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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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  #1  
Old 2011-02-12, 8:26am
Moth Moth is offline
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Default My beads aren't perfect, but...

...there are some minimum requirements I think a bead needs to meet to be released into the world. I'm only bringing this up because I've been perusing etsy this morning and saw some really beautiful beads. The colors and patterns and ideas were phenomenal, but there were things that would keep me from purchasing them.

Things that will keep savvy buyers from purchasing them as well. We are all trying to make it through this economic rough spot. Some of us are struggling with lower sales and the desire to stand out. The following list is my opinion on what the absolute minimum standard is for a sellable artisan lampwork bead. Personal standards can be way higher and could include perfect shaping, perfect balance, etc...but this list is the bare minimum.

1. Glass beads have to be annealed and you should make sure you truthfully say that yours are. If you don't believe this, that's fine but most people do and you're shooting yourself in the foot. No need to argue about why they don't have to be annealed- you aren't going to change my mind or anyone else's. If you don't have a kiln maybe you know someone who will batch anneal for you. If you are annealing your beads, make sure you say so!

2. Raised design elements like dots and stringer lines need to be melted in so that there is no undercut where the decoration meets the base bead. For example--a raised dot should look like half of an orange sitting on a plate. Flat bottomed with a dome. If it looks like a marble sitting on a plate it is going to eventually chip off. Sooner than later depending on the degree of undercut. Same with stringer work. Same with joins in sculptural pieces. Smooth points of contact where elements are joined together.

3. Bead holes--they need to be smooth. Some people believe that bead holes always have to be dimpled. Some people disagree. To me, this is a matter of personal preference but there is no arguing that bead holes DO always have to be smooth so as not to damage stringing material. That is the minimum requirement. No jagged holes.


That's it. There are all different levels of beadmaking skills. Simple beads are awesome, elaborate beads are awesome. Sets, focals, sculptures...whatever style and whatever skill level. Everyone's beads have a place in the market. One person's fugly is another person's muse, but no matter what the bead actually looks like it should always be structurally stable and safe to use.

If you go through your etsy listings and look very closely at your pictures can you see any of these flaws in your work? If you can see them, other people see them too and they are hurting your sales.

Again, I'm not talking about bead perfection. Mine are not perfect either (by a long shot). I'm not talking about aesthetics, we all make different looks. Just bare bones gotta beez. You are better off melting in your dots and stringer too far than not enough. Sure they look beautiful all high and mighty on a bead but I guarantee you they do not have the longevity modern bead buyers are looking for. We need to be better than the mass produced imports and frankly--those have gotten pretty darn good.

I hope this is taken in the spirit it was intended. I'm not holier than thou. I just see these beautiful beads on etsy with elemental flaws, read threads about struggling sales and thought I should say something. These are easy fixes! Bump your work up a notch. Stand out in a good way!

~~Mary
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Last edited by Moth; 2011-02-12 at 8:34am.
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  #2  
Old 2011-02-12, 8:32am
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Excellent post! I'm with you 100% on these technical points.

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  #3  
Old 2011-02-12, 8:35am
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I agree, Mary. And I would add 1 more 'basic must have' to your list, and that is:

Thoroughly cleaned bead holes!
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Old 2011-02-12, 9:30am
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I hear you! My wife makes beaded jewelry, and she looks through all the magazines and points out lots of flaws in the featured pieces, such as poor crimps, ends of wire hanging out, gaps, etc.
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Old 2011-02-12, 10:07am
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I absolutely agree! Thanks for bringing it up, Mary.
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  #6  
Old 2011-02-12, 4:26pm
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Great post Mary!
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  #7  
Old 2011-02-12, 4:39pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEK3 View Post
I hear you! My wife makes beaded jewelry, and she looks through all the magazines and points out lots of flaws in the featured pieces, such as poor crimps, ends of wire hanging out, gaps, etc.
i'm the same, my absolute pet hate is tear drop shaped loops and sloppy wrapping where the end is not tucked in. if its an open loop it should be round, and the cut end should meet snugly

and i totally agree with Mary - sharp edges on holes bug the shit out of me
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  #8  
Old 2011-02-12, 5:33pm
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Thanks for the post Mary. It's good to know what to watch for on my own beads. When your new and learning you don't really know what your supposed to be doing LOL! Of course I am no where near the point I'd be selling my beads or even giving them away as gifts for that matter. But you've got to start somewhere, right. So this helps. Thanks.
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  #9  
Old 2011-02-12, 5:54pm
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Thanks Mary, very helpful!
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  #10  
Old 2011-02-20, 8:22am
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Excellent post Mary! I'll move this back up to the first page because it should be seen.

Also I'll second this one all the way:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlassGalore View Post
I agree, Mary. And I would add 1 more 'basic must have' to your list, and that is:

Thoroughly cleaned bead holes!
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  #11  
Old 2011-02-20, 9:52am
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Conrad Hoffman Conrad Hoffman is offline
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Excellent post. I've yet to make my first bead, but it all goes to the business philosophy of "Delight the customer." If somebody likes something enough to pay good money for it, the disappointment if it cracks, falls apart or if they later notice a defect, will turn them off to buying more from the individual, or even turn them off to the art form itself. Good work is just good business for everybody.

CH
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  #12  
Old 2011-02-20, 10:02am
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I totally agree Mary! And a ditto on the cleaned bead holes too!
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Old 2011-02-20, 10:59am
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Can I ask about the clean bead holes., how clean is clean? It seems easier with the lighter colors but on black I am having issues getting it to the point of no visible residue left. People talk about cleaning there beads in a with a couple of twists of their reamer and that seems impossible.
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  #14  
Old 2011-02-20, 11:27am
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A reamer used with a dremel works much better than simply a reamer.
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Old 2011-02-20, 11:37am
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Thanks so much for posting this Mary.
I have wondered about these exact points myself.
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Old 2011-02-20, 12:38pm
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I use the stuff you can sandblast with to clean my beadholes, works like a charm .
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  #17  
Old 2011-02-20, 12:58pm
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I'd also like to add that no matter how beautiful your beads are, or how perfectly shaped/cleaned they might be, if you have added fake 'sparkles' to them in Photoshop, I am immediately turned off and go look at someone else's work instead.
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  #18  
Old 2011-02-20, 1:07pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polgarra View Post
Can I ask about the clean bead holes., how clean is clean? It seems easier with the lighter colors but on black I am having issues getting it to the point of no visible residue left. People talk about cleaning there beads in a with a couple of twists of their reamer and that seems impossible.
Cordless Dremel MiniMite + BeaDreamer bit + dish of water = the perfect clean team.

One half-second zzzzip through the hole on one side and then another zzzzip through the other side, you're done and hole is clean as clean can be. It may take a few seconds for each hole side if you are cleaning large or long focal beads.

Mary, that's a great post and I agree 100%.
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  #19  
Old 2011-02-20, 2:37pm
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Great post Mary.

In addition I will add chill marks and straight beads on the mandrel. Flame polish the beads and make sure they are straight on the mandrel before you shape them. And, just because you can put glass on a mandrel, doesn't mean you can make a decent bead worthy of selling.

I have been rejected from a few designer markets because they were overloaded with jewellery makers. I have recently been accepted at an upscale market because I sent in with my application and photos, two strands of beads: good ones and crappy ones. The market committee said that was the deciding factor for them as they have had lampworkers apply but can make a decent bead.
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Old 2011-02-20, 5:46pm
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Chill marks can be a desired look. I use them and Jill Symons makes them sing!
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Old 2011-02-23, 1:17pm
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I think sometimes chill marks are ok, too. I've seen some lovely beads that had intentional chill marks.

But I agree with everything in Mary's first post. Thanks for posting!

I've seen some dots with undercuts recently, and it made me wonder if those dots would last. The beads were gorgeous too, and even the look of the dots was pretty. But I had been taught to "melt halfway in" as well.
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Old 2011-02-23, 1:50pm
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I can't agree more, Mary . . . and to the clean bead holes and without chill marks unless they are intentional (most of the time they are not!).

My biggest pet peeves is the well-shaped bead holes - I am often amazed at the wonky/jagged/chipped bead holes on beads, some by seasoned beadmakers!
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Old 2011-02-23, 1:55pm
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Great post, Mary.

And sometimes pictures (eBay, Etsy, etc.) really don't show angles allowing the viewer (i.e., potential purchaser) to see if the beads have good "holes". I've purchased "not great beads" before so I try to look more closely at the pictures now. And if I cannot tell if the beads are well made, I usually move along.

Yvonne
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Old 2011-02-23, 2:59pm
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I think it's always a good idea to have at least one close-up of the hole (that sounds dirty!) in each listing... some people may not mind if the hole's a little imperfect, but they should certainly get a chance to see any such imperfections before buying.
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Old 2011-02-24, 11:21pm
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Great post! DH had a hard time understanding why I reject a lot of my beads, but if the end of the bead feels rough when I run it over my arm it's not good enough to sell - end of story.
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Old 2011-02-25, 4:19am
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Yes, yes Mary I agree totally.

Also with you Lisa about no bead release.

I made a few really long beads yesterday and my drill bits won't clean all the way to the centre. What do you do for long beads anyone?
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Old 2011-02-25, 4:56am
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How does everyone feel about the macro photography usedcfor beads though? Sometimes the photography picks up minor flawscwhich cannot be seen with the naked eye.
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  #28  
Old 2011-02-25, 9:35am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimberly View Post
Totally agree. If a photo looks like it has been heavily Photoshopped, even if it is just the background - I tend to have doubts on how the bead really looks in the hand. This doesn't apply for photos that are taken as "art", but for photos that are intended to show the bead for sale.

Mary - excellent post. I agree with your opinion 100%.
I think that this is where a lot of bead makers get into trouble. They learn how to make the bead shine and sparkle and take close ups of details in the bead that when viewed in person do not pop the same as the photos.

The buyer then views the bead as NOT the same as in the photos. Especially buyers that are unfamiliar with glass beads.

Unhappy buyer and possibly negative feedback then ensues. Monitor color differences are a problem also and I sure don't know how to fix that except with descriptions and disclaimers about monitors.
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  #29  
Old 2011-02-25, 10:47am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorraine Chandler View Post
I think that this is where a lot of bead makers get into trouble. They learn how to make the bead shine and sparkle and take close ups of details in the bead that when viewed in person do not pop the same as the photos.

The buyer then views the bead as NOT the same as in the photos. Especially buyers that are unfamiliar with glass beads.

Unhappy buyer and possibly negative feedback then ensues. Monitor color differences are a problem also and I sure don't know how to fix that except with descriptions and disclaimers about monitors.
Good point. I think most experienced buyers understand that glass looks much better in strong light and that supermacro mode on a camera will show details that may not be all that noticeable to the naked eye. Also light shining through the back of the photo when it is viewed on a monitor can make the bead look a lot more spectacular than it would look in normal indoor light. If the bead is being worn as a pendant and is against clothing, there is no way bright light will be shining through. Of course everybody wants to make their photos look great, but there is always a risk of an inexperienced bead buyer being disappointed and leaving unflattering feedback.

I think adding fake sparkles in Photoshop is going a little too far. I can tell when somebody does that, but I think most customers can't. It seems intentionally deceitful to me.
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Old 2011-02-25, 10:56am
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How does everyone feel about the macro photography usedcfor beads though? Sometimes the photography picks up minor flawscwhich cannot be seen with the naked eye.
I always use supermacro mode. Yes, I've noticed that it does show flaws that are not visible to the naked eye. Just doesn't seem fair, does it? But sometimes I'm glad to spot a flaw in the photo that I hadn't noticed with the naked eye because I may not want to sell that bead.
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