Bead Fest Santa Fe Highlights: Jewelry Making Classes, Trends, and Supplies

I can’t believe it’s already time to register for Bead Fest Philly. I haven’t even had a chance to tell you about Bead Fest Santa Fe! It was big fun, hanging out with dear old friends and making new ones, shopping for beads and jewelry-making supplies, taking jewelry classes in roll printing and keum boo, celeb spotting, and snow! I left Bead Fest Santa Fe thinking that it was the best Bead Fest I’ve attended. Here are some of my highlights and favorite finds for jewelry making.

Francesca Watson demostrating jewelry making techniques

Expert Classes: Jewelry Making with Francesca Watson

I took my new friend Francesca Watson’s class, A Touch of Gold: Roll Printing and Keum Boo, at Bead Fest Santa Fe. I knew basic principles from reviewing our rolling mill and keum boo videos, but I don’t have my own rolling mill, so it was a great opportunity to use one and be hands-on with an expert instructor’s guidance. I learned essential techniques and tips from Francesca–plus it was so. much. fun.

roll printed metal accented with patina and 24kt gold using keum boo

On the left, see the textured paper and the beautiful texture it created on silver. On the right, the same silver, cut and finished into earrings, patinated and spruced up with keum boo using 24kt gold foil.

It was surprising to see how well delicate things (like paper, cupcake sleeves, lace, and skeleton leaves) could imprint themselves on copper and metal sheet. Much annealing was required, of course, but it was worth it–Francesca had a huge variety of textures for us to play with in class. In fact, I believe Francesca’s classroom was the best equipped classroom I’ve ever been in. Francesca owns The Makery jewelry and arts studio in Bulverde, Texas, so she knows a thing or two about classroom needs! She had plenty of stations for students to work on each technique, but what impressed me most was her use of an overhead projector over her demo table, so that we could see each step clearly. If you’re going to any future Bead Fest events, I hope you can treat yourself to a class with her. She’s offering the same awesome class that I took at Bead Fest Philly in August!

AccuLoop pliers from EuroTool

AccuLoop pliers from EuroTool

Jewelry-Making Tools: AccuLoop Pliers

I was fortunate to get a few minutes to catch up with another pro, Kim St. Jean, at the Jewelry Tools booth. Kim shared several of her great new tools for jewelry making, including two pairs of pliers that I know all wireworkers are going to want. The AccuLoop pliers from EuroTool are marked to help you make consistent wire loops (and squares!) for jewelry making, in sizes from 2mm to 8mm. It’s exciting to think about the chain, metal, and wire jewelry designs you could make with these pliers.

Gemstone Favorites from Bead Fest Santa Fe

The Russian turquoise slices from Dakota Stones (below, left) made me gasp! That Sleeping Beauty-like Persian blue is such a gorgeous color, and the darker blue and brown borders made for even more beauty. These gem slices make jewelry all by themselves–just put a clasp on it.

gemstones for jewelry making

Diwolf had lustrous, earthy-colored Electric Opal from Hyalite, Mexico (above, right), that was totally new to me. The transparency and color of these opals was like none I’d ever seen before; peridot maybe, or prehnite, but I’ve never seen opals that looked like these. The fresh yellowish-green color was made even prettier against the tans and browns of the matrix.

turquoise and red color trends for jewelry making

Color Trends for Jewelry Making: Red and Turquoise, Plus Orange and Green

Will turquoise ever go out of style? I’m guessing not! In blues, greens, and blue-greens, this gem is enjoying decades of popularity, so the red-and-turquoise color palette seems to be more of a jewelry staple than a jewelry trend. So it’s no surprise that I saw red and turquoise together at Bead Fest Santa Fe, but something was a little different about it this time. Maybe I just hadn’t seen it before, but I noticed a lot of orange and green accents, making the hot red-and-turquoise color duo fresh and even more eye catching.

jewelry by jewelry artist and instructor of jewelry making Robert Lopez

jewelry by Robert Lopez

Artisan Jewelry and Supplies: Robert Lopez and MyElements

There are always so many talented lampwork glass, polymer clay, and metal jewelry artists at Bead Fest shows, and I love getting a special piece or two from various artists. This year I finally discovered the phenomenon that is Robert Lopez! I’m absolutely in love with his detailed designs (above) that pair delicate, natural elements with colorful patinas and big, bold stones he cuts himself. Remember this guy’s name!

MyElements acrylic supplies for jewelry making by Yvonne Irvin

Another one in particular that caught my eye this year is MyElements by Yvonne Irvin. Yvonne makes acrylic beads, focals, and other components for jewelry making in that cheerful color palette of turquoise blue and red, with green and orange to freshen it up–plus cream and black to really grab your attention.

leather jewelry making supplies from Primitive Earth Beads

More Jewelry Trends: Supplies for Leather Jewelry Making and Chain

Another trend in jewelry making that seems more of a stylish staple these days is leather. I think it will likely be years before this affordable, accessible, easy-to-use and easy-to-wear jewelry supply goes away–if ever. Fortunately, merchants and manufacturers continue to present must-have supplies for leather jewelry making.

magntic clasps for leather jewelry making from Primitive Earth Beads

Primitive Earth Beads has a huge selection of leather colors, and their die-cut leather straps are just minutes away from being cool leather bracelets and cuffs. Use their magnetic clasps to get from supplies to jewelry quickly and easily.

jewelry making chain from Kabela Design

I loved the variety of chain–variety in design, size, color, and finish–from Kabela Design. The matte-finish black and dark brown chains are stylish supplies just waiting to make stylish jewelry. If you love chain or multicolor metal, take a look!

My Bead Fest classes were a blast, and I always love seeing old friends and making new ones. The shopping can’t be beat. It even snowed, a pretty but not disruptive little snow, and I just adore snow. But another highlight of this year’s Bead Fest in Santa Fe was seeing the lovely Love Story star Ali MacGraw, shopping with a friend on the show floor! I’m told she often visits whenever the show is in town, and I confess that I was star struck. I was trying to admire her from afar and let her shop in peace, but at one point she unexpectedly turned around to walk to another booth and there I was, right in front of her by accident. And you won’t believe what happened next! She smiled a huge lovely smile and said, “Oh, HI!” like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in ages. It was a great moment. I can’t remember, but I sure hope I said hello back!

So, are you coming to Bead Fest Philadelphia, August 16-20? I’m looking forward to it, as always–the friends, the fun, the shopping, the classes–and I can’t wait to see who shows up on the show floor. This year I finally get to take a class with jewelry artist and tool inventor Jeff Fulkerson–can’t wait! Hope I see you there!


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