BeadFest part 3 — the art bead shopping

Of course I didn’t forget the art beads at BeadFest. Some of my favourite beadmakers were there, as well as some I have eyed from afar but never seen in person.

A group of beadmakers had a progressive make’n’take going on, so of course I had to play along. The ceramic house is by Diane Hawkey, the copper house frame was made by me on Brenda Schweder’s Now that’s a Jig wire wrapping jig, the dangles are by Nikki Thornburg (who also showed me a cool way to wire-wrap long stems) and the tiny enameled tubes were from C-Koop Beads (who also provided the leather). I’ve worn this a lot as I’ve travelled around the US, it’s nice and light for summer and the colours work beautifully with a lot of my clothing.


I bought a few more beads from Diane Hawkey. The glass beads in the picture were from Beach House Glass Beads.IMG_0860

I also bought some more beads from Nikki Thornburg—some of her headpins. I’m sure I can find some uses for them somewhere!


Between Diane Hawkey and Nikki Thornburg was Marsha Neal Studio. Marsha was absolutely lovely and we chatted for ages (more than once!). I bought a few bead pairs from her, one of her organic pod/vessels (and one for my mum, not pictured) and one of her great wrap bracelet kits. Which I had every intention of making as I travelled but, well, you know …


And I had to buy a few somethings from C-Koop Beads too.


I had lunch with one of my very favourite bead makers, Heather Powers, on Saturday and then had a little splurge at her booth. Such beautiful beads, I could have bought one of everything. We also did a little swap – more on that in the next blog post.


Staci Smith’s stand was full of fabulous treasures. I picked out some fun bits and pieces there, and a gorgeous necklace for my sister in law’s 40th birthday (yes I know I could have just bought some of the components and made something myself, but the necklace just seemed right for her, apologies as I don’t have a picture of it).


Michelle McCarthy, a swap buddy of mine from the old Bead Swap USA group (now disbanded) had a booth of her ceramics (Firefly Design Studio) and I selected some great summery beads and pendants there.


Right next door was Anne Gardanne‘s stall and I picked up some more enameled components there.


I splurged on a few exquisitely made beads from Joan Miller Porcelain. I wanted to buy a lot more.


Green Girls Studios was good for a few more beads too.


At Jenny Davies-Reazor ‘s booth, I picked up one of her mixed media word pendants — this one just called to me and I suspect I’ll be keeping it. And then I did some swapping with the Art Jewelry Elements girls, again more on that tomorrow.


I have to say, it’s fantastic to actually be able to see the beads in person, pick them up and fondle them. Although it makes choosing them even harder.

BeadFest part 2 — some of the shopping

Along with the classes, BeadFest has a huge expo hall full of bead sellers—everything from tables covered with semi-precious gems to small artisan beadmakers (those were my favourites). The expo was at least 10 times bigger than the Aussie bead shows (makes sense – the population in the US is a bit more than 10 times that in Australia too) and I spent hours there (and lots of money too).

I didn’t buy much in the way of semi-precious stones, as (a) I don’t use them all that often and (b) I can get a lot of them in Australia for much the same price. But I did get a few strands of large-holed beads and some nice matte-finish red creek jasper. The blue is dumortierite and the one below it is impression jasper. These were all from Dakota Stones.


It was nice to look at all the tools available (except I could never get a look-in on the Lindstrom pliers, oh well, kind of out of my price range anyway). I tried out the Xuron pliers and the Wubbers, and liked the former more than the latter, but found them on Amazon cheaper than at the show. I looked longingly at Brenda Schweder’s Now That’s a Jig, but right now I don’t do enough wire-wrapping to justify the US$200 pricetag. I did buy some Impressart stamps as they had a buy 5, get a 6th for free deal.


Speaking of wire, I bought some of that too—it can actually be quite expensive here and I use quite a bit of it.

I was a bit disappointed that there were not more high quality components there – companies like Vintaj, TierraCast and Nunn. I think a few sellers had bits and pieces but that was about all. Probably a good thing for my bank account though!

But then I discovered Saki Silver and I got some great earwires in silver as well as copper (both antiqued and not), and some buttons too.


The Bead Goes On had some great Indonesian seed beads and some lovely Thai copper (and silver too, but I didn’t buy any of that).


I got some nice sari silk in bright colours I haven’t seen before from Fiber and Beads.


Some seed bead blends in my favourite 6/0 size beads.


And I stocked up on some of my favourite styles of Czech glass beads at Nirvana Beads. I think my mind is turning toward summer as I seem to be drawn to the blues at the moment.


I’ll talk about the art beads in the next post.

BeadFest part 1 — the classes

I’ve just returned home from our 8 week family holiday in the USA. It’s pretty much been radio silence from me here while I’ve been away (thanks to intermittent access to wifi, busy days of travel and sightseeing and so on), but I plan to do a few posts this week about the beady side of the trip, aka my BeadFest experience.

BeadFest was—to this Aussie anyway—ah-maze-ing! We arrived in the middle of the afternoon on Thursday (the second day I think of BeadFest), thanks to late flights the day before resulting in an unexpected stopover and a very early start, and I had a class starting at 4:30pm, so it was a bit of a scramble.

The first class I did was with Sara Lukkonen, of C-Koop Beads fame, and was a torch-fired enameling class. We enameled flowers and disks and whatnot, and then riveted them to leather to make bracelets, and even a little leather ring. I LOVED it, and can see a torch in my future – I just need to set up a suitable space at home somewhere.


Anyway, I used a transparent turquoise frit (which looked a deeper blue over the copper), opaque purple and opaque pea green on my pile of flowers and disks and I’m thrilled with my bracelet—have worn it several times already! I made a matching ring too.


I’ve also got a pile of leftover pieces which may or may not end up in something sometime.


The second class I took was a short (45 minute) class with Erin Keck, which I took specifically to learn how to shape metal into a dome shape (the technique is called dapping). We made a simple pair of earrings using Vintaj embossing folders to texture the disks before dapping them. I can definitely see the possibilities here.


The second long class of the week was a class which introduced a few new techniques—fold-forming niobium, and then anodizing it to colour it. It was a fascinating class taught by Marti Brown, and while I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy the anodizing set-up, it was fun to try it out and I ended up with a gorgeous pair of earrings and a pendant too.


Finally I took another short technique class to try my hand at soldering copper. The class was taught by Kate Richbourg (and I will be looking up her video classes on Craftsy and Jewelry Making Daily) and I made a set of three stacking copper rings. Definitely another thing to try at home once I get set up!

Copper rings

It was great to have the opportunity to do some classes at BeadFest, and I just wish I’d had the time/money to do more. Next time (yes there will be a next time, it will probably just take me a few years), I will absolutely spend more time doing classes. In my next couple of posts I will talk about the shopping (oh the shopping!) and the people!

Blu Mudd Design Challenge #8

I recently took part in Blu Mudd‘s design challenge. Moriah isn’t making beads regularly anymore (she’s concentrating on her soap business) but she is still running regular challenges, which is fun! Now that the competition part is over, I can show you what I made.

The theme this time was Southwestern, with a big bear pendant done in Zuni style, a connector with a pawprint and a feather connector too. To me, the first two components worked well together and the feather, with slightly different colours, stood out as a separate piece. I didn’t take a pic, so here is Moriah’s picture.


I started with the feather. With its little turquoise stripe, I decided to pull out some turquoise nuggets and make a long necklace with the turquoise dangling along a length of black deer hide leather thonging. It’s simple, but it looks effective.


The bear presented me with a challenge—to balance the large size of the pendant with enough weight in the supporting necklace. I ended up knotting half a dozen strands of waxed linen on each side, with sections of seed beads in southwestern colours strung onto each strand. I used a similar strategy to make a coordinating bracelet with the pawprint connector. I’m happy with the results, the pieces have visual weight without actually being heavy.


Thanks again Moriah for the challenge, it’s always fun to work with your pieces! I’ll look forward to the next one!

You can see what others made here.

FLASH SALE in my Etsy Shop!

Sale_Tags I’m off  on my big US holiday next week so I thought I’d have a quick sale in my Etsy shop before I close it until October. Use the code USHOLIDAY15 to get 20% off any purchase until midnight on Saturday 8th August (that’s in US eastern time, which is 2pm Sunday 9th August in Melbourne, Australia and 5am Sunday 9th of August in the UK). I’ll ship on Monday.

Bead Fest or bust!

view from the deck

The view across the valley, Marble Colorado

I’m off on a big overseas family holiday to the US in a couple of weeks, to visit the Rocky Mountains in Colorado with family, roadtrip through the Southwest to show the kids the Grand Canyon and other amazing things! There’ll be a few days in New Orleans, a week of Orlando adventures at Walt Disney World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (my kids are so excited!) at Universal Orlando and a week in the San Francisco Bay Area where my husband and I lived for quite a few years.

But one of the things I am most looking forward to is Bead Fest! I have been dying to go to either Bead Fest or Bead and Button — the two biggest bead shows in the US — since I first heard about them. We have bead shows in Australia of course, but they are much much smaller and only offer a handful or two of classes, not a whole week’s worth. So I’m booked in for a couple of longer classes — enameling with Sara Lukkonen and fold forming with Marti Brown, and also a couple of 45 minute classes featuring some techniques I’m keen to learn. I’m really hoping to meet some of my online bead friends too.

And then there’s the bead shopping of course. Oh the shopping. Just looking at the list of vendors is enough to make me start drooling.

Of course the Aussie dollar has gone south this year, was it really only a couple of years ago that it was on par with the US dollar? Well, now it’s below 75 cents, and the prognosis isn’t good. Sigh. So I’ll be madly converting and calculating prices while I’m there, and focusing on things that I can’t get at a reasonable price here. Oh and art beads of course!!

If anyone wants to recommend bead shops in the Rockies (especially around Glenwood Springs), the Southwest (we’ll be vaguely working our way from Marble CO, through Moab, Cortez, Gallup, along Route 66 to Flagstaff, to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, and finally Vegas, baby!), New Orleans, maybe Orlando (although I think we’ll be mostly doing theme parks, no time for beads there) and the Bay Area (SF and Berkeley/Oakland area), I’d be very grateful.

I’d love to set up some bead swaps with anyone who is going to be at Bead Fest — I’ll bring you some of my favourite Aussie art beads (pssst, did anyone mention Peruzi?) if you like and you can swap for some of your favourites in return. What do you think? Leave me a comment or message me through Facebook or email me (the address is on this blog’s About page).

Also, stay tuned for a SALE later this month! I just need to load a few more things on my Etsy shop. It would be nice to have an excuse to spend a bit of money on new beads after all!

AJE Firefly Challenge reveal

Last month I won one of Jen Cameron ‘s Firefly beads as part of the Art Jewelry Elements quarterly theme challenge. Today is the day to reveal my design, and in typical fashion, I have waited until the very last minute to make something (in my defence, it’s been a busy month, and my weekend was filled with dance and gymnastics competitions—not me, my daughters!—and now it’s school holidays).

Anyway, Jen’s beads look like this (I borrowed Jen’s photo, thank you!).

Jen Firefly beads

Fireflies, are found in parts of the USA, as well as other places around the world, and tend to appear on warm summer nights. I once saw fireflies in Nebraska when I was visiting a friend and her family (we drove her car back to California where we were both at grad school). Alas, here in this part of Australia we don’t have fireflies, although we do have glowworms, which I have seen in the Victorian bush. One of my daughters said the bead looked like the Van Gogh painting Starry Starry Night, which it definitely does.

It’s a big bead too, a couple of inches long, and quite fat, so it was destined to go into a necklace. I knew it would need to be balanced by the rest of the design, so I thought I would do a multi-strand necklace and braid the strands together to give each side some visual weight. I chose a combination of some deep blue seed beads surrounding a variety of golden yellow Czech glass flowers, pale translucent yellow beads interspersed with blue rondelles, and after some thought, a strand of mixed seed beads in greens, blues and purples with some pops of yellow.

Last but not least, I added a tassel underneath the bead. I wanted a yellow tassel but could only get blue and green, so I went with green. I tried to age the shiny golden cap but alas it is plastic, so I need to think of the best way to do that—clearly gilder’s paste is unlikely to work. Although, now that the necklace is assembled, it doesn’t look too out of place with the golden yellow beads.


(Apologies for the picture—which is not the best as it was taken at night under lights. I may replace it tomorrow if I can get a better one.)

Anyway, thank you Jen for the fabulous bead, and thank you AJE for the challenge! I’ve listed the other participants below, make sure you go and check out their creations.

Guest Designers:

Melissa Trudinger – <– YOU ARE HERE!!

Mary Detray –

Keren Panthaki –

Tammy Adams –

Veralynne Malone –

Terri Del Signore –

Heather Powers –

Susan Delphine Delaney –


AJE Team:

Jenny Davies-Reazor –

Lesley Watt –

Niky Sayers –

Caroline Dewison –

Jen Cameron –