Bead Fest Philadelphia 2014 Round-Up! Beads, Beads, and More Beads!

What happens when you get hundreds of jewelry-making artists together in one place? You get Bead Fest Philadelphia, the largest beading and jewelry-making event in the eastern United States!

Seed beads, cabochons, and components from Beyond Beadery

I'm lucky that I live just a day's drive away from Philadelphia, so I make it a point to attend Bead Fest Philadelphia every summer to learn new techniques, stock up on new jewelry-making supplies, and of course, hang out with my jewelry friends from all over the country.

This year, the energy at Bead Fest Philadelphia was wonderful! I got to meet so many new bead and jewelry artists, share hugs with old friends, and I even got to be a classroom assistant to Cindy Holsclaw for her beautiful Sakura Bouquet necklace. What more could a beader ask for?

Top: Denise Peck and Jen VanBenschoten

Bottom: Jen VanBenschoten, Patti Bullard, and Denise Peck

My weekend at Bead Fest started on Friday morning when I did a demo for my friends at Parawire, showing folks how to make some easy, sweet little wire bird's nest pendants that used Swarovski crystal pearls as "eggs". Really, I'm probably not the best person in the world to do a wire demo, but these little bird's nests are so easy to make, even a beginner can do it! I used up my supply of crystal pearls pretty quickly, and had a couple of lovely chats with beaders about running a jewelry business as I wired and wrapped.

Next, it was a little bit of networking and shopping for me, as I made my first round of the show floor. I stocked up on a new supply of bronze metallic seed beads for my stash, and found some other treasures: lightweight acrylic cabochons in a variety of colors and shapes, handmade leaf cabochons by Kinga Nichols, a half dozen colors of size 15/0 hex cut seed beads in beautiful jewel tones, and a little package of 12mm crystal rivolis for a new design that has been floating around in my head.

I also got a chance to meet up with my colleague Denise Peck from Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. Denise has been an incredible inspiration to me as I learn all about wire jewelry-making, and it was such a pleasure to spend some time shopping and talking and brainstorming with her. She is just as delightful as she is talented!

I hate to admit this, but I was so exhausted from all the fun on that first day that I went to bed pretty early that night. But I needed my sleep, because the next day, I got to be in the classroom, assisting Cindy Holsclaw.

It's so much fun to be a classroom assistant at Bead Fest. I love interacting with the students, and I love being a part of that learning process. I've seen some of these same students at Bead Fest every year since 2009, and it's always fun to catch up with them and spend some time beading.

Other bead "celebrity" sightings included Lorelei Eurto, my friend Andrew Thornton, and Cindy and I even popped in for a visit with Jill Wiseman. I got to spend a few minutes chatting with metal jewelry artists Gwen Fuller Youngblood and Kate Ferrant Richbough in between demos.

Handmade beads of ceramic, polymer clay, and glass by members of the Art Jewelry Elements Team from Bead Fest Philadelphia
Cyndi Holsclaw demonstrating a beading technique in class

My friend Kristen comes down from her part of upstate New York every year, and as a member of the Art Jewelry Elements team, she took me on a tour of all the incredible handmade bead artists at the show. It was wonderful to meet all these charming and talented women, and you'll be learning more about them and their work in future blogs!

As I was walking the show floor that second day, I wandered over to Beyond Beadery. And what did I find? Something that I'd overlooked the day before: a handful of beautiful little brass jewelry-making components. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with most of them, but they were calling to me. Who am I to argue with my muse?

My last stop of the day was at Gary Wilson's booth, where I bumped into Patti Bullard, also affectionately referred to as "the Wubbers lady", and we browsed the gorgeous gemstone offerings before I picked out a pair of drilled druzy pendants. Saturday ended with a wonderful dinner with Betcey and her crew from Beyond Beadery, and once again, I hit the pillow early for my long drive home the next morning.

As I started back towards upstate New York, I felt so grateful for all the love and creative energy I experienced over the weekend! Beaders really are the best!

Now that I'm back home, I'm sitting down with all my treasures to come up with some new jewelry-making projects, and finishing lots of old UFOs that have been sitting and collecting dust for far too long. I'm also eager to dive into some new projects, like the Baroque Sonata bracelet by Sandie Bachand from the August/September issue of Beadwork magazine.

If you love learning how to make new beading and jewelry-making projects but couldn't make it to Bead Fest, have your own "bead fest" at home when you get the bead kit for this magnificent beaded bracelet, as well as an instructional video full of tips and instruction on how to stitch the bracelet. For a limited time, you can get the Beadwork Magazine Project Workshop Video for the Baroque Sonata bracelet for free when you buy the bead kit! Just add both to your shopping cart, and the video will be free at checkout.

Watch and learn as Beadwork magazine editor Melinda Barta demonstrates each step in stitching this beaded bracelet with close-up shots and helpful thread path diagrams. It's the next best thing to taking a beading class, right at home.

Did you make it to Bead Fest Philadelphia this year? What was your favorite part of the event? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your experiences with us!

Bead Happy,


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