If I had to pick a slogan for the Fall Best Bead show here in Tucson, it would be, "Great For Shoppers, Not For Vendors." Of course, Crystal Myths would never accept that tagline, as it would scare away the potential sellers, but that's what I'll always think when the show comes up.
I had a fun time at the show on Saturday. Chris and I got there sometime between 11:30-12 and found the wholesale registration table. My favorite local beadmaker (and to be honest, one of my favorite beadmakers in general), Margaret Zinser was right across from there, so my first stop was her booth for hugs, catching up, and seeing what she had that was new. One of the things that I really like about Margaret is that she is always trying new things. What really captured my eye this time was the black double-sided beetle bead with all the accents done in silver Precious Metal Clay, but that was out of my budget. I'll be saving up to treat myself to one in the future, though! As much as I loved the new beads, I decided to buy one of the first beads of hers that I saw on-line and loved, back in 2004... The spiral teardrop. It's a good thing that I did, too, because she's probably discontinuing them. You can see the one that I picked in the center of the above image.
There were a lot of great vendors at the show, and we had a few hours until gaming, so Chris suggested that we do the tried-and-true "walk through first, decide what we want, then go back and get it." Of course, it was hard to exercise any self-control, due to the table full of the work of what must have been about 20 super-talented Japanese beadmakers. The lampworkers in Japan have such a different style from the ones here in America, and I am always captivated by their work. However, budget once again prevailed, and I did not buy anything there. They tend to have an even bigger selection in February, so I'll probably treat myself then. Even Chris saw some beads that he would wear, so he may also indulge next show.
I really wanted some small but attractive focals, so my first stop after the walk-through was Green Girl Studios. I'm a big fan of Green Girl, and in fact, I already have a lot of her pendants, but I wanted to pick up some more. You can't make them out too well in the photo (they're the pretty pewter pieces), but don't despair: you'll be seeing a couple of them in new necklaces within the next couple of weeks. I really like the tree pendant, and I might try to make it into a more masculine necklace. We'll see what the muse decides.
For more nice focals, I walked across the aisle to Lillypilly Designs. Heidi does great work engraving shells and various other materials. I picked out half a dozen pretty shell pendants, in various colors. I might keep the blue and brown one for myself, because it would go perfect with this skirt I bought in NY, but the rest are strictly business! I already have inspiration for the orange and ivory one, and the green and white. I know what beads I want to put them them, so now I just have to figure out the perfect design.
The other thing I really wanted was some pretty pressed glass. I'd picked up some nice things in NY, but I'd noted that I was running out of good blacks and whites. Bokamo Designs came through with some unusual Czech beads for decent prices. The black and white ones filled my need for medium-large interesting shapes in those colors, the mottled ivory is very versatile (looks great with bronze!), the green ones are just fun, and the agate-y looking ones at the top are what convinced me to stop and shop. They're gorgeous in person. I think I'm going to split them up, use half with the orange and ivory Lillypilly drop, and half with this carved carnelian dragon that I bought back in February.
Although I'd originally intended for my only present to myself to be the teardrop from Margaret, I simply could not resist the green faerie from Bickley Studios. I mean, come on! It's a green faerie! And I'm me. It's not like my logo is a green faerie, or like I was wearing a necklace with a green faerie pendant. She really is irresistibly beautiful, and she was just one of the lovely faeries and mermaids that were displayed on the table. The decision was easy for me to make, however, as she was the greenest, and I think I have some crystals and vintage leaves that will coordinate nicely with her.
Now, as for my reasoning for my personal slogan for the Best Bead: the items that you see above are just the tip of the gorgeous bead iceberg. There were a lot of very talented beadmakers at the show, with simply incredible beads. I didn't even mention the black glass bead with the silver metal dragonfly on it (now I did!), nor did I mention all of the big-name artists, nor did I buy any stones or seed beads or vintage, though I had opportunities to get all of those. There was a great selection. What there wasn't was a great crowd. Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, there were few shoppers, and even the really popular vendors who are swamped in Feb had space in front of their booths. A couple of sellers seemed decidedly unhappy, and I feel bad for anyone who traveled really far for what seemed like a dud of a show. I really do think that it's nice for Tucson to have a show sometime other than February, but I think they're trying too hard to make it a second February show. I honestly believe that the show must only be good for those who live in or near Tucson, or who can score cheap airfare and then crash with a local friend. For anyone else, it has to be too much cost for the amount of sales that they make.
I, of course, had a wonderful time. I didn't buy anywhere near what I do during the main gem show season, but I did pick up enough great things to spice up my Fall Line and keep my muse entertained until the big February stock up.