An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Monday, November 16, 2009

Selling beyond Etsy (1) - 40 creative options for selling beadwork, can we make it 50?

I was at my local Gem and Mineral Show at the weekend. It’s a relatively small affair run by the local Geelong Gem and Mineral Club ( each year. I found some lovely cabochons made by club members for sale at very reasonable prices. I was also surprised and delighted to find several folks selling beadwork. I thought – why didn’t I think of that? I don’t think a table at the show would have been very expensive and there were lots of people buying beads and beadwork. Prompted by this and by the recent conversations by the Etsy Beadweavers Team (EBW) (see links to their work below) about the challenges of generating online sales I’ve been reflecting on other creative options for generating beadwork sales. Below is a list I’ve generated from several online sites that talk finding outlets to sell craftwork. At first site, some suggestions might seem odd (e.g. dog shows) or unrealistic (chain stores) but on reflection they might not be. For instance, I’ve seen some delightful earrings with images of dogs on them made by the EBW team - here's a Beagle earring by Fantasy Beader of EBW
( and there's more than one article around on how to make beaded dog collars.

So, just like the creative beading challenges run by EBW and other bead groups I can see lots of creative challenges in thinking about what stock to take to a bird show or boat show. Here's some sweet boat earrings that show the possibilities. They are by Carosell Creations from EBW.

Love to hear how you might respond creatively to these suggestions, your experiences of the pros and cons of different venues or any other suggestions you have about creative venues to sell beadwork. I’d love to get the list to 50 with your help.

40 creative venue options for selling beadwork
1. Airport and hotel gift shops attract travelers in transit.
2. Antique shows
3. Apparel shows
4. Arts and crafts co-ops
5. Arts and crafts galleries
6. Baby / children’s expos
7. Bath / kitchen shows
8. Beauty shops sometime display jewelry items or let their customers know they have them for sale.
9. Bird shows
10. Boats / yachts shows
11. Bridal / wedding shows
12. Campgrounds at national parks and tourist areas often sell craft gifts from local artisans.
13. Cat shows
14. Chain stores
15. Dog shows
16. Ethnic events / festivals
17. Farmers’ markets
18. Fashion shows held locally
19. Festivals and bazaars
20. Fishing / hunting expos
21. Flea markets and swap meets
22. Gems /jewelry / lapidary shows
23. Gift and souvenir shops
24. Gift shows
25. Gift stores can also be found at marinas in coastal areas.
26. Gourmet stores stock food and gift baskets.
27. Heritage events / demonstrations
28. Home / garden shows
29. Home decor shows
30. Horse shows
31. Horticulture expos
32. Interior design shows
33. Landscaping shows
34. Mail-order outlets
35. Museum and hospital gift shops as well.
36. Museum gift shops
37. Open houses and craft parties
38. Sidewalk arts and crafts exhibits
39. Specialty shops
40. Wine festivals


Etsy Beadweavers Team

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beading inspirations and challenges – Smoky Agate and Moonwalk memories – Bead Society of Victoria (BSV) 2009 Bead Challenge

Each year the BSV holds a Bead Challenge associated with their annual Bead Expo. All entrants purchase a bead pack and they must use all beads in the pack in their design. This year the pack contained agate, pearls and Czech glass with just a hint of apricot. Their soft glow reminded me of moonlight. I don’t usually work with such understated colours so I knew a challenge was ahead. Mind you I had known just I just what a challenge those moonglow beads would bring I am not sure I would have started the project. Yet, I am delighted I did. I was thrilled to learn last night that my my entry to the 2009 BSV Bead Challenge Moonwalk Memories (pictured here) won first prize and came second in the Public Vote for the challenge.

I began designing my BSV challenge entry the week that Michael Jackson died. My partner was a great Jackson fan so the event was very present in our house that week and much of its early design was done to the sounds and sights of Michael Jackson. I quickly decided to use the two beautiful pieces of smoky agate that are it’s centre with the challenge beads and I rifled through my bead stash to find other beads I thought might help the design process. But, then the challenge began in earnest. I had several failed attempts at integrating the challenge beads with the smoky agate and I found myself undoing and redoing work on the piece throughout that week and the weeks that followed. In frustration I put the piece away and considered just giving up. I moved onto other less challenging projects but what became Moonwalk Memories niggled at me. It wasn’t until the last few days before the entries were due I finally found a way forward and I charged ahead with the remaining beading. Of course my way forward involved discarding some of my previous beading efforts. I was finally pleased with the design. Proudly showing my partner the finished entry the night before I was due to send it off I realised to my horror that I had left out a large Czech glass bead I was required to include. Moonwalk Memories was challenging me yet again. Miraculously, inspiration came and I made changes that actually improved the design and included the Czech glass bead. I was finally ready to post my entry to the challenge but there was one more challenge left – what to name a design that had challenged me since it’s birth. My partner suggested Moonwalk Memories. I liked it. The beautiful smoky agate at it’s heart reminded me of the dark side of the moon, those challenging soft apricot beads reminded me of moonlight and 2009 was the 40th anniversary of the first time humanity walked on the moon. Whilst my challenges were not quite in the order of those that got humanity to the moon this seemed a fitting title. It also seemed a fitting way for me to remember the life of Michael Jackson – after all his moonwalk and his music had surrounded the birth of my design in the week of his death.

If you pop by the BSV website you’ll see the 2009 Challenge Beads but more importantly the fabulous designs by past winners - The site is a great place for some beading inspiration.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Size 11/0 seed beads aught to be same, but they're not

Thanks to an EBW team member I've discovered that despite aughts providing a uniform way of measuring seed beads there is much more to size 11/0 than meets the eye. It depends on who you buy your 11/0 beads from what size they are. Here's what I've found from my web search. They can vary from 1.6 mm (Delica 11/0) to 2.2 mm (Toho 11/0). So, whilst an aught aught to tell us how big our beads are clearly seed bead manufacturers have their own view. For those of us who who are beaders this might just explain why working with seed beads brings challenges to create even weaves. So, now we need to match more than colours to ensure our beads match - we need to know who made them!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aughts and naughts and some handy facts about seed bead sizing

Seed bead sizing has always puzzled me. To me it’s counter intuitive to have an inverted system of numbering – the larger the number the smaller the bead. Logically a size 20 bead sounds larger than a size 5 bead – but of course, when it comes to seed beads it’s not. The tiniest seed bead is size 25 (25/0) and the largest size 5 (5/0). How did that come to be? I heard recently that the size number refers to number of beads that will fit side by side in an inch. That made sense and I thought, that's good a way to picture what size beads I need. However, as with many things in life it’s not that simple. It’s all to do with ‘aughts’.

What is an aught you might well ask? An aught is a unit of measurement for measuring seed bead sizes. It is denoted by the symbol a backslash with a zero (/0). Hence,
when you see a seed bead referred to as size 11/0 it means the bead is eleven aughts in size. The symbol makes some sense if you know that the word aught derived from the old English word naught which means zero. However, visualising the size of an ‘aught’ is somewhat harder and makes very little sense. An aught is a very old-fashioned measurement that refers to the number of beads lined up side by side that will fit in a given area. An 8 aught (8/0) seed bead means that you will get 8 of those beads in the space. An 11 (11/0) aught bead means that eleven beads will fit in the same amount of space. Hence, the inverted logic - the smaller the number the bigger the bead, as it takes fewer beads to fill the space. Still puzzled? Well there is a very handy chart on how aughts relate to more modern measurements such as inches and millimetres on several websites. I've put my own version in this post to help visualise an aught. The numbers per mm or inch may vary slightly according to manufacturers but it's a general guide. So, next time you hear that the number in seed bead sizes refers to the number of beads in an an inch - you aught to reply that its the number of beads in an aught!

If you want some other handy tools for sizing beady things Snazzy Cat has some great free downloads.

Sources • •

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op