Bead Show Bedlam

August 7, 2017 , In: Ceramic Clay, Events, General

I don’t do bead shows. At least that’s what I’d have said if you’d asked me a few months ago but then my friend and Art Elements team mate Caroline asked me if I would be interested in doing the ‘Stourbridge Bead Fair‘ in late August, a show that she has done for several years. 

I have done shows before and they went pretty well but I was never convinced they were really that cost effective. This was mainly due to the fact that at the time I was working solely in metal clay which meant that on top of fees there was a heavy materials outlay to make inventory – one kilo of Bronzclay costing around £150. Ceramic clay on the other hand costs less than £10 for 12.5 kilos so from that point of view it seems a much better bet.

In the past I’ve also struggled with the idea of breaking my back with preparation (making and glazing hundreds of beads really is a serious pain in the back) for an unknown return. Recently however I have been thinking that I really could do with something to give me a target to work towards rather than work as and when I choose since sometimes inertia sets in and I find myself doing nothing.

So to cut a long story short I bit the bullet and agreed to do the show especially as Laney also does this show and I thought it would be nice to have three Art Elements team mates together for some fun. I even got myself organised pretty quickly making lists, designing new business cards and getting a new banner printed since my business name has changed since the last show I did.

I even set up a table display to get a feel for how much stock I needed to make and how much jewellery I could squeeze in at the same time…hopefully it will look a lot better than this on the day but at least I could see what I needed to work towards.

I was already making beads for auctions and a shop update this point so I upped the quantity I was making and started working on new designs to get a head start. One of the other worries I have about shows is that I’ll get creative block and not be able to come up with anything interesting that people will want to buy and it’s very easy to get anxious when your working towards a deadline.

ON top of this I was planning to spend July making the additional beads (exactly how many beads is enough for a show?) and then devote the august run up to the event to glazing and finishing the beads. I started off pretty well but unfortunately this is the time of year when plans can easily go astray -especially when trying to work around holidays, visitors and a busy summer social scene. The result being that the realisation has dawned that there are just three weeks to go and now the organisation has somewhat gone out of the window and the  studio and other parts of the house are beginning to look like a whirlwind has passed through.

All the studio work surfaces are covered with clay in various stages of completion, pots of glaze and associated tools, inks and finishing materials – you name it I’ve got it! Even the lounge coffee table is covered in stand paraphernalia!

There are trays of beads everywhere…green ware beads, bisque beads, glazed beads waiting to be fired and finished beads..but nowhere near enough yet!

So whilst the image at the top of this post may look nice and serene it belies the fact that there is once again a quiet but persistent little voice in the back of my head saying ‘I don’t do shows, I don’t do shows…’

So will this be a one-off event and will I be packing everything back in it boxes and stashing it in a closet in a few weeks…well it appears not. Last week I found myself in another conversation with Caroline about ‘The Big Bead Show‘. Whilst in no way comparable this event is the nearest thing this small island has to Bead Fest in the United States. It’s only a one day show but it boasts footfall of around 4000 visitors in that one day which is way, way more than any other bead dedicated show here – not that we have many! This was one of the shows I’ve done in the past and at that time I’d shared a stand with other people to make it more cost effective. I asked Caroline (yes me – she who doesn’t do shows asked!) if she’d be interested in doing something thing similar and she was. Well within 24 hours I’d made enquiries as to costs, completed a booking form and paid for a 12 foot stand space…how did that happen? It appears that there’s something about the stress that I actually enjoy – who’d have thought it!

So not only will this state of mind be my life for the rest of this month but beyond too since as soon as Stourbridge is done I will (hopefully) have to replenish stocks for ‘The Big Bead Show’ in mid-october. Another batch of beads came out of the kiln yesterday with some more new designs that I’m quite happy with so at least we’re progressing in the right direction.

I’m not really a pastel person but I’m a sucker for crackle glaze and I like how these have come out.

This floral theme has developed from a simple pendant I made a few months ago and I’m thinking of ways to adapt it to have a more autumnal feel. 

And speaking of autumn…it’s not been a brilliant summer here and I aways feel the need to embrace my favourite season as August fades away.

I’m still coming up with new ideas too…It’s quite alarming that the nearer you get to a deadline the more inspired you become. I find it very hard to set ideas aside to come back to so inevitably I’ll attempt to make everything I come up with right until the last moment which doesn’t exactly help the stress levels…creative minds can be the devil to live with! The inspiration for this little stand of trees came from a textile piece I made at a workshop and this master needs to be fired and used to make a mould so that I can then make more of them…simple but time consuming!

So if I seem a little manic over the next few weeks now you know why but what about you…do you love the excitement of preparing for a show or is it your worst nightmare? I’m not sure where I stand right now but ask me again in Late October when the Bedlam has subsided…will the kit be back in the closet or will I have book more shows…watch this space!


Lesley Watt

Lesley Watt started making jewellery in 2009 with a handful of hobby store beads but quickly discovered art beads and became completely smitten. Taking courses in metal clay, metal smithing, enamelling and etching she began making her own components in 2011 and has never looked back. Always looking to try new things she has branched out into ceramics, bead embroidery, mixed media and textiles.
  1. Reply

    I absolutely love the rabbit pendents. Is there somewhere I can buy them online?

    • Emily Ederer
    • August 7, 2017

    I love your leaves, flowers and spirals! Do you sell online?

  2. Reply

    for someone who “doesn’t do shows” you have made an amazing amount of beads . And they are all lovely even in the greenware and bisque stages. I love your leaves and flowers. esp. the crackle glazed ones , they are superb. I can see so many wonderful opportunities to create art for the body. funny how the bead shows can grab hold of you and soon you are immersed in them without planning to do so.
    Good Luck with your shows. don’t forget to *breathe* every once and awhile.

  3. Reply

    Well, this sounds fabulous! I love the new designs you’ve shown here. Lovely. The unfinished one in your hand is a stand of trees? Love it! I drool over all your work and always enjoy seeing it. Good luck at the fair. I know you’ll do well. :o)

  4. Reply

    The beads are super luscious and I am sure it will sell out completely. Good luck

  5. Reply

    Oh, I love the last one already! I know what you mean that the mind gets creative… when there is no time to spare 😉 But it is great too, isn’t it?

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