The Bead and Button Show (or Bead n' Butt" as So likes to call it!) is over for another year. I apologize for not blogging faithfully each night in an organized CNN fashion, complete with links, diagrams and sidebars, but with the early mornings, late-ish, laughter-crammed nights and very full days, by the time I had my laptop on I just wanted to check my email (mostly ignorable), attend to anything urgent (nothing much) and go to sleep.
This was my second time attending this production. It's not just a "show", its a week of classes (over 500), a huge marketplace (370+ vendors), a networking situation, a reunion of friends from all over the world, and quite a contrast to my usual quiet, hermit's existence. For me, it's like being shot out of a cannon directly into vivid, brilliant, fabulous, sparkly, beady organized mayhem.
I arrived on Saturday the 30th, unpacked my stuff and organized everything meticulously. This organization lasted until about Tuesday when my tidy hotel room table degenerated into a chaos of tools, business cards, notes and electronic gadget recharger's. I stayed at the Best Western and really liked it...I had a super quiet corner room on the 12th floor. Cheap, clean, convenient, what more could I ask?
Last year I walked very, very far trying to find some fruit and some carrots...if only I had walked in the other direction! This year I knew where to go, the Milwaukee Public Market and the Good Harvest organic market, just a few minutes walk away. Great yummy stuff to take back to my tiny hotel fridge. I visited several times during the week and was never disappointed with the great food. On my walks I saw giant lady bugs:
And a building which appears to be made of cake. Just kidding. It's very fancy.
Artist John Ready had giant sized jewelry pieces placed around the city. I only got to see a few of them on my walks. My favorites were a giant ring set with bowling balls and other stuff (no picture...smacks forehead!)and this necklace on a river building thingie:
On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I experienced a class with the ever-fabulous Susan Lenart-Kazmer.
You don't just "take" a class with Susan...it's a multi-sensory whirlwind with hammers and metal and fibre. And torches! And teeny tiny eyelets. And stuff of all kinds. And it was so fun and so full of excellent "Aaaaww!" moments, and pushed me out of my comfort zone right onto the sidewalk and down the street! One of the things I most appreciate about Susan's work is her challenge of the conception what jewelry can be made out of, that, and the concept of narrative as an essential part of art jewelry. I loved this class. It ROCKED! It kicked ass!
It was completely fascinating to see how diverse the various projects became as people brought their own ideas to them.
I met a wonderful glass beadmaker in Susan's class, Janie Matthews from Australia. She was a finalist in Bead Dreams with her totemic glass sculptures. It was great to hang out with someone so cool and creative! I also got to meet Cynthia Fawcett from Toronto, and Heather from Virginia, and Kathy Johnson who makes the sculptural horse beads. Everyone in the class brought something unique to the mix.
And it was wonderful each night to meet up with friends to laugh and eat good food and have a drink and laugh some more. So great to see Cris and Paul, and Gail, and Anne, and Gigi and Henriette, and Amy, and to meet Terri, who is a midwife as well as a fantastic beadmaker, and so sweet she would probably make labour pains pleasant.
Cris, Gail and Anne:
Truly, I have no idea what was going on here. Truly. Wish I did!
Anne was experimenting with some new organic oenophilist cosmetics this year. They are light, yet full bodied with a fruity bouquet. Good look for her, don't you think? When she saw this picture she said a word that nice girls aren't supposed to use!
Paul never seems to mind being the only guy in a big group of women (and I must say we are really good lookin', right? RIGHT?)He knows how let let his inner girl out!
Paul practice-modeling the suits at the fancy, fancy store:
Paul looking pensive and modelling my necklace (necklace really got around!) at the Cuban restaurant.
Between Paul's superior modelling, and Gail's charm and wheedling finesse, we got free dessert from the manager, with a giant ball of spun sugar on top meant to be a bead.I wish I had a picture of it, it was delicious.
I finally am accepting the "process-not-product" concept of class-taking and wasn't chastising myself this year for having unfinished pieces. Plenty of notes and a head full of ideas will do me more good than an assortment of rushed finished pieces, and since I am a slow and fiddly worker, I would have had to RUSH to finish everything.
Wednesday I took a class in enamelling in which I learned some basics. I'll do some more reading and research, and it will be very interesting to experiment with making some fine silver and enamel bead caps and vessel collars. I appreciate the look of ultra refined transparent enamels on delicate engraved textures, but I have a fairly strong sense that that is NOT the direction I will be taking. ROUGH TOUGH enamel for me, Booyah!
Wednesday night was the "Meet the Teacher" event. I went around most of it with Janie, and we really enjoyed chatting and looking and ooohing and ahhhing. Later Cris and I sat in the lobby bar of the Hyatt until past 3:00 AM. We analyzed the joys and the failings of our worlds and there was laughter and tears and more laughter. It's hazy but I believe that is the night Cris lost her Taytee Emnard (ATM Card) and also her room key. In sympathy, Gail and I dumped out OUR purses too, to help her search vicariously. It would be difficult to say who had the weirdest (or the MOST) stuff in her purse, but I am putting my orb-like Japanese iPod speakers up there for consideration! I know one of you took a picture, share?
Thursday I had the day off. I had planned to take a class with Robert Danzic but cancelled it thinking I would be too tired at that point. I was indeed very tired, but after meeting Robert (who is completely charming!) I wished I had cancelled something else instead! (Next year he is high on my list!). However, it was bliss to sleep in and then just poke around until the shopping preview started at 4:00.
The shopping preview was very enjoyable though I think I did more chatting than shopping, but that is certainly a more economical way of shopping! The selection is vast and and I knew from last year that prices varied widely so I was glad to take my time and look around. Truly almost any bead or bead related product imaginable is represented, and there is something for everyone. Microscopic seed beads? Check. A lampworking torch the size of a small missile? Check. Enough Swarovski crystals to dazzle a squadron of drag queens, check, check, check.
My favorites are always anything ethnic, anything vintage, and of course the artisan beads. I loved this booth full of vintage Bakelite. Holy guacamole. All I could think was "Mom would be flabbergasted, this is more Bakelite than we have ever seen in one place!". And their prices were quite reasonable. Of course I drooled all over the really rare multicolored bracelets. They were so kind to let me take pictures. Their business card was printed on a "One Million Dollar" bill.
Friday I had an all-day lampworking class with Jari Sheese. The class was off-mandrel buttonmaking, with a focus on beautiful latticino, and tiny perfect glass button shanks with poked holes. (I had to suppress the giggles when Jari went around the class asking each of us "Have you poked a hole yet?"...especially when she asked the lone guy in the class!). She also gave us a demo of hollow beadmaking using the hollow mandrels Jean showed me last year. It was a great, fast paced class and I learned a LOT. Like so many good teachers, she made everything look so easy, but explained everything so well that I'll find it possible to practice here at home and apply what I've learned. The time flew by and I could have happily taken the class again the next day!
Friday evening I took short class called "Photo Pendants Under Glass" taught by Susan Wade. The pendants are made with "microscope slide" glass, soldered together the same way stained glass is soldered (I believe? I've never done any stained glass). It will be great fun to do this with my family, the nephews are old enough to do most of the steps now and we will have a lot of fun with it.
The class was incredibly well organized, with an amazing collection of images to choose from and an equally incredible, generous kit of glass, tools and supplies. It was a full class of 16 (and she had sold out 2 other sessions too!), and everyone in our class went away with at least 2 or 3 finished fun little pieces. That was my last class this year and I really enjoyed it.
Saturday was lunch with Terri and Anne and Cris and Paul, more shopping, and visiting and chatting. I got to chat a bit with the wonderful Kate Fowle Melaney, whose beads were among the first to ever catch my interest, when I was just finding out that real people were making art beads! Now! In North America, right now! And I got to visit with sweetest Stacey and Donna, in their booth, and say hi to Gail Moore (called "Felt Gail by So, to distinguish her from "Bronze Gail").
Fabulous Stacey strikes a pose:
And I finally had a chance to catch up with Kate McKinnon, so she could choose some owls to play with for her mixed media book. Fun!
I wore my big necklace and I must say that never has my bosom enjoyed so much attention! It was really fun to wear it, and hey, if you can't wear a giant necklace at Bead and Button, then where CAN you wear one? (swimming? gardening? ironing vintage linens? not so much) Truly I enjoyed and appreciated the comments and encouragement so very much and I do thank everyone who was so generous to compliment me on it!
Saturday night we had great Thai food and our waiter gave us extra paper umbrellas to play with, which we really appreciated! Toys are good at any age!
Sweet Terri and Anne:
Then I attended the Bead Social and Auction, which is a fundraiser for breast cancer. There were some truly beautiful creations on offer and I hope to hear that they had a good total. The highlight of the evening was seeing our friend Anne receive her award for Artistry in Beads. She was even persuaded to wear her pink and sparkly plastic tiara, and as I always say, the ability to wear a plastic tiara well is the mark of true character and dignity! What a good sport! Adult beverages were later enjoyed with gusto!
Sunday morning I bribed myself...if I could get my packing done in 1/2 an hour, I could go back and buy the huge Lepidolite cabochon stone I had seen the day before. I did it! (though if I hadn't organized all my tools on Friday night I probably wouldn't have made it!). I had a small list of "needs" to fill and found all but a few things, and did a little more chatting and visiting, before hugging a lot of friends and then catching my shuttle to the airport.
I was so very very very glad to be home. I had a wonderful time. I know I have left out so much and not mentioned a fraction of the wonderfulness of the people I encountered. And as always I wish I had taken more, more, more photos, but then it would have taken me even longer to post this! There was so much incredible, creative energy buzzing around in such a small concentrated space that it's not surprising, really, to be still contemplating it and absorbing it over a week later. That energy, and the laughter, and the friendship and cameraderie and affection will feed my soul for months.
Recombobulation is 72% Complete!