Loose Bead Society Reviews/Blog

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I traveled to Burlington to visit a new bead shop--Forever Beading, 224 E. Chestnut St., Burlington, WI 53105, Phone 262.758.6339.  It is a well stocked shop and has a classroom area, as well.  Their website foreverbeading.com is under construction right now, while the owner Kelly transitions it to an e-commerce site.

I recently visited West Bend and across the street from West Bend Tap and Tavern (excellent lunch), I spotted a bead shop!! Xpressions Yarn and Beat Boutique at 264 N. Main Street, West Bend 53095. 

Here are some pictures. I also included a snap of the yarn display, just in case we have any cross-crafters.

MaureenRetreat 2017: Maureen's Review

Thank goodness the lake effect snow waited until the day after the Retreat to start dropping 20+ inches on Racine! The weather over Retreat weekend was cold with brisk winds that was conducive to staying inside and beading, most of the time. Of course, no matter the weather, we just had to venture out to visit Funky Hannah’s and the Hot Glass Shop for a class or two and for the bountiful reception Saturday evening.

This year the Retreat was full for the second year in a row. Including the Make-N-Take there were 12 different classes scheduled. There were two sessions of both the Friday afternoon/evening Make-N-Take and the Sunday Let’s Etch a Copper Disc classes that were held at Funky Hannah’s. That brings the number of sessions offered to 14. The class evaluations completed revealed the participants were very happy with the class selections and also with the teachers. Unfortunately, the Sunday morning class, Renaissance Flair by instructor Renee Kovnesky, was canceled by her on Friday morning (due to personal reasons) to the disappointment of the students who had registered for it.

The open beading room returned to the Harbourview room where it had been located in years past. The sound of happy chatter and laughter was heard throughout the weekend. Some die hard beaders spent the majority of their time in the open beading room working diligently on UFO’s or new projects. Some others split their time between the open beading room and taking classes. It was nice to see our beading family get up to admire the creations that were being worked on at other tables.

There were new additions to Retreat this year, some were instituted in response to the replies to the Retreat 2016 survey. A Friday and Sunday afternoon class were added to the lineup at the hotel. There was a “sharing table” and a dry erase message board located on the sharing table. The daily schedule was prominently displayed on easels in the open beading room and in the classrooms. Each attendee’s class schedule was printed on the back of their badge and an emergency contact insert was included in the badge holder. The list of goody bag contributors stated what they donated and a Teachers' Marketplace was added to the Saturday schedule. These changes were favorably received according to this year’s survey results.

There were three daily projects included with registration. Friday featured a cute girl charm that could be attached to the 2017 goody bag, Saturday was a choice of stone chip dangle earrings and Sunday’s project was a dainty pendant with a pearl center which also included a chain.

The goody bag was once again a favorite feature of the Retreat. The bag itself was a new addition since it was imprinted with our logo and the year. Everyone was impressed with the variety and the abundance of items included.

Our Society is very fortunate to have the support of such generous contributors and it is hoped that you as LBS members patronize them. They are as follows:

Bar Maids
Bead Dreamers
The Beadsmith
Blue Thistle Designs
Cool Tools
Cousin Corporation of America
Diakonos Designs
Eclectica Beads
John Bead Corporation
Kalmbach Publishing (book donation received after the list included with the Goody Bag was printed)
Knot Just Beads
Miyuki Beads
Potomac Bead Company
Real Racine
Soft Flex Company
Swarovski North America LTD
Tierra Cast

Carol Surges brought the LBS light box to the Retreat and was thorough in taking pictures of member’s creations to be added to Facebook and our web page. The lightbox was also available for use by members to take pictures of their pieces for their personal use. Carol visited the classrooms to take pictures of the students at work and took pictures in the open beading room too. Make sure to check out Facebook and scroll down to the next post or go here to see if you or your work was captured for the LBS records.

Saturday evening brought two events to enjoy – one was a much anticipated yearly event and the other a new one. For those who attended the private reception hosted by Amanda Paffrath at Funky Hannah’s it was a time to purchase, socialize and enjoy the yummy appetizers provided by Amanda with tasty additions by Retreat teacher Adele Kimpell. (LInks to Adele's recipes are here: Salted Nut Roll Bars, Reuben Dip, or Brownies with Shortbread Crust.) After the reception, the Teacher’s Marketplace was a new activity that was well attended and well received by the Retreat attendees.

Once again, I sincerely thank the members of the Special Events Committee for their work to ensure the success of Retreat 2017. You may not know, but the planning for Retreat 2018 begins with our next committee meeting on March 29th. Many hours are put into planning and executing everything that goes into making the Retreat happen each year. If you get the chance to speak to one of the following committee members, please thank them in person for their efforts: Kat Feldman, Carol Haiar, Katie Hess, Geri Skonieczny, Kat Van Eyck and Kathy Willmering. Many thanks also go out to Toni Fohey our “printing angel”!

Our committee welcomes anyone who might want to join us in planning the next Retreat and the other special events for LBS. We usually meet the 4th Wednesday of the month but check the calendar on the web site since days and dates can change. Anyone interested can also talk to me in person or email me with any questions they have about committee activities.

Maureen Bartz
VP, Special Events

The buzz at Retreat 2017 was it was 'the best yet'. Every year the event grows and improves. This year was no exception: the classes, the teachers, the swag bags, the food. Everything was fabulous. There were the tried-and-true events that have become traditions like the Friday night Make-n-Take and Saturday’s shopping and appetizers, both at Funky Hannah's. Of course, there was the swag bag that was chock full of goodies including three patterns from Adele Kimpbell, one of this year’s guest teachers. The Special Events chair, Maureen Bartz, had begun working on filling it at the 2016 Bead and Button Show and it her efforts were obvious and appreciated. The classes offered a variety of techniques and new challenges and the daily project kits were varied and fun.

And then, there were the improvements. This year was no exception with changes both big and small like offering a class on Friday afternoon and dropping the Saturday night classes and replacing it with the Teacher's Marketplace. Judging by the swarm of people who shopped as soon as it opened, the Marketplace was a hit and hopefully a success for the vendors. But the little improvements that were made were noticed and appreciated too, like the personalized schedule printed on the back of everyone's name tag, and the schedule board in every room, listing that day's events. And this year, the return of the sandwich and soup buffet at noon on Saturday had most people satisfied.

The Special Events Committee worked hard on making sure everything ran smoothly. Prior to the weekend, a list of suggestions on how to get the most out of the weekend was shared via email and at the beginning of each class, a room monitor introduced the guest teacher and reminded everyone to silence their cell phones. As a result, there were fewer distractions in the classrooms and people could concentrate – and concentrate they did. Everyone’s head was bent during every class – an indication of how serious everyone was working on the new projects.

Evaluations were handed out at each session and an overall evaluation was handed out to everyone. It’s safe to say, judging by the great turn-out, the fact that no classes were cancelled and the high caliber of the instructors, this year’s retreat was a great success. The Special Events Committee, lead by Maureen Bartz can be very proud. Thank you everyone and can we start counting down to next year?

Below are photos from Retreat 2017. (Note: photos from Sunday's classes can be found here.)





The fall Bead-In was held at the New Berlin Public Library. Under Maureen Bartz's direction about 20 members participated in the annual event. The main attraction was making a button bracelet. Hundreds of buttons had been donated, plus many participants brought their private collections. Half the fun was pouring over the choices searching for just the right selections and then searching again. 

You can see the colorful results here - every one unique.

On a recent trip to Wisconsin Dells, I stopped in at Prairie Flower Beads in Portage, Wisconsin. Just a 15 minute detour off the interstate.
For such a small town, this is a huge shop.
They have everything, including an impressive array of gemstone beads, cabochons, fossils and other semi-precious gemstone specimens.
My husband is always okay with checking out the neighborhood bead stores, as long as there is something for him to look at too.

Check them out!

Prairie Flower Beads LLC
210 West Cook Street
Portage, WI 53901


I visited Blue Bead Trading Company in Stevens Point, WI. Check them out when you are in the area! Although it is a small shop,
there's lots of stuff. My husband enjoyed looking at all the geodes, fossils and minerals, while I looked thru the bead section.
Blue Bead is in downtown Stevens Point, so there's lots of shopping available in addition to the bead store.

Blue Bead Trading Company LLC
1043 Main St.
Stevens Point, WI 54481

I first saw the Xuron 4 in 1 Crimper at the Xuron Bead&Button Show booth.  Abby and Ashley were there giving demonstrations.  Since I gave a glowing review of the Xuron "Fireline" scissors, and sell them, Abby gave me a sample of the new crimper!  I was so excited with the demonstration and the sample that I said, "Glowing review coming right up!"

When I first started making jewelry (was it really over 20 years ago?), my mother and stepfather gave me a pair of Craftsman 4518 needle nose pliers.  I did everything with them: bend wire, cut wire, and squeeze crimp beads.  There were many times where I wasn't happy with the crimp and had to do it over and over again because it just wouldn't hold.  I even had to restring pieces because I had to cut the wire to try crimping again.  I got nervous that my necklaces and bracelets wouldn't hold.

Years later I bought actual crimping pliers - the Mighty Crimper and the Micro Crimper.  In looking those up I found there's also a Bead Crimper tool that I think is made by the same company.

The difference with crimping pliers and squeezing the crap out of the crimp bead with needle nose pliers is that crimping pliers (with the right kind of crimping bead) will put a dent in the middle of the bead in one part of the pliers then you turn it to fold the two halves together.

I had slightly better success with those tools, but I frequently had problems getting the dent deep enough so the two halves would fold together nicely.  I don't know if I was using the wrong tool for the size crimp beads I had or if the dent just wasn't deep enough.  Here's a close-up picture of the Mighty Crimpers squeezed shut:


The first hole is where the bead gets folded over, and the lips-looking one is the part that makes the dent.  See the huge gap there?  I think that was my problem.

Again - I could have been using the wrong size crimp beads.  Remember I mentioned three different pliers by the same company?  The Micro Crimpers are for 1mm beads and smaller.  The Mighty Crimpers are for 3mm beads and larger.  I guess the Bead Crimper tool is for 2mm beads.  So you need three tools to cover all the different sizes of crimp beads.  I guess you can just buy one tool and one size crimp bead, but that's limiting.  Somewhere along the way I've misplaced the Micro Crimpers, so I've been limping along with the Mighty Crimpers... Until now.

Here is the Xuron 4 in 1 Crimper in all its glory:


I love the color.  The bright green will stand out on my messy desk (as long as it's not completely covered in papers).  It's actually brighter in person and very pretty.

Let's look at the business end close up:

XC03  Open

XC04 Closed

The back of the package has a detailed diagram of each of the parts of the pliers.  From left to right there's the 1mm folding station, the 2mm folding station, the 3mm folding station, and the crimping station.  I think it's so cute that they call them "stations".  There's also a step by step guide for how to use the pliers.  And... Bonus!  The tip is a chain nose plier.  You can use the crimping pliers to help you bend the wire into place instead of grabbing another pair of pliers.

Did you notice the difference in the crimping station?  It's a tight V instead of a loose U.  This makes a world of difference.  Also, the 3mm folding station is a lot smaller than the one on the Mighty Crimper.  I know it's for crimp beads 3mm or bigger, but I think the hole was too big to properly work on 3mm beads.

Let's see the Xuron Crimper in action.  I have quite a mix of crimping beads I bought from who-knows-where.  The only ones I'm sure are actual crimp beads are long, so each part of the process needs to happen twice: making the dent twice and folding twice, once at each end of the bead.

Here's the initial crimping (making the dent):

XC05 In action

XC06 Final result after crimping twice.

I find it's easier to have the V with the opening at the bottom.  Gravity keeps the crimp bead in place while the top part comes down to crimp.

In case you're wondering, I decided to take pictures while making a necklace instead of wasting a crimp bead.  I put the loop of the clasp through the wire's loop instead of using jump rings which can pull apart during wear.  I don't want to risk the wire slipping out of the jump ring's slit and having the piece fall off.

I then turned the crimp bead to the side so the dent is horizontal (like this: > ), and squeezed it in the 2mm folding station:


After squeezing both ends, here's the final result:


That sucker isn't going anywhere!

The one thing I wish the 4 in 1 Crimper had is a "cutting station".  Once I have the wire crimped, if the end is too long, I need to reach for my cutters to trim.  It's not a huge deal, of course, but it would be nice.  Doesn't hurt to dream!  :)

For anyone who strings jewelry at all, this is the tool to use for all your crimping needs.  I have used it numerous times - it's easy to use, and I have had no problems with any crimp beads sliding out.  I love the bright green color, and since Xuron makes it, I know the quality is high.

This is not going to be the case with every tool I review, but I sell this 4 in 1 Crimper along with a few other Xuron tools.  You can find the Crimper at any bead show I go to (see my website for my calendar) or on my Xuron tool shop page for $22 plus $3 shipping.  You can find them cheaper elsewhere, but I include a project worksheet which explains how to use the tool along with instructions for a two-strand bracelet.  Also, you'll have my undying gratitude, and if there are any problems with the tool, I have a direct line to Xuron.

Happy crimping (for once)!

The Spring bead-in had a huge response with two optional classes taught by Irina Miech of Eclectica Beads and open beading available to everyone. Lunch was subs and cookies and candy were abundant the entire day. The classes filled and the free beading room was full as well. (Photos by Pat Harvey are here.) Some of the members brought beaded pieces to be photographed in the Lightbox. (You can see them here.)

Attendees in the morning class, 'Spiny Spirals: Pendant and Earrings' were treated to a pattern that Irina is including in an upcoming book - a collection of organic designs in wire. Most members were able to get their pieces done including a quick dunk in a liver of sulfur bath. Irina's husband Tony assisted her with some of the set-up work during the classes.

After lunch participants learned a technique for framing a cabochon using wire and a variation of the Viking weave. While the technique was challenging - kinks in wire are hard to deal with - the results were forgiving and most people were able to finish this project as well. Irina was generous with her praise and instructions.

Book Title: Spiral Ropes
Author: Claudia Schumann
ISBN: 978-3-940577-26-9

I recently bought this book and I actually made something from it!! Usually, I buy books, look through them, buy the beads necessary to make a project, and then it sits in my UFO section.

I love spiral ropes. I have made many over the years, mainly as a rope on which to hang a pendant. This books takes you many steps farther, and uses a variety of beads to make stand-alone bracelets that need no further embellishment.

The author gives you some basic instructions on spiral stitch, and then the rest of the book contains patterns for all the variations, using bugle beads, large beads, small beads, etc.

I liked this format, because I already know something about spiral stitch (I don’t need any instructions in the stitch), but I am not so skilled at combining beads to create an unusual effect. The book contains dozens of projects, and lists the beads required to make the stitch.

 SpiralRopeBook small Bracelet small

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