Of the few events that set fire to a Portland beader’s heart, the annual Bead Bazaar presented by the Portland Bead Society is near the very top.
The exhibitors are all members and therefore Serious Bead Sisters (and brothers.) Few in number but deep in inventory, they sell beads made of glass, porcelain, clay, wood, bone, and yes, automobile paint, as well as finished objects and findings.
Every year, I take delight in helping Toni McCarthy (pictured above) to destash, which is a bead word for getting rid of beading stuff. “Duplicates, things I lost interest in, things I moved on from” is how Toni describes the sale. A retired English teacher who does astonishing work with metal as well as beads, Toni has a busy booth at the Bead Bazaar because her prices are low. And it’s a completely random treasure hunt. Like me, she likes green beads, which can be turned into jewelry nobody ever buys. There were quite a few green beads. (http://www.beadsandthreads.com)
“Sell many of these?” I asked Stacy Bierma of Harlequin in Eugene, gawking at a $2000 string of African clay beads from the Islamic period (600-1800 A.D., pictured above) “Nope,” she said. “But I’ve been collecting them for 20 years.” On the practical side, she has more affordable beads to pay her way. (www.harlequinbeads.com)
OMG! Look at that necklace on Teresa Sullivan of Olympia WA! Bulging odd critters made of beads on wire, and on her wrist, amazing chunky shapes. These were not for sale onsite, but she sells the beads to make them with. Also, on this astonishing website, you’ll find her sculptures, tapestries, and class information. (www.teresasullivanstudio.com)
People in purple: that would be Tina Holsted (right, above) with her husband Anthony Holsted and super-beader mom Lou Ann Hall. These people provide emergency relief to people who live far from beadstores or don’t get out much anymore. The Beads of the Month Club will send you a bead assortment every month, including whatever kind you specify. This can range from a $17.95 package of 11/0 seed beads to a $49.95 double pack of Swarosky crystals. Every once in a while, they send you a clear plastic box to house them all.”If you don’t like a color, you can send it back,” Tina says. (www.adornableelements.com)
Ever heard of fordite? It’s not a stone. It’s a pileup of layered and baked overspray from Detroit car factories. Don’t ask me to explain. (www.DVHdesigns.com)
In a few weeks, I’ll take you to a VERY BIG bead fair. That one will involve breezing by booths with merely a glance. This one is deep: everybody an expert, everybody willing to chat and share techniques and stories. The best Bead Sisters (and brothers!) ever.