Sunday, September 18, 2011

September Giveaway Winners!

Rustic Leather Journal $35 by

Due to such an overwhelming response to my September Journal Giveaway, I decided to add a second prize!

Congratulations to our 2 winners!

Nathalie Brault from Quebec
Melody Johnson from Virginia

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated. And just so no-one goes home empty handed, here's a special 10% discount just for my blog followers which can be used anytime in my Etsy shop: BLOGGER10

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Journal Giveaway Ends September 15th!

Rustic Leather Journal $35USD by

Don't miss my September Giveaway for a chance to win one of my handmade leather journals (value $35)! One lucky winner will get to choose from any $35 journal in my Etsy shop

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

iPhones, eReaders & the Future of the Written Word

Hand-Stitched POP UP iPhone leather sleeve (Dark brown embossed-croco) $49 USD by

I love technology, I really do. I think I'm part artist and part aspiring computer nerd. Just recently I upgraded my already outdated flip phone for an iPhone4. I was instantly hooked! I'm also new to blogging. With my laptop at the ready, my fingers fly across the keyboard with more ease and efficiency than I could ever achieve by hand.  My husband loves his new eReader which already contains a gazillion books! With so many resources at our fingertips, what's not to love?

Although I love technology, I also love the feel of a real, physical book in my hands. I like the feel of the paper as I turn the pages. I've also noticed that my handwriting has become pitiful over the years and is now barely legible. My fine motor skills for handwriting has diminished considerably because I don't do it much anymore.  This affects my ability to sketch too as I don't partake nearly as often as I'd like.

"Are we fated to lose the skill of beautiful handwriting that our forefathers achieved in exchange for text messages and emails?"

So what's the future of the written word? Are we fated to lose the skill of beautiful handwriting that our forefathers achieved in exchange for text messages and emails? And what about our books? What will happen to all those shelves of treasured tomes? Will they simply be discarded for one slender eReader? r u catching my drift? LOL

Fine Art Abstract Books Painting 24 x 36 x 1.5 Custom Spicy Large Wall Art  $325 USD by

Personally, I'm not really all that worried about the future. I believe our most treasured books will remain and our harlequin romances will be on the e-reader. I'll text message "r u coming home 4 dinner?" and I'll handwrite a special "Thank You" card. There's nothing wrong with saving a little space and trees for that matter. As the old saying goes, "there's a time and place for everything".

"I'm not really all that worried about the future."

As for handwriting, there are more amazing handmade pens and journals available than ever before for those of us who still love to handwrite.

For my part, I intend to continue researching and learning ancient bookbinding techniques to preserve and share. I've decided to learn some calligraphy too to enhance the beauty of my handwriting and refine my motor skills. I intend to keep handwritten journals too.

The future is what we make of it and I expect we'll strike a beautiful balance in the long run.

On my quest to find the perfect handmade pen, I found many on Etsy and couldn't resist! I bought several and am joyfully anticipating what they will be like to write with when they arrive!  For example, I'd never seen a glass dip pen before and already I'm a collector! Just look a my new pen collection!

Purchased from

Purchased from I bought this chance vintage find...

Vintage Handmade Glass Pen from

Aren't these handmade glass dip pens amazing? Click here to see how they work! And last but not least, I purchased a beginner's calligraphy book, some ink and this handmade treasure...

Twig dip pen set, Hobbit pen. Gift box set  by

What are you doing to balance technology with tradition in your life?  What do you think our future holds for the written word? Leave us your comments!

Creatively yours,

Visit me online!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School Sale and Giveaway Time!!!

It's time for a little fun, whaddya think? 

Just in time for back to school Christine Marie Ford is having a sale!  Use coupon code SCHOOL12 to save 12% off everything in store.  No better time to pick up hand bound journal as the perfect gift for a student heading off to university.

Medium Size Rustic Suede Journal $35 by

You can also enter to win one of your very own!!!
Up for grabs is one of my medium sized leather journals! One lucky winner will get to choose any medium sized journal in my Etsy shop.

Deadline to enter is Thursday September 15th, 2011.
Open to US and Canada
Use the rafflecopter form below to enter:

Good Luck!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Introducing: the Savvy Seller Café

"Autumn's Pride" Mini Fiber Art $30 by

In my last post I introduced you to TAFA. I'm pleased to say that I will be guest writing a new weekly blog series which I call the "Savvy Seller Café".  In this series, I'll be sharing as much information as I can on the marketing and selling side of things. A large portion of this series will focus on online selling for artists and craftspeople along with helpful links and resources to assist you on your quest.

Click here to read last week's article!

I hope you enjoy the  Savvy Seller Café on TAFA's blog and feel free to leave me your comments and suggestions about what you'd like to know. I'll do my best to find some real answers for you. :)

Creatively yours,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Introducing TAFA!

For all you textile and fiber art lovers, I'm pleased to introduce you to...

The Textile and Fiber Art List

I'm proud to be a new member of this incredibly talented and vibrant community of artists who use fabric and fiber as their medium of choice. Rachel Biel the creator and organizer of this group works tirelessly to bring textile and fiber artists to the forefront.  With over 300 members and growing, TAFA is proving itself to be a force to contend with.  Here's just a small sampling of the incredible talent within its membership.

"Henry The Octopus" $1500

Crochet Daisy Brooch Blue Green Teal in Fine Thread $20 by

Handbag OOAK Freeform Crochet - Guru - Deep Water $250 by

Tree of Life Quilt - Custom Designed $200 by

Burlap Journal: Repurposed Rice Bag Burlap Chalkboard Eco Friendly $16.15

Forest Collection Quilt Art Handmade Wall Hanging $225

FEATHER LYRICS -Peacock tail- reclaimed fiber earrings $15

Black, White and Red Petunia Style Sweater Coat, Size Medium (10-14) $350

Felt Wall Hanging / Bright Eyes $350

Handmade Fiber Art Bracelet Beach Glass $55

Sunflower Garden silk art quilt, original art $225 by

I'm so inspired! If you'd like to know more about TAFA or to join, here's a few links you may be interested in.

TAFA's Website:

TAFA's Member Blog:

TAFA'S Etsy Team

Check out my new TAFA profile!

Go to TAFA's Website for a complete list of links.

Creatively yours,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

5 Ways To Add Creativity to Everyday Living

Creativity is our birthright! It’s part of everything we do and whether we realize it or not, we create our own reality everyday. Artistically speaking though, there are times when we may need a little inspiration to help us reach our goals.  For me, the key is to do at least one thing everyday to satisfy my creative needs.

But with busy lives, families and multiple commitments how do we find the time? The answer is to carve just a few minutes out of each day for our inner child to play. Expressing our creativity breaks up the mundane aspects of life and can even add a little magic when you need it most!

"Creativity is our birthright!"

Here are 5 tips that don’t cost money and only takes a few minutes. Pick one and get started!
1.  Pick some fresh flowers from your garden or go for a little hike and collect pinecones, twigs, fallen leaves etc. Arrange them yourself in a new creative way.  Play with color combinations, texture and size.  Add unusual embellishments or ephemera from around the house. If this sounds too complicated, try going very stark and simplified i.e. a single flower in a vase partially filled with stones and water.

Wooden Striped Circle-Shaped Flower Vase $15  by

 2. Take a small sketchbook to work everyday.
Sketch for 10 minutes at some point during lunch or break time. If you can’t think of something to sketch, choose simple images or photographs and paste them on the opposite side of the page.  Over time, your observational skills will improve along with your results. Most importantly, keep it simple, use any ordinary pencil and stop after 10-15 minutes. Don’t worry about the quality of the sketch; simply try to enjoy the act of creativity and the rejuvenation it can offer you. When I used to work in a stressful corporate job, this activity totally switched up my energy and mood. It changed my day!

Mini Rustic Suede Sketchbook $20 by

Pencil King $30 by

3. When you make a meal, use your creativity to make the presentation interesting. Adding a garnish like parsley or arranging foods on the plate in a pleasing way can make an otherwise ordinary meal into something exciting.

Ceramic Tapas Plate Set $36 by

4. Take some time to enjoy your favorite craft. If you don’t have one yet, start by reading. There are many craft blogs and books available. By browsing through, you may just find something new and exciting to try.  Reading fiction can also stimulate your imagination rather than simply watching a movie. Try using the search word "Tutorial" on Etsy and just see what comes up! Here's a couple that look great to try.

NEW Tutorial 8 How To Create Perfectly Textured Multi-Dimensional Focal Beads $15 available at

Clutch Tutorials & 6 patterns (10 inch, (2) 8 inch, 6 inch, 4.5 inch, 3 inch) - $8 by

 5. Get outside! Take a little time each day to be outside. Breathe in the fresh air and really take in your surroundings. Listen to the sounds. Look closely at what’s around you. You might even see or hear something that inspires your next art or craft project!

A Place to Be - 8x8 Art Print - A soothing blue ocean view on a sandy calm beach. $30 by

Here’s a bonus tip you might like to try too!

6. Start a journal. Spend a few minutes each day to record your thoughts. If you don’t know what to write just keep going and you may find that in fact you do have something to say.  The very act of writing is intrinsically creative and you may be surprised at what’s inside just waiting to come out.

30% OFF Steampunk Handmade Journal and Free Bookmark - Ready to Ship $30 by

These are just a handful of ideas to get your creative juices flowing.  The most important advice I can give to anyone looking to become more creative is to do your best not to judge yourself during the process. Persevere and be persistent. Rewards will come to you, though not always as you might expect. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are AOK. In fact, they can lead you to your most brilliant ideas. Focus on the process, not the result.

"Mistakes are AOK. They can lead to your most brilliant ideas."

How do you stay creative? Share your tips here by leaving us a comment

Creatively yours,

© 2011 Christine Marie Ford
The text of this article is the property of Christine Marie Ford and may only be reproduced only with expressed written permission.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ask The Experts! Call for Participants

Photo courtesy of John A. Ford

One of the advantages to having a new blog is that I have the time, opportunity and energy to connect with my readers personally. I'd like to know more about you and how I can assist with your creative pursuits. It is my hope to build my blog into a creative haven and source of inspiration for artists and crafters alike.

Are you experiencing any creative struggles right now? Is there a creative block, unfinished project, time constraints or something else holding you back from reaching your goals? If so, email me at cwelshford[at!] and you may be chosen for some free one on one help from me with your story and work published on my blog!

"I'd like to know more about you and how I can assist with your creative pursuits."

My expertise is fairly diverse ranging from performing arts and music to visual arts, especially fine art fiber wallhangings, quilting, beaded jewelry and stitched bookbinding. I also have a lot of experience selling my work online at

If I don't have the answers, I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by a rich community of experts in the arts who love to solve creative puzzles. I hope to continue this as an ongoing series with guest experts from time to time.

Contact me and tell me a bit about yourself along with a detailed description of the creative challenge you're facing right now. If chosen, we'll do our best to solve your dilemma and feature your story and work on this blog.

What creative challenges do you face? How do you over come them? Leave us your comments!

Creatively yours,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Part III - Durable Beaded Jewelry Tips From the School of Hard Knocks

In Part III, my final instalment of durable beading tips, we continue with the nitty gritty of how to create sturdy pieces. If you're just tuning in now you may wish to check out Part I and Part II as well. Even if you're a buyer and not a maker, you may just find some things to watch out for when making a purchase.

Double Edge Design Necklaces $135 available at (photo by John A. Ford)

Lesson #9 – Toggle clasps on bracelets make people cry

Please avoid using toggle clasps on bracelets. I know, they’re so pretty and easy to use. I love toggle clasps, I really do, but not on bracelets.  Bracelets are subjected to a lot of movement and take the most beating. Sooner or later the toggle will fail. A lot of people lose their bracelets this way and it causes heartache and tears. 

People are often very sentimental about their jewelry even becoming attached to inexpensive costume pieces. I can’t tell you how many times people have brought in cheap costume jewelry desperate for someone to repair it.  Oftentimes the jewelry was a gift from someone special or they just really like it. If you insist on using toggle clasps for bracelets, at least consider adding some chain as a safety catch for when the toggle fails. Measure the chain so that you can still fit the bracelet over your hand, but tight enough that if the clasp opens, it won’t readily fall off the wrist.  1” to 1.5” of chain usually works depending on the size of the bracelet.  A little trial and error on this or custom fitting will be well worth it. 

Quality spring clasps or lobster clasps are the most secure for bracelets.  Lobster clasps can be trickier to use so always try putting on the bracelet by yourself first. If you can’t manage it, your customer won’t either.  Have a few different sizes on hand to see what works best.

I love unique and beautiful toggle clasps for necklaces! Check out this beauty available in Cathy Dailey's Etsy shop.

Artisan Sterling Silver Round Toggle Clasp w Wrapped and Spiral Bar $15.88 USD

Lesson #10 – Plated metals suck

When choosing metal findings for my next project I tend to opt for non-plated metals first.  I’m really not a fan of plated metals. The plating is so thin that jewelry shows wear very quickly.  I also hate this trend of rhodium plated sterling silver.  Apparently people like it because the jewelry doesn’t tarnish, but once the rhodium plating wears off, the unpolished sterling underneath looks crappy to me. What’s the point of using precious metal if it looks worn and junky? 

Sterling silver is easier to maintain than most people think so plating it is just not worth it to me.  This is not to say that I never use them, I do. But I use them strategically and with caution. If you can use non plated metals such as brass, bronze, copper, sterling silver, gold filled or gold components so much the better.  These metals can be worn over and over without showing wear. Polishing may be needed, but the piece can be restored to its former glory. 

I recommend using plated metals such as silver plated brass findings in places where the jewelry doesn’t directly touch the skin. For example, sometimes I create earrings with sterling silver ear hooks but silver plated metal everywhere else to help keep the cost down.  Since the plated metals aren’t directly against the skin, the jewelry will last much longer. People like myself with acidic skin can wear the plating off of costume metal within just a couple of days! Perspiration also causes plating to wear faster as well as the frequency of use. 

Most importantly, go back to Lesson #2 and decide how long you want your jewelry to survive and choose your findings accordingly.

Examples of non-plated metal findings

Brushed copper wavy disks 8mm (qty 12) -

Lesson #11 – Practice safe pinwork

Wrap your eye pins and head pins closed whenever you can.  Much like jump rings, open loops on eye pins and head pins are common culprits for breakage. By looping and attaching them to the next component and then wrapping it closed two or three times, the level of durability goes up exponentially.  There is no gap for tiny parts to escape through. I create loops both ways but tend to stick to wrapped loops on necklaces and bracelets. When doing open loops, make sure they’re closed tightly with no gaps. A metal file is indispensable for smoothing the tip before creating the loop. Filing first makes the tightest and most secure fit.

These attractive earrings by Jechory Designs shows the kind of looped pinwork I'm talking about. Wrapping the ends can also be used as a design element.

Handmade Sterling & Teal Glass Earrings $20 by

Lesson #12 – Elastic creates backlash

Elastic jewelry breaks. It’s as sure as death and taxes.  They have exciting but short careers like the New Kids on the Block.  When considering the life span of your work keep this point in mind.  I know, it sucks because elastic solves the problem of tricky clasps and creates a comfortable fit.  Use your elastic stranding material for inexpensive fun projects and rescue your swarovski crystal and gemstones from an untimely death.

Lesson #13 – Not all magnetic clasps are created equally

Magnetic clasps come in different shapes and designs. Some are quite secure and some should probably be avoided at all costs.  I have great results with latch style or multi strand magnetic clasps (see first photo below). The kind that simply pulls apart can be problematic in certain situations. They seem sturdy enough during construction but when worn can come apart unexpectedly leading to disaster.  If you use a pull apart style magnetic clasp on a bracelet, always include a safety catch and choose a stronger magnet than you think you will ever need.  I recommend using pull apart magnetic clasps in instances where your customer cannot manage more traditional styles. Here are a couple of lovely examples of magnetic clasps by Plazko.

Plazko has kindly offered a 5% discount on all purchases until the end of August! Just use this coupon code: B2BM5

Gold Filled 20mm 3strand Tube Clasp - 1pc (2223) $7.99 by

Sterling Silver 8mm Magnetic Clasp with Crystals - 1pc ( 2397) $6.12 USD by

Lesson #14 – Knowledge is Power

Include care instructions for your customers. Let your valued customers know how to properly take care of their new handmade treasure by providing information either verbally (if selling in person) or better yet, by giving them a little card with all the information they need.  When selling in person, sometimes it’s appropriate to teach your customers how to inspect their jewelry for signs of wear i.e. loose jumps rings and loops. 

Preventing breakage before it happens saves time, money and heartache.  Showing customers where to look for potential issues is not a negative reflection of your workmanship, just the opposite. Jewelry is delicate and needs to be properly cared for.  By empowering your customers with useful information to protect their investment, you might just gain a customer for life!

Lesson #15 – Take your jewelry for a test drive

Test your materials and workmanship regularly to make sure it meets your standards. When starting a new jewelry line, make the first piece for yourself or a trusted friend and wear it non-stop for a few weeks. If you’re satisfied with the quality, go ahead and sell your new jewelry line with confidence! 

"Street Chic" Upcycled Denim & Czech Crystal Bracelet $48 by

These are tips I live by through personal experience. Although no piece of jewelry is completely break-proof, you can feel good knowing that you’ve done everything you could think of to be preventive.  Your customers will appreciate it too!

Do you have any tips you'd like to share? Leave us your comments.

Until next time, happy beading!

© 2011 Christine Marie Ford
The text of this article is the property of Christine Marie Ford and may only be reproduced only with expressed written permission.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Taking a Break From My Break

Since my last post "Breaking" News, there's been little change in my recovery. Feeling cooped up and isolated for more than a month is beginning to take its toll and I need a change of scenery. Fortunately my parents have a fantastic cottage in Gloucester Pool near Orillia Ontario. In a few hours I plan to be on the road to a northern getaway for a couple of weeks before officially starting physio on my newly reconstructed shoulder.

Photo by John A. Ford copyright 2010

Normally when I plan a cottage trip the car is packed to the brim with art and craft supplies and a modest bag of clothes and toiletries. This year will be different. After all what can I do when I can barely do anything? At least that was my brief thought in a moment of despair at the long road of recovery ahead of me. Once I began to think, I came up with a list of activities to get creative even when I can't yet create any of the artwork or crafts that I so enjoy. Don't worry, I still plan to spend lots of time smelling the roses, taking in the fresh air and hopefully swimming in the lake. These activity ideas are to help deal with my restless side and constant craving for the creative. Plus I feel more empowered knowing that there are lots of things I can do if I feel like it.

The cottage may be up North but by golly we've got wireless. My laptop will be handy whenever I need to stay connected.

Take Photos
It might be awkward since the button is on the right and my right hand as of yet doesn't get much higher than my waist but it's a little point and shoot device. I'm sure I can click using my left hand instead. Hopefully I can get some great shots to inspire future art projects.

I just recently purchased new sketching pencils which are all sharpened and ready to go. Luckily I'm left handed and my injury shouldn't interfere with my sketching abilities.

This is a good time to take up some journalling. I can write about my journey. I could also keep track of ideas and inspiration as it comes for future projects.

Lots of great opportunities are coming up for me in the fall. I hope to take a few minutes from my R&R to add some important dates and events to my calendar. Oftentimes I feel overwhelmed by the task of running my studio full time and steering my career towards greater success. Sometimes it's good to have time to just research, organize and prioritize my tasks for when I'm back in full swing.

I plan to read murder mystery novels just for pure entertainment. When I feel the need to learn something new, I've got a couple of brand new books on blogging, one of which is "Blogging For Dummies". I can read to my heart's content without any pain. I follow lots of blogs as well and hope to catch up on them.

Well, I think this is plenty of possibilities to keep me busy during my vacation. Maybe I'll be blogging away out on the deck or maybe...I'll do nothing at all but laze by the lake...

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Breaking" News

Wow it's been a while since my last post. I've got oodles of articles and ideas just waiting to come out but a recent set back has me in creative limbo among other things.

In May, I decided to put my commitment to living healthier to the test by getting rid of my car and walking to my studio. It’s about 3km each way and things were going well. I decided to take things up a notch and got my bike all tuned up. Unfortunately on June 10th, the second day of biking to the studio, I had a bad accident and shattered my right shoulder among other injuries. It was a tricky steep hill and in retrospect, quite out of my league.

I waited in agony for 2 weeks before having reconstructive surgery and am now in recovery. The 2 week wait and my attempt to get help at 3 different hospitals piqued the interest of many local newspapers including the Toronto Star. (Worst photo of me EVER!)

I have been told to expect things to go slow and bumpy and so far it’s true. Each day I have small triumphs showing signs that recovery is happening. For example, I can finally type with both hands! It's painful and tricky but I can do it! If nothing else, I can now stay in touch and blog to my hearts content. My surgeon tells me not to expect things to be the way they were before but I intend to be an A+ student in physio and only time will tell. I'm left handed and it's my right shoulder that was shattered so that's one more thing to be grateful for.

I am deeply grateful for all the help and support I’ve received from my family, friends and Williams Mill. I hope to return to the Mill in a couple weeks. Although I’m not expecting to resume my usual duties till sometime in the fall, I hope to be present nonetheless doing what I can. In the meantime artists Sandra Krosse and Susan Wakefield have volunteered to open my studio to the public on Fridays and Saturdays whenever possible. If you live in the area feel free to pop by and say hello to these amazing ladies. For the time being, my Etsy shop is closed but I hope to reopen in a couple weeks.

More than ever I feel the need to be creative. Not just for my livelihood, but to stave off boredom and worry. It's been a painful journey but the love and support I've received has been overwhelming. Perhaps one day I can express my experience through my work.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Until next time, happy creating.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Part II - Durable Beaded Jewelry Tips from the School of Hard Knocks

We all know how frustrating it is to have a beloved piece of jewelry fall apart before its time. In Part I of this series, I received many fabulous comments from my reader.  One of my readers even mentioned that in some cases their jewelry purchase didn't even make it home before breaking! Sadly, that's happened to me too.

In Part II of this series, we'll delve a little deeper into the jewelry making process with more tips to make your handmade pieces live a longer happier life!

"Angel Wings" Sterling & Swarovski Earrings $85 by Christine Marie Ford

Lesson #5 – Use wire guards

Wire guards look like teeny weeny horseshoes. Use wire guards whenever you can to protect your stranding material from stress and strain that causes breakage. The ends of beadwork are usually the most vulnerable to breakage so keep this in mind when choosing the right findings to start and stop a piece. Wire guards come in different sizes to match the stranding material you choose. I don’t worry about being perfectly precise as long as the wire is neither too tight or too loose inside the guard. The only downside of using wire guards is that they sometimes cause jewelry to kink.  If kinking is causing a problem on your project you may wish to go without them. Use your discretion and take the overall weight of the piece into consideration. Here's a few listings I found on Etsy for your convenience... - 20 Sterling Silver pieces $4.25 - 144 solid copper wire guards $5.45 - 20 gold filled wire protectors $8.99
Lesson #6 – Open jump rings are the weakest link

Of all the components that cause structural failure in jewelry, open jump rings are quite possibly the biggest culprit.  Jump rings are a necessary and commonly used finding to link many parts of jewelry together. Open jump rings are the easiest to use but can make your jewelry vulnerable to breakage if not used strategically. One solution is to solder the jumps closed afterwards. If like me, you don’t have soldering equipment there are still some strategies you can try to minimize the risk of breakage.  First, avoid using single jump rings made of precious metal like silver and gold on heavier pieces.  These metals are soft and the weight of the piece will cause the jump rings to re-open causing breakage. In such instances consider using more than one jump ring to do the job. An additional plus is that it creates an attractive secondary design.  Always make sure that you close jump rings completely with no gaps whatsoever. The teeny tiniest gap could mean disaster even if you’ve used more than one.  If necessary, use a magnifying glass to be sure that the jump ring is closed smoothly and tightly. Run your fingernail along the join. If you feel a bump on either side, it’s not perfectly aligned or is still slightly open. Keep a metal jewelry file handy to smooth out any problem joins.  Discard any jump rings that don’t close smoothly. - 100 silver plated jump rings 8mm $3.25 - Soldering Kit with DVD $89.75
(this is soooooo on my wish list!)

A handy solution is to using open jump rings or soldering is to use split rings instead.  Split rings look like tiny key rings and work quite well most of the time. - 20 antique brass split rings 6mm - $1.25 - 100 Copper Split Jump Rings 7 mm OD - $8

Also, stock up on oval jump rings in different sizes.  Oval jump rings are slightly safer because their shape naturally helps to keep other parts away from the opening. Gravity helps too when the jewelry is worn.  If you use costume metals, brass is quite strong and is more likely to hold its shape when using heavier beads.  As a general rule, avoid using open jump rings whenever you reasonably can. For example, you could attach your wire guard directly to a clasp and crimp it closed rather than attaching the wire guard to the clasp via a jump ring. See? It’s a small difference that can make your jewelry last for years without incident. - Handmade sterling silver 22 gauge Oval jump rings 5mm 25 pieces - $5.79
Lesson #7 – sterling silver and gold filled crimp tubes rock!

I only use sterling silver or 14k gold filled crimp tubes now.  Even if you never ever use precious metal for anything else, I would invest in this. I’ve had nothing but disappointment and disaster from costume metal crimp beads or tubes no matter what the brand.  The entire structural integrity of a piece of jewelry often boils down to one single tiny crimp. With so much riding on such a tiny part, it only makes sense to use the best quality you can find. High quality crimps grip better and are far less likely to fail. - Sturdy Sterling Silver Crimp Tubes 2mm x 2mm - 100 pieces $12.25

When crimping your jewelry, the crimp should be good and tight but don’t over do it. If you squeeze the heck out it with your pliers, the crimp itself can become quite sharp cutting right through the stranding material or weakening it to the point that it will break later.  This happened to me very recently. A customer who had bought a necklace more than a year ago came back with this very issue. I had crimped too tightly causing a micro tear in the stranding material. After having been worn for a year it finally snapped apart.  I restrung the entire necklace, polished it and replaced a few old jump rings free of charge. The customer was pleased with the repair job and I had earned yet another pearl of wisdom from the school of hard knocks.

Lesson #8 – Double crimp even if no-one else is doing it

Now I haven’t seen anyone else doing this but I double crimp whenever I can especially when I’m using expensive, large, or heavy beads. I also double crimp on bracelets because they tend to undergo the most stress and movement.  Double crimping is an important part of my preventive practices.  When making a necklace I start out with the clasp, then a wire guard and crimp, followed by a decorative bead and then another crimp. After crimping both I cut the wire flush with the crimp.

my double crimping technique used on a bracelet
Some beading experts instruct you to crimp once and cut the wire flush with the crimp.  I feel this makes my jewelry far too vulnerable to breakage. Other experts advise leaving a little tail of stranding material tucked in a few beads but in my experience they ALWAYS work their way out eventually. Hardly professional! Double crimp and cut flush with the second crimp. If you don’t like the look of the crimps you can cleverly cover them up with crimp bead covers to create a beautiful design!  Another nice perk about double crimping is if the jewelry ever breaks it’s less likely that all the beads will fall off. This is especially helpful if your customer comes back needing a repair job and you don’t happen to have any replacement beads left. If no beads are missing you can save time and money too. - 50 Sterling Silver Crimp BEAD COVERS Findings 3mm F59 - $9.99

Well, that's another day of lessons from the School of Hard Knocks and you've all done very well. I welcome your comments and remember to stay tuned for the final part of this series!