Bead&Button Show 2011 review

I’m still recovering from bead show week. So many people to catch up with and things to do. I haven’t seen some of my former coworkers in a year, and I was able to meet some of the designers I worked with as an editor for the very first time. My students were all awesome—not a bad one in the bunch—and I walked away with some great ideas to keep me beading throughout the year. And probably enough materials to keep me going throughout the year too!

Today, I’m going to share some of the great things I found at the show. Now, I usually try to be frugal, and I’ll admit I blew my budget this year. Why? Because while there are some world-class bead stores right here it town, the show gives me an unparalleled opportunity to see everything that’s out there and compare prices. I got a number of bargains, so I’ll probably be diving into this stash for quite a while. Maybe until next year.

One of the very first booths I stopped at had these lovely agate strands in a wide variety of colors—some natural, some dyed. And the price was pretty great. I love gemstones, and I think that there’s something classic about strands like these that make them easy to adapt to a variety of projects.

Next, I went on the hunt for something a little more lightweight (those heavy gemstones can be a literal pain to wear!). Glass seemed to be everywhere, and in a wide range of styles. At Unicorn Beads and Sonoran Glass, I saw a few variations of similar ideas. And some of them made it home with me. I also found some treasures while rummaging through the piles of pressed glass at Raven Imports (where I bought all the pressed glass used to make this necklace for Bead&Button a few years ago), and found some great rondelles and vivid green drops.

My other great finds includes some very inexpensive Swarovski bicones, strands of mercury-colored faceted glass, and lots of wire and headpins.

I also found plenty of dollar strand sales. Normally, I don’t trust ultra-cheap beads—when you get used to working with quality materials, you appreciate them. But I have some stitching experiments I want to try, and I need bulk. So dollar strands seemed like a great idea. But believe me, I spent time examining each strands for regular shapes and sizes, uniform finishes, etc.—all the things you want when you are stitching with small beads. Where was the lack of quality in these dollar beads? Well, there are some slight variations in shape and size, but nothing I can’t work with. Where I really thought the dollar strands were lacking was in color. There just weren’t that many colors that excited me. Most of the time I was look through rows or piles I was thinking, “I guess this could work…” Trust me, that’s not what I usually think when I buy beads!

What am I planning to do with them? Here are a few of the combinations I’m planning to work with:

Were you at the 2011 Bead&Button Show? What inspired you?

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