Monday, August 31, 2015

My First Bead Fest: Part Two, Shopping and More!

Welcome back for part two of my Bead Fest wrap up!  (If you missed it before, you can read about my adventures taking classes HERE.)  While the chance to take some great classes was a big part of the draw, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't excited about the shopping opportunities that awaited me.

As I mentioned before, I've never been to a major bead show... just the smaller local shows in the Twin Cities.  While I certainly enjoy my local shows and appreciate having them within 45 minutes of my house, they are just so MUCH smaller.  The shows I've gone to before have either been in a school gymnasium or the ballrooms of a mid-sized hotel... big enough to have some interesting things but not so large or overwhelming that you can't see everything you want to in a few hours.  Bead Fest was a completely different animal!  Here, the Expo portion of the event covered two exhibit halls of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (the third hall contained most of the classrooms).

All those tiny square on the right half are booths! So many beads!!
It's been a busy summer and I decided to go to Bead Fest fairly late in the game so I didn't really do much (or any) pre-shopping planning.  I figured I could just wander the floor without a real plan and see what I could see.  With all the classes I was taking I wasn't sure how much shopping time I'd even have to shop... as it turns out, I had plenty of time to do some serious damage!

Even though I had a full day class on Friday, apparently Bead Fest has a mandatory 90 minute lunch break for the all day classes to ensure that students have an opportunity to shop.  As soon as I finished the morning's project to my satisfaction I made a quick stop at the concession stand for lunch and stared out into the mass of bead vendors and shoppers while I ate, already feeling a bit overwhelmed.  As soon as my belly was full, I made a bee line for Artisan's Alley where many of the art bead makers are clustered together.  While I didn't do any real planning or shopping lists ahead of time, I knew that the main thing I was looking for were gorgeous art beads.  I also figured that the earlier I shopped, the better my selection would be.  (Shop early, shop often... right?)

I headed straight for Heather Powers' booth with a little detour to say hi to Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio and snatch up some of her pretties.  I didn't have a ton of time (and of course there was lots of chatting with Heather, her aunt Rosanne, and my friend Terri) but I did manage to amass quite the collection of Humblebeads!  My apologies to the shoppers who came after me!
So... I might have gone a little overboard on the Humblebeads! 
Having spent most of my lunch break pawing through Heather's gorgeous beads, I didn't have too much more time for shopping but I did do a quick browse through more of Artisan's Alley to get a lay of the land.  As I was wandering down the aisle I heard a voice behind me say something to the effect of "hey, I know you."  I turned around to find Jenny Davies-Reazor and her lovely booth (which she shared with Lesley Watt of Thea Elements).  I was thrilled to finally meet Jenny in real life since I've enjoyed following her posts on her own blog and Art Jewelry Elements over the years (I've even won some of her components of the month!) and we are both in the Inspired by Reading Book club.  I didn't have too much time to chat, but I did manage so snatch up some of Jenny's lovely firefly pendants before I headed back to class.  After my class wrapped up, I was able to get back into the Expo and do some more shopping.  I swung back by and picked up some more things from Jenny and Lesley.  By that time, Lesley Watt had arrived so I got to meet another artist that I have been following online.  She came from all the way across the pond in England to be at Bead Fest!  I stocked up on more pretties from both Jenny and Lesley and even got to see some of my Bead Cruise friends before it was time for me to drive into Philadelphia for dinner with my librarian friends and bring Kathleen back to our hotel.
Ceramic, bronze clay, and polymer yumminess from Jenny Davies-Reazor and Lesley Watt.  (Jenny's are the pieces on the right hand column plus the other firefly pendant at the top.)
I have to admit that it was sort of amusing to see the same deer caught in headlights look on Kathleen's face as I had probably been wearing the day before when we wandered into the Expo after our morning class on Saturday.  We took a somewhat more systematic approach to tackling the exhibit hall, although we did make a serious tactical error right off the bat.  We were sitting right by Nirvana Beads when we were eating lunch so we decided to go ahead and start with them since I knew I needed to bite the bullet and do a wholesale order with them.  Seems logical, right?  WRONG!  I ended up with at least ten pounds of Czech glass that I then had to carry around the rest of the day.  Live and learn!

Despite how this looks, I did leave some Czech glass for other shoppers!
We wandered around the show mostly aisle by aisle, stopping whenever something caught our eye.  I'm pretty thrilled with my Bead Fest shopping finds... although a tiny bit embarrassed that I bought so much!  We kept running into friends from the Bead Cruise... thank goodness Diana Ptaszynski actually thought to take a picture or I wouldn't have a single people picture from the show... just pictures of my class projects.

Reunited and it feels so good...  Kathleen, Diana, and myself with Jenny photobombing us!
Here are most of the rest of my Bead Fest finds... Now I need to sit down and start creating with all this yumminess!  I stayed pretty true to my plan of mostly getting art beads (I love seeing everything in person and picking the "best" ones) and things that I can't easily find at home...  Well, and Czech glass... but I've been looking for a good wholesaler that would work for me for a while.  As you can tell from my pictures, I bought a lot of charms for earring pairs (you know earrings are my favorite to make!) as well as matched bead pairs.  

I found lots of great wood beads and some funky barkcloth beads.
Clockwise (mostly) from top left: ceramic from White Clover Kiln, polymer clay from Staci Louise Originals, lampwork by Alice St. Germain, pewter and bronze from Green Girl, and more ceramics by Firefly Designs
At the end of the weekend I left Philadelphia happy and tired and with a very heavy backpack filled with new beads.  I feel so re-energized to get back to my bead table and making fabulous new designs.  One last thing... Did you notice how I titled these posts "My First Bead Fest"?  Oh, yeah... I'm totally going to go back!

Kathleen took a quick selfie of us on the shuttle back to the airport after dropping off the rental car.  So glad I got to see this lady!


  1. What a wonderful haul of beads you brought home! It was a pleasure meeting you at the show 😘

  2. Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up! I'm slightly envious of your haul! What a fantastic selection!