Friday, 21 June 2013

She sure showed up

So, are you itching to know how I got on at Bead and Button 2013?... just under 4000 miles, a few sleepless nights, some scary
bead haul from WhimBeads
moments when my class packs got held up in the customs warehouse; then suddenly I was sitting in a bar in Milwaukee with my friends from Germany, Petra Tismer, Martine Nagele, Claudia Schumann, Sabine Lippert and the lovely Elke Leonhardt Rath, gossip in full swing and then dear friend Laura Andrews arrives, followed by Marcia DeCoster... and so the evening rolls on, hugs, laughter, friends who are family. Before you sigh and think, OMG this is going to be a roll call of the beading world, does she stop name dropping! Be kind, this is also a roll call of kindred spirits, a gathering from many countries where it is simply joyous to meet and hug and renew our friendships. And yes we talk beads non-stop. As the new kid on the block I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of friends, and quite a few strangers, who give me tips and guidance, make sure I'm up on time, show me the ropes and... the best bit for anyone who's working life is spent in quiet contemplation of the bead tray... endless, generous and heartwarming complements about my work.
Best of all are the students, it is not a small investment to join a class, and their enthusiasm to learn makes delivering classes a really joyful experience. So to everyone who came to my classes a big thank you hug!
As the week draws on, the late suppers, early starts (class starts at 8.30am some mornings), and the long distance walking around the venue and the classrooms... begin to give us all a slightly weary, glazed expression. But there is so much to see, and do, experience and enjoy that there is nothing for it but to commit! Boy did I!
 enamel with Mary Hettmansberger
Mary's lush green pendant
Pendants with Gwen Youngblood
Spinner ring with Robyn Cornelius

I spent a day with Gwen Youngblood learning Metal Smithing 1-2-3, by the end of which she had us all cutting, soldering, bezel setting and riveting. Next was an evening with Robyn Cornelius, who's work I have long admired, I got to wield an even bigger torch, to this time make a silver ring with spinning collar. Then came a day spent with  Mary Hettmansberger, learning to do enamelling with attitude, more flames, more mastery of metal with tab setting and cold joining, bliss! As a treat I bought myself one of Mary's pendants and it sits on my workroom shelf as a reminder to get down the shed and get the blow torch lit a bit more often! Unfinished projects include a micro macrame pendant with Joan Babcock and a pave bangle with Sue Jackson and Wendy Hubrick.
Meet the Teachers is a legendary evening, where in the great hall all the teachers display their work and wares. Luckily for me my dear friends Mary Yaeger and Patti McCourt were willing helpers.
In the quiet before the storm which is the doors opening to let everyone in, I had the best fun making friends with people who's work is utterly inspiring, renewing friendships with designers I've written about in my former life as a magazine journalist and editor, and hugging fellow artists I only ever get to see at shows as we are all on busy schedules.
Chains and spikes
Lovely stones for my stash

On the last sunday I had a restful day shopping, it's a big show with much to take in and sooooo much to tempt the purse out of the pocket, but with thoughts of the weigh in for my suitcase on the journey, home I made a modest (for me) selection of beady goodies I couldn't bear to leave behind.

Will I go back? suitcase already packed!