06 June 2009

Keep the Conversation Going

"Lettuce is like conversation: it must be fresh and crisp, and so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it." ~Charles Dudley Warner

I told you that I was attending the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee last week. I got home Saturday morning at 1:30am. I am now a bit less bleery-eyed so I thought that I should at least share a bit of the experience with you. More posts to come here and at Watch Me Create and Art Bead Scene. And pictures to boot.

Do you know what it feels like to step off the escalator and realize that you have come home? I may not have known any of the people surrounding me this week but I surely felt a kindred spirit among them. There were beaders and jewelers and artists from all walks of life, all ages, all experiences. The buzz and the hum of the show was infectious. Everyone was just so darned friendly and that made it easy to strike up a conversation no matter where I was.

What I liked most of all was that everywhere I turned there was a friend. No. I may have never met that person before, but as soon as I opened myself to their presence I was greeted as if I were a long-lost friend. I picked up on so many conversations with people in class and on the show floor as if I had known them my whole life. The thrill of the camaraderie was overhwelming, but in a good way. I could not help but find myself smiling.

I met up with some designers that I had met before, some I had only blog-stalked and some that were completely new to me. Like Jennifer Heynen at Jangles (she really has an awesome display and is as bright and fun as her beads...and I had to buy one of those little pinwheels) and Carter Seibels of Bead Trust and Divali Glass. They are each so talented and their personalities match their beads perfectly. And I met new artists I had never known before

...like Lisa Peters with her very affordable raku beads and buttons

...and Pam Wynn with her colorful layered polymer clay beads

...and Joan Miller whose porcelain designs are whimsical and amazingly detailed (I bought the coolest dragonfly button...aren't these little figures the coolest? Their little legs dangle and their detail is incredible!)

...and Stephanie Ann (right) whose starfish bead is precious...and her booth-mate Kerri Fuhr (left)who has an eye for detail and whose color change bead captured my heart (and don't even get me started on that little bee...).

I met new bloggy friends like Melanie at Earthenwood Studios (whose "toolbox treasures" and in particular, the keyholes are fan-freakin'-tastic!), Lori Greenberg of Lori Greenburg glass (who shows on her blog the very unique, highly portable and most impactful bead display ensured that I had to have one of her gorgeous beads) and Cynthia Thornton of Green Girl Studios (she makes the most amazingly thoughtful and detailed pewter charms...I count myself lucky that I got to get through the throngs at their booth! Can't wait for her new book, Enchanted Adornments coming this fall!).

It was funny to watch some of them when they saw me. Since I comment frequently on many blogs, they may have seen my picture when it shows up as my avatar. They each had a moment of clarity when they realized who I was. I was standing next to Andrew Thornton while he was talking to another artist. I was patiently waiting for an opportunity to shake his hand and introduce myself. I could see that he was watching me out of the corner of his eye. When I did greet him I saw that spark of recognition. I had to chuckle because it always struck them as if they had known who I was, when I was merely a commenter on their wonderful blogs. But now they know the person behind the picture and that makes it all the more fun to connect the next time I continue the dialogue on their blog. The conversation just keeps going.

I met new friends in each class I took. Julie Savolt of Sentiments jewelry was one such person. We took Tracey Stanley's class "Frame It" where we cut, sawed, stamped, riveted and patinaed our metal. A great way to release some pent up energy! Julie is a fellow Wisconsinite and is in my area all the time. I do hope that we might have a way to connect with each other outside of the class. She was so helpful and kind. I shared my saw with her. She told me where to go to get some good deals on tools as well as tipped me off about a great company on the show floor. We bonded over this class and I do hope that we can continue that path and keep the conversation going.

In the pure silver clay ring class I stood next to Kathy from MO as we watched the demo. We bonded over the clay stamps she swore I was hording! (I was not! I just happened to pick the prettiest one...) I should have written down her contact info because by the end of the day we were calling each other "silver clay sisters" since we were making similar things and having a similarly challenging time with it. (More on that class with Maria Martinez later.) Again, I hope that she will keep in touch with me and that we can maybe connect at the show next year, or though blogs and emails. If you find this post Kathy from MO...email me!

I met Brenda Schweder, author of Junk to Jewelry and Vintage Redux, two wonderful books. She is as bright and sassy as the yellow chain necklace from her book that I spotted her wearing. She told me all about the Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee and invited me to play along with them. I will be looking into how I can further that conversation because I think that she has much that I could learn from her.

I also got to meet Jamie Hogsett at the Soft Flex booth (where I bought some cool new Trios Wire for their Flex Your Creativity contest) and Cathy Jakicic, editor of BeadStyle magazine, the very first beading magazine subscription I had. She invited me to email her and start a conversation. I am curious to see where that could lead.

And I met with Jess at Vintaj who was a true joy. I am so in love with all the products at Vintaj (and I found out that you can pronounce their name any way you want..."vintage"...or my personal favorite..."vin-taahj"). I love to create with anything they have and they had a cool make-and-take. I slammed my finger pretty hard with my new texturizing hammer but that didn't dampen my enthusiasm. I made a really cool pendant I hope to resin with cool beach-y accessories. I was equally surprised to find that they were looking forward to meeting me, since they knew me from my picture and the work I have submitted to magazines. I plan to continue that dialogue with Jess and Rose (so sorry I missed you!) and all the Vintaj divas now that they know me on a more personal level. I am excited by the possibilities of that conversation.

But the best gift that I got from this experience was to not only meet a bloggy friend but to have her trust me enough to be my roommate for the show (see our mugs below). Heather Powers of Humblebeads is someone I have admired since the day I first laid eyes on her necklace in an issue of BeadStyle magazine in 2006. She is so warm and funny and absolutely passionate about art beads. When we walked down the 1000 aisle dedicated to bead artists she leaned in and said, "I am not responsible for what you do while you are in this aisle." She was absolutely right! That is where I blew the wad that I had (and then some!). But I am oh so glad that I did. I met some incredible artists and that is exactly what my goal was when I came. I didn't go to the Expo to buy beads and findings (although I did a little). I came with the express purpose of buying art and I declared that in every single conversation I had with the bead artists I met and purchased from. I will share pictures and stories of my new treasures in upcoming posts.

To all the friends that I met at Bead & Button show I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to open the door to a new dialogue with you. I consider you all my friends...ones that I will hopefully connect with again...ones that will point me in new directions...ones that will become dear treasures.

"A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world." ~Lois Wyse

Let's keep the conversation going.

Check It Out:: Bead & Button Show (Mark your calendars for June 6-13, 2010! I'll be there!)
Enjoy the day!


Rosanne said...

I know exactly how you feel about being at the Bead and Button. It is the best of shows. Next year I'll be back there myself. Can't wait to see the treasures you've come home with. I'll relive the B and B through your eyes!

Lance said...

Hi Erin,
Isn't it just so completely awesome to connect up with someone you've only known online! I recently had this opportunity when we were on vacation out of state. On two different occasions, we met up with people I've only known because of connections through my site. And it was really such a great opportunity to connect in a different, and more personal way.

I can tell by your excitement and passion in your writing that your time at this show was deeply fulfilling for you, and that's pretty wonderful! Welcome back...

Anonymous said...

Erin -
Great post!! Yes, B&B is like walking into Willy Wonka's factory and outer space at the same time! Just a whole other world that only us beaders understand. Glad you enjoyed the show and meeting all the fab artists.
2010 can get here fast enough!
jewelry creator

stregata said...

Oh Erin,
I am feeling so - oh, I don't know how to express it. I don't know of any bead show in Germany that could offer what you have just experienced. There are just bead dealers at the shows here, you know, it is just their profession, not their passion. It is just business, not connection. But there is no way I can rationalize a trip to the States to buy beads...or take a workshop... whatever.
Thank you for sharing - your excitement was catching and I really am looking forward to seeing your treasures.

Beverly Herman said...

Hi Erin,
Your description of upon entering the Bead & Button show was right on the spot. I have only missed a couple of shows and this year was one of the them. Phone calls from Heather and reading your post reminds of why the Bead & Button show is so important to our Art.

Stacey said...

Fantastic! I can just feel your excitement - hopefully next year I will be able to make it to a show - to share that energy with so many other artists. So glad you had such a wonderful time. Can't wait to see the treasures you create with your new beauties!!!

The bad Liz said...

What a great description of the show. I had the opportunity to get to know Tracey Stanley over dinner one night - she's so sweet. Sounds like you had as much of a great time as I did.

I also ran into Heather - what a great photo of the two of you!

Jenners said...

I'm not a Bead and Button person but your happiness and joy from being at the show definitely shine through this post! What a wonderful opportunity for you to be with "your" people! And how great to connect with fellow bloggers and beaders. I'm so happy for you!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Erin. From Doug O @ Community First Bank.

Melissa J. Lee said...

Getting caught up on my blog reading tonight... It sounds as if you had a great trip!


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