Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Bead&Button Show recap #3

This is the third in a series of my Bead&Button Show recap posts.  If you're just coming in, you might want to catch up by reading my pre-show post, recap #1, and recap #2.

I've mentioned my friend Michelle before (hi, Michelle!) in at least one of the recaps.  We've gone around the Show together the last few years.  We do completely different types of jewelry - I primarily do bead stitching but dabble in other techniques, and Michelle does mostly metal and wire.  It's interesting hanging out at the Show with her because I end up at a bunch of booths I'd likely skip if I were there on my own or with my husband.

One such booth is Beadalon.  It's not that I don't like Beadalon.  I like them just fine.  They came to a Loose Bead Society program a few years ago and showed us a bunch of their products.  I use their beading wire on the rare occasions that I have bead stringing projects (I bought a big spool about 4 years ago that will likely last me another 4 years or more).  I'm interested in the products that they come out with, but right now the only thing I need is a needle, Fireline, and some beads (preferably SuperDuos).

Michelle does use their tools, so off we went to bother Wyatt:

While Michelle was talking to him about the tassel maker you can see on the right side of the picture, I noticed something off to the left and literally squealed, interrupting both their trains of thought:

It's a 3D printer!  I have been intrigued by them since they first came out, but this was the first time I saw one in person and in action.  Here's a close-up picture of the bracelets right in front of it:

From what I understand (which is very little), the printer melts plastic (called "filament") in particular patterns based on whatever program is loaded.  The platform lowers as the piece grows, so you can make items of various heights.

The printer at the Beadalon booth is an "Ultimaker 2".  I looked at their website and found a neat video.  I highly recommend you check it out.  It's short but shows enough so you can get an idea of how it works.

The brown bracelet in the above picture (second one in) was surprisingly light.  It's a thin piece that's kind of corrugated.  It stretches a bit and looks really delicate.

Being short, I couldn't really see what was going on, so Wyatt suggested that I take a picture from the top:

It's a very slow process.  This bracelet had been going for about eight hours and still had a few to go.  I checked back about two hours later, and it was done!

Now, you may be wondering what a 3D printer was doing at the Beadalon booth.  Wyatt said that they make the filament!  You can learn more about the filaments at the Filament Express website.

While this is a really neat machine with unlimited possibilities, it is quite an investment.  Based on the Ultimaker store page, the smallest Ultimaker 2 is €1.195,00.  According to Google, that converts to almost $1333.  Each color of the filament comes on its own spool and is $42.99.  I have no idea how much of a spool is used for a project like that red bracelet.  You'd probably want a few colors to play with (they have 10 to choose from).  Then there's the software used to make the designs.  I don't know if that's included or would need to be purchased separately.

Even so, this is definitely a technology to keep an eye on!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Bead&Button Show recap #2

This is the second in a series of my Bead&Button Show recap posts.  If you're just coming in, you might want to catch up by reading my pre-show post and recap #1.

Today I'm going to introduce you to two people I met at this year's show, Diane Hawkey and Eugenia Chan.

But first, let's look at a few of the Bead Dreams winning pieces that caught my eye.  Bead Dreams is a competition held every year, and the pieces are just stunning.  Bead&Button magazine sponsors it, and the winners on the Fire Mountain Gems website here.  They haven't posted this year's winners yet, but you can check out winners from 2004 on.

The pieces are all displayed behind glass, so my pictures aren't the best.

The first one that caught my eye will be no surprise at all to anyone reading this very purple blog:

It's a purple beaded outfit!  The picture really doesn't do it justice.  This is called "Lady" and was made by Tomiko Sakanaka from Yao Osaka, Japan.

This next one is also from Japan:

This is "Castle of Nagoya" by Masako Takahashi and Hiroko Yokoi from Ichinomiya Aichi, Japan.  It's really stunning up close.

The last one I took a picture of is "The Underwater Kingdom Handbag" by Elizaveta Antonova from Berdyansk, Ukraine:

That looks like shibori silk waves among shells, pearls, beaded starfish, beaded fish, and other sea creatures.  Beautiful!

Now on to the new folks!

The best thing about the Bead&Button Show Marketplace is meeting the smaller vendors.  There are so many of them that do such interesting and unique work.  There are many lampworkers, but there are also polymer clay, raku, ceramic, and a whole host of other artists!

Diane Hawkey is a ceramic artist who makes very whimsical pieces.  Check out her website, and you'll immediately see what I mean!

Here's Diane amongst her wares:

She had so much to see, it was hard to pick just a few things to show you.  Here are a few "message sticks":

It's hard to read them in that picture, so here's what they say (there are duplicates):  "Be curious, not judgmental", "Stars can't shine without darkness", "I exist as I am, that is enough", and my personal favorite, "rub my butt".  I almost brought that last one home, but I didn't want random strangers fondling me once I made it into a bracelet.  :)

Here's another picture of some of her creations:

I really like these, and I wish I had bought something from her.  I'll probably do what I did with Evvy Beads and get something next year!  As I mentioned before, you should visit Diane's website.  She also has a blog and an Etsy shop.  Her Etsy shop has just one thing in it right now - a custom word bead.  You choose the color and the word.  The last word in the list made me literally LOL.  I love sassy jewelry!

Wandering around the Marketplace on Sunday with my friend Michelle, we saw an enameling demo done by Eugenia Chen.  You can see more of her work and learn more about her on her website.  Her enameling was nothing like I've seen before:

I have had very little experience with enameling (see my posts about attempt #1 and attempt #2), so seeing Eugenia's pieces blew my mind and made me want to try again!

Here's my absolute favorite piece that she had out:

I had no idea you could do pictures with enameling!  Eugenia used templates that she said aren't on the market yet.  They should be, though!  Those pieces are gorgeous.

Here is Eugenia in action:

And, finally, here's the piece she was working on:

Next week I'll show you a very cool machine that made some very interesting pieces.  Vague, I know, but if I told you what it was, would you come back?  :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2015 Bead&Button Show recap #1

The Bead&Button Show ended about a week and a half ago, and I think I'm recovered enough to start sharing some of my experiences with you!  There will be three or four installments, and I'll keep them fairly short with lots of pictures.

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to have a table at the Meet the Teachers Reception.  It was great fun, and I saw a number of people that I only seem to see at that reception.  One of them was Jenny, a student in my Shadowed Diamonds B&B class in 2012.  She showed me a picture of her latest bracelet.  I loved the colors so much that I asked her to send me the picture so I could show you:

I really love that she's still making this bracelet and that she's switching it up!  I usually use white or light colors for the background (where she has the black), but this is so dramatic.  I may have to make up another colorway or two for kits.  Thanks, Jenny!

Also at Meet the Teachers, there was a minion running around:

This is really Juanita, a fellow Loose Bead Society member.  She "minions" for Sharon Peters of Smart Ass Glass and really got into it this year!  Juanita is really dedicated.  If you'd like to see Sharon's glass pieces, check out her website.  They are always whimsical and fun!

Wandering around the marketplace on Friday and Sunday, I met some new people and stopped by some old friends.  I'll show you new friends next week.

Here's one of my oldest friends (in amount of time I've known her, not age!), Brenda Schweder, showing off her Now That's a Jig! and Now That's a Pliers! (that last link is a video about the new pliers):

That's Jill, another Loose Bead Society member, behind Brenda.  There are always bunches of us wandering around the Show, usually in bunches!

I always make sure I stop by and harass Cynthia McEwen and Karen Ovington.  They're nice ladies and make beautiful glass pieces.  You can see some of their pieces in the post I wrote last year (click here for them and other vendors).  This year, I thought I'd just take pictures of them, but I wish I had gotten nicer pictures of interesting items in front of them.

Here's Cynthia McEwen:

 And here are the little heads in front of her:

Those are new, so I don't think they've made it to her gallery yet.  I recommend checking out her gallery - she has beautiful pieces!

Here's Karen Ovington:

And here's a really crappy picture of the little heads in front of her:

I think these two must have a lot of fun in their studios!  To see more of what Karen does, check out her website's beads page.

Well, I think that's enough for now.  Check back next week for more!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

It's Bead&Button Show time!

What is the best week of the year?  Bead&Button Show week in Milwaukee!  Classes started last weekend and go through this weekend (I still have openings for my two: read about them and me as a teacher here).  Other events are Moonlight Madness (a vendor preview event held tonight, Tuesday), the Meet the Teachers Reception (tomorrow night), Marketplace preview shopping (Thursday night), the Bead Social and Auction (Saturday night), and the Artisan Jewelry Marketplace (Friday-Sunday).

Whew!  That's a lot of activity packed into about a week and a half, but that's not even all of it.  There are make 'n takes, demos, raffles, giveaways, gorgeous jewelry on display in the Bead Dreams contest and on many of the attendees, and people making jewelry and talking about making jewelry in every corner.

One of the places people are gathering for that last activity is the Gathering Place (see what I did there?) in the atrium of the Hyatt, where some of the classes are held.  There are kiosks from two local bead stores (Knot Just Beads and Eclectica), which provides students with tools and materials they might need for their classes and a lot of goodies for anyone hanging out, including the new Tango beads.  They'll be at the Knot Just Beads booth at the Show if you're going.  It's quite a neat shape!

I spent the day there yesterday beading a few color samples for my class on Saturday and meeting a lot of new people.  The first person I sat with happened to have grown up in and lives in my hometown, Waukegan, Illinois.  Unfortunately, though, she graduated from the other high school ten years before me, so we don't know any of the same people.  We talked about where she lives, where my mother lives, which hospitals we were born in, and the quintessential Waukegan food, Quonset pizza.

I also sat with some people from Germany and the Netherlands, and we talked about where the Germans live in relation to my German family as well as some of the differences between our countries.  The Bead&Button Show draws people from all over the world, including a very large contingent from Japan, where Toho and Miyuki beads come from.  There's always a map outside the Marketplace with pins where everyone is from.  It's quite amazing.

Later in the day I met a trio of sisters from Pennsylvania known far and wide as "the Sissies."  They were a lot of fun and brought a bunch more people to the table.  I say they're known far and wide because as I was heading back to my car I ran into Reenie Oliveto (you may remember her from a few of my blogs last year - here and here), who was heading in for a class she was about to teach.  She mentioned she had a few of the "Sissies" in her class, and I was a bit surprised.  I feel like I've been beading under a rock that I haven't heard of them before.

I wish I could have gone back to the Gathering Place today, but since I live only 15 minutes away from the convention center, I had to go home and deal with real life.  It started before 7:00 this morning as the street was being cut so the utility company could install a gas meter for our house, and later in the morning we had our ducts cleaned.  I would have preferred sitting around fun people beading instead of trying to find my cats who fled from the very loud noises that seemed to chase them around the house (from their perspective, that is).

If you're going to the Show and want to find me, I have a table at Meet the Teachers (Wednesday, June 3rd, from 8-10:30p), and I'll be at the Loose Bead Society table outside the Marketplace Friday morning from 9-11:30, and my husband and I will be shopping the rest of the day on Friday.  Then, of course, I'll be in class on Saturday all day and Sunday in the morning.  I'll probably end up back in the Marketplace after my class.  Monday night is the Loose Bead Society program, and Tuesday will be spent sleeping all day.  Wednesday, too, probably.  :)

Oh!  One more thing for those of you going to the Show.  If you have a smartphone, you'll definitely want to download the Bead&Button Show app (that link takes you to the iPhone version, but the app is available for Android phones, too).  You can view the show schedule and classes, view photos, search exhibitors, and more!  I love being able to search exhibitors.  When looking for my blog posts about Reenie, I found a picture of the Evvy Beads booth and remembered I wanted one of her gorgeous multi-colored class beads.  With a quick search in the app, I found out not only that she's at the Show but also where her booth is.  It will be an invaluable tool while wandering around the enormous Marketplace.

Next week I'll post some pictures and stories from the Show.  If you would like to send me some of your pictures and stories, e-mail them to traci@creative-pursuits.biz.

Now I'd better get some sleep.  I'm going to be very busy!