Monday, March 16, 2015

Beads, Stones and Rocks, Oh My!

For the first time I ventured south to the Tucson bead shows. What an experience! I knew there were a few different shows. I figured in 4 days I'd have a chance to see most of it. Boy was I in for a surprise. There were 40 venues each with hundreds of vendors!! I did not even scratch the surface. So much to see. My favorite was a huge indoor outdoor market, some called Electric Park. Everything from fine gemstones, to stone beads, to raw rocks and boulders and even some tables, sinks and garden art.

Another first was taking classes. Even though I have been creating jewelry for many years, I  have never taken any classes. There were many to choose from so I decided to focus on learning a new skill, torch soldering. I really enjoyed myself and wondered why I waited so long! The first class was all about the science of soldering. We had a little time to get introduced to a small butane type torch and do some basic soldering. Next up was a class on using that knowledge and making some simple findings.

 My next two classes were more soldering, this time detailed work using a more complex torch. First I practiced making copper earrings with a small cage to hold a stone. The next class I made open bezels, enclosing pottery shards and attaching a tube hanger. I will need a lot of practice to master soldering. While I seem to have some of the ergonomics and techniques down....I am too impatient and tended to nuke my pieces to death!

My last class was for fun - making a bracelet using all cold connections. I used rivets, screws, and hammers to create this really cool bracelet. The instructor also showed me how I can incorporate a stone. I loved this class! You will definitely see some of these techniques in my work later this year.

In between classes I shopped. I had set myself a budget and had a few things on my list. Mostly I wanted to look for things that jumped out at me. Interesting colors, shapes and high quality. All of the vendors I dealt with were so nice! For most purchases I managed to either talk them down or get things thrown in for free. I ended up just slightly over budget but got some really nice stones.

I hope to be able to return next year!!

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