by Jessica, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

The 2013 Bead and Button Show was once again a huge success! Over 12,000 enthusiastic jewelry makers and artists filled the Delta Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin throughout the 12 days to indulge their beading passion.

Every day introduced a new event, and classes took up almost every hour of the day. There's a class for every technique imaginable, from basic stringing to advanced metalsmithing.

This year was especially exciting for us. We kicked off our 40th Anniversary Celebration at our booth during the Bead and Jewelry Marketplace!

Sponsored Classes

For years we've supported various teachers at the Bead and Button Show by providing their students with supplies. This year, we sponsored two 3-day workshops: Tammy Honaman's Fundamentals in Metal Clay and Jill Erickson's Fundamentals in Polymer Clay. We also co-sponsored Kristal Wick's Kanzashi Cool classes. The students not only learn the techniques in their class, but now have the essential tools and supplies to take home and continue developing their new skills.

Tammy Honaman (seated far right) with her Fundamentals in Metal Clay class.

Sample piece made by one of Tammy's students in her metal clay class.

Jill Erickson (standing far right) with her Fundamentals in Polymer Clay class.

Meet the Teachers--Wednesday, June 5

We flew in just in time to attend the Meet the Teachers event. This spectacular event showcased the 177 talented instructors who tirelessly shared their jewelry-making knowledge throughout the week with over 700 classes. The large showroom featured aisle after aisle of tables where the instructors sold their one-of-a-kind jewelry-making kits, and many introduced new books, specially released in time for the show. This event was open to anyone signed up for classes, and was open from 8-11 p.m. Wednesday night.

Tammy Honaman shares her metal clay knowledge at her Meet the Teachers table Wednesday night.

The Fire Mountain Gems team takes a quick photo op with Jill Erickson at her table just before the doors open.

The room was packed at Meet the Teachers, where over 177 expert instructors sold their kits and books.

Artist Lisa Pavelka shows her new designs to Stephanie and Joel, two of our show team members.

Booth Set-Up

Bright and early Thursday morning, after a long travel day and an exciting, late-night Meet the Teachers event, we got ourselves to the show floor and began setting up our booth space. Four pallets of giveaways, presentation displays and 40th Anniversary signage and handouts were waiting for us to arrive. We only had a few hours to turn the pallets into an eye-catching and welcoming booth space.

The Fire Mountain Gems team worked together to create an eye-catching display to celebrate our 40th Anniversary.

Celebrating our 40th Anniversary at the Bead and Jewelry Marketplace

The show doors opened at 4:00 p.m. Thursday night with a sneak preview for those signed up for classes. Excitement instantly filled the show floor as they played music similar to the Olympic's anthem and the crowd rushed in.

The retail show was open to the public Friday through Sunday. While many of the other vendors were there selling strands of sparkling gemstones, handmade lampworked glass beads, tools and numerous other supplies, we spent our time handing out free goody bags and items, talking to customers about their experiences with Fire Mountain Gems and Beads and offering free demos just about every hour of the show.

Tim shares tips for working with Vitrium® air-dry resin clay during his demo.

Guests line up to watch Tammy Honaman's demo on using a torch in metalworking.

Stephanie explains the various techniques used when stamping metal for jewelry design.

Michelle made a lot of noise at our booth during her demo. She's showing how to use brads, or rivets as seen in Design Idea D102.

Joel shares wireworking tips with interested jewelry makers during his demonstration featuring wire-twister pliers.

French-knitting wire is easy--Tom shows how it's done using the French knitter while interested visitors watch.

Lisa Pavelka draws quite a crowd for an earring-making demo using her Signature Series Craft foils and Apoxie® Sculpt.

Here is our busy booth--with demos, free giveaways and our 40th Anniversary Celebration, we had fun every day!

Over those few days, we spoke to thousands of jewelry makers. We met so many new artists, and spent time catching up with our some of our favorites, including:

Barbara from Milwaukee--She attends the show every year and is always first in line to view our demos. We look forward to seeing her each June!

Elizabeth Ward--The creator of the fabulous Bead Storage Solutions™. Elizabeth had a booth across the aisle from us and we got to see her smiling face every day as she shared information about her organizational system.

Robin Young--The Grand Prize Gold Medal winner of the 2011 Contest featuring Pearls, Organic Beads and Molding Clay visited us wearing her winning piece and was such a wonderful and enthusiastic individual. Thank you Robin for coming to see us--we enjoyed meeting you in person!

Marlene Vail--This amazing woman organizes the Bead and Button Show every year. Her upbeat demeanor makes it seem like an effortless process, but we know that Marlene dedicates herself to making the show such a success. Thank you Marlene!

Quote from Marlene Vail, Show Manager:
"The Bead and Button Show is the largest consumer bead show in the world. Its on-going success is fueled by the creative passion of our thousands of attendees that come from every state in the US and 40-50 countries internationally. We all share a common bond--our love of jewelry and jewelry making. Women love to adorn themselves, and then that love and creative pursuit extends to near and dear family, sisters, and friends. It's a celebration of the very best kind."

Connie and Mike--Winners of our 2011 show raffle. They said their winnings supplied their entire bead group with fun for a few months!

Sunday was the big day for our raffle. Through the weekend, attendees entered a drawing for over $500 worth of jewelry-making supplies, along with a gift certificate. The drawing was held at 3:00 p.m. and drew in a crowd. Kassia emceed the announcement and added to our 40th Anniversary celebration by asking the crowd questions about our company's history. Those who correctly answered were given stunning Dione® jewelry pieces from our Gallery of Designs. When the drumroll for the announcement of the winner ended, an excited Laura F. from Illinois came forward to collect her goods. It took Laura and two of her friends to carry all her winnings! Congratulations Laura!

Laura F. and her friends excitedly picked up her winnings and went through it all before they even left the show floor!

Japanese artist Takako Sako won the Outstanding Artistic Achievement award for her stunning beaded Kimono, using over 2 million Delica seed beads.

As always, Bead and Button announced and showcased the winners of their Bead Dreams contest. Decorating the entrance to the Bead and Jewelry Marketplace, was the stunning seed beaded Kimono created by artist Takako Sako. Takako was awarded the Outstanding Artistic Achievement award for this life-size creation, using over 2.1 million Miyuki Delica beads.

Bead Social

Saturday night was the renowned Bead Social hosted by Rio Grande. Raising over $18,000 for breast cancer awareness, this event had a live and silent auction that brought in over 450 guests. The top item was a breathtaking Chihuly-inspired boro set made during the Friday night Lampworked Madness event by Kevin O'Grady, Rashan Jones, Harold Cooney, Beau Barrett and Lisa St. Martin. This piece alone sold for $2,360. There were numerous other pieces donated by the talented artists that caused some intense bidding wars and added to the excitement. We won the "Vincent Van Gogh Sunflowers" quilt donated by the Czech Republican Beaders. Everyone had a great time contributing to this important cause.

The Fire Mountain Gems team grouped together at the Bead Social for a quick photo before the live auction began.

Joe, from our Marketing Analytics Group, bid on a few items in the silent auction.

This Chihuly-inspired glass boro set was created at the Lampworked Madness event in a team effort. This piece auctioned for $2,360!

The show team gathers for a quick group photo! Back row, left to right: Joel, Joe, Tim and Tom. Front row, left to right: Stephanie, Kassia, Michelle, Jessica.

With the 2013 show over, it's time to start planning for next year's Bead and Button Show! Hopefully you enjoyed sharing in the experience with us and we look forward to next year.

Additional Booth Photos

Stephanie, Cindi and Michelle wait for the show doors to open.

Demos bring in a crowd! Here, Tammy Honaman is explaining techniques when using a torch.

Joe (Marketing Analytics) helps customers get signed up for our big raffle.

Joe (Marketing Analytics) helps explain our All Assortable Pricing to customers.

Joel (Warehouse) visits with two customers as he hands them gift bags filled with goodies.

Michelle helps some excited visitors load up their Fire Mountain Gems goodie bags while Tim double-checks our supply of gifts.

Stephanie (Customer Service) shares an exciting moment with one of our booth guests.

Tammy Honaman with glass artist Leah Fairbanks. Leah is practically our neighbor in Oregon--her studio is in Ashland, just a few miles south of Grants Pass.

Here's the whole gang, right before the doors opened on Friday: (front) Stephanie (Customer Service), Jessica (Copywriting), Cathy (Marketing), Kassia (Email Marketing) and Cindi (Advertising); (back) Tammy (Ask the Experts), Tom (Ask the Experts), Michelle (Ask the Experts), Joel (Warehouse), Joe (Marketing Analytics) and Tim (Ask the Experts).