Jigging at the Bead & Button Show

Two years ago I visited the Bead & Button Show for the first time and was overwhelmed.

BeadFrosty

It is amazing how a convention center can have a block worth of bead booths with all of them offering different wares.

moreisles

The plethora of colors and sparkles resulted in me only buying a few strands, since I couldn’t remember what I had at home.

rowsofbeads

This year I checked my color inventory ahead of time.

BeadInventoryBefore

Two friends had gifted me a lot of beads, so I had quite some notes to take.

BeadNotes

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.

JigStarterKit

I use the jig for my frosties, which morphed into the dot show pieces. I also started experimenting with butterflies and dragonflies for the Swarm Show.

JIggingDotsBfly

I knew I could learn more tricks by getting some hands-on demos from the Jig designer herself.

NtaJcomponents

On June 8 I learned how to make stick figure necklaces with lovely beads by Diane Hawkey.

facebeads

It was so hard to pick out faces. I’m glad we got to choose three.

MaikesStickmanJig

Brenda introduced us to the gadget that helps make collars.

collarbenders

I finished putting my people together at home.

stickmanHomework

I reviewed my swag bag and started plotting the map.

swagbag

Bead & Button has various calls for art prior to the show, and the beaded artistry was amazing.

beaddreamsbouquets

The display of buttons was amazing also, and I coveted these museum pieces.

ButtonExpo

Crowns of beads and wirework and lots of whimsy.

beaddreams

I drove back to Milwaukee on Saturday morning and tried to be methodical in going aisle by aisle.

beadbooths

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.

crystals

These handcrafted Peruvian critters were impossible to resist.

critterbeadsfromPeru

There were tassels that reminded me of See Jane Sparkle.

sparkletassels

Crystals everywhere.

ssilversparkle

Beads in all sizes and shapes.

bargainskulls

What’s better than beads? Beaded beads!

beadedbeads

Smartly, the convention center kept the snackbar open on the shopping floor, and had a cocktail bar to boot.

lunchbreak

Fortified, I continued to browse and note what was where.

BeadShowBooth

I compared prices on pearls and druzy agate and had lovely conversations with vendors.

TAPearls

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.

Day1Loot

I took a lovely stroll of the riverwalk and enjoyed a restful night before the workshop the next day.

roundsgalore

On Sunday I participated in the Jig StartrWorkshop-Xpress to learn what all my pegs and rounds could do.

sundayxpress

Now That’s A Jig! Was designed by Brenda Schweder as a collaboration with Swanstrom in 2012.

StickManClassKit

I had met Brenda in 2011 and took a bangle class with her then.

BrendaSchwederDesignsManquin

We reconnected at Ayla’s Highland Park Bead Bazaar in 2014 and I ordered a jig shortly after.

ChainlinkDemo

We were given a lovely template to learn different connecting pieces that could form a bracelet and help kickstart a variety of ideas.

LinkPatternPak

You can also make jumprings on the jig.

jumpringcoiling

Brenda’s technique is different from mine, so it was good to see how she works and learn how to maximize the Swivelok.

SchwederDemonstrates

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.

BrendaSchwederDesigns

Later this summer I’ll do a studio visit to learn how to operate Now That’s a Pliers!

NtaP

This year Brenda launched PatternPaks to help people set up the jig with a published design.

LinkPatternPak

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.

NtAJBooth

Then I reviewed my shopping list to determine what beads I needed to take home.

czechbeadpiles

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.

SandySchorFtWorth

I decided to indulge in cheese fries before the ride home.

cheesefries

It was a lovely day of sifting through colors and sparkles, and being inspired by the wide variety of beads that exist.

BeadsGalore

The gulls decorated my car as it stood overnight.

seagullgrafitti

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.

BeadsfromtheShow

But first, the beads had to be inventoried.

BBLoot

I can see how malas and rosaries can help quiet the mind, because there is something zen about counting beads on a string.

countingpearlsMore photos to come soon!

Button Bouquet Project

Recently I signed up for my friend Jennifer Swift’s Wire Wreath class in September, and was feeling wire-y.

I walked to Vogue Fabrics to preview some fabric remnants for the class. Vogue has a section of angel-marked remnants for just a dollar, and other pre-cut fabrics that can still be incorporated into patterns, or craft projects in my case.

Then I felt compelled to go through the button bins. They offer metal buttons for $2 per cup, and plastic buttons for $1 per cup. Sorting through the bins is fun, and zen-like in a way.  You overhear banter between cashiers and customers while picking out colors and sizes, and then searching for additional matches to particularly cool buttons. I walked out with three bags full.

photo by Maike's Marvels

I sorted and counted these buttons for my inventory, currently by color and with various descriptions of the type and size of button.

300+ buttons make for a lot of mini-categories.

photo by Maike's Marvels

The fun part was making a button bouquet, inspired by Princess Lasertron. Her headband kit gave me some practice.

photo by Maike's Marvels

I twisted as many combinations as the pack of 35 wire stems allowed.

photo by Maike's Marvels

I am still working on a trousseau for a true Princess Lasertron bouquet, with or without a wedding attached. Even though the color palette was prescribed by Vogue, it does reflect hues I’m drawn toward.

photo by Maike's Marvels

Leftover buttons will be used for encaustic projects.

photo by Maike's Marvels

Some of these stems may be incorporated into the wreath this fall. We shall see!

photo by Maike's Marvels

Meanwhile, real flowers are blossoming everywhere. I’ll post more of our unusually early bloom later this week.

photo by Maike's Marvels