Beadfest is hard to explain if you’ve never experienced it. It’s (primarily) countless numbers of women descending upon 180+ vendors selling beads, bead making supplies, bead making tools, etc. It is overwhelming, to say the least. And exciting. And, it can be very, very expensive if you give into the urge to snatch up every pretty, shiny thing you see. (speaking from experience here.)
But Beadfest is also about the learning. They offer a great variety of classes in everything from wire wrapping to beading to metal smithing and more. There are classes for beginners…and for those with more experience. Each class requires certain materials to bring to class.
Some of the materials are ones you probably already have – such as different pliers, or hammers or bench blocks. Others are specific to the class, and may be ones you haven’t purchased yet.
The first year I took a class, I purchased everything that was on the list. And never used at least a third of them. Since the class, I have used some of these. But others – stuck in an odds and ends tool bin I have, most likely never to see the light of day.
This year, I’ve signed up for two classes. One is an all-day class on cabochon pendants. The tool list was pretty basic. I had all the necessary tools for the class….except one. An automatic wire twister.
I confess to bring a wire twister virgin. Never twisted it manually, let alone automatically. So I went online to find out more. I discovered that an automatic wire twister is actually a type of cordless screw driver…but with a different sort of tip (that of course had to be purchased separately.) A lot of these were pretty pricey. And, while I will pay for something if I know I will use it, i have my doubts about how much wire I am actually going to twist. I was absolutely stressing out about this. (Would I be the only one WITHOUT a wire twister? And what of the manual wire twisters?)
The one online store (yes – amazingly, only one) that carried an affordably price automatic wire twister was out of stock. Oh no! What now?
I emailed the Beadfest people and they put me in touch with the instructor who told me not to worry. She had extra wire twisters and I could use hers.
Whew! Crisis avoided. (For the moment….)
But being prepared for classes is just part of the story if you’re heading out to Beadfest.
If you plan on visiting the exhibition hall ( hello? isn’t that why you’re going????), you need a whole different set of “equipment.” First – you need a list of what items you DEFINITELY want/need to purchase. As with any type of shopping, know your prices. Not everything is a bargain.
If you have a tax ID number, bring it with. Best to make up some business card-sized papers with the number on it, or write it on your own business cards to hand to the vendors.
Bring some sort of bag/suitcase/duffel on wheels. Yea, I know. How dorky does that look? But when you are lugging around a gadzillion pounds of tools for previously-mentioned classes, that bag-on-wheels will be a godsend.
Bring some cash, and one credit card in a small purse or wristlet. No need to carry around your usual 10 lbs of stuff.
If you usually work in a certain gauge of wire, bring a small piece with you to test on various beads. (Can I tell you how many beads I have bought that WOULDN’T fit on my 16 gauge wire?)
Bring lots of business cards. And most of all, bring your enthusiasm! Beadfest is most of all, about something you love. Enjoy.