Wednesday 3 September 2014

All About the Beads...

So yesterday I arrived home very tired but very happy after an amazing holiday in the USA which gave me the chance to meet a whole bunch of awesome people as well as to attend Bead Fest. If you were one of those people be it friend - old or new, customer, social event organiser or vendor then thank you so much for making me feel so welcome and contributing to me having such a great time - I really am grateful to you all.

I have plans for a number of blog posts in the near future inspired by my visit but since I am still suffering a little from 'plane brain' this first post is all about the beads... heavy on pictures and short on words. There are beads I bought as well as numerous beads that other artists and vendors were generous enough to swap with or gift to me and as you will see - I was very much in my element.

I'm going to start with the beads of my lovely hosts without whom none of this would have been possible. Diana Suburban Girl Studio Ptaszynski and her lovely hubby Colin met me at the airport and put me up for the first few days of my stay. Very generously Diana also offered me the opportunity to sell my own beads from her booth which of course meant I had more money to spend on buying beads - thanks Diana and everyone who bought my beads.

photo courtesy of Kathleen Lange Klik
Considering I had access to trays and trays of these beautiful beads all day I was actually very restrained but if I'd had a bigger suitcase and higher customs limits it would have been a whole different story...

Jen Cameron was hosting me for a road trip straight after Bead Fest but as you can see she was having a great time at the show... I think maybe the strain of making inventory while recovering from a broken arm finally got to her though!

Jen makes gorgeous lampwork headpins and I managed to bag a good selection along with some cute little beads...

The last leg of my trip was spent with Jenny Davies-Reazor - an artist and teacher who has inspired me to many new things during my stay but that's definitely for another post.

Again I was  reasonably restrained and could have got completely carried away looting Jenny's huge and wonderful range of ceramic and mixed media pieces...

Don't worry that I had to limit myself though - these lovely ladies have all been warned that I will be making a return visit next year to stock up further!

Before I even left the UK I'd made a list I things that I had to have and at the first opportunity I headed straight for Staci Louise Smith's booth to snag this little (well not so little actually) bronze clay and copper Sugar skull... Staci's work is so unique and original I just had to have it.

I was also extremely fortunate in being paired with Staci for Diana's annual art bead swap and just look what she gave me...lots of her own beautiful polymer clay and bronze beads plus pieces by Marsha Neal Minutella and Ann Gardanne - the bead mother load or what! Thank you so much Staci.

And as if that wasn't enough I also got this lovely white copper ring which I've worn constantly since.

I did the bulk of my shopping on the last day of the show and headed straight to the Green Girl Studio booth and found everything was heavily discount so yes, I got a little carried away but who wouldn't...isn't this all just heavenly? I have to keep getting it out and stroking it.

Next stop was the lovely Diane Hawkey to pick up some of her fabulously quirky ceramic beads...I just love these little gems and have a feeling they may be staying in my personal collection.I've certainly been inspired to create by this trip so that bead is definitely staying close to my heart.

I've long been a fan of Gardanne Beads enamelled flower caps so it was wonderful to be able to meet Ann in person and lose myself in the vast array at her booth but I really did have to force myself to leave to make sure I had money to spend elsewhere!

Another must visit vendor on my list was Hands of the Hills and if it hadn't been for the sheer weight I would have spent a lot more time and money there...lovely vendors and all sorts of beautiful things to be had.

Heather Powers of Humble Beads was vending at Bead Fest for the first time this year and I was so excited to able to meet Heather and shop 'in the flesh' for her wonderfully creative beads. Hard to choose when you're faced with so many lovelies but I think I did a pretty good job...

I'm also a really big fan of etched lampwork and soda beads so I was very happy to be able to do some swapping with Genea Crivello-Knable and get these wonderfully earthy, crusty beads and headpins - just perfect for autumn designs.

One of the biggest hightlights of this trip was meeting so many of the AJE blog team who have become such good friends and supporters online. No less than 9 of the 13 members made it to Bead Fest and I had such a great time with these lovely ladies...

From left to right: Karen Totten, Melissa Alford-Meman, Sue Kennedy, Me, Diana, Kristen Stevens (back) Jen, Linda Landig (back) and Jenny. And of course there was much swapping of lovelies among the group...

Gorgeous totem sets from the uber talented Karen...

Melissa's amazing mixed media pieces including polymer clay, metal clay and a resin set hand made bezel...

 The sweetest beaded beads and gorgeous headpins from Sue Kennedy...

Great pieces from Linda's new line of ceramic - who'd know she was new to this...

And always fabulous - Kristen's beaded hoops and beads. Kristen also made me some beautiful beaded jewellery but I'm saving that for another post.

Kristi Bowman couldn't make it to the show but Linda bought some of her work along and I snagged myself these cool copper earring charms...

 I also managed to get my hands on a few Basha Beads courtesy of Cooky Schock - love the ancient rustic feel of these...

Although there may seem to be a lot of beads here... there were in fact a number of vendors I never made it to just through being somewhat overwhelmed and exhausted. Although we met at the show one of these was Marsha Neal Minutella so I was absolutely delighted when I got to Jenny's and found out we were going to visit Marsha who lives close by.

Marsha is one of the first ceramic bead makers I came across, an absolute force of nature and an all round delightful person so I can't tell you how excited I was to find myself actually standing in her studio - when I grow up I want a work space like that. She is also incredibly generous and had I been there earlier in my trip and had more space my pockets would have been loaded with a lot more beauties like these. Can't wait to meet up again next year Marsha...

And if all that wasn't enough, I also met my online friend Jan Onipenco while I was staying at Diana's and she gifted me an incredible lampwork ammonite bead and some of her lovely shrink plastic pieces...another very generous lady that I hope to meet again.

So as you can see I had a pretty good time increasing my bead stash but I do feel a little greedy keeping everything for myself so, I am planning to do a little giveaway or two once I've sorted myself out a bit so keep an eye out for that. A lot of the artists featured here will also be listing Bead Fest inventory in their shops so do check them out using the links in this post.

My own beads are being shipped back later this week and as soon as they arrive I will be doing a big shop update but this trip has left me feeling hugely inspired to make some jewellery so until then I think this little lot will keep me more than busy!

Happy beading!



  1. Wow-what an amazing bead stash! You sure did score some gorgeous treasures! I am glad that they all made it home with you safe and sound. It really was wonderful meeting you and finally being able to purchase your awesome beads! I will probably hoard the kite I purchased from you for a while! So glad that you enjoyed your visit to the USA, hope you return next August. I am so happy to see that you and Diana are making good use of the photo I took of the fabulous trio! ;) Ah, memories!

  2. I have one question for you .... how heavy was your suitcase? LOL! that is one amazing bead shopping extravaganza. I don't think I could have controlled my shopping (not that I really tried) sitting there with all those amazing beads! So fantastic to meet you in person!

  3. What an amazing stash! I'm a little bit envious of your basha beads and there are so many from people I know that I haven't seen before... I need to go on a shopping trip too! ;)

  4. Enjoy your bead stash... the first lot of yours is in route back to you.

    I'm about to post my loot as well - in between beading with a cab of yours! It was so wonderful to have you here! I won't say meet you - as it felt like we had known each other for ages.

  5. Whoa. I am so, so jealous! Such beautiful loot!! And I'm equally jealous that I missed the chance to meet you in person - maybe next year???

  6. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you! I will go to Bead Fest someday ( I hope ) so I enjoyed seeing your loot. Good taste!

  7. Oh wow! You certainly did a fabulous job with your choices Lesley. I so wish I could have met you. I will try really hard to come the next trip you make...I can't even make a comment on all that beady goodness, except to say I'm so excited to see what you create with them! Glad you had a good trip here and back!

  8. What a great post! It was so nice to meet you and trade beads! It looks and sounds like you had a very lovely trip to the US! So glad you go to come visit us all! I can't wait to see what you create with my beads! xo Genea

  9. Thanks for this post. It is one of my favorite kinds - all about the beads!

  10. Yowza! What a haul! I am SO happy to have been able to meet you! Though I feel that we barely had time to talk and really get to know each other! I am counting on you to return again next year (at whatever venue we cook up!). Thank you also for trading with me - I love the beads that I managed to snag from the collection you brought. :)

  11. I am very glad to read about your wonderful trip. I enjoyed seeing all of your pics. I read the AJE blog daily and I wish I too could have been there. You came home with quite a stash.

  12. I lvoed being able to meet you "in person" and to trade beads. Even though we shared a room at Bead Fest, I was often so tired at night, that I didn't talk much. When I got back home I thought about all the things I wished we had talked about together. So, really, that just means we need more time together. Already looking forward to next year!

  13. It looks like you had a fabulous time Lesley and you have so many beautiful handmade beads to play with!

  14. You sure had a great time Lesley. Both meeting everybody in person, and getting so much beady goodness. Great post also! Thanks for sharing.

  15. What beautiful lovelies! Thank you for sharing!


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