Speak Up – USPS Negotiating Preferential Rates to China

USPS Postal Cost for Chinese Vendors on Ebay

Cost of shipping First Class (with tracking) from China

What do you think about a seller in HongKong (China in general) shipping a 1 pound package to New York City for $3.66 while a seller in New York City pays slightly under $6.00 to ship the same weight package?

US Postal Rates for 2 ounces within same city

Cost of Shipping 2 Ounces in US

It gets worse for the 2 ounce package: A Chinese shipper can ship for .98 and the same package costs the US Shipper $2.45.  See our previous Blog for data

This is the result of the UPU (Universal Postal Union) negotiation of rates with other countries. If you think this is deterimental to US businesses, giving Chinese (and other countries) an unfair advantage, then you can register your disapproval with the UPU, you must file through the Postal Regulatory Commission.  Click Here for Website for voicing your opinion. (There is a short period for filing, and that is probably by design!)

Last year the USPS lost $75 Million dollars on this level service along (who knows how much on smaller weight packages). Anyone who thinks they can make this up by shipping this lost leader in larger volume missed math classes and economics 101. The deficit has to be made up by someone, and guess who that is? It is either higher USPS rates for everyone in the US or it is the US taxpayer!

I have spoken to the UPU who is collecting the protest and they are anxious to hear from the US citizens. These negotiations I believe were held in secret and partly supported by companies like eBay. Amazon has gone on record as opposing the rates.

Below is my letter to the UPU (and while I serious doubt it will be taken into consideration, I believe I speak for most US citizens that think this is patently unfair competition.

For more information read Ina Steiner’s Report

RE: UPU (IM2016-1)       20 July 2016
Statement from a Small Business AGAINST further sponsoring low cost shipping from China.

As Amazon told Congress last year, Chinese sellers can ship to the US.

A package weighing 1 pound cost an American Business ~$6.00 while a Chinese shipper pays only $3.66 (Yes I realize that Amazon is not a small business, but they represent a market place where many of us small businesses sell and they have valid, auditable data.)

The IG Office said: The terminal dues provided through the UPU framework are a money-losing proposition for the U.S. Postal Service and many other national posts, according to USPS Inspector General David Williams. The IG’s office has reported that the Postal Service lost $75 million last year delivering inbound mail from foreign senders, and the rise of the online channel for cross-border commerce is only adding to the challenge.

This presents an unfair competition to the very heart of American businesses.

  • The presumed assumption that this low cost shipping goods to Americans at a lower cost somehow benefits America is not valid.

It is hurting Small Businesses and by penalizing these small businesses, you are thwarting growth and employment.

Surely you realize that those low cost goods do NOT represent any employment in the US, just a burden on the Post Office to deliver the packages –without the same compensation as delivering packages shipped in the US.

  • The USPS is subsidizing these Chinese goods. And the deficit has to be made up. That either comes by way of Postal Increases or through bailout of the USPS at the detriment of US taxpayers. (This has to be patently clear to you.)
  • Rising Postal Rates, compound the injury to American Businesses.

Any supposed benefit to Americans purchasing goods from China under this unfair agreement are more than offset by the number of small businesses just throwing up their hands and laying off employees.

I may be a small voice of one, and doubt seriously any affect or that my submittal will be read, but I feel it my duty to go on record opposing this continued penalty to Small Businesses.

Brenda Nishimoto
The Unlimited US/VenetianBeadShop.com”

Cleaning Silver Easy and Safe

If you prefer the bright shine ,925 Sterling Silver, not Silver with an Anti-Tarnish coating, which tones down the bright shine we all love, you need easy ways to clean it.

This cleaning method works, it’s easy, you have the items in your kitchen so give it a try. (Read the cautions below before you begin! And test on a small piece to be sure it works for you.)

before_after

Why does Silver tarnish?

Up until the industrial revolution, silver never tarnished? Imagine that. But with the pollutants that came from the industrial revolution, namely sulphur, we also got tarnishing .It is a chemical reaction, with the most common source through the air (pollutants) also bad for humans.

What You Need:

  • A glass or plastic dish or pan large enough to for your silver pieces to lie flat so that each piece is touching the aluminum foil
  • Aluminum foil to cover the bottom of the pan
  • Baking Soda
  • Hot Water (just before boiling) – I use my electric tea kettle.
how to clean silver, silver cleaning at VenetianBeadShop

Cleaning Silver the Easy Way

Note: Oxidized details (like lettering or other designs) are not suited for this as the cleaning may take away some of the oxidized details. Use a polishing cloth for this type silver items.

how to clean silver,silver cleaning,keeping your silver chain clean

Give it a few minutes, close the aluminum

How does it work?

Well the silver sulfide which is the dark, black formed on your silver pieces also loves Aluminum, well more than Silver. So when you put the piece of tarnished Silver touching Aluminum, add the Baking Soda, and hot water you trigger an electrochemical reaction. The Baking Soda in hot water creates a reaction which allows the silver sulfide to transfer from your Silver to the Aluminum. The silver must be touching the Aluminum for this to work because a small electrical current flows between the silver and aluminum, which is what makes it work.

After a few minutes, remove the silver pieces from the water and rinse clean. If there is still tarnish, you can repeat the process.

How to prevent Tarnish?

Store it in a silver chest (yes they still exist and are great for your table wear. For jewelry,

  • Absolutely Never wrap your silver in plastic. It holds in any moisture.
  • Use Fabric Jewelry Rolls
  • Use anti-tarnish inserts
  • Avoid touching the silver with lotions and creams – great for the skin but not for silver.

anti-tarnish inserts,keeping silver clean,anti tarnish

Cautions!

  • Do not use on plated silver because a light plating may become dull.
  • Do not use this on any jewelry or silver pieces which have beads,crystals, crystal pearls, pearls or  stones as the hot water and baking soda may damage them.

Things that will increase the likelihood of tarnish:

  • Pools, Hot Tub, Sauna
  • Soaps: kitchen, bath, etc.
  • Oils
  • Sulfur in the air in your location.

Prevention is obviously the best solution!

Shop our great selection of Findings

Calcedonia Glass – Technique from the 15th Century, Lost and ReFound!

Calcedonia Murano Glass Sculptures,Rosin,San Marco Square,Venetian Glass

Calcedonia Glass Sculptures – San Marco Square Glass Shop

     Calcedonia (Chalcedony) is a glass made with silver and other elements (glass is above all a chemical reaction which takes place in heat), developed in Murano during the mid fifteenth century. Angelo Barovier is attributed with developing this polychrome glass around 1460 (the 15th Century).The Barovier name has been synonymous with Murano Glass since the furnaces were moved to Murano from Venice. This famous family was granted the exclusive rights to the production of clear glass by the Venetian Repubic about 1455. The technique of this clear glass became known as crystal glass or Venetian crystal, which was a significant development in the story of glass and of the island of Murano..
Barovier Coat of Arms

Barovier Coat of Arms

     The secret of the Calcedonia glass was closely guarded and entirely lost when the Venetian Republic fell. It varies widely in the colors which come out of the furnace, subject to the heat of the silver, humidity and the humor of the glass maker!
     It was once again rediscovered by Lorenza Radi in 1856 but again by the 20th Century none was in production. Today we thank Loredano Rosin for bringing back this technique in the 1970s. His pieces are still on exhibit around the world and in private collections. His untimely death from a boating accident was a blow to the artistic Murano Glass community.
     Fortunately, his brother Dino Rosin, carries on the family tradition and has continued to perfect this glass in large and beautiful glass sculptures. You can still find Dino Rosin sculptures available at very hefty sums on eBay and in fine galleries around the world, just search for his name. Today, there are several other well known masters who create sculptures in this unpredictable glass, including Tagliapietra.
     For all of us in the Venetian Bead world, we are fortunate that there is another furnace who produces (with proper begging) canes of this unpredictable glass which we can chop and use in beads. However, this is a difficult production and we can only get small quantities made – never knowing what color will arrive.
Calcedonia Glass Beads,Murano Calcedonia Glass Beads,Venetian Beads,Murano Beads
     We all dream of the blues and aquas…and sometimes we get it. The amazing, never the same, colors are produced by adding silver nitrate to the glass and the colors are affected by the humidity, the heat, and factors we don’t understand. The glass begins as salt, soda, sand and minerals days before the glass master is ready to work. The recipes for glass depend on very accurate measuring and minerals of the highest quality. Any small difference will result in color changes or in glass which does not react well in the flames when the beads are being made. It pops and cracks. The Calcedonia has a mind and life of its own, the colors can not be reproduced with any certainty. They continue to turn colors in the flames as the beads are made and even after the beads are in the annealing oven.
Tagliapietra Furnace, Murano Furnace,Glass Furnace

Making a Calcedonia Sculpture Murano Italy

      Here are the colors of our latest batch, with added sparkle from Aventurina.
New Calcedonia at VenetianBeadShop

New Calcedonia at VenetianBeadShop

      We must enjoy each batch of beads for what they are: unique little jewels!

Jewelry Making Refresher on Conversion Terms

Conversions for Jewelry Making, Inches to Meters, Millimeters to Inches

Just a little refresher on terms we use in jewelry making. Math, it turns out, is also useful for jewelry making.

Conversions Factors
To Go From To Multiply By
Carats DWT 0.128603
Carats Grams 0.2
Feet Millimeters 304.8
Feet Meters 0.3048
Grams Carats 5
Grams DWT 0.6430149
Grams Troy Ounces 0.03215075
Inches Millimeters 25.4
Inches Meters 0.0254
Millimeters Inches 0.03937008
Millimeters Feet 0.00328084
Meters Inches 39.37008
Meters Feet 3.28084
DWT Carats 7.775869
DWT Grams 1.555174
DWT Troy Ounces 0.05
Troy Ounces DWT 20
Troy Ounces Grams 31.10348

Or you can easily use google.com to get an exact convered number. For example today I needed to know how many feet were on a spool of leather that was 25 Meters so I could decide how many 17 inch necklaces I could make.

So multiple 25 Meters by 39.37008 is 984.252 Inches so if I am quite accurate when I cut, I can make 57.8971765 (I think I will stick with 57 necklaces).

For a printable PDF of this you can print and keep Click Here

From Canes to Murano Glass Beads for Jewelry

Our beads all take a similar path arriving here to have photography made, get names, assign Product Codes and finally to you.

A Peek Inside the Effetre Factory

A Peek Inside the Effetre Factory

We begin with the famous Effetre glass canes which are produced on the island of Murano in much the same fashion as hundreds of years ago. The Effetre factory is a secretive place and only a couple of times have I been allowed to have a camera inside. Few people are allowed inside, and I am always with a bead maker when we are selecting canes. Canes are sold in 10 kilo bundles, so locals expect to make a lot of beads! (There are a couple of “retailers” on the island who sell to some of the smaller artisans, at a higher price of course.)

Bundles of Effetre Canes

Bundles of Effetre Canes

The making of the canes is  difficut task, but the real super stars of our beads are our dedicated bead makers who work in constantly staring into the flame, knowing exactly the right moment to wrap the molten glass around the mandrel. It takes a certain feel of the glass, knowing how the glass looks – when it is all glowing red. And did I say, you need to be able to turn the mandrel with one hand in one direction while controlling the flow of the molten glass with the other hand, a little like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time.

Bead makers View

Bead makers View

They work with few tools, certainly not delicate tools, the most important one is simply gravity. The few tools help with the shaping.

Pinchers - Forms

Pinchers – Forms

When making rounds, you need only gravity and these little forms which they use to center the roundness of the mass of molten glass around the copper mandrel. Easier said than done. Work too long and the glass becomes to hard to move.

Copper Mandrels and Forms for Rounds

Copper Mandrels and Forms for Rounds

The side view of the classic Murano/Venetian glass torch, known as a canello. The small tray to the side of the torch holds fritte, small polverized glass, which will be used to decorate the bead.

Torch from the Side View

Torch from the Side View

When the day is done, and the beads have cooled for several hours, a helper cuts the excess of the soft copper mandrel off and they go into these sieve baskets and are put in the acid machine where the acid eats the copper mandrel from the bead, leaving the holes.

Beads Going to the Acid Machine

Beads Going to the Acid Machine

The beads are dried (or not) sometimes our bead makers are rushing and the beads arrive to us still slightly damp.

dhl_delivery_boat

The last step is equally important, the boat that goes around the island picking up shipments. We need a strong partner who can get the shipments from the islands to the airport in Venice. From there they take varied routes to the US, where we start our part of this journey, making photos, assigning numbers, and finally when you choose them another trip through one of our shipping partners.

Whew, I am a little exhausted just thinking how difficult it is to get a 8mm Gold Foil bead to you!

Round 8mm Gold Foil Murano Glass Beads

Round 8mm Gold Foil Murano Glass Beads

Working with Venetian Beads

Our beads are handmade and well, sometimes there are shards of glass left when the mandrels are etched out. I know many people think the holes are “drilled” but that would be so time consuming, hazardous to the health and we would break a ton of beads along the way.

Beads on Copper Mandrels

Beads on Copper Mandrels

Rather, most of our beads are wound with molten glass over a copper mandrel. The short story here is that in the 20s one of the Murano bead making companies discovered, though exactly how is unknown, that copper would be consumed when exposed to nitric acid. Before that time, the beads were made on mandrels dipped in “fango” mud from the lagoon. So alas, the US did not discover bead release. This new process relieved workers from dipping countless rods in the fango (and obviously displaced some workers). Over time the new process required more sophisticated machines, and the environmental problems came to light. Now, the copper is recovered and the nitric acid must be recycled in environmentally friendly process.

Machine for Etching Copper

Machine for Etching Copper

Some of the beads are more prone to this than others. Any bead with avventurina or Calcedonia, and our Nuvola beads tend to have more shards. The Nuvola have small polverized opaque white in them representing the “clouds”. Opaque glass, Avventurina and Calcedonia are more dense and melt at a different temperature than our transparent glass, so they tend to escape the bead. This etching process leaves small shards of glass as the copper is etched out. There are a couple of ways you can work this as you make jewelry.

Our PerlaVita Beads and sometimes those which have silver foil, we use the traditional coatings on stainless steel rods. It just takes longer and while you might not think about it, the consistency of the bead release makes the rod slightly larger or even a little lopsided. So we have to be more careful.

Mandrels Prepared with Bead Release

Mandrels Prepared with Bead Release

Beadcaps

They hide uneven surfaces and protect the wire or thread you are using as they provide a buffer between the glass and the thread. Classic Venetian Jewelry always had little beadcaps between the knots. They knew this was a good way to prevent the rough edges from cutting the thread (at least not right away). Even pearls will eventually cut the thread – as we all learn!

Classic Venetian Mosaic Bracelet Hand Knotted

Classic Venetian Mosaic Bracelet Hand Knotted

Bead Reamer

We use the simple bead reamer on most all our beads when we are making jewelry. It takes just a minute and assures us that we have an even surface with which to work. Always wear glasses when you are using the bead reamer (both the manual one and the electric one). As little particles are thrown in the air. Don’t be afraid to work with the beads. It is good to dip them in water often as you are using the bead reamer (which is really a file) as this prevents heat build up and prevents loosing the lustre of the bead. You can even use this if you want to make the hole a little (very little) larger.

Bead Reamer

Bead Reamer

Round Diamond Drill

Less expensive, just as useful. You can find these at most hardware stores. Buy the diamond variety as it will last longer.

diamond_drill

For the Serious Beader: – A Dremel

This is an investment you’ll use for years. I confess this is my “goto” for most everything. I can drill through plexiglass to make fixtures for our pictures. I can use the tool to clean the edges around the holes of our handmade beads. It is lightweight and rechargeable. You’ll have to order because I have not found it in hardware stores. Holes in leather, in stamping blanks. It also comes with a wire brush which has it’s own uses. (Sorry we do not sell them, but if you are interested I can give you some places to look.)

The Ultimate Beader's Tool!

The Ultimate Beader’s Tool!

They all do the same job, make the holes nice and smooth. And make your beadcaps sit nicely for a well made piece of Venetian Glass Jewelry. Best of Luck!

Why Buy Murano – Venetian Beads

Moretti Glass Canes,Venetian Beads,How it's Made

We published this article a few years ago, but it is still valid. I was prompted to update it when a reader on our FaceBook Page commented on a  picture of beads and saying “wow so expensive, i find these places …. i go to garage sales, and regular stores and can get some amazing glass beads for way less than half the price

Another facebook reader said “regardez le travail des vrais perliers vous verrez tout de suite la difference !!” Look the work of real beads you can see immediately the difference. (Translation)

Having worked for over 2 decades with our beadmakers and glass blowers in Venice and Murano and having invested millions in the development of our bead store, our designs and our wonderful bead makers, I am a bit offended by the comments.

I do, however, agree with our French friend. When you see our beads, alongside the Chinese or Indian you will see the brilliance of the Murano Glass immediately distinguishes it. It all starts with the canes, produced in Murano by hand in the traditions of hundreds of years. Often imitated, but never quite the same.

Murano Glass Millefiori Slices

So once again – Why Buy Venetian?

New designers are searching for their niche. Sometimes they fall in love with Swarovski, but it is everywhere and hard to make a name for yourself with such a ubiquitous commodity; and in the words of Brenda “an accent” bead! Though we do admit they compliment our Murano Glass.
They are made by machine, cut by machine and their very sameness is their appeal. Our beads however are NEVER the same! So much depends on the canes, the fire, the humidity, indeed the mental attitude of our bead makers. And when you order 2 beads, we handpick to match those two beads for you!
 Murano Glass Beads Bracelet with White Gold Foil
And let’s face it no one ever advertised that they have “Chinese Beads” and even Czech while again available everywhere, simply doesn’t carry the allure or romance of Venetian Beads. Tthough they were not the first in the world to make beads, the Venetians have certainly influenced the design and production of beads since about the 10th Century. It is also fascinating that women have always been a dominate force in Venetian Beads. While they were not welcomed into the furnaces  the lamp workers have always included talented and very business savy women of both Venice and Murano.
Making Venetian Beads,How to Make VenetianBeads
Let’s remember that Marco Polo traveled to China taking beads! Remember that Manhattan was purchased with beads! Venetian Beads were the currency in Africa, known as Trade Beads. And we still make them pretty much the same way as then. Now that’s something to talk about with your customers or to tell your friends when you they ask you about the jewelry you are wearing.
Having Venetian Beads in your design gives you a story to tell. When you are at that hot and dusty Craft Fair, the sparkle under the sunlight will bring your customers in and your ability to weave the history of Venice will help you sell your jewelry. It sets you apart as a jewelry maker who appreciates the quality and the history. Wear it to the country club or your daughter’s softball game. It’s a fit everywhere.
Playing with Fire, Making Beads
We try to give you a little of the story behind the beads, behind our sterling silver and the trials and tribulations of daily life in Venice. Use the resources on our website to learn more about Venice and you’ll be able to talk to your customers, or just tell your friends why you chose Venetian Beads. No two beads are ever exactly alike, each is a small work of art born in the flames.
And if you ask me, I will just say I never was interested in any beads other than Venetian. I fell in love with the glass and working with the bead makers is a way for me to be a small part of the story of Murano Glass.
Here are some resources on our website that can help you understand our beads:

Lampworking a Centuries Old Tradition

Bead Making Techniques and Terms

Gold Leaf Production for our Gold Foil Beads

Murano Production of “Pearlized” Beads for the Fashion Industry

Frequently Asked Questions at VenetianBeadShop

VenetianBeadShop Free Designs (if you need inspiration and instructions – this is your place)

 

UPC, EAN, GTIN, ISBN – What does it Mean?

The Mighty Bar Code

The Mighty Bar Code

If you list any items on Amazon, you already know that you need a UPC or EAN to list. Then Google decided not to be left out of the party, so they opted for the GTIN. Now eBay, last in line, decided to stick with Amazon and they will now require a UPC or EAN or they threaten your search results will suffer.

Google Product Feeds Deadline Looming of 16 May 

We are getting close and there is even a new “business” there are companies that will do this for you. For a price!

VenetianBeadShop.com BarCodes

For those of you who have seen us at shows where we exhibit, the bar code reader is really handy. It lets us check out our customers fast, makes no mistakes in addition, and we give you a printed receipt complete with the SKU so you can double check and re-order. We have a system, 1) Take a plastic bag 2) Take a barcode label 3) Write the quantity on the label. And best of all for us, it updates our inventory at the same time.

VenetianBeadShop BarCode Reader

VenetianBeadShop BarCode Reader

So getting with the 21st Century, here’s what you need to know.

UPC

Universal Product Code used for tracking items in stores  (you know like when you scan your item at self check) For those really curious, read the Wikipedia Article, 60+ years in the making.

The first item ever scanned through a grocery store was in 1974, a 10 pack of chewing gum. It cost $.67!

With the UPC there is a theoretical maximum of unique barcodes: 1 trillion 

bar_code_reader

EAN

European Article Number: It’s a UPC on Steroids, adding 1 extra digit at the beginning of each UPC number.brought on by the necessity of additional available numbers and voila the new theoretical maximum increased from 1 trillion to 10 trillion. Not an insignificant accomplishment it you think of the infinite number of items for sale (or manufactured in China for Christmas holidays!)

Even for a non mathematical person, it’s easy to see we may need to add another digit which would make how many trillion available, I think 100 trillion.  You can check me to see if I am right.

ISBN

International Standard Book Number: This is reserved for books and you’ll have to go learn about it yourself, since I haven’t written any books, nor do we sell any at the moment.

GTIN

Global Trade Item Number, this one will cost you. Set up by GS1, a “nonprofit” group that sets the standards. (Note how expensive this nonprofit group is.) And you need a different barcode for each different item, even if the only difference is color or size. Wish I had though up this business.

Expensive!

A Very Expensive Non-Profit!

And why do we need these? For our handmade beads, there is “sort of” an exclusion. But in theory this universal numbering system makes it easy for the computers to scan across the internet for them, if you search for an item with this code (as each code is unique – until we hit 1 trillion) the Googles and Amazons of the world could retrieve the item wherever it might be and serve it up to you in a search result.

And as an added benefit, even fake items on eBay and Amazon, may be easier to spot. And to think I used to name our beads after the children whose parents made them- lol. Welcome to the 21st Century!

Which Direction does the Hole Go?

Ever so often a customer’s question reminds us that while we are familiar with our beads, and what appears to us to be obvious is definitely NOT, especially to new beaders!

We learn from all your questions. And a picture is always a good idea. So, here are a couple of tips on using our authentic Murano Glass Beads. Click on the pictures to go to the website where you can not only buy the beads, but you can download and print a PDF which includes components needed and basic instructions.

Squares, Rectangles

Use can use them vertically or horizontally. When we think of these often we think about making bracelets where they certainly lay end to end. But if we show them in the picture with the holes horizontal, it doesn’t mean you can’t turn it so the hole goes vertically. This is how we use for earrings.

OR-SS-RE-INC-10_fr

And for bracelets, they are simply turned on the side. Here’s a design where we used these same beads in a bracelet.

BR-INCRE18-PNKGRY_ins

Rounds, Ovals, Coins

The same applies to rounds and ovals and our coins. If the hole goes through the center, then it can be used easily for both bracelets and earrings.

Free Design Yellow Daisy Bracelet

Make a Bracelet

And you can make matching earrings as well.

Easy to Make Earrings

Make Earrings

Pantone® Colors of the Year Rose Quartz and Serenity – Yes they Exist!

Since the Colors of the Year were announced by Pantone, we’ve been trying to create some designs which feature our authentic Murano Glass Beads. And I was having a bit of difficulty with the colors. Then at a girl’s softball practice, there they were – and created by nature for all of us to see.

A beautiful setting sun which was shining through our normal San Francisco Bay fog produced exactly the colors. I apologize if my photography doesn’t get it just right. But sitting in the bleachers watching practice, the colors in the sky, simply stunning and even Serene!

Pantone Colors of the Year - Found in Nature

Rose Quartz and Serenity on the SoftBall Field!

Without that sunset, I would still be struggling to see how these colors go together. I was thinking “baby shower” pink and blue. So back to the design desk – with new inspiration and appreciation for the knowledge of those talented people at Pantone!

Here’s a couple of designs we came up. They are free and each one has instructions as well as the list of components required.

Color of the Year Free Earring Design

Free Design, Make These Earrings

We’d love to see your designs with these colors. You can send to info@venetianbeadshop.com

Make this authentic Murano Glass Bracelet, It's easy and fun.

Venetian Glass Bead Free Design

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