So last week I buzzed down to Milwaukee to commune with my bead peeps, so instead of a post about what I am making for the challenge, I thought I would share with you some of my experiences at the Bead & Button show.
I missed the Bead & Button show last year so I think I was making up for it (in a BIG way!). Starting Tuesday, I took four day-long classes and then spent the rest of the week shopping and sharing and otherwise soaking up the presence of a lot of my favorite people….like Loralee + Martha, Andrew + William, Sarajo + Eric, Michelle + Diane, Marsha + Vlad…..
Tuesday I took class with Gail Crosman Moore. Sometimes I take classes with instructors I just want to be around, and this was one of those cases. I adore the unique materials that she manipulates and the way that she adds detail. She is also a color addict, like me, so I knew that we would hit it off. We spent the day making molds of various items and then worked with paper clay. I had never worked with that before and it is a really interesting medium. I must have been so engrossed in the process because I don’t have a single picture of anything I made. You will have to trust me that it was way cool. I anticipate that I will be playing around more with this, maybe even for this month’s Simple Truths Sampler, so stay tuned!
Next up I took a class with Julie Picarello of Yellow House Designs. Her work is so very recognizable. I can spot it a mile away! Her chosen technique is mokume gane. I have my own variations of this technique, but it was so nice to learn how she does it. I loved the color mixing that she taught, as that has always flummoxed me. Julie really broke that down and now I get it! She shared all her imprint tools and that prompted me to take a quick road trip to the American Science & Surplus to look for oddball things. Found some interesting stuff! I will need to find a way to make this more of my own look, but since I have done this before, I think that should be no problem. What I most loved about the class was really at the very end of the day, when she shared her finishing techniques. Her work feels like the softest satin, which makes it even more beautiful. Now I know what I need to do for some of my pieces that will really take them to the next level. I treated myself to her book and a pair of her earrings. More to come on this technique!
On Thursday I had a half-day class with Irina Miech of Eclectica. She is a wizard with precious metal clay (PMC). I have taken two other classes over the years in PMC, mostly ending in failure. You would think that with my years of experience with other clays that this would come easy. Not so much. But Miss Irina was such a wonderful teacher. We worked with molds again, this time with some more natural materials like leaves and twigs, and even set tiny CZ stones in our work. I plan to trek back to her store in Brookfield (west of Milwaukee) to take another class with her in the fall, because I really want to see if I can master this medium, or at least make it consistently in my own style. I am excited about that! Now I dearly want to try the bronze and copper clay versions.
|Nature’s Elements in Silver PMC with Irina Miech|
Finally, I took Kitchen Table Soldering with Francesca Watson of the Makery. I have always adored her work so learning from her was a definite highlight. She is larger than life. Her laugh is booming, and her taste in music is fabulous! Her first words were that she was going to work us hard. And boy, did she ever. I barely had time to catch my breath! In the end, I am pretty happy with how my pendant turned out, and it makes me appreciate even more those that do this all the time. Amazing what you can do when you start with just a piece of silver wire and a stone. I don’t know if I will be setting stones in the future, and her set up is a LOT more robust than what I could have at my kitchen table, but I have always wanted to make my own bezels for my clay creations, and I can take a lot of what I learned here and apply it to my own vision.
|Kitchen Table Soldering with Francesca Watson|
At the end of the week, I finally got to spend a little more time with my best friend Heather Powers. We were even able to have a wonderfully relaxing celebratory dinner complete with cocktails, just the two of us, to catch up and recharge. That was one of the best times all week! I told her that I wasn’t really going to shop at the show…HA! Famous last words! Old habits die hard! I found myself going to my very favorite booths…. for stones, pearls, beads, components and of course, art beads. Now I need to get to the making! Here’s a little tour of the goodies I found….without really looking…some of which would work well for this month’s inspiration, don’t you think?
|Clockwise from left: buttery soft leather tassels; Vintaj blanks and new pewter bezels; bone and wood carved feathers, copper etched pendants, copper patina charms, beetle wings|
|Clockwise from top left: Green Girl Studios + Allegory Gallery; Humblebeads; Diane Hawkey + Firefly Design Studio; Anna Bronze + Aja Vaz of Wandering Spirit Designs; Bob Burkett from Tiger Tiger; Golem Design Studio.|
Since I didn’t get a chance to create my own art bead interpretation for the challenge yet (but these classes are pointing me in a direction!), I will share with you the necklace I made for the Halcraft Pretty Palettes challenge for May. I started that challenge over there as part of my years on the Halcraft Dream Team, and now that my time there has ended, I have passed the baton to Molly Schaller. She is continuing this great monthly challenge. The colors for May were brilliant greens and to that I added some light blue, deep raspberry and golden hematite nuggets. I had a pendant from our own Ashley Bonney of Summer Wind Art that was perfect for this month’s painting, with the watercolor splashes and the touch of gold leave. I call this Meanderings.