And what time of the year is that? Why, it’s BeadFest time, of course!
Twice a year, beaders and jewelry designers from all over the place gather at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA for BeadFest – whether it’s Spring or Summer. And each year, my husband and I make the trip from Central Pennsylvania to indulge in three days of “beads, wonderful beads!” Set to a catchy little tune as my husband sings it, of course!
And what a lot of beads it is!
BeadFest Summer 2016 – Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, PA
The truth is, you could spend all weekend at BeadFest and still not see everything the vendors have to offer. Especially in August, when the show is twice the size of of the April show.
But why go? I have a local bead store! I actually hear that a lot and while, I always advocate supporting your local bead and jewelry supply store, the truth is, large events like BeadFest offer designers a chance to see, touch, and feel, beads, semi-precious stones, designs, fibers, mixed media, and supplies that they might not otherwise. Because for as wonderful and important as local bead stores are, in most cases, they stock what sells. At BeadFest, however, there are literally hundreds of vendors from all over the country – and in some cases the world! – offering products and designs that you might not otherwise see or be exposed to. No matter how well you scour the internet and no matter how “plugged in” to the jewelry scene you are.
If you’re friendly with the staff at your local bead store, you can help them out as well, by seeing “up close and personal” some new items and techniques that you (and they!) might otherwise only see in a magazine. After all, Beadalon’s round jig doesn’t look all that impressive in magazines, but when you see it in action, live and in person? You get a real sense of how cool that tool actually is!
As a designer, you can also expand your bead stash – especially if some items, like higher-end semi-precious stones, have always been just a little beyond your price range. Most booths at BeadFest offer special show pricing and they are almost always willing to make deals on the spot. After all, you might be there to buy, but they are also there to sell. It really is a two-way street!
Another benefit to BeadFest is exposure to all sorts of different designs and techniques. In many cases, vendors, especially those selling their own handmade beads, have stunning examples of their work for you to look at. In many cases, just seeing how someone beads around a broken piece of china to make an exquisite and unique focal is enough to ignite a storm of ideas and inspiration inside a person! It’s also a place for attendees to show off their cool and funky designs. Sometimes, people watching can be just as enlightening. After all, had I not been paying attention last fall, I would have missed out on the hot and happening new trend out of Italy – boro tube necklaces. And they are truly spectacular.
I could go on and one about all of the reasons to attend, because for me, this is one of the main highlights of my jewelry designing year. So if you’ve even been thinking about attending now is the time. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!