Monday, July 3, 2017

Bead & Button 2017 Recap

I feel like I've been running almost nonstop since we got back from the Bead & Button Show.  I've been meaning to write a little blog post about our Milwaukee adventures and I finally have a second to take a deep breath and recap things for my readers (and to capture my memories for my own record.)

On the road!  B&B here we come!
This year Eric and I both decided to take classes at Bead & Button which made for a longer trip to Milwaukee but was totally worth it... and we had plenty of time left over for exploring the beer and food scene!  Our first classes started bright and early on Wednesday morning.  While Eric was learning how to take better photos of my jewelry, I was down the hallway learning all about saltwater etching with Tracy Stanley!

I've long been intrigued by metal etching but have never tried it until now... largely because I wasn't interested in dealing with the harsh chemicals needed for chemical etching.  Saltwater etching uses electricity and a super saturated solution of kosher salt to etch patterns onto your metal.  We used sheets of copper and brass in class for our designs (silver can be used too but takes longer).  I'm not much of an artist, so I pretty much stuck to using some of the rubber stamps that Tracy brought to create my designs.  After getting our gear all set up and learning the basic idea, Tracy gave us the choice of how to use our class time.  We had the option to work on finishing jewelry pieces, but I stuck with etching more sheets of metal.  I focused mostly on repeating patterns thinking that would be the most versatile when I actually started working on jewelry.  I can't wait to pull out my disc cutter and my saw and create some new designs!

The etching set up; copper sheet with stamped images ready to etch; copper sheet after etching and antiquing; etched brass and copper designs.

For our second foray into B&B classes, Eric and I both signed up to take a fun polymer clay class with the talented Julie Picarello.  We picked her class because of the timing and the fact that it looked super fun... also Eric has been interested in doing more with polymer clay.  We learned tons of good tips and tricks from Julie including lots about color mixing.  Honestly, that part may have been the most valuable to me in some ways.  In my limited experience with this medium, I've mostly been going with colors straight out of the package... mixing my own colors, I came up with some really rich and lush shades.  I also picked up some good tips for building up beads and applying a veneer of color and/or pattern over the top.  I look forward to figuring out how to take what I learned and make it my own... I need more hours in the day!!    

Supplies all ready to go; designing my stack of clay and decorating the petals; picking our favorites for my petals; finished pendants (Eric's on the left and mine on the right)

Something I look forward to at any sort of beady event is reconnecting in person with my jewelry and bead making tribe.  Unfortunately, I'm not always the best about getting pictures... but I did snap a few!  From quick hugs on the show floor to drinks and dinner... we got some good friend time in on this trip.  A highlight for me was finally meeting the lovely and talented Erin Prais-Hintz in person!

Just a few beady friends:  Hanging with Loralee Kolton, meeting Erin Prais-Hintz in person for the first time, and giving Michelle McCarthy a hug and a hello!

So, if you know me at all, you know that I want all the beads... so the shopping is obviously a major draw for me.  One of the perks of taking classes is that you can attend a preview shopping night on Tuesday called Moonlight Madness that takes place in the Hyatt hotel (where we were staying) from 9 to 11 pm.  You also get into the full show floor on Thursday night while the general public has to wait until Friday morning to shop.  Over the course of the week I managed to do some pretty serious damage in the shopping department!  My main focus was on art beads... although I also picked up a ton of new Czech glass beads too.  Here's a look at some of my new artisan made goodies!

Beads from Golem Design Studio, Humblebeads, Allegory Gallery/Andrew Thornton, Xaz Raku

Beads from Joan Miller, Green Girl Studio, Firefly Design Studio, and Marsha Neal

Beads from Patricia Larsen, Diane Tarulla, Diane Hawkey, and Nikki Thornburg-Lanigan

My big splurge... Anne Choi beads!
In addition to all our beady shenanigans, Eric and I had plenty of time to explore the growing craft beer scene in Milwaukee, see family, and enjoy some delicious food and cocktails.  You can read more about that side of things over on the Beerploma blog soon.  (He's a bit behind.)    

For now I'll leave you with this extra snapshot from the Bead & Button show floor.... Me posing with the Swarovski crystal covered 1956 Porsche 356 Speedster.  This little sports car is covered with 247,148 crystals to the tune of something like $150,000 worth of Swarovski.  Yowza!  

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!!


  1. Sounds like a ton of fun! The makes from your classes and the goodies you bought are all stinkin' awesome!

  2. Wow, what a wonderful trip! Thanks so much for sharing... maybe one of these days I'll get to go there, too! Until then, I greatly enjoyed visiting vicariously through your recounting of the trip. What fun! :)