Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bead & Button Show 2011

It's always extraordinary, The Bead & Button Show, but this year seemed to be the best. I have finally found my place at this show and that is to teach. I taught six classes during the week long event and had absolutely fabulous students. Preparation for all of these classes was all consuming for about three months. Of coarse, there are always other things going on, but there is a lot to be truly prepared for those students to walk into class. I respect so much, that all of my students pay a hefty fee to take a class at this event and I want their experience to be the best I could make it in my classes. The staff does a wonderful job of creating the best experience for all of us; students, instructors, and vendors. It is a well put on show in my opinion.

I have the best assistant, Annie Pennington, who arrived at six o'clock sharp on Monday morning June 6th. We had made every effort to preparation for all of the classes before our departure. I wanted to cover every possibility when it came to tools for my students to use, so the boxes were heavy with those possibilities.  I felt it would be a challenge to get anything printed while away from my beloved printer. You know, go to an office supply with a CD to get one of your files printed, not fun. So I had printed and filed everything I could possibly think of. And we had to be ready for Meet The Teachers on Wednesday with the boxes of kits ready for that crazy bead infused evening. We looked a little like the Clampetts, when we hit the road.

Grand entry to the show on the third floor of the convention center.
Our drive was uneventful. Lots of green, beautiful fields and in seven hours we were at the Frontier Airlines Center in Milwaukee. Registration wasn't open so we went to our hotel to checked in and relaxed a couple of hours. We then went back to the show sight to register and get everything moved in so we would be ready to setup our classroom the next morning. We had a nice dinner at the Cheese Cake Factory and got to bed early. We knew we had a long, long day on Tuesday with a seven hour workshop all day and a three hour class in the evening.

Riveted Etched Bracelet Class
Learning to saw metal.

Laura Kuhlman proudly shows off bracelet.

The next morning we were at the show sight at 7:30 and setting up class to teach metal etching, sawing, hole punching, and riveting. Our tables were all covered with plastic, we got the tools organized for the various steps we were guiding our students through, and we set up a petite Kathryn Bowman Studio shop on one table with kits, patterns, toggles, etched pendants, and pendant suspensions. Everyone arrived excited to learn how to etch metal with Ferric Chloride. Annie and I had done a lot of the mundane elements involved in getting the metal etched. There was a lot to do during this class and we had to keep things moving along. It has always impressed me, at the Bead & Button Show, how motivated the students are. They are knowledgeable and are there to learn.

Etch for Design Class

Two hours after the riveting class was finished, we were cleaned up and ready for the Etch for Design Class. This is a three hour class that quickly acquaints the student with the steps involved with etching metal. The students also learn to sew, file, and use a disc cutter. It's a fast paced class and we cover a lot of material. I was so grateful to have Annie there to help out. By the end of class and clean up we had enjoyed a fifteen hour day. Our legs and feet were throbbing and all we could do is crawl off to bed. Thank goodness we only had one activity the next day and it was in the evening.

Crowd at Meet The Teachers.
We got some much need rest on Wednesday. We weren't good for much more than lieing around after our long day before. We headed over to the show site at four and set up for Meet The Teachers. We set up early, so we could go have a bite to eat and be well fortified for the ensuing craziness we would be involved in all evening. The doors opened at eight o'clock with a sea of humanity covering the banquet hall in quick time. This event is sponsored by Swarovski Crystal Elements and is intended to introduce the teachers to their students, people who want to be their students but couldn't schedule that class, and possibly fill the remaining seats in classes not yet filled. Lots of kits get sold and everyone gets to mingle and talk about beads with like minded folk. We are all bead nerds and proud of it.
Milwaukee Art Museum

Thursday was a day off for us. We slept in and headed off to the Milwaukee Art Museum around noon. Milwaukee's Art Museum is an awesome architectural statement. It sits right on the edge of Lake Michigan and looks much like a sail boat. The museum has an impressive permanent collection and attracts the larger national traveling art exhibits. After a couple of hours at the museum we went for one of the best Rubin Sandwich's I've ever found, at John Hawk's Pub. Annie agreed that it was pretty darn good. After dining we headed over to the bead show site, for the actual show was opening Thursday evening at four. It was time to find out what the hundreds of vendors have to offer this year. What's new? What are the trends? Thursday evening was a few hours of dedicated bead, tool, and jewelry component shopping.
Lampwork in Competition
Beaded Object in Competition

We would also be seeing the full showing of "Bead Dreams", a competition for the best of the best beadwork. This attracts entries from around the world and is sponsored by ten industry sponsors that offer great gift certificate prizes.

Etch The Image Class
Flower Petal Necklace Class

So much for goofing around, Friday was another long day with two classes, Etch the Image all day long and Flower Petal Plum Blossom Necklace. The etching class went smoothly with four students enrolled. The cuff that they create during that day is a big project, but three of the four walked out of class wearing their cuff. WooHoo. The pace was going to be stepped up with a full class, 15 students, that evening. I knew the hardest part of the evening was going to be our location. The classroom that we were in was on the convention show floor that has ceilings approximately three stories high. Because of this height, your voice seems to evaporate. By the end of the three hour class, I felt like a raving maniac, with my efforts to be heard. Somehow, with Annie's help, we guided the ladies through making a few beaded beads, toward their effort to make the Flower Petal Necklace.  After straightening up when the class was finished, we know we were on the home stretch with only two more classes. We would be in a different classroom the next day, but we were too tired to move Friday evening.

Morphing Plum Blossom Bracelet Class
Saturday morning, once again we were at the show site bright and early, to move what we needed for the day to our assigned classroom. We didn't have a lot of time, but we should be alright, except the elevator decided to go into spasm. Annie and I ended up moving our roller cart on the escalator, running back up the escalator and moving the remaining roller suitcase and cart down. We scurried around and got the room set up and were ready for class on time. I mentioned earlier that the students at Bead & Button are knowledgeable and this was very true of the group on Saturday. I was teach a technique that was new to all of these experienced beaders and they pushed me to make this technique fit into their current knowledge. After a day of effort and a little bit of frustration, the ladies left class with a new skill. Everyone was happy and Annie and I got rave reviews. Rock on Plum Blossom Beaded Beads.

Kathy King models necklace.

A little sad, one final day of teaching at the show. Sunday morning we were teaching Etch for Design one more time. We had discussed and rearranged this class with great results. With as little explanation as possible, we got everyone etching their metal. While the etchant did it's magic, the explanations began. The class earlier in the week became rushed, much to my dissatisfaction. Changes had to be made and we made them with great results. It's a short class that covers a lot. Despite horrible lighting, I have to show off one of the successes from Sunday morning on the left. The students went on their way, we packed everything up, moved all of our equipment to the car, and piled it in. There was a little more time to make those last minute bead purchases, so back to the show site.

Carts at IKEA.
Monday morning arrived and time to head for St. Louis. We decided to make a small side trip to IKEA in Chicago on the way home. A left, another left, a sling, a toll, another toll, and another toll and we were at IKEA. Some great shopping therapy and we were once again on our way to St. Louis. About five we pulled up at my house exactly at the same time Annie's boyfriend, Brandon did. They helped me unload and the trip was over.

In a way it has been a let down since getting home. There was a great deal of preparation, the show is all about putting forth extreme effort, and sitting quietly at home makes you wonder if it really happened. Writing this blog has been therapeutic by reminding me of all that did happen that action packed week in Milwaukee. It all puts a smile on my face. Now it is time to get ready for 2012. Can't wait!