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Inside (and Outside) the Studio with Claire Lockwood of Something To Do With Your Hands

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you’ll leave comments! As an incentive, we offer a prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard and tell us what you think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible entries.
Congratulations to Erin S!
You have won a Mystery Bundle of Beads hand-selected by Erin at the Bead and Button Show!
Send Erin a message to claim your prize. 

I wasn’t expecting to be doing this post this weekend and I’m afraid to say I’m a little short on studio-based gossip. At the moment, things in the studio are going along like this:

It doesn’t look so overwhelming in this shot, which doesn’t seem fair! Anyway, I am slowing going through them, adding underglaze, adding oxides, adding glazes. One day soon it will be done… 
However, every so often, it happens that I leave the studio and that’s just what I did last weekend.  I know many of you will be heading off to Bead and Button this weekend; you may already be there, you lucky things!  Here in the UK we have large bead shows but nothing on the scale of Bead and Button, and we certainly don’t have shows with the same numbers of art bead stands.  But last weekend I went to a more intimate bead ‘event’, the Smitten Beads Open House. My first encounters with the online bead world were through Smitten Beads. Claire Braunbarth, who runs Smitten Beads, set up a Facebook group so that her customers could interact and share their designs.  That was – I’m guessing – about three years ago, and while the group has grown considerably, it has remained relatively close-knit. I first met Claire when I went to one of her Open Houses a few years back and the group was started shortly afterwards.  Now it is a larger affair which runs over two days and along with all the beautiful supplies that Claire stocks on her website, you can also shop at a small number of handmade bead stalls: there were ceramics by Bo Hulley (Bo Hulley Beads), polymer beads by Pippa Chandler (Pips), lampwork beads from Linda Newnham (Earthshine Beads) and handmade findings and beaded beads from our own Rebecca (The Curious Bead Shop).
(Thank you to Dawn Gatehouse and Kate Floate for the use of these images)
Needless to say, some came home with me. 
(!apologies for the blur!)
I was quite restrained, hey? I had just loaded up on lots of other supplies from Claire’s stock room, so I felt I needed to go easy on the art beads.  There was another Bo Hulley bead – this polka-dot connector – that I used in a custom order, the one piece of jewellery made in my studio this week.
(ceramic leaf and drop – Scorched Earth)
But aside from the opportunity to shop for beads, it was a great occasion for catching up with people who, over the last few years, I’ve come to regard as friends, despite rarely – if ever – meeting them in person. It was fun to talk glazes with Bo, and discuss the relative merits of polymer and ceramic clay with Pippa, and to talk just-all-beads-in-general with Rebecca. I’m sure many readers also find their enthusiasm for beads is not shared by their nearest and dearest, so it’s always nice to meet like-minded folk. And when the shopping was over we headed out for food followed by cocktails.  A merry time was had. Here are your UK ABS editors….
It may not be immediately obvious, but a certain amount of drink had been taken by this time.  And although my memory of why we we’re posing like this is a little hazy, I do remember having a thoroughly good night!
So, time for the giveaway! The prize this week is a set of my porcelain rose beads.
The question is: Do you have a favourite bead show, or a particularly memorable bead show experience? Or is there a bead show you’d love to go to one day? Please comment below to be in with a chance to win. 
Bye for now, Claire