Two years ago I visited the Bead & Button Show for the first time and was overwhelmed.
It is amazing how a convention center can have a block worth of bead booths with all of them offering different wares.
The plethora of colors and sparkles resulted in me only buying a few strands, since I couldn’t remember what I had at home.
This year I checked my color inventory ahead of time.
Two friends had gifted me a lot of beads, so I had quite some notes to take.
I also wanted to learn how to operate my jig better, so I signed up for a few of Brenda Schweder’s Now That’s A Jig! Sessions.
I knew I could learn more tricks by getting some hands-on demos from the Jig designer herself.
On June 8 I learned how to make stick figure necklaces with lovely beads by Diane Hawkey.
It was so hard to pick out faces. I’m glad we got to choose three.
Brenda introduced us to the gadget that helps make collars.
I finished putting my people together at home.
I reviewed my swag bag and started plotting the map.
Bead & Button has various calls for art prior to the show, and the beaded artistry was amazing.
The display of buttons was amazing also, and I coveted these museum pieces.
Crowns of beads and wirework and lots of whimsy.
I drove back to Milwaukee on Saturday morning and tried to be methodical in going aisle by aisle.
I did get distracted here and there, but since I had marked my must-see booths in advance, I was able to focus my purchases for day 1.
These handcrafted Peruvian critters were impossible to resist.
There were tassels that reminded me of See Jane Sparkle.
Beads in all sizes and shapes.
What’s better than beads? Beaded beads!
Smartly, the convention center kept the snackbar open on the shopping floor, and had a cocktail bar to boot.
Fortified, I continued to browse and note what was where.
I compared prices on pearls and druzy agate and had lovely conversations with vendors.
Although I had not planned to shop on day 1, some beads were impossible to resist and I brought some treasure into the hotel with me.
I took a lovely stroll of the riverwalk and enjoyed a restful night before the workshop the next day.
On Sunday I participated in the Jig StartrWorkshop-Xpress to learn what all my pegs and rounds could do.
Now That’s A Jig! Was designed by Brenda Schweder as a collaboration with Swanstrom in 2012.
I had met Brenda in 2011 and took a bangle class with her then.
We reconnected at Ayla’s Highland Park Bead Bazaar in 2014 and I ordered a jig shortly after.
We were given a lovely template to learn different connecting pieces that could form a bracelet and help kickstart a variety of ideas.
You can also make jumprings on the jig.
Brenda’s technique is different from mine, so it was good to see how she works and learn how to maximize the Swivelok.
I was too busy admiring all her beautiful pieces and learning more tips and tricks to really focus on finishing the bracelet links, but we got take the template home so I can finish making links later.
Later this summer I’ll do a studio visit to learn how to operate Now That’s a Pliers!
This year Brenda launched PatternPaks to help people set up the jig with a published design.
After class I went up to the booth to check out additional PatternPaks, and settled on the RainChain template for which I already have all the rounds.
Then I reviewed my shopping list to determine what beads I needed to take home.
Of course my self-imposed ban on blue beads didn’t last, but they are all unique finds I know I wouldn’t be able to source as easily here.
I decided to indulge in cheese fries before the ride home.
It was a lovely day of sifting through colors and sparkles, and being inspired by the wide variety of beads that exist.
The gulls decorated my car as it stood overnight.
I am already at work designing beads for people who made special requests, and look forward to sharing additional designs at the upcoming Evanston Sidewalk Sale.
But first, the beads had to be inventoried.
I can see how malas and rosaries can help quiet the mind, because there is something zen about counting beads on a string.