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.


Challenges and more

I recently decided I needed to stretch my wings a bit, give myself a challenge. Beading Forum runs a challenge twice a year—the Designer Quest—where members of the forum can purchase a set of beads for a modest price. The challenge is to make a piece of jewellery with the beads provided, and there is both a judged prize and a popular prize up for grabs.

This is the selection of beads I received for Designer Quest #24. 3 packets of seed beads in purple and a golden yellow, including some very tiny size 15/0 ones, a packet of triangle beads, Czech fire-polished faceted beads, round Czech beads, Czech teardrops, the big purple glass beads, small peacock dagger and even a faceted crystal. Yes, there are a lot of seed beads, something I don’t have a lot of experience with. And I’m certainly not going to launch myself into large scale bead-weaving or bead embroidery, not my thing. But I’ve got a couple of ideas based on a bracelet design in polymer clay art bead designer Heather Powers’ Jewelry Design from Nature that I plan to work on. I have a bit of time yet, but I think I need to get cracking soon!

Meanwhile, I received a lovely email the other day, informing me that I had won the Humblebeads & Vintaj Forest Friends Giveaway, which includes a fantastic selection of Vintaj brass and copper components and some gorgeous polymer clay beads and pendants from Humblebeads/Heather Powers. From the picture, it looks like a substantial stash of beads and bits, enough to make quite a few things! I’m really looking forward to receiving this package! Thanks so much Vintaj! And I’ll definitely post pics of what I make with my prize!

(Pic courtesy of