Professional beaders from around the world flock to The Gem and Mineral Show in Tucson every year. An array of strands in assorted colors and sizes line the tables where people scrutinize the pieces, matching one color with another, or combine separate beads to determine whether they are aesthetically pleasing side by side.
The artists see in their mind’s eye what they will create. Talk is sometimes animated, at other times, silent…the silence of quiet deliberation.
The translucency of the faceted beads or the opaqueness of the cabochons is given undivided attention, as well as the weight and the type of bead.
Seed beads are numerous and intricate pieces of jewelry or accessories are displayed illustrating the patience and hours necessary to complete the beadweaving.
Beads comes in all materials; ceramic and pottery beads, crystal and glass beads, plastic and metal beads, beads of organic plant materials, beads of metal or stone, and most famously, pearls. Of course, beads at one time were used in many civilizations as a currency.
Handmade lampwork beads are unique and there are never two of the same. Jeff Barber, the artist who created the lampwork beads shown below, explains that the glass is melted on a rod with an oxygen propane torch, and wound onto a stainless steel mandrel. “The bead is created from the inside out” and then placed in the kiln. Barber specializes in glass art beads.
The metal beads are illustrated in the metal necklace below. Most fascinating was the Buddah with the German vintage glass beads which formed a crown about his head. Delicate replicas of fruit were threaded together to form this intricate headpiece and the colors were vibrant.
Fastings and findings as well as beginner beaders kits are also available. All types of clasps in all price ranges are sold. The Beaders shows are located at Windmill Inn, St. Philip’s Plaza, the Doubletree Hotel at Reid Park, and at Kino Veterans Memorial Community Center.
Beads can be found in many of the other shows which are not exclusively devoted to beaders.
Pick up the Tucson EZ-Guide, the small version of the Tucson Show Guide, which is nearly one inch thick , check the free shuttles from show to show, and enjoy!
Click on each photo to see an enlargement.