by Jake Woolley, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

What an exciting and energizing week at the 2012 Bead and Button show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin--home to the largest consumer bead show in the world. If you weren't able to attend the week long show, June 3rd - 10th, don't worry, this day-by-day photo recap will fill you in on all the fun.

For everyone that was able to go, we'd like to say THANK YOU for visiting us at our booth. It was heartwarming to see you face-to-face and personally wish you success in your business.

Roughly 14,000 to 16,000 attendees drove, flew or hitchhiked their way to the biggest show of the year. Over 750 classes were held during the week, and the retail show offered booth after booth of bead strands, tools, lampworked beads and some of the newest jewelry-making products on the market available for purchase.

"Attendees came from every state and 50 other countries with the largest international group coming from Japan." - Marlene Vail, Show Director

Tuesday, June 5th

Sponsored Workshops
Traveling over 1,780 miles from Grants Pass, Oregon the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads team wasted no time heading from the airport straight to the show to visit Tammy Honaman's class on metal clay. It was a great opportunity to meet with the students and discuss their designs that included a variety of charms, pendants and findings. From there we snuck around the corner to surprise Jill Erickson's class as they were learning and creating with polymer clay.

Students in Tammy's metal clay class

Having fun with metal clay

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Team visits with the class

Tammy loves the Paragon kiln

Jill Erickson's class working with polyclay

Lots of polyclay students equals lots of clay craft ovens

Wednesday, June 6th

Booth Set-Up
We were met on the showroom floor by three large pallets of supplies that needed to be unloaded. The team spent several hours unloading and setting up the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads booth #411. We set up the layout of the booth with the six tables that came with our booth in a predetermined way. The traditional Fire Mountain Gems and Beads quilt was hung with care in the center of the booth, and the rest of the set up finally came together. Then after a quick change of clothes it was time to help set up for "Meet the Teachers Reception."

Kira, Tom and Rachel unload the pallet

Esther, Rachel, Tim and Kira set up the booth

Meet the Teachers Reception
The annual "Meet the Teachers Reception" event was once again sponsored by Swarovski crystal. This evening extravaganza started at 7:30pm and was packed full of over 200 class instructors, who are all expert jewelry-making artists, and notable authors along with over 1,400 excited shoppers. The wonderful commotion of friendly chatter, hugs and purchases continued late into the evening.
"Meet the teachers is a delightful frenzy. A wonderful adrenaline rush as hordes of beaders come towards you. It was definitely busier this year. More people and they lingered longer." - Christi Friesen

Attendees visit with expert teachers

Lisa Pavelka displays a portion of her "365 Days of Lip Service" designs

Tom and Tim look on as Lisa demos her Magic-Glos™

Sandra Lupo with her beautiful table display

Tim, Debbi Simon, Tammy Honaman and Tom

Jill Erickson ready to visit with customers

Jake and Christi Friesen

Thursday, June 7th

Last Minute Booth Preparations
Thursday morning was filled with the final preparations needed at the booth. Give-away items were stocked on the tables for easy reach as decorative jewelry designs created by the in-house Fire Mountain Gems and Beads jewelry design team were put up for display. Then one last vacuum of the carpet and we were ready for the show.

Preview Night--Show Floor Opened at 4pm
Thursday evening is reserved for jewelry artists, instructors and students, as well as show vendors. As the show floor opened, the foot traffic kept coming with hundreds of eager shoppers looking for the latest styles and new jewelry-making products. The Fire Mountain Gems and Beads booth drew large crowds with hourly demos, free swag bags and information on our new incredibly low Swarovski prices. The corridor leading to the show floor was lined with display cases full of jewelry-artists' pieces and everyone took a turn admiring the Swarovski embellished Mitsubishi Spyder SL convertible presented by Dreamtime Creations.
"The show has been better than ever! It's been better all across the board--attendees, foot traffic and lots of shoppers. It's a sign of optimism." - Lisa Pavelka

Booth is ready, bring on the show attendees

Gates open up and people start flooding in

Display cases line the outside corridor

Swarovski embellished Mitsubishi Spyder SL presented by Dreamtime Creations

Mitsubishi Spyder SL interior presented by Dreamtime Creations

Mitsubishi Spyder SL wheels with big bling presented by Dreamtime Creations

Friday, June 8th

Show Floor and Demos
Friday was a full day of visiting with customers, sharing a good laugh, handing out free jewelry-making goodies and taking customer suggestions. Chris and Stuart both joined in on the fun sharing their appreciation for all of our customers, their designs and discussing new products coming out. The free demos from industry jewelry-making experts drew huge crowds of eager beaders to learn new skills. Popular demos showed specific techniques for use with the Jooltool®, wire crochet, ICE Resin®, Apoxie® Sculpt, The Coiling Gizmo®, glass and copper foil soldering and much more.

Doreen Stephens and Pamela Hawkins

Polyclay artist Eriko Page and Chris Freedman

Tammy demos copper foil soldering

"The show was awesome! It's great to see year after year how the same artists and beaders keep coming back. I love to watch their businesses grow and the industry to continue to thrive with new styles, new beads and new creativity." - Debbi Simon

Chris excitedly explains the new Swarovski pricing

Tammy, Chris, Stuart, Debbi

Lampworking Madness Flame On
Rows and rows of celebrity glass lampworkers armed with flaming torches and glass rods created amazing signature beads, vases and sculptures. It was a special opportunity to watch the development of the glass items all created in a limited amount of time. These pieces were auctioned off during the Bead Social raising funds for breast cancer research.
"The piece was a real challenge. It was real nerve racking to create under such pressure with an audience watching. But we really rise to the occasion for such a good cause. I love Fire Mountain, you guys are monsters in the industry and hire such spirited people that are so salt of the earth. It is so awesome that you guys now have this piece." - Rashan Jones of Jones Art Glass

Fire Mountain Gems team with show director Marlene Vail

Lampworked glass bead

Kevin O'Grady

Rashan Omari Jones

Steven Wheeler of Zion Waters Glass

Rashan's piece in progress

Lampworked Madness Flame On


Saturday, June 9th

Show Continues and More Demos
Saturday brought in the largest crowd and we were well prepared. The team pitched in to help, and between a full day of demos, answering questions and handing out thousands of tote bags we all had a great time making new friends, admiring jewelry and sharing product information.

Sandra Lupo and Tammy Honaman

Kristal Wick demos Swarovski wine charms

Tom giving customers fun freebies

Stuart, Chris and Tom working the booth

Bead Social
With a live and silent auction, the Bead Social was a chance to visit with fellow artisans and bid on handmade pieces to support breast cancer research. The auctioneers this year were the "Boro Boys and Friends" including Kevin O'Grady, Rashan Jones, Craig Milliron, Lewis Wilson, Doug Baldwin and others. Some of the amazing items donated to the auction included lampworked glass beads, polymer clay creations, beaded quilts, jewelry-making supply packages and more.
Chris bid on and won a variety of items including a polymer clay "granny in a teacup," a beaded quilt and two vases, notably the highest bidded item--a pink swirled glass vase created by Rashan Jones during the Lampworking Madness event.

Also, during the social Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg received the Excellence in Bead Artistry 2012 award. Congratulations Ann!

Chris at the Bead Social

Kevin, Rashan, Tom and Tim with auction piece

Highest priced auction item created by Rashan Jones

Attendees getting ready for the auction

"All proceeds of the auction go to the Medical College of Wisconsin with 100% of all dollars going directly to breast cancer research. No portion of the money earned goes to administration. Since doing this auction over the last decade we've raised over $300,000." - Marlene Vail Bead and Button Show Manager

Sunday, June 10th

Last Day of the Show
It was the final day for attendees to buy decorative beads, walk the show floor and snag a Fire Mountain Gems and Beads tote bag. Our jewelry-making experts continued their demos and last-minute customers were quick to sign up for the free prize drawing.

Tom demos the crimping tool

Esther demos "Oh Glorious Day Angel"

Kira happily helping customers

Winner of the $500 tote drawing announced
At 3 o'clock on Sunday, Tom announced the winner of the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads beading tote valued at over $500. The winner was Maria Camera of Bella Bella from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"Oh my gosh, I can't believe it. I never win anything. That's so great! Thank you, thank you!" - Maria Camera from Milwaukee

Tom selects the winner: Maria Camera

Free raffle tote with over $500 of product

Booth Tear down
With the shoppers all gone and the show floor now empty, it was time to wrap up this year's successful booth. The entire team pitched in to help pack up the booth decorations and leftover supplies for shipping back home. We all had an amazing time and loved visiting with so many customers that created lasting memories for years to come.

We'll be back next year at booth #411, so plan ahead to join the fun at the 2013 Bead and Button show.

Tom, Jake, Kira, Rachel and Esther pack up the booth

Tom quickly plastic wraps the pallet

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