Tucson Treasures: Jewelry-Making Supplies for Your Next Design
When in Tucson, AZ for the gem and jewelry shows, it’s hard not to be swept into a shopping frenzy of jewelry-making supplies. The beads, the pearls, the gemstones — the everything! It’s actually hard to resist shopping during any gem, bead, or jewelry show, no?
Once back in our studios, it’s then hard not to be swept into a jewelry-making frenzy with all the new jewelry-making supplies. Before getting back to your studio though, you just might want to make something while on the road, so you can wear it right then and there! Here are a few quick jewelry-making ideas to share with you based on a few of our favorite jewelry-making supplies found during this past Tucson show.
Jewelry-Making Supplies: Leather Lace and Cool Metal Components
Have you ever bought something and said “I want to wear this right now!” but it’s not ready to wear? Well, the Lark’s head and sliding knots are here to save the day! Fold a piece of cording in half. Pass the loop through a fixed opening. Pass the ends of the cord back through the loop. Pull tightly to secure.
Finish each side of the cording using a sliding knot and you have an adjustable necklace, now, ready to wear.
Have a few more minutes to make a bracelet? Repeat forming a Lark’s head knot. Pass the cords through a link on the other side of the component, then form a sliding knot to finish. Embellish the ends with a few other matching links for a fun and easy-to-wear bracelet design.
Read How to Tie a Sliding Knot Like a Pro for instructions on how to form this very clever and versatile knot.
Earrings on the Go
Did you leave your earrings at home or want to wear the pieces you just bought? No problem! If you have some wire (my earwire preference is 21-gauge but 20- or 22-gauge wire will do), a few headpins, and tools you can make anything! Side note: I travel with all my tools and findings for this just-in-case reason. Add an earwire to a component then dress it up with a few beaded dangles and boom — instant earrings (well, almost instant!).
Another quick earring idea is to add earwires to two of GardanneBeads enamel ovals. Dress this pair of earrings up a little more with handmade Bali beads like the ones we found at the Lipstick Ranch booth.
These are really quick and easy jewelry-making ideas, and something you can make on the road. Once in your studio, you can disassemble these jewelry designs and transform the components into new designs. So far I’ve left these ideas as they were made in Tucson but I did manage to get a new design done since getting home. Check out this Peyote with a Twist bracelet made using new seed bead colors from Toho.
Another part of attending shows, and something that is more important to me than the shopping, is meeting the people behind the products you fall in love with. To follow is the story behind each of the products highlighted here, which you can get in a limited-edition kit!
Jewelry-Making Supplies: Handmade Beads and Leather
There are some people you get to see from show to show, and for many of us, we refer to the shows as “old home week.” It’s like that with Kara Docheff of Lipstick Ranch. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together, but over time you grow a friendship and can easily pick up the last conversation, even if it’s been a year since you were last together.
Kara has been designing jewelry for many, many years and has a great eye for design; she is also a frequent contributor to Beadwork magazine. Kara does it all and shares a little bit about the products we chose from her company — and it’s worth noting how hard it actually was to get into her booth to select just the right colors and beads — The Ranch is always busy but while we were visiting, it was hopping!
“I hand select all my deer leather and cut it on our farm in Longmont, CO. I love the organic feel of the deer lace; it was the perfect addition to my line, years ago. My paternal grandmother was full Pottawatomie Indian (so I believe some of the draw to the deer lace is in my blood!). The Indonesian beads I searched for, for years and years. I wanted a bead that “fit in at the ranch”. I searched for something that leaned toward the rustic side. And I love that these beads are handmade!”
A little bit about Lipstick Ranch:
“The western world is a fast moving fashion forward community that has paired with the country and organic look. In the western world you stay successful by blazing the trail and being the first to launch a new concept or design. That is where my slogan ‘it’s all about being unique’ came from! My biggest account was The Grand Ole Opry . . . what a fun experience that was. I designed and created jewelry for them for over 5 years.
“I started selling our pendants individually about 3 years ago. There was a local bead show and I had numerous requests from bead lovers just wanting to buy the items that went into my finished lines. That was the start of The Lipstick Ranch transformation. Since then I have completely stopped making wholesale finished jewelry and now only design to inspire our bead customers.”
— Kara Docheff, owner, The Lipstick Ranch
Jewelry-Making Supplies: Enamel Components
Ann Lichtenstein is an artist that is always pushing her limits and finding new ways to inspire other artists with her enameled components. The hardest part of shopping at Anne’s booth was choosing just the right component to share with you. To follow is a little bit about Anne, another “friend from the road” and her company, GardanneBeads.
“My first encounter with glass was a lampworking class my daughter’s 4th grade art teacher taught. Those two classes turned into 3 years of renting torch time and making some wonderful friends that shared my love of glass. My lampwork beads started to pile up, so in 2009 I opened my Etsy shop to support my glass habit.
“In an effort to avoid buying more tools, I started to explore what I could use my existing tools for, namely my kiln and torch. I like to experiment before doing much research, so I purchased some enamel and started enameling on what I had on hand, vintage stampings. It worked and it was unique, within a year I sold enough enamel pieces online to comfortably support my hobby and studio.
“By the time my daughter graduated from high school, my hobby could no longer be called a hobby. I had a full time job selling online and exhibiting at more than 15 shows a year. My daughter is now 23 and married. I am now an empty nester embarking on a new chapter in my life, and feeling very lucky to be working at a job that feeds my creative self and makes others happy.”
–Anne Lichtenstein , GardanneBeads
Jewelry-Making Supplies: Intermix Metal Components
I’m continually drawn to TierraCast and their components — they are an easy addition to many designs, so a staple in my studio. Their new Intermix collection spoke to us in Tucson and was a perfect fit for the Tucson Treasures Kit. The story behind this new design is also a fun one.
“When Katie Hill, Product Design and Development Manager, first walked into the pattern department she found 40 years of archived designs in varying stages of development. She discovered some left over textured sheet metal from the development of Dulce Vida line and, voila, Intermix was born.” Tierra Cast
“INTERMIX is a collection which taps into the current cultural mood— a desire of sometimes wanting to escape to another planet. The texture pattern and organic round shapes of the links are reminiscent of the surface of the moon. The true magic happens when you begin to Intermix these links to create your designs. The options are as endless as the two trillion galaxies which make up the universe.”
To follow is a little bit about TierraCast:
TierraCast was officially incorporated in July 1981. In addition to working with Laurel Burch, TierraCast took on hundreds of smaller clients, casting everything from sterling silver jewelry to bronze elevator signage. In 1989, TierraCast closed its lost wax-casting department in order to concentrate on the areas of pewter casting and wire findings sales. Early the next year, TierraCast offered its initial collection of pewter jewelry components. Those first 12 designs were well received and the ensuing years saw hundreds of designs come to market in an ever-expanding variety of styles.
Between 1990 and 2000, TierraCast transformed itself from a job shop, to a designer, manufacturer and wholesaler of its own products. TierraCast still operates from its original location on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa.
Jewelry-Making Supplies: Unique TOHO Seed Beads from Starman
Many people aren’t aware of the amazing journey that jewelry-making supplies like TOHO seed beads often go on before they reach their hands, thanks to the partnership between Starman and TOHO. After being manufactured in Japan, many of TOHO’s seed beads are shipped to the Starman family-owned factory in the Czech Republic. Here they are given unique, custom coatings before they are distributed throughout America and Europe! So the next time you pick up a TOHO seed bead with a Hybrid finish, think of the amazing number of miles it has journeyed just to reach your bead mat! The seed beads featured in our Tucson Treasures jewelry-making supplies kit came directly from the TOHO factory in Japan, which on its own is also an amazing journey.
The Starman story:
“CEO Dave Starman started working with his uncle, Jerry Starman, in 1999 to develop the company into the world’s best source for Czech-glass beads and TOHO seed beads. Jerry is a strong influence and inspiration to Dave, passing along his wealth of business knowledge and work ethic. As a refugee immigrant from the Czech Republic during the height of communism, Dave knows firsthand what it means to struggle and to live the American dream: ‘We came to America with the clothes on our back, not knowing if we would ever see family again. This country and its people have been good to us and we like to give back.’ It has been his goal to develop a company with a solid foundation that prides itself on strong ethics through a motivated staff.
“Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, our factory was the primary supplier of pressed-glass beads to the trade company Jablonex. During communism, companies were required to obtain permission from the government to export product; therefore, all business had to be funneled through designated trade companies. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, our factory was free to export directly to international markets, allowing us to establish ourselves as the leader in glass bead production in the Czech Republic.
“After earning business degrees in Southern California, Dave and company Director Nichole Starman joined up with Jerry full time. Many of our newest shapes, including the ground-breaking CzechMates® system, are designed by Nichole in our Boise, Idaho, headquarters. As a husband-and-wife team, the Starmans continue to grow their company while supporting their loyal customers, many of whom have been with them since they started.
“In 2005, we partnered with TOHO Ltd from Japan, the manufacturer of the highest-quality seed beads in the world, and have become a world-class TOHO partner and a member of TeamTOHO. Our strategic partnership has allowed us to bring a vast array of new and exciting seed bead colors to the world market. Seed beads have been used to complement Czech fire-polished and pressed-glass focal beads for generations.”
Thank you to all the companies who provide jewelry-making supplies out there (we love you!) and thank you for continuing to share your stories. These are the fabric behind your products and something we carry into the work we do.
Thank you to you, too! We love all we do for all of you and are happy to bring you pieces of our adventures and stories. We’re also happy to bring you this limited-edition Tucson Treasures Kit so you, too, can see first-hand the beauty and possibilities we see.
Editor, Beadwork magazine and Editorial Director, Interweave Bead & Jewelry Group