Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Bead Machine

This is another great example of creative people making great things on kickstarter. Bead charms are all the rage these days with the likes of Pandora, Trollbeads, Persona, etc. Photobeads are aiming to make these beads more personal and fun! They are in their last 47hrs and are only seeking £450 in funding. Pledge now and get your own customized beads.

If you decide to back them, please leave a comment on their campaigns comment page that you found their project through IamABacker.com , Thank you.

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Photobeads and custom made glass jewellery.
Welcome to my project.
Where I was
I've been making beads for the last four years or so. Prior to that, my partner and I had a small online jewelry business specializing in charm beads. We were doing reasonably okay until lots of others started jumping on the band wagon. To counter this, I decided to approach some manufacturers in the far east with some of my own designs for beads (Which incidentally is where most of the major branded charm beads are also made). Doing this involved buying 1000 beads of the same design at the same time though. I went ahead  with the idea all the same but it proved to be the wrong decision. The quality was there but the manufacturers didn't quite convey the ideas to my expectations. I got stuck with a lot of stock that I struggled to sell for a profit. After that, the business went downhill along with my relationship.
With what was left over, I acquired some basic bead making equipment and set about teaching myself a new skill. I had managed to turn my business into a hobby! It was slow at first and I struggled to fit it in with working full time. By the time I managed to upgrade the equipment, my skills were starting to improve. I was managing to control the glass more and some artistic flare began to creep in. It wasn't too long before I was even making little glass animal charm beads. As soon as I was able to control the size of the beads I was making, it became possible to make full-on "set pieces" (as I lovingly call them now) and have something other than the charm beads under my belt. With this in mind, I set about creating a style of jewelry that I could use as my own canvas. I have a drawer full of prototypes that are wrong for all manner of reasons. Going back to the charm beads though - out came Photobead.
Where I am
I now have a style of jewelry that ticks all the boxes for me as an artist and a designer. It looks stunning and is durable too. In my opinion, it will always look good and last more than a lifetime. It's essentially rubber, stainless steel and toughened glass - now my materials of choice.

 There's an infinite range of designs that can be applied to this style - a style that can bridge tastes.

 Even the simplest of designs look stunning.

 Well I say simplest, but don't forget that every bead is individually made.
I still like to make charm beads. It's all still the same equipment I need to use and they are ever popular. I just try to make something a little different,

 I do occasionally break away from the animals still.

 It's a pleasure to make these beads and constantly come up with fresh ideas. However, one particular bead really managed to strain my imagination. It was a quest to create the bead that everyone with a charm bracelet would want. It had to be something truly personal. I figured there had to be a way to get a photograph inside a glass bead. With a huge amount of blood, sweat, burns, tears and patience I finally cracked it.

 Photobead was born. You wouldn't believe the amount effort that goes into one tiny bead but I now have the production methods in place (very strange they are too).

 The Idea is to either have two images per bead or one image and a short message on the reverse.

 These beads are also shockproof and waterproof. Small flaws and tiny air bubbles are sometimes apparent but unlike metal charm with photos laminated onto them, Photobead will retain it's quality for years.
So at the moment, I have three separate lines that can transform my hobby back into a viable business with vast potential.
Where I'm going
I'm now in a position where I can take on customer requests. With the "set pieces" range, a customer can ask for specific colours and patterns (spotty, stripey, swirly etc) on the main beads, then I can transform them into a bespoke piece of jewelry. The same applies to the individual charm beads and the Photobeads speak for them selves.
Why do I need funding?
I need to take the quality up to the next level. All the charm beads and Photobeads currently only come with silver plated inserts. I desperately need the tooling and raw materials to be able to use sterling silver tubular inserts inside the beads. This is where the vast majority of the funding will go. The rest will go towards broadening the range of colours of glass I use.
Thanks for looking and if this campaign doesn't appeal to you, please try and share it with someone who may be interested. Check out my Facebook page for my latest work https://www.facebook.com/thebeadmachine
more samples from first campaign that didn't make it.

 Over the last few years, I have taught myself the art of glass bead making. One afternoon, two years ago, I realised that it may be possible to encase images inside the glass. At first, only black and white lettering was achievable.

 I had to find a method that would allow me to use colour images. After immense trial, error, heartbreak, blood and burns I finally achieved this.

 I now need to raise funds to enable me to bump up the quality a touch and help boost production. This will be achieved with extra tooling, upgrading the tools I already have and bulk buying the materials I use.
To my knowledge, I'm the only person on the planet who can make these beads. There's dedicated production methods in place, some of which could be carried out by hiring staff at a later date (Only if the beads become a success, of course.).

Each bead is made from scratch...
Each bead is made from scratch...

...Then baked for strength and durability.
...Then baked for strength and durability.
 Your pledge will help me to turn my hobby into a (hopefully) thriving business. My goal is to be able to keep making these beads in the UK. It would be all too easy to get them mass produced elsewhere, but your pledges will enable me to better any outsourced price. With two people making these beads, it's possible to make three times as many. With this in mind, should orders reach a certain level, I pledge to employ and train someone from the dole que.
If you choose to pledge and the project reaches it's goal, I shall send you the details of how to get the pictures to me for your photobead. The beads themselves have a hole size of 4.5mm and will fit on most brands of charm bracelet. Alternatively, they can be threaded onto a leather thong or ribbon.
Apologies for the crudeness of this presentation - I am a Kickstarter virgin :)

Thanks for looking.
Thanks for looking.

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