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New tools from Tucson

Returning from Tucson, I’m overloaded with information, based on what I saw at the shows. I have questions to answer, based on my experience, and they all boil down to the same issue: Where should we go next?

In the book publishing world, short-term fashion trends are interesting, but not immediately helpful. It’s fun to see the new tools and beads, and we always want to know what’s fashionable on the streets. But we’re mostly looking for long-term market movements. What do we think is popular right now, and what will be popular two years from now? What are jewelry makers enjoying? What are they missing? Are there any new techniques that could catch hold and have a little staying power?

Often I turn to designers, vendors, and teachers to discover the answers. They are looking for ways to make creating jewelry easier, and this year was no exception.

I spent some time at the Beadalon booth admiring their latest tools: the Multipliers. This fascinating item combines roundnose and chainnose pliers into one pair, so you can switch back and forth between the two barrels as you make wrapped loops or work on other wire projects. Needless to say, using this new tool would require a little adjustment—but the idea is pretty neat.

Every visit, I check out what Starman is offering in terms of new bead shapes. This year, two new CzechMates shapes were introduced: the 3-hole Beam and the 2-hole Cabochon. The Beam is long and thin, like a Bar, but with three holes. The Cabochons were almost gone by the time I arrived at the booth, but I got a quick peek. They’ve got a flat back, but stitchers can use them in jewelry without having to hold them in place with seed beads, glue, or a backing. Perfect! Other brands offer new colors, shapes, and sizes of beads. DiamonDuos are available in metallic shades; Miyuki offers large-hole seed beads to make stitching easier and allow for more thread passes. 

All in all, the jewelry world seems to be evolving and changing to keep jewelry-making accessible. I look forward to seeing what happens next!

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