Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seafoam Necklace - beading Kumihimo on a Marudai

Milwaukee Bead and Button Show

My friend Connie and I went to Milwaukee for the Bead and Button Show. We were there for four days and had a great time. This year, we concentrated on taking classes. She loves silversmithing, and took 3 classes. I am working on learning new skills in seed beading, and I took four classes. Every morning, one or the other of us was up with the birdies, packing our rolling bags and heading out into the Milwaukee sunshine to find our class room. We really had to concentrate in order to have all the materials that we would need for each separate class. Connie had to bring a bench block and hammers. Traveling with a 50 pound limit while carrying heavy tools is a real challenge. I had a Marudai, which is a Japanese braiding stand made of wood. Between the two of us, we worried a lot over our 50 pounds.

We had challenges, and we met them head on and prevailed!

Our first class was on Wednesday night, the same day we arrived. I took a class with Irina Miech in wire wrapping cabochons. I have done this technique before, but she uses half round wire, which makes a softer look, and she is always a great teacher.

The next morning was my class with Sheila Cleary called Seafoam Necklace. This class is Kumihimo with beads and called for a wooden Madurai stand and 12 bobbins of strung size 11 (small) beads. It was a challenge to do the prep work at home, and mine was not without fault, so I got off to a slower start than I wanted, but my skills in braiding were good, so I caught up fast. One whole day of class and I finished half my necklace. I wasn't interested in racing to the finish, I'm more interested in getting the technique perfect, and it was a super class. I have enough work to do in this technique to last me for years!

The next class was the following day - making a beautiful heavy chain maille bracelet called GSG "Great Southern Gathering". I love the name of this weave. The class was taught by Diane Miller, who sells on Etsy, and who supplies me with all my Argentium silver rings for chain maille. This was a fun and relaxing class and the bracelet I made is beautiful. I will list it for sale soon!

Saturday I took an inspirational day long class with Diane Fitzgerald. We worked on making ginkgo leaves out of tiny delica beads and she taught us how to choose bead colors and patterns to make them shimmer in the color change. Color technique in beading is an art and something I could never have figured out by myself. She has many books on beading and color, and is a very thorough teacher. I loved this class, as I knew I would.

Classes at Bead and Button are serious business. They are expensive, and the teachers are very good. Teachers are evaluated and carefully considered each year. Getting to class on time and well prepared is a prerequisite. This is beading at its best!!!

Between all these classes we shopped at the marketplace in the huge carpeted and well lit Frontier Airlines convention center. 370 vendors mean that you can't even visit all the booths in a week, and everything you need to supply your beading needs is there! Expertise abounds and it is really great to walk around and see demonstrations. I walked into one booth and they said, "You're Yvonne Shea? I read your Bead_Tips Twitter every day!" That made me very happy! (I'm famous!)

Connie and I managed to pack our bags for the home trip without exceeding our 50 pound limit, but my rolling backpack was filled with a couple thousand dollars worth of purchases that I couldn't trust to a checked bag. (The lady who pulled our bags aside at airport security said that she wanted to "shop right out of the bag!") Even with all those classes, we found the time to talk to old friends and to buy beautiful artist-made beads and purchase the elements we need at wholesale prices that can't be beat anywhere! This was my fifth year going to Bead and Button. It is a once in a lifetime experience, that you get to go to every year!

Have a great day!