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Tips for Picking, Prepping and Partaking in a Bead Retreat

This article first appeared on the Soft Flex Newsletter

As the planner of an annual
Bead Cruise and Inspired by Nature Bead Retreat here are my top tips for retreat
participants. 
Retreats are held across the county and around the world
with classes that offer something for everyone. With so many choices
there are some things to consider when picking your perfect event.
Packing and preparing for the retreat can ensure a better experience and
once you arrive there are a few things you can do make sure you have a
retreat that will inspire you for years to come. 
Picking an Event: 
Classes: Retreats can range from local
instructors sharing basic techniques to nationally known instructors
teaching original designs. Are classes offered ala carte or will
everyone take the same classes? If classes were ala carte and
instructors are selling kits or books this a great way to get more
mileage out of your event. 
If you are taking an advanced class, know the
basic prerequisites before signing up or you could face frustration
during the event. Will you finish the project in class, do you want to
walk out with finished work or will you be motivated to work on them
when you return home. 
Size: Do you want to join a larger regional
event with a few hundred people or do you want a quieter and more
personal experience that a smaller retreat will offer? Whether it’s a
big or small event, you’ll connect with talented and giving creative
spirits during the retreat. 
Budgets: Sometimes it may be practical
considerations like the cost and travel expenses that steer you to an
event. You’ll need to budget in materials or kits. Will you need to
invest in new tools or materials to take the classes? Are meals
included? Will there be chances to shop with the instructors or a
vendor?
Style: Are you a mixed media maven or seed
bead obsessed? There are retreats just for you! Are you a nature girl
and want a chance to explore the relationship between jewelry and the
places you are visiting ? there is a retreat just for you! Are you
looking for a laid back event that focuses on creativity or do you like a
more structured event? Visit websites to get a feel for an event. And
join their Facebook pages to get to know the promoters and other people
planning to attend. 
Going Solo or Bring a Friend: You’ll have
completely different experiences for each scenario. Don’t be afraid to
go to an event alone, you will make friends before the end of the
weekend and you won’t be alone for long. 
Packing and Preparing.
Packing: Along with the supply lists for
your classes, bring the required tools, a portable beading mat, an OTT
Lite if you work with seed beads and an extension cord if you bring a
light. Bring business cards or postcards, and a few of your creations
for networking. Pack comfortable shoes and clothes you wouldn’t mind
getting messy during class. An energy-packed snack and a bottle of
water can go a long way while you are busy creating! 
Inspiration: A camera and notebook will help
you capture your inspirations during the weekend and make notes that you
might forget in all the excitement of the event. 
Before the Event: The retreat experience can
start long before the event. Check out the Facebook page or message
board group dedicated to the retreat and make a few buddies before you
travel.  
During the Retreat

Relax: Once you get your bearings on a
retreat and the festivities have begun your first job is to relax. Yes,
relaxing is job one for you! It’s so easy to feel like you have to
perform during a class or wow everyone with your creativity, but you
don’t! Being a student can be a frustrating process, it’s hard to learn
something new. So don’t expect perfection from your class projects.
The first project you create with a new technique is practice. If it’s a
great class, you’ll have a new technique you’ll be able to perfect and
adapt to your own work. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself. 
Speak Up: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need help from the instructor ? that’s why they are there!
Don’t be shy during a retreat! You have
something in common with everyone there. Beads unite all! You’ll get
so much more out of your retreat by interacting with your fellow
students. If you are feeling shy, just make a comment about someone’s
jewelry and you’ll be laughing and sharing in no time. Exchange business
cards and stay connected after the retreat. 
Photos: Take tons of pictures of your event.
Anything you find inspirational, snap a pic! Make sure you ask first
before you take a photo of anyone else’s work and understand they may
decline your request.
Don’t expect perfection, your retreat planner
has gone to great lengths to pull off an amazing event – but things
never go exactly as planned. Focus on the positive for the weekend and
if there is an issue, go directly to the planner to resolve it so you
can get on with having fun! 

Registration is open for my next Inspired by Nature Bead Retreat.  Check out all the details here.

And if you are looking for a tropical retreat visit the Bead Cruise website for more information.

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2 Comment

  1. Reply
    SummersStudio
    August 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    This is great information. Lots of things here I hadn't thought of. Thank you!

  2. Reply
    TesoriTrovati
    August 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I would echo all of what you said. I have traveled far and near for retreats and they have been the best money I have ever spent on the best times with some of my {new} best friends! One day I hope to make my travel complete with a tropical destination, but for now the regional ones call my name. Sometimes just getting out of your home environment to a new place is all it takes to rev up your creative engine. Thanks for sharing these tips, and I can't wait to see you in October for the Inspired By Nature retreat! 😉
    Enjoy the day.
    Erin

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