Relaunching and improving my handcrafted beads business.
In 2008 when living in Brighton, UK, I started using polymer clay, and went on a mission to create handmade beads.
I'd hermit myself away for weeks at a time, investing all I had into more polymer clays until I had a huge bag of bracelets.
One day I showed some friends the bag of bracelets and it was immediately obvious that people loved my beads. They all brought some.
Before I knew it I was getting orders, and spotting people around wearing my creations, that was nice.
Gradually the overall appearance and quality of my beads started to improve from the small and slightly wonkyish beads I would make at first. Eventually I found my own techniques and within a couple of years the beads had improved in their overall sense of quality. However, this years beads that I'm planning to make are going to be improved further.
This year I'll be using a firmer polymer clay to ensure overall quality and I'll also be wearing a hair net at all times during the initial bead crafting process. (That is well boffin i know, but this is the sort of quality products that I aim to produce).
The beads are made by using a process which has it's origins in Venetian glass where craftspeople would make canes with the patterns going all the way though. It's also the same process that is used for the sugary sticks of 'rock' that you find near the seaside (In the UK at least anyway).
This process ensures that patterning can't be scratched off the beads as the patterns run all the way through the beads. I've got friends that still have their bracelets from even before 2010.
I've also changed up my curing process, meaning that I will be spending extra time to cure the beads, leading to much more shinier and quality looking beads.
Some of my previous work (which i sold for cheaper) had small shiny spots on the beads which at the time seemed unavoidable, I've now finally solved this problem and the beads are looking so much greater now.
I'm pondering on scrapping the former name of 'Laughing Beader' for my business and just selling them under Ben Westwood. This feels better for me, perhaps more of a connection between me and the wearer of the bracelets.
After starting this years beads from very small amounts of clay, I aim to try and sell the one's I've made to invest in more polymer clays which means I can make more of my most popular beads on a bigger scale, meaning people won't miss out. This is why I've released a small amount for sale on the site of which there are only a handful of. (You can find them at https://www.benwestwooduk.com/available-items or by visiting my shop page)
Things I'll be investing in once I make some sales are the following.
More clays to make more designs, of which many are still in my head and I'm aching to get out there.
A pasta machine, this will take my bead designs to a whole new level. I can't wait!
The usual other little stuff I need for my business such as elastic, small plastic seal-able bags, hand and table wipes, hair nets and business cards to put into the baggies and for offline marketing.
I think that's everything so far as I've now got the mini oven sorted.
If you're looking forward to seeing more designs by me then why not purchase one of my ultra-limited-editions from my available items page . (I've even got glow in the dark ones up at the moment)
Thanks for your support and hopefully within a few months we'll have some proppa bangers up on the page!
Big love, stay safe.