TierraCast Tour

One of my first purchases from an official bead store was in the mid 1990’s, at a bead store in Cambridge, MA. It was a small antique silver plated goddess charm by TierraCast. I still own that charm as at the time it was just too special to actually use. Across the country in Berkeley, CA Jim & Lisa Kaufman’s bead store, Baubles & Beads, was in its infancy, and Julia, our current store manager, was a high school student who shopped at their store. None of us knew one another, we were all just beaders who could never imagine that nearly two decades later we would all be working together at Baubles & Beads and going on a field trip tour the TierraCast facilities. TCI-Logo-WebChances are if you have ever made jewelry with base metal beads or components you too have introduced TierraCast products into your own collection. It was with great pleasure and much anticipation we were given the opportunity to tour the factory and learn more about the production of those fabulous finds and meet the people who create them.

We were met by Julia wearing a fabulous ring made by Tania Skevos, a former store manager of Baubles & Beads who is now quite famous.

We were met by Julie who wearing a fabulous ring made by Tania Skevos, a former store manager of Baubles & Beads who is now quite famous.

Upon our arrival we met up with Julie, our ambassador for the day. Her bubbly enthusiasm immediately struck a chord with us as we too are excited to share the story of growth and change of another small business.

Meet Tracy, she is TierraCast's marketing guru.

Meet Tracy, she is TierraCast’s jewelry designer and marketing maven.

She began by introducing us to several people we had interacted with on the phone, through email, and whose names we’d recognize from years of doing business together.

Alan Joseph, one of the company owners and product designer, was our tour guide and he guided us through the entire impressive compound, in order of production from design idea to finished piece. Every piece is made under the same house except for the plating including: design, production, manufacturing, sales, and marketing.

Digital rendering meet the finished piece.

Digital rendering meet the finished piece.

Alan works entirely through graphic design templates on his computer when designing the beautiful and detailed signature TierraCast pieces. He has a background in fine art, so the process starts with that in mind. The products go through rigorous testing periods before they make it to you, the beader. Only 1 in 10 design ideas actually make it into the product line.Scotts BenchAfter all design specifics have been developed digitally he then hands the work off to his team of metalsmith geniuses to begin the task of making a model.  Above is a picture of Scott’s bench, he trained at Tiffany. Be sure to zoom in on the pic to get a good look at all his tools. The window directly in front of his bench looks out to a tranquil garden setting, now that’s what we call a good day’s work! microscopePerfection is required, evident by the microscope in the room. Once the piece has gone through the intensive and fastidious design process, they begin production by making a mold.stackofmoldsMolds are made by pressing silicone in a steel plate that is heated. We were impressed by the organization in the mold making room. Notice in the background of the photo above how the finished molds are arranged. There is a whole back room filled with molds.MoldsEach mold only has a lifespan of about 300 uses. The mold maker was on vacation the day of our tour. He just celebrated 25 years at TierraCast. Definitely a sign of a good company to work for.pewtersolidTierraCast excels in the use high quality pewter. The standard for lead content in culinary pewter is 500ppm. TierraCast uses a pewter alloy called Britannia that contains lead in the minute level of less than 100 ppm. Most pieces have about 25-35ppm of lead content.MoltenMetalWe step over to the next room and find a vat of molten metal next to the casting machine. casterWomanRocksThe caster pours the molten metal into the opening of the mold located in a centrifuge. Centrifugal force pushes the molten metal evenly throughout the mold making for consistent results. Angela, the caster pictured above is one of the fastest casters at TierraCast.buttonsOnATreeOnce the caster has produced a large quantity of product they then simply break the pieces off the “tree”. It is a testament to the fine craftsmanship of the mold maker that no hand finishing is required after removing the product from the tree.removalofbeadsHow dreamy that the day we visited they were casting one of our best-selling items: the Buddha Bead.  A short walk away is another building that houses the finishing room.HomemadeTumblerMy little Lortone tumbler is nothing compared to TierraCast’s homemade version. These drums are filled with cast pieces and different tumbling media to help quickly remove any burrs or imperfections. Once the pieces are tumbled they are sent off-site to be plated. Plating is the only process that does not happen in-house. Upon return from the plater, TierraCast applies chemical antiquing as needed.fillingorders

When we opened the door to the order fulfillment office a blast of cold air struck us; a true sign of women working in here. This room was filled with drawer after drawer of beads, charms, pendants, bails, button, findings, clasps, earwires, oh my gosh I can’t list all of the wonder inside. Sorry the pic so so fuzzy but those ladies work fast!! julieandlisaThe conclusion of our tour left us time for photo ops with each other. Above is one of myself and Julie. We all know Julie well as she has been TierraCast’s sales rep for a long time. We often meet up at the bead shows in Tucson and Milwaukee. lkandjulieNext up is Lisa Kaufman , co-owner of Baubles & Beads, and Julie. Have we mentioned how fun Julie is?organizationAnd to finish us off we have Julia, our store manager, loving the tidiness of the entire place. Interestingly enough, between three of us photographing our tour, Jim Kaufman (the incredibly handsome co-owner of Baubles & Beads) never made it into any of our photos.

 

Student Exhibit -Opening October 1st, 2013

Student Exhibit

Showing at Baubles & Beads
through November 18th

It is amazing how so many of us begin our journey into jewelry making propelled by the idea that we just want to make a single piece. Somehow along the way it turns into an addiction and we feel compelled to learn more, make more, and of course collect more beads. Each of the following artists began the same way: with a single step. Although this exhibit features beginners and professionals alike there is a common thread amongst them all that binds them into the same show, a love for beads and metal and bringing forth something beautiful from them.

Visit the entire collection at the store in Berkeley, CA.

Here are a few highlights from the exhibit:

Seedbeads

Perhaps one of the most time consuming forms of beadwork, seedbead woven projects easily span many months, even years for larger pieces, of dedicated work.

Mary Staats has been beading for over a decade. Her love of seedbeads is beautifully displayed in this piece: Tidepool Beaded Bracelet

Tidepool Beaded Bracelet, an original design by Mary Staats

Pods, an original design by Judy Sinclair

Pods, an original design by Judy Sinclair

 

Metalwork & PMC

Rivets, flame, hammers, files and sweat go into making fabulous metalsmithed jewelry. We are proud to see so many of our students branching out to design and create their own works of wonder.

Spiral Ring with Beads and 5 Domes & A Feather, both original designs by Jennifer Magnusson

Spiral Ring with Beads and 5 Domes & A Feather, both original designs by Jennifer Magnusson

Punched & Pounded Bib, an original design by Sara Dinelli

Punched & Pounded Bib, an original design by Sara Dinelli

Textured Copper Earrings and Copper Laurel Teardrops, both original designs by Lorah Gross

Textured Copper Earrings and Copper Laurel Teardrops, both original designs by Lorah Gross

 

Wire Work & Stringing

A wrap here, a tuck there, wirework and stringing demonstrate the art of seamless beginnings and endings. Each art form focuses the attention toward beads and the use of color, texture and form.

Charleston Sunset, an original design by Storm Harvey

Charleston Sunset, an original design by Storm Harvey

Chrysoprase Jewel Necklace and Tourmaline Wire Wrapped Scroll Bracelet, both original designs by Lisa Spiegelman

Chrysoprase Jewel Necklace and Tourmaline Wire Wrapped Scroll Bracelet, both original designs by Lisa Spiegelman

Silver & Gold Elegance and Spinell Drop Necklace, original designs by Judith Greifenhagen

Silver & Gold Elegance and Spinell Drop Necklace, original designs by Judith Greifenhagen

1st Fused Glass Earrings, an original design, and Wire Wrapping Practice #2, both by Mary Gilles

1st Fused Glass Earrings, an original design, and Wire Wrapping Practice #2, both by Mary Gilles

An original design by Cheryl Rowe

An original design by Cheryl Rowe

Huib Petersen: Flowers, Ocean Life and Right-Angle Weave

Huib Petersen
Showing at Baubles & Beads
Thru September 30th

For many years Huib Petersen’s jewelry enchanted those of us lucky enough to connect with him. With a studio in San Francisco, he was one of our local treasures. After nearly two decades he remains a local treasure, the greatest difference being that we must now share him with the world. Recognized internationally for his designs and instruction, Huib is now one of the most sought after designers for bead woven jewelry depicting flowers, ocean life, and right-angle weave structured forms. We are honored to showcase 18 pieces from his collection, including bracelets, necklaces and handlets, each piece worthy of awe.

Wall Flowers

Wall Flowers Necklace

Needlecrafts first caught Huib’s attention when he was a child growing up in a small town in Holland. Encouraged by his mom, grandma, and the local needlecraft store owner, he picked up crochet, knitting, tatting, macramé, bobbin lace, needle lace, and embroidery with ease.

Going Medieval

Going Medieval

In high school, Huib discovered the theater and loved every aspect of it. He strengthened his existing skills and learned new ones — acting, directing, puppetry, costume design, stage design, backdrop painting, singing, and writing.

In 1995, Huib moved from Holland to San Francisco and opened a small arts and crafts workshop and gallery on Nob Hill. Inspired by a chance encounter with 19th-century Russian beadwork, he discovered the beauty and challenges of designing with beads.

Swim Around My Wrist Bracelets

Swim Around My Wrist Bracelets

Huib uses different sizes of beads as a building material — like little bricks — and a variety of traditional stitches as a flexible, tensile sort of mortar. Placing beads one by one, row by row on top of each other, he combines his needlework, theater, and jewelry skills to create sculpted bugs, butterflies, birds, and sea creatures in their environments. The result is a unique kind of wearable art that offers the intricacy of embroidery and lace, the depth of a theater set and the durability and brilliance of glass.

Enchanted Waters

Enchanted Waters

Huib has been doing beadwork full-time for many years and all of his pieces are unique. His work is featured in Beading Across America. As an instructor, his endless creative energy is very apparent in the classroom and to all of us who know and work with him.

You can view more of Huib’s work on exhibit at our store in Berkeley, CA or visit his website.

The Work of Eleanor Pigman

Eleanor Pigman
Showing at Baubles & Beads
June 21st-August 8th, 2013

It is amazing how small our big world has become. I first became familiar with Eleanor when she posted a picture of her work on the Baubles & Beads Facebook page. It was a little bead embroidered jellyfish with fabric tentacles and a body made of freshwater pearl and glass beads. Just looking at the picture of that jellyfish transported me to an imagined cottage by the sea with the sound of waves crashing over the beach and this perfect little beaded jellyfish framed on the wall.  I felt drawn to her work and shared the photo. A couple of messages later I was scrolling through her blog and discovered she had much more to share and we promptly invited her to exhibit her work at Baubles & Beads.

When the artwork arrived I opened the box immediately, excited to finally see her work up close. The moment was reminiscent of a Christmas morning when, finally, I get to see what is inside those wrapped boxes.  To my delight and amusement the first piece to slide from the packaging was a portrait of Al Gore.

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Her work is composed of glass seed beads (mostly size 11/0’s) sewn onto felt with fabric backgrounds. As an avid beader I am looking at the work with a different perspective than most people. I visually scan the piece for each individual stitch and find it comforting to spot a stray thread as if it serves as proof that this work was indeed made hand.

A work in progress. Notice the light sketching of lines on the felt.

A work in progress. Notice the light sketching of lines on the felt.

Especially interesting in the collection are the pieces with raised textures. Some of the shapes are sewn into padded material giving the work dimension. Eleanor also encircles choice beads and colorful fabric swatches with peyote stitch to create a coral effect. This effect makes one want to investigate the piece further, to peer into the little window to see what could be lurking inside.

Both of these works feature raised textures.

Both of these works feature raised textures.

To add yet another dimension to her work, some of the beaded pieces extend beyond the mat board as if to reach out and become a part of our dimension.

Two great example of the artwork "escaping" from the confines of the mat board.

Two great example of the artwork “escaping” from the confines of the mat board.

Eleanor also effectively uses color and lines to create visual dimension in her work.

Eleanor also effectively uses color and lines to create visual dimension in her work.

Many of the pieces are mounted into 5x7 mats.

Many of the pieces are mounted into 5×7 mats.

Be sure to stop by the store and check out the exhibit.

Learn more about Eleanor Pigman and her work by viewing her artist statement and bio.

All of Eleanor Pigman’s work exhibited at Baubles & Beads is available for purchase. If you are unable to view the work in person check out her Etsy Store: Epigman.

Beaded Purses Exhibit

Beaded Purses: Curated by Emily B Miller
Showing at Baubles & Beads May 24th-June 19th

Tiny beads made of glass and steel that have been out of production for nearly 100 years, silk thread, needles, fabric and time make up this great exhibit. A beaded bag could take anywhere from a month to nearly a year to complete. From the Victorians and the Flappers to modern bead workers, beaded handbags have always been a canvas to explore color and mastery of technique. Our newest exhibition features handbags that span over 100 years, from delicate knitted versions with the soft drape of silk yarn holding thousands of beads together in decorative patterns to sweet dance purses designed to slip over the fingers of a flapper, the perfect size to hold a lipstick and mirror. The exhibit also features French steel cut examples and several modern loomed handbags that are meant to show the skill of the bead worker on a large project.

Bead Knitted Purses

Two fine examples of knitted glass beaded bags.

Two fine examples of knitted glass beaded bags.

From the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s there was a rise in the commercial manufacturing of beaded purses which fostered a market for the sale of patterns and supplies for making beaded purses and accessories at home. Knitting was a staple in every household from the poorest to the richest; women could express their creativity with fiber and needles. Bead knitted purses were made from patterns or kits, each bead was strung on ‘purse silk’ in a pattern using tens of thousands of beads. Each knitted stitch included a single bead. Steel beads allowed for many metallic colors, which were often mixed with colored fibers. Loom weaving was also used producing flat canvases to use for design. Popular patterns included flowers, garden scenes, strong geometrics, and popular culture trends of the day such as the Egyptian Revival styles that followed the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.

French Steel Cut Bags

A French steel cut purse. Notice the colors of the beads distinguishing it from American steel cut beads.

A French steel cut purse. Notice the colors of the beads distinguishing it from American steel cut beads.

Both France and the United States produced steel cut beads. The French versions were by far the most exquisite and sought after as their manufacture included chemically and electrolytically colored beads in an amazing variety of hues. Many of the bags made of steel cut beads were loom woven by hand, many originating from Austria. The demise of the steel cut purse was due in great part to the deterioration of both bead and bag structure. The steel beads were prone to rust, and the sheer weight of the beads caused the silk threads they were strung on to break.

Notice the damage caused by wear in this bag. The silk lining is shredded and beads are coming loose from the sides.

Notice the damage caused by wear in this bag. The silk lining is shredded and beads are coming loose from the sides.

Swag Beaded Bags

A knitted glass bead bag. Notice the exquisite frame that has at one time been reattached to the purse in contrasting thread.

A knitted glass bead bag. Notice the exquisite frame that has at one time been reattached to the purse in contrasting thread.

Swag designs became popular in the early 1910’s. These designs often incorporated the color of silk with solid color blocks of beads. These patterns were widely available, quick and easy to make, and rather inexpensive.

Dance Purses

A collection of purses featuring the tambour technique of beading.

A collection of purses featuring the tambour technique of beading.

The Roaring 20’s signaled a different need in handbags, something that kept up with the current fashions and allowed for more freedom for women. Young women were attending casual events and dancing was a large part of the entertainment. Smaller bags with beads embroidered on the surface using a new technique, tambour beading, allowed for the faster application of beads with flowing patterns including swirls and curls in the designs. Mixed types of beads, glass pearls, faceted ‘cut’ beads and one-facet charlotte beads were popular. Many of these bags were imported from the Czechoslovakia, Belgium and France.

Beaded Bags in the 50’s

A small clutch purse.

A small clutch purse.

There was still a market for ‘lady-like’ handbags in the rock and roll era of the 1950’s. Bags took on a more structured look. The popular styles included box shapes, with firm sides, often with a short strap or as a clutch to be hand carried. These bags had matching mirrors and compacts. Imported bags were the norm, with handmade bags falling our of favor to machine made styles.

Contemporary Beaded Bags

A contemporary loom woven bag by Emily B Miller.

A contemporary loom woven bag by Emily B Miller.

There are many techniques currently being used to make beaded handbags. Knitting, crochet and loom weaving are some of the most popular today. Patterns are hand drawn or can be digitally designed. Loom weaving can be used to produce flat or round shapes depending on the experience of the beadworker. On exhibit are two pieces in process. One is still threaded on the loom while the other has been removed from the loom and the artist is in the process of weaving in the warp threads. Bead embroidery has also emerged as a popular method for embellishing fabrics and leather to create a beaded handbag. Improvements in the manufacturing process of beads has resulted in creating beads with consistent shape, size, and larger holes, making for faster and more even results.

More information about beaded purses can be found in an excellent book by Evelyn Haertig: More Beaded Purses ISBN# 0-943294-009.
In 2007 the Lacis Museum of Lace & Textiles, located in Berkeley, CA, held an exhibition celebrating the beaded bag. Visit their exhibition page to view slides of their showing.

About Emily B. Miller and her love for beaded handbags…..

“When I saw my first small white purse I imagined a young woman out to dance and have a wonderful time… as I saw more and more of these little purses, (mostly white and cream) I was drawn to their naiveté, simple sweet purses just the right size for a lipstick, compact and a bit of mad money…”

“I started my collection pretty innocently with a purchase on Ebay of one little bag for $10. It quickly spiraled out of control! I’ve found bags at antique stores, yard sales, thrift shops, and flea markets. I have collected so many that I’ve been known to give a piece of jewelry in a beaded bag! I’ve learned a bunch by rehabbing a bag, how to replace the lining, make a new strap, and fix the loose beadwork. Making my own designs into bags was a huge undertaking, but the results are bragging rights for a lifetime. Any special event calls to carry a beaded handbag, and sometimes just for every day.”

Look Who’s Teaching @ The Bead And Button Show!

While looking over our newest class schedule I realized that six (Yes SIX!) of our instructors are also teaching at The Bead And Button Show in June. If you aren’t familiar with the show check out their website and be prepared to be AMAZED. It is the world’s largest bead show offering more than 750 classes in the span of 12 days. Many of the classes offered by our instructors are also available to attend locally at our store. Hmmm, it feels good to rub elbows with the bead famous. To read full descriptions of each of these instructor’s classes taught at the show follow this link and search by the instructor’s name.

Lisa Claxton

Lisa Claxton's classes at Bead & Button

Lisa Claxton’s classes at Bead & Button

This year she is offering 5 wire classes at Bead & Button; one of which is a 3-day workshop called The Fundamentals of Wirework. In addition to teaching Basic Wire Work at our store, each of her other classes are often offered at Baubles & Beads. In fact, she often debuts her classes at our store before offering them at national bead shows. There are beady perks to living in the Bay Area! She is currently offering Leaf & Vine Bracelet, Herringbone Weave Wire Wrapping, Stamp It On Metal, Byzantine Bracelet, Crochet Shell Cluster Bracelet, Fused Ball Link Chain, Fused Fine Silver Chains, Stone Medallion Pendant, Dreams of Viking Knit & Crystals, and Wire Bezels at Baubles & Beads. She is also a contributor in the book Stamped Metal Jewelry.

Teri Dannenberg Lawson

Teri Dannenberg Lawson's classes at Bead & Button

Teri Dannenberg Lawson’s classes at Bead & Button

By day Teri helps develop science curriculum for middle school kids. By night she is a seedbead queen, figuring out how she can stitch those seedbeads into fabulous designs inspired by nature. Although she currently does not have any classes scheduled at Baubles & Beads, keep a lookout for her inspiring use of color and form to grace our class schedule this summer.

Huib Petersen

Huib Peterson's classes at Bead & Button

Huib Petersen’s classes at Bead & Button

Huib’s work is always an inspiration to anyone who loves nature or bead weaving. He is teaching seven classes at the Bead & Button show this year. His work is featured in the new book, Beading Across America. While he travels internationally to teach he always makes time to share his skills with students at Baubles & Beads. This session he is offering a special 3-part comprehensive course, Peyote Stitch & Beyond: Fundamentals in Beading and Up & Over.

Kate Richbourg

Kate Richbourg's classes at Bead & Button

Kate Richbourg’s classes at Bead & Button

Kate is a master of all things beads and metal. She has shared her skills with us through classes for over 15 years. Her new book Simple Soldering A Beginner’s Guide To Soldering is chock full of projects and ideas that will get your torch heated up. In addition to many articles in bead magazines she is also a project contributor in Stamped Metal Jewelry. This session Kate is teaching Crystal Framed Ring and Patinas & Cold Connections at Baubles & Beads.

Anat Silvera

Anat Silvera's classes at Bead & Button

Anat Silvera’s classes at Bead & Button

Anat has had a long history at Baubles & Beads. Over decades she has taught wirework, enameling, metalwork, stringing and design classes at our store. Her current love of torch fired enamels and forging metals is demostrated in her class lineup at our store. This session Anat is teaching Beads & Leather Bracelet, Fold Form Components, Introduction to Enameling, Enamel On Curved Forms, The Fandango Necklace, Fused Silver & Copper Bracelet, Multistrand Necklace, Soldering & Enameling, Spiral Fold Fantasy, and Wire Wrapped Cabochon.

Joe Silvera

Joe Silvera's classes at Bead & Button

Joe Silvera’s classes at Bead & Button

With the release of his first book, Soldering Made Simple: Easy techniques for the kitchen table jeweler, Joe has been busy teaching at many national bead shows and at his own school, The Silvera Jewelry School. We keep him pretty busy at Baubles & Beads too! This session he is offering Basic Metalsmithing, Basic Soldering, Bezel Set Pendant, Fusing with Argentium, The Mural Ring, and Twisted Bangles.

emiko oye is teaching at SCRAP in S.F.

This month’s presenter at the Bead Society of Northern California monthly meeting was emiko oye. She is most notable for her Lego & found art jewelry designs. Check out the great bracelet below that retails for $65. Yummy! Her color selection is fab AND she is teaching a class locally with Shana Astrachan at SCRAP in San Francisco. Check it out!

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