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What I learned at the 2016 Bead&Button show: Heather Gergen

Since I’m a newbie to the jewelry-making world, I couldn’t possibly write about everything that I learned at the Bead&Button show. It was ALL new to me. But, fortunately, I was able to take three beginner-level classes at the show to learn a few basics. 

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My first class was a Metallic Macrame Wrap bracelet class taught by Kerrie Sue Miller. This was her first year teaching at the Bead&Button show. I figured this was a good class to start out with since I have a little experience with macramé. Well, this was a micro-macrame class which meant that everything was done under a magnifying glass. 

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Fast-forward four hours and I had a whopping inch and a half done on my bracelet. This was not one of those classes that I would be leaving with a finished piece, but the intricate work was pretty. Hopefully, I’ll finish the bracelet by next year’s Bead&Button Show.

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The second class that I took was No Sweat, Soldering with Kieu Pham Gray. It was fantastic. Kieu’s witty teaching style made learning to solder using a torch even more fun–and I ended up with a beautiful pair of silver and copper earrings that I made myself.

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Kieu broke down the whole process with easy to follow instructions such as the three rules of soldering – one - start with a clean surface, two- all parts must be touching and three – heat evenly. Perhaps the most important takeaway of the night for me was learning that solder follows heat. When soldering, make sure to heat the area where you want the solder to flow. The heat essentially works like a magnet for the solder. I’m so excited to try soldering on my own. 

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The final class was Kumihimo on the Marudai taught by Linda Richman. I had a great time in class despite the funny looks I got walking down the street with a huge marudai. I’ll admit I was a little intimidated by the marudai, but once I learned how to set it up, it was a breeze. Richman walked through setting it up step-by-step and even provided handy North, East, South and West stickers for the top of the loom. As a geography lover, I could relate to this compass system of braiding, not to mention that she spoiled us with pre-strung beads. We finished the braided portion of the bracelet in class, then she gave a demo of how to glue on a clasp at home since it took 24-hours to dry.

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At the end of class, she let us give the bead spinner a try. I’d watched Bead&Button editor, Julia Gerlach, spin beads at the office like it was nothing. Boy, was I wrong! There is a real technique to it and Linda Richman was a pro. She explained the keys to successful bead spinning. First, you have to get a steady spin going. Then, put your needle in ever so slightly at a side angle facing away from you, but slightly upwards. She prefers using smaller spinners rather than large ones-they’re easier to keep full of beads and a full spinner is crucial to successful spinning. By the end, I was getting my needle full over and over. It was like going fishing for beads.

I’m thinking about making a necklace to match my bracelet as my project this winter. Hopefully, it won't take me that long to string the beads!

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