Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My First Bead Fest: Part 1, the Classes!

True confession... Even though I've been making jewelry for about 8 years and live within driving distances of one of the biggest bead shows in the country, I had never been to a major bead show before last week.  For the last three or four years I have wanted to make it to the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee but the timing just never worked out.  (Next year... it's gonna happen!)  Anyway, when I discovered I couldn't attend Heather Powers' Inspired by Nature Fall Retreat this year due to a scheduling conflict I decided that I would fly to Philadelphia for Bead Fest instead!

I'm not sure if I would have made the leap without the encouragement of some of my beady friends, but I'm so glad that I did!  Many of my friends that I've made on the Bead Cruise were going to be there as well as lots of folks I know from the online world of Facebook and various blogs.  And as another added bonus, my friend Kathleen was also able to take the train up from D.C. to join me.

My sweet husband really encouraged me to sign up for as many classes as possible since I was taking this trip in lieu of a weekend workshop.  The shopping (I'll cover that in a second post!) was just an added bonus.  I took two shorter classes (3 to 4 hours each) and one full day class.  Kathleen and I also did one of the 45 minute beginner classes but I'll be sharing that project in my next New Earring Monday post.

I flew out on Thursday morning and chose a flight time that should have given me plenty of time before my class that night.  My flight got delayed a bit so I ended up having to rush more than I would have liked, but at least I made it to class on time! I started class a little flustered but settled down once I started looking through all the gorgeous stones to pick the perfect one for Kim St. Jean's Armature Pendant class.  I was a little nervous having never really used a butane torch before, but Kim is a fabulous instructor and I was soon torching away!  We used copper wire and brazing rods to build an armature to hold our chosen stone.  (I picked a lovely green druzy!)  

My armature pendant: Before and after!
I LOVE my finished piece and can't wait to get it strung on some nice leather cord or something so I can show it off.  I really enjoyed learning this technique and can see how useful this will be for me.  I have some rustic ammonites that we bought at some caves years ago and now I finally have an idea for incorporating them into finished jewelry.  Since I don't do bead embroidery or any sort of fine stone setting, cabs have never seemed very appealing to me.  Taking this class certainly opens up some possibilities for what I could do!

Day two of my Bead Fest adventures was mostly filled by a second class taught by Kim.  (When I was first deciding to go I asked for recommendations for instructors and she was high on the list.  An added bonus was that I didn't need to bring any tools since there was no way I was going to be able to sneak a butane torch onto the plane!)  Anyway, my day two class was her Air Chase Cuff and Necklace workshop... this was an all day class and it was AMAZING!

We turned copper pipe and copper sheet into finished pieces that look like a million bucks (in my opinion anyway)!  See for yourself below...  I'm still not sure if I'm going to wear my pendant in the vertical position or add another hole and wear it horizontally like I have it in the picture.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  I'm leaning horizontal at the moment...  I can totally see myself making more of these cuffs.  I love the look and the process of all that hammering is sort of therapeutic.  It's just not the right project for a day you're working on a headache!

Kathleen arrived in town Friday evening and we were able to arrange having dinner in the city with some of our other librarian friends (and their family too).  After filling up on delicious pizza at Earth - Bread & Brewery Kathleen and I headed back to the hotel to rest up before our Woven Bracelet class with Ronda Stevens the next morning.  I would like to improve my wire working skills but I'm not convinced that wire weaving is necessarily the technique for me.  Those of you who know me in real life know that I'm a little tightly wound... that seems to translate to my jewelry making.  I grip my pliers too tight, get a death grip on my hammers, and, as it turns out, pull my wire weaving way too tight too.  

My wire weaving in process and the completed bracelet.
I ended up with a decent bracelet that I think I will wear now and then (y'all know I'm not a bracelet girl!) and had a good time doing it, but overall this just wasn't a technique that got me excited to do more.  But that's what is so great about taking classes and trying new things... you get to try something new to see what you do like and then take the elements that speak to you and incorporate them into your work.  On the other hand, Kathleen really liked this project and plans to play more with this technique.  I can't wait to see where she takes it!  

Kathleen's bracelet... her's is much more relaxed and lacy looking.
I have an IOU from Eric for my birthday and I now have a good list of tools and supplies on my wish list.  I think this girl is getting a torch and all the accessories so that I can start using my new found knowledge and hone my skills!  Stay tuned for more of my Bead Fest adventures when I share my experience on the Expo floor and show my gorgeous bead finds. 

Update: You can check out part two of my Bead Fest adventures HERE!

1 comment:

  1. Now I'm really jealous. I've been wanting to take a class with Kim for years. Your cuff and pendant are gorgeous!
    Definitely get the torch!