Bad Blogger Chronicles: 4 Frenetic Days Spent at BeadFest Philly Spring

I overindulged again at Beadfest Philly. Too  many classes. Too much money spent on impulse buys. Too  much information for my little brain to process. And yet, there’s a smile on my face…my worktable is overflowing with lovely new shiny beads and stones. Have to clean out my tool drawer to make room for newcomers. And I am already starting to think about what classes I want to take in August.


• Really, really liked all four instructors. All very talented crafts(wo)men. All wonderfully patient and freely sharing jewelry making tips and favorite places to get great tools, supplies at great prices. Had only taken a previous class from one instructor – so the others were new. Would certainly recommend them and/or take another class from them in the future.

• Vendor area was smaller than in August – and it was easier to re-trace my steps to find the same vendor again if I wanted more of something, or had questions. (note to self: when you buy any sort of gemstone, bead, etc. make sure you write down WHAT it is. Had to go back to two booths the day after I bought some stuff because I couldn’t remember what kind of stone it was. No way I’d remember months from now when I go to pick it up and actually make something with it.)

Gorgeous - but pricey - Quartz Briolettes

Gorgeous - but pricey - Quartz Briolettes

• Saw more chairs on the floor this year. And there was a package check (which I didn’t need to use, since my stuff was in a classroom most days). Both good ideas. Lots of older folks walking around. Chairs were helpful.

• Beadfest organizers actually provided some snacks/water to some of the classrooms. Very nice touch And very welcome.

• The people – whether in class, or on the floor, everyone I met was friendly and helpful.


• Once again (actually – happened twice) – I was in such a hurry to clean up my work areas and leave at the end of class, I left things there. First time, I actually threw out the two pairs of earrings I had made. Luckily, I had the instructor’s cell number. Was able to get her to pull the trash so it wouldn’t be emptied, and I planned on going through it the next day. Lucky for me, one of her very kind assistants went through and found my earrings (YAY!).

Second time – we were making a bracelet with about 7 pieces plus jump rings. Placed all the pieces in the liver of sulfur solution. Pulled them out and started cleaning them. Tossed them in a plastic bag to finish at home, and realized later (much later) that I left two pieces there.

In both cases however, I was able to recreate what I learned in class. So even if earrings hadn’t been found…it would be okay. (Bracelet pieces – they’re gone.) So let’s chalk this experience up to lack of concentration and focus on my part. (When will I ever learn???)

• Four classes in four days is too much. Two of the classes were all day – from 8 am to 4:30 pm. I was glassy-eyed by the end. It was information overload.

• One class was a disappointment only because I already knew at least 3/4’s of what was being taught.  (Note to self: read the course description better next time). I take these courses to learn new techniques, play with new tools, learn better ways to do things.

• I am too easily distracted by shiny things. Need to get better control over my impulse buying.


• Biggest indulgence: a Freitz hammer. It is sooooooooo sexy (yeah. if you have one, you know what I mean.) This is NOT the hammer that will be used to bang in a loose board on my IKEA bureau. I may end up looking at this hammer more than using it.

• Most expensive purchase: I bought a sterling silver handmade bracelet from my instructor – Kim St. Jean.  It is just friggin’ gorgeous!

Kim St. Jean Bracelet Watch

Kim St. Jean Bracelet Watch

• Most questionable purchase: (after the Freitz hammer) – very high quality blue, sea foam and pink quartz briolettes. The crystal ones I found sparkle almost as much for a lot less.

• What I didn’t buy and I wish I did: gorgeous handmade, hand-dyed silk ribbons. I didn’t buy because of the cost. Could buy a sterling silver chain for what the ribbons cost. Hard to justify the cost if I planned on selling the finished project.


• Lots of men walking around at the show. Most with a female companion (not all looked happy to be there). And one man in one of my classes. Not saying men can’t make jewelry. Just surprised to see them in class. (My husband says that is discriminatory.)

• Too many of the same vendors – and was really surprised by the number who didn’t have websites.

• Buy more Swarovski crystals. I have sooooooo many. But oh! how they shimmer and shine at that Mega-Gems (Mega-Jewels?) booth.

Swarovski Crystals

Swarovski Crystals

• Start looking at the August list of classes. Can’t believe I’m about to sign up to do all over again.


Bad Blogger Chronicles: Late Again….Here’s Why

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Bad, bad Blogger Bobbi! Seems I have time for work/play with pups/cooking fabulous Valentine’s Day dinner for hubby (recipe below) /buying bridal shower gift two days before actual shower and making some new jewelry. And that, dear readers, is why … Continue reading

Beadfest Philly/Day 3 – Going Out In A Blaze Of Glory

Days 1 and 2 were workshop days. Learned lots of new stuff. Met lots of new people. Very cool. But Day 3 was the day I was looking forward to all week.

Day 3=shopping day!

I browsed. I bought. I went broke (pretty much!)

A Metallic Center Makes These Venetian Glass Beads Really Shine!

Beadfest Wire/Philly boasted about 180 vendor booths. Every direction you turned, every corner you rounded, were the most amazing treasures. Beads – thousands upon thousands of beads in every size, shape and color. Strands of them laid side by side on tables, hung on hooks, crammed into containers. This must be how it felt like to walk the bazaars in ancient times.

For the most part, I skipped those booths. Because as wonderful as it is to be able to touch and feel those strands of beads, they are the kinds of beads you could find almost anywhere. (Though, I did purchase some terrific pewter beads and Czech crystal teardrop beads at these booths)

Super Shiny Czech Glass Beads

My eyes (and my heart) were focused on the smaller booths, where the artists who actually made the beads could be found. How wonderful to be able to pick up a bead and discuss the unusual shape or color with the person who created it!

As always, I was easily fascinated/amused/sold by beads in rich, deep colors. The blues, greens, pinks and purples were extraordinary.  I drooled over the Venetian glass beads. The honeysuckle pink color was gorgeous! These beads (yes – from Venice) have metallic centers that give them a shimmer and shine that is just awesome!  I oohed and ahhed over the unusual colors in the cane glass beads.

Funky Shaped/Sized Beads

I absolutely flipped for the dichroic glass beads (my most expensive purchase). No photo can do these beads justice. The colors are electric – almost neon. I can’t wait to work with them. Right now, all these gorgeous, gorgeous beads are scattered on my desktop. I should break them down and put them away. But I can’t stop looking at them! (Is that wrong?) Even though it’s only been a few days, I miss Beadfest already. What a trip!

Incredible Dichroic Glass Beads

The good news? The next Beadfest/Philly is in August – just a few months away. The bad news? It’s an even bigger to-do with an estimated 280 vendors. Oh boy. Talk about a budget-buster.

BeadFest Wire/Philly – Day One, Class One

I came. I flamed. I soldered (a sterling silver circle bracelet with some pretty funky looking circles. But of course, I like it!) See photo.)

Silver Soldered (Sort Of) Circle Bracelet

My First Attempt At Soldering

And no human, animal or object got harmed in the making of this bracelet.

Mind you, this is the very first time I have ever held, let alone used, a hand torch. It was fun. Really! You’ve got to admit it’s the cutest little thing! So cute that I think I will have to name it.  (It is wrong to name your hand tools like you would your pet?)

BeadFest, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is 3 or 4 day event held in various parts of the country featuring anything and everything that has to do with beads and jewelry making. At the heart of it all is a grand exhibition hall boasting almost 200 vendor booths.

First Torch Used For Soldering SIlver

The Cutest Little Hand Torch Ever

But BeadFest is also about the classes. People (95% women, IMHO) come from all over the country to take classes in wire work, metalsmithing, bead work and weaving and more. In my class of 12 today, there were women from North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Florida.

Some of the women were staying the entire four days. I was doing some of the math in my head – and realized what a pricey couple of days that is. First, there’s the cost of travelling. Add in hotel and food costs. Classes run from about $135  up to $235. Some are four hour courses, others are all day (8:30 – 4:30).

Note to self: bring bottled water and some p-butter crackers for tomorrow’s all day class in case there is no break.

A few posts back, I listed a few things you should bring with you if you’re coming to BeadFest. One was a wheeled case. Guess who didn’t get to Whole Foods in time to purchase her wheeled bag?

Uh-huh. That would be me. When I started out this morning, I brought all the required tools in a nice, roomy shoulder-type carry bag. Plus, I had a small pocketbook with me. All was good until I actually got to the registration table and realized the classes were “way over there” in another building connected to the exhibit hall.

Note to self: consider a GPS next time. Or at least, ask someone SOONER where the friggin’ room is.

While I got to the convention center with time to spare, I was the last one to enter the classroom as the class was about to start. Why? Because I walked around in circles trying to find the right room.

The Valley Forge t Center is not just one building, but three that are connected by a long series of windy hallways and stairways that lead who-knows-where. The three buildings are: the actual convention center/exhibit space…The Radisson hotel with its meeting rooms and banquet spaces…and Scanticon.

Please – send me an email ASAP if you know what a Scanticon is. I sure don’t. Or why SOME of the meeting rooms are lettered/numbered, and others are names of Philadelphia area towns and/or historic figures. There is no rhyme or reason for what they are named and where they are located.

Good Thing To Know: while walking past the Guest Registration at the Radisson (at least twice) I discovered they have a free help-yourself coffee service.

Note to self: do not take coffee if they are out of lids. (Yes, sad to report, there was spillage involved.)

As started above, though shoulder bag was a tad heavy, I was managing UNTIL I got the “kit” I purchased from the teacher (Thanks Kieu!) felt like a ton of bricks (actually only one – a beautiful new fire brick to call my own). So there I was after class schlepping my new soldering kit –  fire brick  included – and my filled-with-tools shoulder bag and my little pocketbook.

Note to self: go into hall closet and find the wheeled carry-on bag.

Good thing the exhibits don’t start until tomorrow. I wouldn’t have made it past the first booth without collapsing.  Anyway, not bad for day one. Tomorrow: an all-day class in wire-wrapping cabochons.

(Think they’d mind if I bought my little personal torch with me?)

Hot Stuff…Interview With A Lampwork Bead Artist

As an admitted bead-a-holic, i am obsessed with beads. Big beads, small beads, beads of all shapes and colors. I buy my beads from talented artists across the country and around the world. And yet, to be honest, I don’t know much about how these beads are made.

I asked one of my favorite lampwork artists to clue me in. Heather Behrendt started playing with fire, literally, her senior year of high school. In her words, ”  I was taking an art workshop glass, mostly stained glass and fusing, but there was a demonstration of a lampwork fish bead done on a little hothead torch. At the time all I could think was, “there’s no way I’m getting near that torch!”

I kept with the less hazardous hobbies for a while, until randomly I decided to invest in a 100 dollar hot head kit in my first apartment. I was hooked, but soon realized that this was not safe to do in the spare bedroom of my apartment. I put my torch away for two years until I bought my first house.

Now I have a much nicer (and safer!) setup in my basement, where I happily make beads and goodies.”

So what’s the scoop Heather? How does all that stuff in your basement studio work together to become a bead? And, she was nice enough to explain (without using big technical terms) so that even I could understand….

Each bead starts with a rod of glass and a mandrel covered in bead release. The glass is heated in the torch and slowly wound around the mandrel. The bead is carefully balanced and shaped before decorations are added. When the bead is done being created it goes into a kiln to be annealed at 960 degrees before being slowly ramped down to room temperature. This process is very important as it makes the bead much more durable. Without the annealing process a bead could crack easily.

After annealing, the bead gets taken off the mandrel and cleaned of any bead release. It’s ready to be used in jewelry designs

These handmade beads take anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours based on the size and complexity of the design. Spacers are fairly quick and can be made several on a mandrel. I’ve made focal beads that take over an hour and even then I sometime use a lapidary machine after the bead is made.”

To see more of these amazing beads, check out:


And if you would like to learn more about the process feel free to check out her site and facebook

Two In A Row: My all-time record for blog posts

So here we are on the second consecutive Monday since I started on the quest to become a regular contributing member of the blogosphere. So how are we doing so far?

Well, let’s see.

It’s Monday. I am sitting in front of my laptop. I am typing something. Good. Good. And good.

I have tried to remove distractions. Volume on cellphone – turned down. Husband and 3 dogs – all taking a nap. Clients from job-that-pays-the-bills – also must be napping. Very quiet day today.

The biggest hurdle of Blog #2 – the topic. Lots of wonderful ideas racing around inside my head. The problem is getting them from THERE to HERE on the actual blog post. Okay…let’s pause. Take a look around. See if something I spy starts the “aha!” music that lets the audience know something wonderful just happened.

And what do I see? Beads. Thousands and thousands of beads. I hoard beads. Big beads, little beads. Round beads, pillow beads, lentil beads, focal beads. Made in Israel and Italy. Poland and Germany. Hong Kong and Canada. And from almost every state in the good ol’ USA.

To me, each bead is like a work of art. If I could, I’d figure out a way to frame them and hang them on the wall. The colors are just head-turning, eye-opening, jaw-dropping gorgeous. Colors I didn’t even, couldn’t even, imagine.

These beads form the basis of the jewelry I make. Bracelets. Pendants. Earrings. In the next few posts, I will introduce you to some of the amazing artists I’ve discovered who make these incredible beads.

Pictured here are just SOME of the beads I own. What you’re not seeing are the trays of focal beads, silver and silver colored beads, crystal, rhinestone and pearl beads and all the beads I have yet to sort.

Nor do they include all the beads on my work table that I pulled out for one project or another.

So, to summarize – in two blog posts you have learned (1) I have 3 dogs who are a little fluffy, but not fat (2) I have lots of excuses not to exercise (3) I obsess a bit (okay, more than a bit) about beads and (4) I have made it to the end of blog post #2.


Boxes of Beads from fat dog beads studio

Love these great little bead organizer boxes i found online