This Little Beader Went to Market

Hello, fellow beaders!

So, this weekend the Intergalactic Bead Show came to Cincinnati and I managed to pop in for a bit of lightening-quick bead shopping. Since I work weekends and the show has limited hours, I was only able to shop for about an hour and a half, but I am very pleased with my haul.

And I managed to keep my spending in check this time!

And I managed to keep my spending in check this time!

My first stop was, as always, to the Queen’s Beads booth to say hello to Karen and browse their excellent selection.  I had spent a lengthy afternoon at their booth when Gem Street came to town a few weeks ago and had overdosed on dichroic glass cabochons and my very first Shibori pleated ribbon. This time, I stuck to seed beads and shaped beads.

The Long Magatamas are going into a kumihimo braid that I've been planning for some time and the Tilas and Delicas are going together in a herringbone piece.

The Long Magatamas are going into a kumihimo braid that I’ve been planning for some time and the Tilas and Delicas are going together in a herringbone piece.

After I made my regular stops, I decided to spend some time at some booths that actually make handmade glass beads. I had made a mental note that my stash was fully stocked on basics, but lacked special art beads to compliment pendents and add that perfect pop.

I met Elizabeth Girod of Fire and Fibers at the recommendation of my good friend Joyce and was amazed at her beautiful lampwork beads and pendants. She also hand-dyes silks and other fabrics for multi-media pieces. Her beads were beautiful. I indulged in a few owls, some faux-antique copper drop beads, and some pre-dyed Lacy’s Stiff Stuff for all the bead embroidery.

But goodness, aren't the owls absolutely precious!

But goodness, aren’t the owls absolutely precious?

After Fire and Fibers, I hopped to the next booth, Thornburg Bead Studio. Nikki was super cheerful and her lampwork is also gorgeous. I bought a couple of her signature flowers, albeit in muted tones – her work is generally very vivid and bright! I also indulged in a few lovely swirled glass rings and a pair of beautiful blue/brown roses. I can feel my creativity stirring already!


I am so thrilled about those muted flowers! And the roses are even prettier in person.

After visiting the two glass booths, I had fifteen minutes and ten dollars left to spend. I whirled through the booths and found some beautiful Czech leaves at the Beadroom. Her Czech collection is wonderful and these leaves just called my name. I snagged them up with five minutes to spare before the show closed and I skipped out the door with my purchases.

These are so my colors.

These are so my colors.

If you’ve never been to a bead show, I highly recommend them. While I am very protective of my local bead stores and try to do the majority of my shopping there, a show brings in new stock to freshen up your stash. It also gives you the chance to participate in the larger beading community in your town and is great for networking.

I haven’t been to many bead shows, since only Intergalactic Bead Show and Gem Street USA tend to come to Cincinnati and I really can’t travel. I have, however, been to enough shows to have garnered a collection of tips.

Sam’s Bead Show Tips

1. If you haven’t been to a particular show before, look at every booth before you begin purchasing. Get a feel of who has what and where the best deals are. There is nothing for frustrating than buying something at the first booth you see and then finding it for much less at the second booth.

2. Know ahead of time how much money you want to spend. Bring cash (most convention centers have ATMs inside) and leave your credit card at home, so you aren’t tempted to breach your pre-set limit.

3. That being said, acknowledge that shows are kind of a special occasion and don’t beat yourself up over overspending. Just make sure you use everything you buy! If you regret a purchase, try to swap with a friend.

4. Talk to people! Beaders are a very friendly lot and it is often very easy to strike up a conversation with the person rummaging through the bin next to you. You may find out about a nearby store, and upcoming show, or the newest trends!

5. More specifically, talk to the vendors! It’s important networking for designers and bead-makers, but it also increases the chances that they will recognize you next time you shop there and possibly be more willing to grant quantity discounts or give tips about good deals.

6. Sign up for free admission. Smaller shows tend to give out free admission coupons to bolster the amount of shoppers who show up. If you sign up on Intergalactic’s website. for instance, they will usually send free admission tickets in the mail!

7. Have fun and think outside the box. Try to buy things you can’t find outside the show and be willing to experiment with new colors or new shapes!

Most of all, just have fun. Bead shows are a wonderful treat and can be a great resource, both for beads and for meeting your fellow beaders! The beading community is pretty great and I highly recommend you dive in and join the fun.

So, what are your favorite bead shows? Have any tips that I missed?

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