New Studio, New Blog


Well, not exactly new… Just a new address.  I’ve imported all my Blogspot posts so you won’t miss a thing!

In the next few days I’m going to merge the WordPress with my PrimaDonnaBeads website… I hope!

So stay tuned!   In the meantime, take a gander at the freshly painted and reset up at the new studio!  My friend Dee and I gave it a trial run last Sunday… we had a minor (I hope) glitch with a blown circuit when we plugged the second kiln in… but, I had two fans, the computer and an oxy con plugged in too.  So, hopefully this can be remedied fairly easy.  Cross your fingers for me =)

Work stations!

Gearing up!


So between now and November 2, I have 4 bead shows and workshop scheduled.  Nuts?  Maybe.

But my new studio is shaping up nicely… I can find most of my stuff now!  I’m going to start taking all of my jewelry making supplies in and boxing them in color families instead of “seed beads”, “lucite beads”, etc.  Instead each box will have all the blues, reds, pinks, etc. regardless of what kind of bead it is.  This should make things a bit easier since I don’t always remember that I have pink pearls in the pearl container.

I plan on making more finished jewelry.  At least to have as samples of what I do with my beads.  I know it’s hard for some to picture in their mind what to do with them, especially hard for newbie jewelry makers.

The shop is still being unpacked, slowly but surely… actually I think things are moving along nicely.  It’s been almost 4 weeks since we moved everything in.  I could never thank my friends Amy and Dean… and my hubby Jeff for getting it all moved lightening fast!  =)

Here’s a piece of eye candy for ya, I made it yesterday, in my new studio =)

The Gathering… the aftermath


I wish I could tell you about all the loot I collected… but I didn’t collect anything.  =(
I got a few trade beads, I think I gave away 9, donated 5 to Beads of Courage and brought home 5.  Which I will list with Beads of Courage in their artist section.

I’m not sure why I am in a funk.  I had a good time, but didn’t really do anything.  I saw a couple of presentations, and walked the technical vendors floor.  The thing is, I can buy all of the same stuff from their websites online.  There’s really no incentive to buy while you’re there, at least not for me.  So, I didn’t buy anything.

I went to the opening reception, saw the FlameDame’s do their thing and drank a little too much on Thursday.  No hangover (thank goodness).  Then walked around at a couple of the art fairs that were going on around the hotel in Bellevue on Friday.

Saturday was the Bead Bazaar, my sales were mediocre at best.  I think I need a “thing”.  Or something.  I don’t know.  I didn’t bother with going back to the technical vendors, even though I was contemplating going and getting some glass from Double Helix… but in the end changed my mind.

On Sunday I got up early and did a 5k for Beads of Courage… I managed to come in second in my age group and 34th overall.  Then I came home…

I’m super tired for what seems like no reason.

Here’s me and rockstar Jean Baruch founder of Beads of Courage… at the end of the race.  I had gotten so emotional at the end I started crying and wound up hyperventilating myself… what a dip.  😆

And just in case you have no idea what Beads of Courage is… please be a love and go read this:

Here we go!


In 3 days I’ll be in Washington with my DH for the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) The Gathering, a bead makers conference that rotates around the country each year.  This year it’s in Bellevue Washington.

I will be meeting up with lost of glassy people, some I know in real life, some from an online forum called  There are demos, and presentations and classes and a bead bazaar.  I won’t be taking any classes but I will be participating in the bazaar and hopefully see some presentations.

There is also bead trading… Here’s my stash so far.  One of these beads met it’s demise outside the house when I dropped the ziploc they were in on the pavers.  =(  Anyway, I still have 10 here and 9 more in the kiln.  Tomorrow I will make more beads for sale and for trade.

So, if you are near Bellevue Washington this weekend, the bead bazaar is open to the public… please, come buy beads!!

It’s official!


I went and signed the new workshop lease last Thursday… I get the keys next Friday and start the move on Saturday.  I am not so frantically packing.  I don’t know why I am just casually putting things in boxes.  Everything neatly wrapped, well except the box of frit, and that one weighs A LOT.

It’s gonna be a lot of work, but thankfully I have a friend and her beau coming to help.  Not very many people would I trust to do this.  I think she might be a little more anal about things than I am, and that is a good thing.  Plus, we get a long… even better than her being more anal than me.

Stay tuned… I’ll be posting pics in the next couple of weeks!

Oh yeah!  Here’s the new addy in case you don’t know yet…
25101 S. Normandie Ave Unit 1C
Harbor City, CA 90710

PS – Google earth really needs to update… the building they have is the old one before the rehabbing =)

The Mandrel is moving… =)


This is a good thing.  The Mandrel has been struggling as I am sure most of my customers know.  The classes aren’t filling up the way they used to.  The international instructors were the most successful, but the idea that the instructor won’t make it past “why are you coming to the US”, I have shied away from hosting these workshops.  It’s just too much of a risk.

So when my landlord came to the door asking me if I was going to stay, I had to tell him “no”.  And then I found myself in a situation, am I closing or moving?

There are literally hundreds of empty commercial spaces around the Torrance, Redondo Beach, Lawndale area.  I searched Loopnet and Craigslist almost daily.  The problem?  It was going to cost me a few thousand dollars to move.  It’s the old first, last and deposit, plus the last months rent all in one fell swoop.  Ouch.

Then a week ago Friday, I found a spot.  I emailed the owner/manager and inquired.  She emailed back and said they were all leased out.  My heart sank and I started searching again.  Leah Fairbanks came in and taught a workshop while I am a panicked freaked out mess.  Sigh.  But, on Sunday, for some reason a peace came over me and I knew that things would be okay.  I didn’t search much that day.  I just concentrated on the workshop.

Monday morning I got this email:

Hi Donna,
I just got notice that I will have a space available.  It is 800 square feet, and $XXX per month plus CAM charges of $XX/month.  Please let me know if you would be interested in a showing.
Ummm, yes please!
By the afternoon I had see the new space, and filled out the application and credit/background check.  On Tuesday she asked to see my Certificate of Insurance.  By the afternoon, I was told it’s mine!  So, The Mandrel is moving to Harbor Gateway!
This is the the actual front… my space is the roll up to the right.  There is a candle maker on one side of me on the right… they don’t have a door on this side of the building.
This is the other side which is supposed to be the back, but I am going to use it as the front:
On the other side of me is a fire fighter who rents bouncy houses on the side =)  Then there is a guy who imports Japanese toys and one more guy who does pre-finish on wood siding for houses.
I’ve started packing, this is 12 boxes:
Here’s the new address:
25101 S Normandie Ave Unit C, Los Angeles (Harbor Gateway or Harbor City) 90710
The phone number will remain the same… my hours will be changing.  Noon to 6 Wed-Fri and Sunday Noon to 5 and by appointment.  I honestly do not mind if you need to come see me on a Saturday, Monday or Tuesday or even if you can’t make it till 6:15.  Just give me a call and I will do my best to accommodate you.  =)  
Very Happily Yours ~Donna @ The Mandrel

Happy Father’s Day…


To all the men who actually were Dad’s…

I’ve been listing like crazy in my Etsy store… I’ve lowered prices on my beads sets.  I’ve gotten a little faster in my bead making so I am passing the good stuff on to you!

I also got a new book, “Bohemian Inspired Jewelry”… and here is my first piece from one of the projects.  What a great book!

My next show is in July at The Gathering – ISGB convention in Seattle.  I can’t wait… then we are off to Hawaii in September for the SoftFlex Bead Show… all of the beads in my shops will be going with me.  So if you see something listed, don’t wait.  It might not be there long.  =)

Happy Summer!


Reposting a blog post I made on an old blog from July 2008.  I think it’s still pretty accurate though except to maybe double the price of everything including your hourly pay, but not the price of the beads.

I’m reposting because a fellow bead/jewelry artist got the ol’ “why is that pendant so expensive?” when she saw a pendant bead set in silver.

The original post was because of this:

This little blurb is from the shop of a fellow “etsian”…
“♥ As a jewelry designer I’m always looking for high quality lampwork beads that I don’t have to pay an arm and leg for. FINALLY, the market has opened up and we don’t have to be held hostage by inflated prices! I don’t know about you but I refuse to pay $30.00 for six beads, that nuts! ♥”
And here was my reponse:
You want “high quality” beads and you get your beads from Austin Hamilton??  What are you going to do when all your jewelry starts getting returned to you because the beads are splitting in half because they have not been annealed… and what about the poor girl who happens to be wearing one of your “high quality” bracelets and is allergic to the bead release that wasn’t cleaned from the beads? 
Here’s the breakdown people:
$30 for a set of 6 beads / and let just say that a person only pays themself $5 an hour to make the beads, clean, temporarily string them, photograph and upload them to the computer…
  • 1.5 oz of glass = $1.20
  • bead release   = $ .05
  • oxy/propane  = $1.50
  • kiln run           = $1.00
  • make beads    = $2.50 
  • bead cleaning = $ .83    <10 minutes
  • string ’em up  = $1.00 
  • computer time = $15.00
  • listing fee        = $.20
  • etsy’s cut after sale = $1.05
  • paypals cut     = .90
  • packaging/shipping supplies = $1.50
  • time/gas to post office = $.50 
  • GRAND TOTAL is $27.23  — whoo hoo!  You get $2.77
Let’s see… divide that by 6 and you made yourself a whopping .46 cents a bead, congratulations.  Make sure you get everything done right the first time ’cause you’ll be losing money if you make any mistakes at all. 
For sure this is not a totally accurate breakdown, but you get the idea.  Handcrafted artisan made beads do not have over inflated prices.  And I can guarantee that there are artists out there who charge the $30 and are losing money after the sale.


I’m having a rough day, a total crash from my high on Friday.  Daydreams have been crushed, and that is all they were.  I wish I wasn’t such a dreamer, reality is a painful place to be.