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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Adventures at 2011 BABE (Bay Area Bead Extravaganza)

From their website: “This is the largest two-day bead and jewelry show on the West Coast, with over 225 exhibitor spaces showing handmade, ethnic and vintage beads, jewelry, buttons, findings, books and DVDs. There will be more than 80 studio glass, silver, ceramic and polymer clay bead artists. Many artists or vendors will be exhibiting for the first time in the Bay Area. Classes are available for every level of experience and in many mediums…”

Last weekend, I attended BABE (Bay Area Bead Extravaganza). Three days of bead shopping, classes, and mingling with other creative-types.

I’d like to thank Donna Conklin for letting me share some of her BABE photos (show floor, JC Herrel, Leah Fairbainks, Lori & Kim):

On Friday, I was signed up to take Christi Friesen’s
class called “Lovely Lily Pond”. And guess what? I actually made a lovely lily pond (as well as a little “in-law” pond. See!

I was so impressed with what we learned. We made EVERYTHING you see on these lily ponds out of polymer clay (except the resin in the pool and some of the shimmering embossing powder effects)… the pebbles, the moss, the flowers and fish!

Christi is a hoot and I learned a TON in the four-hour class. I had planned to visit some friends in the afternoon, but that plan bombed so I stuck around for Christi’s second class: Seeing the Light (faux stained glass out of polymer clay).

Here’s what I made there, but I have to tell you that I’m not an “all day class” kind of gal. My brain gets fried after about four hours of learning. So my intention was to learn the techniques in class and work on being more creative once I got home and tried it on my own. Take these two photos with a grain of salt. The second photo shows what the pieces actually look like when the sun shines through them. I need to remember that you can’t have four layers of clay if you want the stained glass effect.

Oh, that reminds me… I need to pick up an oven thermometer soon… I think I left my other ones behind when I moved (or they’re packed somewhere ridiculous and I’ll find them in a few months… d’oh!).

Saturday was Resin-Wire Forms with Tracy Stanley. Another very friendly and helpful instructor. The class was super fun and my fear of resin is now removed.

Some of you may remember my one-time previous attempt at resin.

A few days later, this turned cloudy and totally caved in. I decided I wasn’t interested in resin if it was going to be that fickle… after all, it’s not like there’s a shortage of things to play with and do in the world of jewelry-making.

But it’s always been in the back of my mind to try again someday. So… when this class was offered, I decided to give it a go.


Here’s what I made:

The first one was for me. I like the concept of an "ideas" pendant... and I made sure to purposely include a shell within a shell to represent that impression of having something inside, the creative kernal, so to speak.

The second one I made for my mom. I like the idea of joy because I'm a big believer in happiness as a way of life. And Mom really likes the beach so I put seashells and pearls in her pendant.

The third one was an experiment in 3-D. I've included moss and bark. This one is called "Starry Night".

One thing I’m learning about resin is that people have opinions. In the past three days, I’ve used four different kinds of resin and what I find funny is that most people who talk about (and/or are selling) resin have fairly strong opinions on the type of resin they use and they recommend ONLY the kind they use and usually dis all other forms of resin. (Not everyone does this, but enough do it that it struck me as funny… and scary.)

There’s two-part UV cured, two-part air dry, one part glaze adhesive, and more. And within each of those are several different brands with strong recommendations and strong non-recommendations. I decided my best bet is to experiment.

So my first “test” is using an air-drying two-part epoxy. I’m also testing papers.

Here are the five things I applied the resin to for my first test:
1) Washi paper decoupaged to vintage metal forms
2) Photos printed (ink jet) on the “special” and expensive glossy photo paper from one of the specialty resin companies
3) Photos printed (ink jet) on HP glossy photo paper (‘cause, y’know… if they come out the same as the “exclusively recommended fancy resin paper” I can save a ton of money and time)
4) Photos printed (ink jet) on JP glossy paper then mod podged (to seal them)
5) Painted metal

I applied doming 2-part air dry epoxy resin to a sample of each of these then covered them and set them aside. Sort of. They were on my work bench and since they take so long to dry and I didn’t want my work bench to be indisposed for that long, I moved them to a less trafficked area. In doing so, however, I managed to wreck two of them, I think. Maybe the resin that got touched will settle back down, but if not, I did enough pieces of each so at least I’ll know what works and what doesn’t.

Stay tuned for those results.

One of the key things to have (in my opinion) when doing resin is a plethora of little plastic cups and stirring sticks because you have to (or at least I was told you have to) throw them away after each use. The stirring cups are about the size of a Nyquil dosing cup so if you’re doing small work, you may want to get a squeeze bottle to make application easier.

I didn’t have a squeeze bottle on-hand so I used one of these:

And my segue winds back to BABE as Saturday afternoon and Sunday were spent in the “shopping” portion of the show.

I go to a lot of bead/gem shows (probably 8-10 per year) and the ones that feature self-representing artists, particularly lampworkers, are my absolute favorite. I only wish I had thousands of dollars to spend on the amazingly beautiful beads being offered at the show.

BABE comes to Oakland, California once a year, usually in the fall and I highly recommend it to anyone in the bead/jewelry industry. Three days of classes and two days of bead shopping (also tools, finished product, and more). Icing on the cake is getting to meet in person the people you’ve been getting to know online throughout the year(s).

I had a lot of fun and spent a lot of money. Now I’m off to create.


  1. Love all the things you made! I'll be watching for the results of your resin experiments. I've only used a couple of the two-part air dry resins.


  2. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

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