Bead Fest Summer 2016 Wrap Up, Part 2: Fretz Hammer Pendant, Enameling, Pliers, and More Jewelry Making Tools & Supplies

How time flies! Bead Fest Tacoma is this weekend, and I still haven’t unpacked all the goodies I got at Bead Fest Summer in Philly. If you’re anywhere near Tacoma or can get there fast, don’t miss the first Tacoma Bead Fest–it’s going to be a great debut! But if you can’t make it, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing a little more of all the great jewelry making tools,  supplies, and other fun stuff I discovered, bought, and learned at Bead Fest Summer.

Eugenia Chan demonstrating jewelry making tools for riveting and enameling

Riveting and Enamel Jewelry Making Tools with Eugenia Chan

I loved watching Eugenia Chan demoing lots of jewelry making tools for, which resulted in a whole pile of tools I suddenly had to have! If you aren’t familiar with Eugenia, she’s a longtime jewelry artist and tool designer who seems to have unlimited ideas for brilliant, helpful jewelry making tools.

Eugenia Chan's four-hole metal punch

In addition to a handy steel riveting block and a three- and four-hole metal punch (above), she has enameling tools, including enameling stencils and the Enameling Spatula (below), a super handy little tool that you can use to move enameled pieces in process–without mussing them up with your fingers. It fits across a small bowl of enamel powder for sifting, allowing your excess enamel to fall back into the bowl. You can also place it flat on your work surface while you sift and place enamels, and then use it to move your piece to the trivet for firing.

jewelry making tools: Eugenia Chan's enameling stencils and enamel spatula


Gemstones, Cabochons, and Found Objects

sea glass, Leland blue, Fordite, and specular hematite cabochons from Gary B. Wilson

I got lucky and stopped by Gary B. Wilson’s booth during the 10 minutes that it wasn’t so packed I couldn’t get to the trays! I got two mesmerizing specular hematite cabs, a giant blue piece of sea glass, and a great deal on my first Fordite cabochon. I could spend days looking at Gary’s cabs and found objects.

gemstone display and Arizona pietersite from Barlow Gems / Sona Inc.

I was first drawn to the Sona Inc./Barlow Gems booth because of their display. I loved being able to walk by and see all their cabochons and slabs displayed vertically on trays. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have found one of my favorite finds, two small slabs of Arizona pietersite that have iridescent veins running through them. The darker one looks like the fog settled in my beloved Great Smoky Mountains, and the lighter one reminds me of water flowing among snow-covered rocks in a mountain creek–especially when you move them and the veins looks like they’re in motion. In addition to being more affordable as slabs than cabs, they’re fully polished and small enough that I can set them in irregular bezels or prongs just as they are.

Xuron XBow Series Swiss-Made Pliers

One of my favorite pliers of all time is the needlenose pliers from Xuron, so I always make it a point to stop by the Xuron booth at shows to see what’s new (and to visit with the adorable Ashley and Abby!). My stop was rewarded this time with their new line of XBow Series Swiss-made pliers for jewelers.

Xuron pliers and Xuron XBow Series pliers

They’re top quality in every way, with very comfortable ergonomic grips and–this is brilliant!–a nonglare satin finish. Try to grip or snip a shiny wire in a tight, hard-to-see spot with shiny cutters and see why I think this is such a great idea. Plus, of course, they have a lifetime warranty. I got the XBow Series needlenose (featuring super thin jaws with rounded outer edges, as opposed to the square jaws of the Xuron ones I love) and the oblique-tip full flush cutters, as well as Xuron’s chisel-nose pliers, and so far, I love how they all perform.

More Fun Finds and Unique Jewelry Making Tools

jewelry making tools: ParaWire multi-head hammers

ParaWire had a cool variety of hammers with multiple heads for texturing metal. Talk about a space saver!

vintage brass mesh chain

I fell in love with this vintage scalloped brass mesh chain of sorts from Metalliferous, so much so that I went back and bought more after my first purchase. It feels so well made, soft and flexible and smooth. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but I’m thinking of adding some sort of stitching, either adding beads or something like embroidery, and making necklaces with it. We’ll see!

antique brass molds

I didn’t purchase any of these–they were quite expensive–but I was drawn to them each time  I walked by. They vintage or antique brass molds of some sort, very solid, heavy, and some with extraordinary detail. They’d be great for metal clay or polymer clay. There was a large table piled high with them that was fun to look through.

The Fretz Hammer Mini Pendant and High-Dome Anvil

I’ve wanted the Fretz high-dome anvil for years and finally took the plunge at Bead Fest this year. It’s so pretty and shiny and flawless, though, it’s going to take some effort to talk myself into hammering on it! It’s like getting a new car and parking it across four spaces at the far end of the parking lot. Maybe once the first painful ding mars that perfect surface, I’ll be able to use it with wild abandon.

Fretz high-dome anvil

Finally, the exciting thing I got at Bead Fest Summer that I know you’ve all been waiting for–the Fretz mini hammer pendant! I joked that I felt like the Hammer Princess (but not the Hammer Queen, that’s Lexi!) when Bill put mine on me. Now when I wear it, I feel like I’m wearing the secret symbol of metalsmiths who know the joy of a using beautiful Fretz hammer.

the Fretz hammer mini pendant

When I shared the photo of my new Fretz hammer pendant on Facebook, the response was crazy! There have been some supply and demand issues–of course, because these mini icons of jewelry making tools are fabulous!–but we rushed to get a batch of them in house to offer you. So hurry and grab your Fretz hammer pendant, while they last!

P.S. Did you see part one of my Bead Fest Summer 2016 Wrap Up?






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