Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bead & Button Show, The Annual Report

My teaching assistant, Meghan Copper, said on the drive home, "it's an experience." It always is. This is the eighth Bead & Button Show I have been to and the sixth that I have taught at. And it is still an experience. It's hard to explain to anyone, or prepare anyone in advance. If you make jewelry, you have to experience the Bead and Button Show once in your life time. This year I taught fewer classes than I have in the past. I have always taught everyday of the week, that I am in Milwaukee. This has created a grueling marathon of an experience. I must say, I enjoyed the lighter teaching load. We actually had more time to shop and really see all of the new products and innovations the world of jewelry making comes up with each year and to see the city of Milwaukee. Yes, we even did side trips.

Delta Center, Milwaukee, WI
After a beautiful drive from St. Louis to Milwaukee, the week started with getting a mountain of tools and supplies into the Delta Center, where the show is held. It was actually rather painless. There was virtually no one in this huge convention center as we loaded in about 5 p.m. on Saturday. Fortunately, I had done it before, but I could tell Meghan was having some doubts. We ended up having to cross a very large exhibition hall in the dark, with only tiny red exit lights on the opposite side, to guide our way to the doors we needed to go through to get to our class room/home for the next three days. It was a bit spooky, but we persevered. With all of our equipment parked where it needed to be, we headed to our hotel and dinner.

About four years ago, I discover that I could really save on hotel cost by not staying downtown Milwaukee. Ten minutes drive north of downtown Milwaukee is Glendale, WI. I have found the hotels cost half of what the downtown hotels are charging and free WIFI. In Glendale there is a Mall with great shops, lots of restaurants, and a more relaxed safe atmosphere than downtown. This is a great option for those that travel to the Bead & Button Show by car. I understand the conveniences of being able to walk through the sky-walks to class or show from the downtown Hyatt Regency or Hilton Hotels. It no doubt works better for most show attendees, especially for those that fly in. I have found the Glendale hotels an easier option for me.
Early Sunday morning, June 2nd, we were back at the Delta Center setting up for a day of class. We got the tools out, kits for sale ready, and each student's place set with bench pin, instructions, etching kit, and a bag of treats and goodies.The day went by quickly, as we guided all of our students through making the Three Metal Articulated Bracelet. Monday we taught the Ginkgo In Motion Necklace and on Tuesday we taught the Articulated Bracelet for a second time. Everyone of the students worked so hard. They were focused and ready to learn everything they could in the short time we spent together. All of these classes are packed with various metalsmithing skills, so the student experiences and does a lot. By the end of Tuesday we were a bit dazed from three long days of teaching, talking, and sharing stories with a very interesting group of students. We were ready for a good nights sleep, without the need to get going so early, and into high gear right away.

All we HAD to do on Wednesday was in the evening, Meet the Teachers. We eat a late breakfast and
Crowd rushes in at Meet the Teachers Event.
headed to the American Science and Surplus Store. I had been hearing about this place for a couple of years and had never had the time to visit. It was most amusing. This store buys up surplus anything with a lot of camping, science, and art supplies on our visit. That could change tomorrow though, as it is what every they are able to find at surplus. After the surplus store, we made a quick stop at the Delta Center to set up the display for the Meet the Teachers Event. By then we were getting hungry and headed over to the Milwaukee Public Market. We looked at all of the beautiful food on display and there were mounds of it, made our selections, and had a nice lunch. Feeling nicely satisfied we headed off for a stroll around the Third Ward district. This is an area of Milwaukee filled with boutiques, eateries, and galleries. Just up our alley when it comes to interests, so it wasn't hard to wile away the afternoon. By 7:30 we were back at the Delta Center for an evening of meeting new jewelry makers, chatting with old friends, and enjoying banter with our fellow teacher neighbors.

Pabst Mansion
Thursday was another goof off day. I'm feeling really spoiled by now. This day we got serious about being tourists and went to see the Pabst Mansion. Very nice. Well worth the visit. Beautiful carvings every direction that one turns, amazing attention to detail in every way in each room both by the artisans that created the mansion and the amazing restoration. It is a nice peek into a time of, no holds bared, decoration dating around 1900. After our tour, we decided to head back to the Third Ward and hangout until shopping opened at 4 p.m. at the
Just a sampling of the tools.
Bead & Button Show. As always, the shopping was fabulous and all things in great abundance on the show floor. Meghan and I took off in different directions to satisfy our different interests. Meghan spent most of the evening laboring over the perfect cabochons to purchase. I passed by where she was a couple of times, as I shopped around. She was starting to feel a little guilty that she should pay some rent to the vendor, she had been there for so long. It was an evening about tools for me, and Meghan did finally narrow down to a few stones she would bring home. I must say, she made some excellent choices.

Bead Dreams Contest - Wire
Bead Dreams Contest - Objects
Oriental rug made with seed beads.
Bead Dreams Contest - Finished Jewelry
Friday would be our last day at the show. I had a three hour class at 5 p.m. called Toggles By You. The day started off slow, then over to the Delta Center for some more shopping, and then high energy teaching through the evening. We spent considerable time looking at the amazing work by the artists that enter the Bead Dreams contest. This work is always over the top and so inspiring. Then a few more purchases were made as we reviewed what we had seen the evening before. We had a nearly full class that evening. There was a lot to get done during class to make three different toggles, with a different skill attached to each one. It was impressive to have most everyone get finished and everyone seemed to be having fun as they worked away. After class we pulled everything out of the Delta Center (there is a pack horse aspect to this part of the event), and headed for the hotel.

It's always a good feeling to head home. I've done so much traveling in my life and the feeling about going home never changes. We had an uneventful drive home, and got to St. Charles around 6 p.m. It was a great trip. Really enjoyed the pace, my students were interesting and ready to learn, and made a few good buys on the show floor. Meghan was an excellent help. She was intuitive about seeing what needed to be done, and was great at filling in a part that I may had forgotten with a description or aspect to a skill. Really helpful. Now it is time to create new classes for 2014. This is always a creative and challenging time. What will I come up with? What are you interested in learning?