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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Bead Fest or bust!

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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!

A quirky bird or two

I took a metalwork class last weekend at The Whimsical Bead. And it was so much fun! I learned to cut shapes out of copper, file edges smooth, texture with a hammer, rivet and screw pieces together, and finished off by oxidising the completed pieces. And I also made my first clasps!

The class was taught by Robyn and Julie Wilson from Deegan Designs, who sell a range of whimsical, steampunk-inspired jewellery. You can see some of their wonderful creations here. We made a simpler version of their quirky bird design, as both a brooch and a pendant. I took a few photos as my pieces progressed.

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Here I have finished cutting out, filing and texturing the birds and wings (I paired the wrong wings with the birds in these pictures). That’s probably me reflected in the shiny metal.

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This picture shows the completed birds, before their bath in Liver of Sulphur, which oxidises the copper from shiny to dark in seconds.

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Here is the brooch. It’s hard to see in the photograph but there are some lovely colours—almost like an oil slick—on the bird’s body and wings, from the oxidising process. The longer the copper is left in the Liver of Sulphur solution, the darker it goes—my pieces were only in there for a few seconds. I lightly sanded back the oxidation around the edges to give a bit of definition to the shape, but left the rest of the body and wings as they came out. The pieces have also been sealed front and back with a metal sealer to stop further oxidation.

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And here is the necklace. You can see the colours in this one a bit better. Note the clasp—I made that too!

I have some more copper sheet, wire and a few screws to play with, and enough tools to be dangerous! So you may see some more from me soon!