the glass consistently distributed throughout the mold.
4. When it comes out of the kiln, it will sit in the tray to cool, then cool further in a bucket of water.
5. Next each bead is picked up and hand-placed on a form that will hold from approx. a dozen to 20 beads. The form looks like a board w/ a bunch of pegs sticking up from it.
6. This form is then pushed up by the machine operator to come into contact w/the grinding wheel. That produces 1 faceted side. The machine is then rotated by the operator and the beads pushed forward again to produce another facet. This continues through the entire sequence until all sides are faceted. The beads are then dumped off into a vat.
7. The faceted beads are once again run through the fire, this time to polish them. By heating them again just enough to melt the edges, it eliminates roughness from the cutting, keeps the edges of the beads from cutting your thread, and gives them that shiny sparkle that makes them “fire polished.”
8. They are cooled 1 more time and now ready for shipment to the US, Japan and other parts of the world where they are prized.

After all those steps, you can see why I am amazed that these tiny treasures remain an affordable alternative to their closest sister – the crystal. (More on what makes crystal crystal and not glass in a future article.)

Today, 1 Stop Bead Shop remains the largest reseller of Czech Glass Fire Polish Beads in central Ohio, currently carrying over 200 colors in 3 primary sizes – 3mm, 4mm & 6mm. As with all beads made in the Czech Republic, I always remind my shoppers that “The Czech make what the Czech wanna’ make, when the Czech wanna’ make it.” In a nutshell, that means, if you find a special color that you love, buy enough, because you never know when or if you will see it again. (More on why that is in some future article too.)

Recently, our primary supplier announced the 3rd price increase in Czech Fire Polish beads since we opened 6 years ago. 1 Stop Bead Shop’s Fire Polish beads have remained at their original price of just $2 a strand for 3mm & 4mm during all 6 years. With our vendor’s most recent price increase, we have finally been forced to give in to the tide of inflation, and raise our price to cover their increase. For 1 last week, through October 22, 2011, 3mm & 4mm Czech Fire Polish beads will be available for the low price of just $2 for a strand of 50. Stock up this week, and enjoy them for years to come!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Make & Takes – Fast & Fun Jewelry in a Flash

Who knew Make & Takes could be so much fun?! 1 Stop Bead Shop has always welcomed you to “Come Sit & Bead with Us!” It’s our motto – it’s even on the door. So, we’ve always had tables in the store where any day of the week you could just stop by, and set up camp and make beaded jewelry to your heart’s content. We have also encouraged all visitors to the store to let us show them, on the spot, how to do the beading basics – earrings, crimps, etc. – free of charge.

But our newest use for the tables – Make & Takes at 1 Stop Bead Shop – has been a huge hit! The idea came from a piece of jewelry that people were asking us to show them how to make. It wasn’t long enough to make a full 2-3 hour bead class, but wasn’t really something that could be demonstrated in just a couple of minutes either, so we decided to offer it as a quick Make & Take on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone loved it and asked for more.

Now we see our store jewelry samples in a whole new light. We love to teach classes at 1 Stop Bead Shop, so Make & Takes are a natural extension of what we do.

Since the beginning or our beading Make & Takes this spring, we have offered an earring bar - where you could make any of a dozen earrings by just pulling up to a chair - a resin pendant, a shamrock French Beaded pendant (for the Dublin Irish Festival), and a knotted bead & leather bracelet last Saturday – which was the biggest hit yet with a total of 23 participants - to name a few. Lex McAllister, one of 1 Stop Bead Shop’s partners with No Excuses Radio, stopped by to make a bracelet and video taped her variation of the bracelet which is now posted on YouTube. Check it out on the 1 Stop Bead Shop Facebook Page!

Wanna’ come play with us and do a 1 Stop Make & Take too? Your next opportunity is THIS Saturday, October 8th at 11:00am, 12:00 & 1:00pm. Come make an adorable beaded spider. (Can those 2 words be in the same sentence together? Sounds like an oxymoron to me!) Better yet, make 3 beaded spiders - two for earrings, and one for a pendant. One customer even told me she’s going to mount hers on a Peyote beaded bracelet base. Who knows, maybe she’ll even figure out how to make a little fly for the spider to eat!

Any way it goes, getting together with a bunch of other beaders and learning a new project gets the creative juices flowing as everyone shares their unique ideas. See you Saturday! (No reservations required.)