by Jessica, Copywriter Administrator, Marketing Content Development Group, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

The Bead and Button Show 2011 was once again a success! Held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 4 - June 12, the Bead and Button Show is the largest consumer bead show in the country. The show brought in over 14,000 bead artists and jewelry-making enthusiasts from around the world.

Over 700 jewelry-making classes were offered this year (from fundamentals to advanced projects) taught for the entire week beginning on Sunday, June 5. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads sponsored four classes this year, including Jill Erickson's Fundamentals in Polymer Clay, Tammy Honaman's Fundamentals in Metal Clay and Sandra Lupo's Love Me Knots and Blue Sky Opalescence.

Tim Cronkhite and Melissa Grakowsky
Wednesday night was the annual "Meet the Teachers" event sponsored by Swarovski crystal. We met over 200 amazing industry experts and authors including Christi Friesen, Melissa Grakowsky, Laura McCabe and Susan Thomas. More than 1,200 class participants came to the event and we were there with our sponsored teachers, busily meeting and greeting all the fabulous jewelry makers.

Thursday night began the private shopping hours of the Bead and Jewelry Marketplace. This is a special preview night only open to Bead and Button Show class registrants. At 4:00 p.m., the doors opened and the attendees came pouring in racing to see their favorite jewelry-making suppliers, teachers and fellow artisans.


The show opened to the public on Friday, June 10th and went through Sunday, June 12th. The Fire Mountain Gems' booth was busy the entire time, offering free product demonstrations every hour. We had a constant stream of eager designers ready to learn new techniques and be introduced to new products.

Chris, Sandra and Stuart

Popular demos showcased included Apoxie® Sculpt with Swarovski crystal, ICE Resin®, kumihimo braiding, pearl knotting, wire-working, Vitrium® Clay, Viking Knit and more. Leading these popular demos were jewelry-making experts:







Throughout the show, we had the pleasure of meeting many of our jewelry-making contest winners and other valued customers. It was very exciting for the Fire Mountain Gems' team to be able to meet face to face with so many of you…


Jamie Cloud Eakin, contest winner and Bead and Button Show Instructor, with Marni, Fashion and Branding Manager

Tatiana Van Iten, contest winner, with Jennifer and Tom from our Content Development team


Patricia Kraemer, contest winner, with Jennifer from our Marketing Content Development team

Francesca Walton, contest winner, with Lenda, Platinum Partners Supervisor

Cami Prokash, contest finalist, with Lenda, Platinum Partners

Saturday night was the Bead Social, a lively event sponsored by Rio Grande, with a Live and Silent Auction. This event was created ten years ago as a "Pajama Themed Party." Throughout the years, the event grew into the Bead Social with a mission to raise money for the Medical College of Wisconsin's nationally recognized breast cancer research program. Items are donated to the auction by artisans and industry experts as part of the Bead Artists Against Breast Cancer fundraising efforts. The amazing items include lampworked beads, art glass, polymer clay creations, jewelry and bead-making books and more. Big D (AKA Donna Penoyer) was present at this year's Social, spicing up the evening by making balloon hats, bracelets and wings for the crowd.

Tim, Lenda and Jessica
Tom, Chris and Tammy

Chris bid on and won five of the seven "Caring Hand" beaded quilts from Jeanette Shanigan's ''Bead-it-Forward Project.'' We were saddened to hear that 2011 is Jeanette's final year in organizing this project. Jeanette has organized this project for seven years in honor of her mother, who passed due to breast/bone cancer. We proudly feature all of the heartwarming quilts we've purchased over the years in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' lobby. We also promote the compassionate artists who have contributed beaded squares to the quilts each week in our email newsletters. All in all, with just over 450 attendees, the 2011 Bead Social raised over $18,000 for breast cancer research.

Sunday, the last day of the show, we gave away three tote bags stuffed with over $500 worth of jewelry-making supplies. Congratulations to Mike and Connie from Attica, Michigan, Ann from Oviedo, Florida and Jennifer from Lake Barrington, Illinois.

Thanks to all the wonderful people who came to visit us; we look forward to seeing you next year!

Teacher Comments

2011 Jill Erickson Class Graduation Portrait

Photo Credit: Deone Jahnke

Seated left to right: Rebecca Schmidt, Debra Segal, Merrilyn Greenfield

Standing left to right: Judy Waldron, Jeanne Christofferson, Kris Patenaude, Jill Erickson (Instructor), Barbara Smith, Susan Brothers, and Emily Bardige


The workshop went very well. All nine students are happy campers and thrilled with their kits. Cheers! - Jill Erickson
Fundamentals in Polymer Clay, class kits
sponsored by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "The 2011 Bead and Button Show," featured in a newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"This was a wonderful display of all that went on throughout the show….wish I could have been there! I feel like I know all the folks from Fire Mountain! Thanks for sharing the fun!"
- Connie

"I just read the newsletter about the 2011 Bead and Button Show and I'd like to suggest that you let us know about events like this before they happen instead of after they are over. That would be great. Thanks."
- Anonymous


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