How to Choose the Right Bead Fest Classes for You
Every year when Bead Fest classes are released, I get so excited to see what they are and find the ones that I want to take. It’s such a rare opportunity to lean many jewelry-making techniques from the industry’s top instructors–all in one place! It’s hard to find time to set aside for shopping, but I manage. Ha!
I’ve lost count of how many Bead Fests I’ve attended, and it’s still hard for me to narrow down my classes. There’s a huge selection–about 200 this year! That’s a lot of jewelry-making goodness. As I was making my choices this year, I thought of you. “How on earth would someone who has never been to Bead Fest before do this?” I mean, “kid in a candy store” doesn’t even begin to cover it. So I thought I’d try to help you first-timers, few-timers, and even old-timers like me by pointing out some special classes that I think you’ll love.
Recommended Bead Fest Classes for Every Technique
Classes can be sorted by skill level, teacher, and technique on BeadFest.com, to help you find just the right ones for you. Here are some I want to share with you. I chose these for their variety, accessibility to many levels, because I have taken the class myself (or a similar one) and recommend it, or because I know these teachers are rock stars and you won’t be disappointed!
Bead Fest Classes: Metal Stamping, Riveting, and Mixed Media
It’s been too long since Pam Hawkins has been teaching at jewelry shows, so I’m thrilled we have her this year! Her Inspiration Bracelets offer lots of bang for your buck, with techniques like metal stamping, riveting, leatherwork, wire wrapping, and hammering/texturing. In the end, all students will have one-of-a-kind personalized bracelets ready to share your message with the world.
Bead Fest Classes: Advanced Metalsmithing
Looking for challenge? Apparently I am, because I signed up for Richard Salley’s advanced two-day course, Sterling Padlock. I’m fascinated by the romantic side of locks, like all those bridges in Europe covered in locks placed there by swooning couples. The thought of making a sterling silver one feels so decadent, and I love the idea of making common, utilitarian items in silver. Plus, I look forward to the challenge. I’ve never had a class with Richard before and expect I’ll learn quite a bit! Join me?
Bead Fest Classes: Soldering and Metalsmithing Basics
Kate Richbourg is the teacher of the beginners, with her laid-back retro style and expert techniques. Learn soldering, riveting, and basic metalsmithing techniques like dapping, cutting, filing and finishing. stamping, and texturing metal in her Dapped, Capped and Soldered Beads workshop. You’ll learn to drill vintage coins, tube rivet, solder mixed metals, add patina, finish and polish. Students will create a variety of metal beads in class that can be used in designs later.
Bead Fest Classes: Metal Clay Jewelry
One of my favorite Bead Fest classes ever was making tiny house charms with Sulie Girardi a few years back. This year Sulie offers several metal clay workshops, including Vintage Elegance with Silver Clay. This class is packed with info and techniques, yet promises to be fun and relaxed. First you’ll choose your brass stampings to use as molds and then learn to remove the dried clay from a fixed mold without breaking–quite a feat! You’ll also learn to set fireable CZs, create bails, and embed fireable posts in earrings. So much in one class! Sulie is a generous teacher who gives you space to explore while helping you master the techniques at hand.
Bead Fest Classes: Resin and Mixed Media
I have a conflict doing a demo on the show floor or I’d be taking Pam Hawkins’ Memories Resin Paper Necklace workshop. You’ll learn to make resin paper, an unusual altered material that adds an ethereal feel to designs it’s used in–plus it’s so affordable to make. After that, you’ll put pieces together in a “storybook pendant” featuring stamped metal “sheets,” ribbons, memorabilia, and more. Mixed media at its finest!
Bead Fest Classes: Bezel Making and Stone Setting
Kieu Pham Gray is a Kieu of all trades, offering Bead Fest classes in stone setting, enameling, filigree, water casting and more. Her Set for Royalty: Intro to Bezel Setting class is the perfect spot for smiths of all levels to learn the essential technique of stone setting. A glass cab is provided but you’re welcome to bring your own–and since this class is on Sunday, I’m sure you’ll find a cab to buy when you shop Bead Fest vendors on Saturday!
Bead Fest Classes: Enameling
I took a separation enameling class with Kieu Pham Gray at Bead Fest a few years ago and loved it! In Kieu’s class, Enamels to Flight, students will learn the proper layering-and-firing separation enameling process. Separation enameling seems made for designs like these butterfly wings, but you’re free to create your own shapes and designs. If you’re completely new to torch enameling, take Sara Lukkonen’s Enameling 101 class–it’s how I learned torch enameling at Bead Fest several years ago, and it will amaze you!
Bead Fest Classes: Metal Stamping Meets Stone Setting
Kristi Evenson’s Written in Stone pendant is perfect for makers who love buying cabochons but haven’t mastered bezel setting yet. You can also use large flat gem beads, which are sold in strands for a great value. Kristi shares how to create a strap setting for the gems, which is a handy technique to know itself–but it’s made more special with the addition of metal stamping on the strap. Stamp words or designs for an endless variety of pendants. Bonus: I love how this setting allows for more (both sides) of the stone to show, if you wish.
Bead Fest Classes: Keum Boo and Roll Printing
At Bead Fest Santa Fe last year, I took a keum boo and roll printing course with Francesca Watson. I loved the variety and versatility involved in one class. It’s like several classes in one! In Debora Mauser’s Keum Boo Earrings class at Bead Fest Philly this year, you’ll learn to create texture in metal with a rolling mill, which is a fun surprise each time you pass metal through. Later you’ll learn to add contrast and value to your designs using 24-karat gold and the ancient Korean art of keum boo. I have to tell you, keum boo couldn’t be easier, and you’ll be amazed at how magical it feels.
Plan Your Bead Fest Adventure
If you’re coming to Bead Fest in Philly this August, yay! We’re so thrilled you can join us. Be sure to keep an eye out for demos on the show floor. I’ll be doing two magical things: heat patina with rubber stamps and torch-fired metal clay. My coworkers will be doing demos on resin, cold connections, beading, and more. If you haven’t made plans to join us yet, plan your adventure at BeadFest.com! But hurry–two classes I intended to include in this blog became unavailable before it was even published. They’re filling up fast.
If you’re still on the fence about what classes are right for you, let me know in the comments below and I’ll help!
See you at Bead Fest next month!
Editor, Interweave Jewelry
Social Media Manager, Interweave Bead & Jewelry Group
If you can’t make it to Bead Fest, you can still learn from our top instructors at home!