Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My First Bead & Button Show and Other Adventures

Living only five and a half hours from Milwaukee (and having family there!), I've been dreaming of going to the Bead & Button Show pretty much since I found out about it.  Each year something always came up that made it complicated to get there and I ended up saying year after year, "Maybe next year."  Well, this year was finally my year!

After getting my first big bead show under my belt at Bead Fest Summer in Philadelphia last year, I was more than ready to do some shopping a little closer to home.  (You can read about my exploits with classes and shopping HERE and HERE respectively.)  Eric and I loaded up the car last Thursday and began our road trip to Milwaukee for a weekend of beads, beers, family, and friends.    

I have arrived!  I was eager to get upstairs and start shopping, but I needed to commemorate this moment!

My shopping goals for this trip were to stock up on lovely art beads (I love buying them in person directly from the folks that made them) and to snag some more Czech glass beads in bulk.  I more than accomplished that!  Armed with a general idea of where some of my "must see" artists and vendors were located, wearing good comfortable shoes, and with my sweet husband carrying my tote bag we entered the show floor and got to work!  Blinded by the bright lights and sparkle but determined to do the show in a day (I'll tell you how that went a little later!), we made our way to one side of the hall to start our journey with our friends at Green Girl Studios and Allegory Gallery.

Clockwise from top:  Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio, Marcia Balonis, and Andrew Thornton and William Jones of Allegory Gallery

Ok, be forewarned... most of this post is just going to be eye candy.  I brought home an embarrassment of beady riches from Bead & Button!  I want to get this post up quickly so I can sit down and start making with all my new goodies.  :)    

Very first stop:  Allegory Gallery to pick up my destash loot and Luna Moth challenge kit and to check out all their new pretties... oh and give BIG hugs to Andrew and William of course!  Andrew was clearly burning the midnight oil making lots of lovely new pendants and beads before B&B!  I'm totally smitten with the multi-colored porcelain beads he made (there were more mono-chromatic sets too) and some of the new finishes for his porcelain pendants.  I'm sure I'll be snagging more of these up (if they still have any) when we visit in July for their Creative Camp!  

Porcelain lovelies from Andrew Thornton plus a cute bronze bat by Bob Burkett.

Andrew and William were sharing booth space with their family at Green Girl Studios, so we inched down the aisle only slightly for our second stop of the show!    As always it was a pleasure chatting with Greg and I was also happy to finally meet Cynthia.  I'm pretty thrilled with my haul which includes a pendant that I think will be showing up in one of my Honey Do List challenge pieces later this month!

So much Green Girl goodness!  Those top 3 are buttons!

Our next stop was to see the fabulous Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio... another one of my favorite artists!  Since Michelle hails from Florida, it shouldn't surprise you that so many of her pieces that I snagged have ocean themes and/or colors.  Per usual, I grabbed a fair amount of earring components plus some other fun goodies including a trio of bracelet bars.  

I love Michelle's glazes and am clearly addicted to her earring pairs!

Still not making out of our first aisle (much to my sweet husband's chagrin!), our next major stop was Gardanne.  I've been wanting to see her enameled jewelry components in person for a while but somehow missed her booth completely in my disorganized Bead Fest ramblings.  Anne makes some truly lovely enameled pendants and charms in colors that make me drool.  I can't wait to design with my newfound treasures!    

My haul from Gardanne... you see my color preferences continue to come through!

A quick stop by Diane Hawkey's booth yielded these treasures... the raven/crow may be for Eric. 

Despite originally planning to systematically go through the showroom floor aisle by aisle, I soon forced a deviation from that plan!  Wanting to hit my favorite art bead makers as early in the day as possible, we swung over to the middle of the show room floor to see the work of three amazing ladies:  Nikki Thornburg-Lanigan, Staci Louise Smith, and Marsha Neal!  Staci wasn't at the show, but luckily the other two ladies brought some of her goodies to sell.  Staci told me to give Nikki and Marsha hugs for her... so I made sure to do that before we moved on!

Polymer clay pendants from Staci and lampwork glass by Nikki... Some of you may know why I bought the little strawberries!

I see some fun earring making sessions in my future with Marsha's pretty ceramic pairs!
Eric and I took a little break mid-day and met his cousin Thor for beers and lunch.  It was fun to see and visit some of the historic brewery buildings in Milwaukee.  We need to get back there soon when we have more time just to explore the city without the beads competing for our attention!  Refreshed and re-energized after lunch, we headed back into the fray for more frenzied shopping, but it was already clear that our one-day plan just wasn't going to happen.  After walking a few more aisles and hitting up a few more vendors, we eventually threw in the towel and headed out to meet with all of our family for the boat time, drinks, and dinner.    

Having had time to regroup and strategize the evening prior, we arrived for round two at B&B right as the show opened on Saturday morning ready to hit the second half of the showroom floor.  This time we started on the opposite side of the room and worked faithfully toward the middle where we had ended on Friday evening.  Our first stop was Golem Design Studio and, boy, did I do some damage there!  Seriously, I'm a little embarrassed with how much I bought so I'll just show some of my favorites.  It was a joy to meet Vlad and Kremena in person and to see the full array of their gorgeous, colorful beads and pendants in person.  I was overwhelmed with the amazing variety of designs they brought with them!

A selection of some of my favorite beads I picked up at Golem!
As you recall, gemstones weren't on my shopping list for this show.  I recently stocked up on a LOT of gemstones at the Dakota Stones showroom sale (they are local for me), so I didn't feel like I could justify buying any more stones at this point.  Then we got to the Intrinsic Trading booth and all that went right out the window when we saw all the gemstone earring pairs!  This is one of those times that I can legitimately blame Eric for what happened next... I had picked out a few pairs of gemstones and was ready to move on but Eric insisted on continuing to shop for more!  (He really is a keeper!)   

Lots of jaspers, agates, and more!
In addition to the juicy gemstones and art beads, I picked up my body weight (ok, not quite!) in new Czech glass beads at the show.  Thanks to a recommendation from Erin Prais-Hintz I found a new to me glass vendor, Raven's Journey, from Seattle.  I was thrilled to find the glass "chiclet" beads that I use in my best selling earrings as well as my favorite flower shape in tons of new colors!  I had done some serious damage at Nirvana Beads the day before (mostly rondelles of various sizes plus some table cut flowers and pinch beads in fun finishes) so I should be in good shape for a while on Czech glass!

Yummy new Czech glass beads in some of my favorite shapes!
Rounding out my two day bead and jewelry making shopping spree were a few metal stamping and embossing tools as well as a clearance disc cutter.  I sure am glad we drove... my baggage would have been way over the weight limit!  We left the show mid-day laden with heavy bags of beads and jewelry making accessories ready for cold beers and a hearty lunch back with the family.

I feel bad that I really didn't get any pictures with Eric and his aunt and uncle, his three Milwaukee cousins, and the cousins's kids.  I'll blame it on the fact that we were all super hot and sweaty from the 91 degree weather and definitely not ready for our close ups!  We had a delicious, albeit VERY late lunch with the whole family and then went over to the first brewery of the day afterwards.  The gang said some of our goodbyes at this point and then Eric and I and some of the cousins went on to a couple of more breweries.  Eric and I ended our day with his aunt and uncle at this super cute brewery that is housed in an old mill.  Next trip we have to get back there in the daytime so Eric can take pictures.

Having to reenter the real world on Monday, we said good by to our family and Milwaukee on Sunday morning to begin the trek home.  Since Eric's agreement to take this trip was partially based on his getting to visit some breweries, we made a couple of beer-related stops along the drive.  I'm glad that one of them was a repeat visit to New Glarus Brewing, one of our favorite breweries.  They have done quite a bit with their grounds since the last time we visited a few years ago so it was really cool to wander around and explore while drinking glasses of delicious Raspberry Tart beer.  This stop was a little out of our way but oh so worth it!

A few pics from the grounds at New Glarus Brewing including the coolest rinsing station ever created!
Now we are back at home and it's time to get back to our normal lives... whatever that really means.  Oh, and I guess I should probably get to work making some jewelry!  I look forward to sharing some creations made with my new goodies in the very near future!


  1. Oh, I am seriously envious over here in Scotland!!! A bit more than 5.5 hours away here. One day, maybe! You really did well there - I would love to see your entire Golem haul, hehe :-) And your husband definitely sounds like a keeper! Score!!

    1. Lol. I really am too embarrassed to show my whole hoard... I felt like I didn't leave much for those who came after me! It was really hard to argue with the discount I could achieve and I may never need to buy more in my lifetime!! My hubby not only helps me shop but he's my design consultant and biggest cheerleader... big time keeper!! Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca. :)

  2. Wow! Lucky you! I am jealous of your haul. You will be making some gorgeous pieces with those purchases.

    1. I better be making some new jewelry soon, right? Or I'm in big trouble! ;)

  3. lucky you! I love all the beads you got. I have no money so no beads for me.

  4. I can't wait to see all of the work you do with your new goodies!

  5. Oh heavens! What a trip you had and so many lovelies you brought home. I'm so glad you sheared the beauties with us. They eye candy is delicious! ;) I'm glad you had fun!