Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gleaning The Unique, Odd and Ancient from Bead Fest

by Staci L. Smith 
This was my second time to Bead Fest Philly, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  If you want to read about the fun I had just getting together with all the creative ladies, and checking out all my friends booths, click here and here.
Bead Swap with beady friends 
Bead Fest is so huge, and vast, and offers a lot of everything, it can easily be overwhelming.  I usually have a little list of things to check out, and the rest of the time, I browse for things I cannot find anywhere else.  I hunt for unique oddities to include in my work.
Here is an overall picture of the items I picked up.
The first place I found such items was Hands of the Hills.  They always have an array of ancient treasures.  I started out by picking up more antique brass bells (these used to be worn in large collars so they all jingled against one another). I fell in love with the ones I got in the spring, so I picked up more.
 I also found these little Chinese Buddha charms, and I just fell in love with them.  They are all carved in stone, or cast in metal, and bezel set.  You can tell they are old, and worn………I think what drew me to them was how worn they are, like someone loved them, and treasured them, and touched them all the time.  I also got some cute little wheels, that I was told is the wheel of dharma.  I was clueless, but thankfully the guy running the booth, and my friend, were very knowledgeable on these things. 
I got a couple large, heavy brass charms, both dragon serpents eating their tales.  I loved the bold statement they make.  The brass is so heavy, and already has some natural patina on it.  Here is a link to wiki that talks about these Ouroboros.
I also picked up a few prayer scroll tubes.  I really liked the shape, the weight, and the artistry.  I wish I knew what they said, but whatever it is, I am sure it meant a lot to someone.  It was personal, and I hope to use them in pieces that will once again speak deeply to someone in some way. 
Hands of the Hills also had these fossilized sea urchins.  I grabbed 10.  I can’t wait to use these in my designs.  Fossils and stones have always been a love of mine.  These did not disappoint.
It’s so funny how you can walk around bead fest, and begin to only see what your eyes and heart are drawn too. I couldn’t tell you how many Swarovski crystal places were there, or seed bead booths, because I didnt' even see them, but I started to see ancient things everywhere.  Beads and items of tradition and meaning.
I picked up an antique brass metal stamp / mold.  They seemed to be all over at the show.  Apparently, they are from the Northern Afghanistan, Southern Pakistan region.  They were used by placing thin sheets of metal over top with rubber backing and hammering the pattern into the metal.

I think I picked up the stamp with the deepest relief I could find.  However, I am wishing I have picked up more. 
 The shop with the largest selection of these was Silk Road Treasures.  I thoroughly enjoyed shopping here.  The owners were very knowledgeable about all their wares, friendly, and helpful.  They allowed me to take lots of pictures of the treasures, and answered all my quesitons about them.
Here are the brass stamp plates, look at all that texture and pattern. 
Hanging in the back is roman glass.
These wood pieces, that I thought were some kind of tool, turned out to be cattle pendants. 

Cattle would be watched by one person, who would take them to the hills to graze, so when they returned, the owners needed a way to know their cattle, so they would nail some sort of ID to each pendant.  (I like this method much better than the thought of branding.) 
Then there were the woodcut print blocks.  These blocks were typically used to apply dyes or wax to fabric, often used in batik.  They had three baskets to dig through, and I found a few I had to have.  The small size blocks, (which are actually quite big to use with my metal clay) will work well with copper clay, since it has a high shrinkage rate.

These were the ones that I picked.

I also met someone named Kia, who had the most amazing little table of treasures.  In the wide world of gemstone beads at the show, she had the most unique stones, and they were all hand cut.  I fell in love with this strand of Heliodor and these fossil beads. 

She was as unique as the beads she sold, and I loved the passion she has for the stones. 
 Kia and her booth- photo courtesty of Andrew Thorton
I also found some REALLY huge sea urchin spines at Theodora’s Beads.  I bought two half strands of them (that’s all that was left) and a rough cut quatrz strand.
In closing, I think that bead fest is whatever you make it.  It is so huge and vast, the people there are from all over, there are all levels of jewelry and bead making, all styles and backgrounds, you are sure to make some friends, find great deals, and score unique items. 
(The funny thing is that this post is super long, but I really spent most of my time and money on artisan beads…….because it was amazing to meet each artist, and be able to touch the beads in person.  See my personal posts (links at the top) for the art bead stash and about hanging with the artists.)
Have you ever gone to Bead Fest, or another big bead show?  Where did you find your gaze, and your attention going towards?







SummersStudio said...

Love those stamps and molds and your fossil shells are fantastic. I'd just hoard those and hang them over my work bench :-)

TesoriTrovati said...

Oh goodness! I want to go shopping with YOU! I love all the things you found. I especially love hand of the hills but have only bought small things there. I will be looking for more cool stuff like that in the future! I sure could use some of those bells for my special Challenge of Travel piece right about now! I love love LOVE those stamps and molds. That is something I saw a bit of at B&B but didn't buy and now I am kicking myself. Love what you got. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy the day. Erin

Kimberly said...

I always go to The Tucson show and it's these two booths that I stop at! I think Kia is from New Mexico and has some amazing jewelry, right?
There are so many endless tables of stone beads at the numerous shows in Tucson that it's booths like these that also catch my eye.

Linda said...

This was a great post Staci! Well written and fun to read because it shows what you valued about each item you chose! The brass dragon rings make me think of some largish brass rings from India I have. They are heavy! Is that something you could use? I've never known what to do with them, but I've never been able to part with them either. Message me if you want more info.

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Looks like you had a great time! I think I liked the beads from Kia the best! I hope I can go next year :o)

Julie Holmes said...

I love what you chose Staci because it is SO you. I would have passed it all by as I was heading for the Swarovski bling bling. I really like that we all have our own kryptonite and somehow we make it work for us.

Andrew Thornton said...

You did a fabulous job with this post! You picked up a lot of lovely things! I really like the companies that you spotlighted and have been buying from each of them for years! Particularly Kia! She's my personal brand of Kryptonite! I have a small (or rather not that small at all) stash of her beads that I am always reluctant to use because I never want to part with them. She actually made two of my "commitment rings". One of them is a dark blue kyanite in a bronze bezel set (about the size of my eye) and the other is an ancient coin and a pink star sapphire. The great thing is that the longer you hang out at her table, the more you learn about stones and stone cutting. She's got some wild stories and every stone on her table has a story! P.S. And thank you for making me part of this post by being able to share one of my pictures with you!

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

Wow! Now that was a fun tour of Bead Fest from your perspective. I am so happy that the vendors let you take photo and you learned so much about their work! I hope they are back in the Spring and next Summer to get a chance to look a bit more at their work (it is SO hard to sit and just look at beads sometimes. I think I talked the entire 2 afternoons I was able to get there). But it was also super great to see SO many friends :)

Thanks for sharing!

YaY! Jewelry said...

Fabulous Picks!!!!!!!! I have some of those Fossil Shells I just haven't dug them out yet....maybe its time....definetly got me inspired!!!!!

Crafty Gal Linda said...

Everything you got is SO cool! I wish I would have gotten some roman glass. I had so much fun walking around with you even though it was just for a short time. My eyes go to the lampwork glass and also the big chunky beads. Ceramic beads arw another weakness if mine. What I need to do is really make an effort to save money so I have a little more freedom to purchase more of what I like. Next time I would lke to take more time checking out the ancient beads. Xoxo

Joan Tucker said...

Great post; my partner and I do Tucson every year and by far the most aged, relic like, weird and wonderful pieces are our favorites. I took my daughter last year and we loved 22nd street with the fossils and dinosaurs. I hoard my antiquities and rarely sell them. Roman glass is hard to find.

Also the African vendors have amazing things. I have resold many strands of African beads to folks who have never encountered them.Also rugs and weavings from African are fab. Thanks for great post and support for the vendors. Kia is great. Joan Tucker, Off Center Productions

mairedodd said...

oh, my gosh, staci - drooling here (and it isn't attractive)... i am so upset i missed this! you got some amazing things at the show - have fun with them...

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