The first time I attended the Bead & Button show was in 2008. I only had a few days and so much money to play with, so I opted to spend my time on a two day class. This year I knew that I couldn’t miss out on the World’s Largest Bead Expo, but the classes were still the main draw. So I loaded up my plate with four classes in 48 hours with just a few moments to spare in the shopping.
Since they say that you will have a hard time getting past the first row in the Bead Expo, I knew that the classes would be the wisest way to spend my money. I was not disappointed.
First up on my agenda was a 6 hour class called “Frame It” by the wonderful Tracy Stanley of Wired Arts . (She does teach this at other venues around the country, and I highly encourage you to take one of her classes!) Since I had done some work the previous year with Susan Lenart Kazmer on metals and resins, I thought that I would expand on those skills. The description for “Frame It” is this: Using metal stamping, sawing, and riveting, you will make your own personalized framed necklace. This is your chance to use those special pictures to create a piece of jewelry that will say it all.
I have a healthy fear of tools. I did not grow up using them. But they fascinate me. So I was a bit daunted by a supply list that read like the inventory of a really specialized hardware store…bench block, jeweler’s saw, bur life, two-hole punch, various hammers, etc. That meant I had to shop before I even got there (woohoo!)! But I now have the tools and the know-how to do all that we did and more.
Here is a look at the tools that I used for this project.
I got to hammer and use shears to shape the metal. Then I had to break out my new jewelers’ saw to carefully cut the center out. Oops! I only broke one blade! Pretty good for a novice…just don’t ask me to cut a straight line. Rustic is in, right?
Did I mention how cool the tools were that we used? We were told to bring various sized letters to stamp words and quotes on the piece, and also design stamps to decorate. We had the use of stamps from Beaducation that had some nifty effects. For my extravagant purchase (did I mention that I have no filters when it comes to shopping?), Tracy sold me a Fretz texturizing hammer (okay, so she didn’t need to twist my arm that hard…I snapped up the last one she had before anyone else could get it!). It was completely an impulse buy and very pricey, but it stamps an image that looks like raw silk onto the metal…let’s just say that I won’t need another texturizing hammer for the rest of my life! (But those Fretz hammers are just the best!)
And we punched holes in the metal with this nifty little device. You just put the metal to be punched in one side or the other depending on the hole size desired, and start twisting. Voila! Practically perfect hole straight through! (I'm probably telling you about a tool you already know, but I thought it was magically delightful especially since I thought I had to buy a drill to do what this little screw punch did!)
After cutting, sawing, stamping, designing, punching, patina-ing and riveting, my little piece was complete. (Of course, not before I stamped a few letters backwards and upside down…on my specially purchased silver sheet no less! Good, if pricey lesson to be learned!) I had a ton of fun in the class and it inspired me to set myself up so make it my own for future projects. In fact, I already have two custom jewelry orders that will utilize these new techniques.
And here are my mostly finished pieces…still works in progress, but you get the idea… (The flower frame says, “My Time To Bloom” and the egg frame-in-progress says, “Hatch Your Very Best Self.”)The thing about taking classes wherever you can find them is that you get to meet the nicest people. Tracy Stanley was a very cool teacher…knowledgeable, approachable and just plain fun. She was encouraging and exciting to be around. And the people in the class were instantly bonded by being there and so willing to share tools and tips and talents. If you have a chance to go to Bead & Button you are missing out if you just come for the beads. There are over 500 of them that week and so many more at venues near you. Take a class! (And buy some cool new tools!) You won’t regret it!
What class or technique would you love to learn if both money and time were no object?
Erin Prais-Hintz designs one-of-a-kind jewelry for her company Tesori Trovati, Italian for “treasures found.” She is excited to use the new-found knowledge to expand her designing repertoire. You can read more of her inspirations at http://Treasures-Found.blogspot.com see more of her designs at www.TesoriTrovati.com or read more about her creative process at www.WatchMeCreate.com. Enjoy the day!