Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bead Buying Trip

What fun! We went on a one-day bead buying trip on Friday. Our good friend Bob drove us down to Collinsville Gateway Center for the International Gem and Jewelry Show exhibition and sale. The day started earlier than I'm used to and I was excited about the prospect of great new beads, so I overenthused on my morning stretches and managed to somehow pull that muscle in my lower back and buttocks that I hadn't pulled for a long time. Eek! I had a hard time just getting from the house to the car and getting out at Perkins for a quick omelet to get us started. But my back was resting on the trip down in the car of course.

It is about a 2 1/2 hour trip with a short rest area stop. It was beautiful weather, with blue sky and sunshine all the way. The traffic was pretty heavy and we went via interstate, but it was still great to get out in the country a bit. Many of the corn and soybean fields were already harvested (early this year?) and some were being taken down as we drove past. Once we got down past Effingham, our familiar flat landscape developed into a rolling terrain as we moved toward the Mississippi River valley. It was more wooded too, and you could see the beginnings of autumn adding a yellowish cast to the deciduous leaves. The quality of the light is different too in the fall, falling at a lower angle and with more yellow in the light itself.

We got to the show about 1 o'clock and Bob dropped us off until 5. I had my four-wheel rollator so that my back was supported and I had a seat to sit in, which helped immensely. David was pulling our handy two-wheeled tapestry tote bag for the bead purchases, so we were ready to roll.

The show was really crowded this time! We headed for the wholesale room first and one particular vendor at the back end who had terrific bargains. The tables were so mobbed with people that I had to wait to get my rollator into a small spot where I could see and look over the goods! But I found great deals on bags of plated pewter trim elements, strands of sparkling crystal, tiny glass pearls, and interestingly patterned stone. It was even a long wait in line to pay.

I found some neat striped stone in thin discs and ovals with matching small rounds at a booth in the retail section while David rested at one of the tables filled with bored husbands reading newspapers or dozing off while their overexcited wives had a blast looking at beads. Probably the opposite of a hardware or power tool show, as Bob remarked later.

To my delight, a vendor I had bought from at prior shows was there, with lots of new and intricate lampwork beads sold by the strand. It's hard work choosing and a great deal of fun as well! It's a big show, and there are lots of booths that I can skip, thank goodness, or I'd be totally exhausted within an hour! The whole center of the main room is booths with finished commercial jewelry like diamond rings, watches, etc. There are some booths with non-jewelry and non-bead items such as handbags, scarves, sheets, curios, etc. as well.

I also located some very nice twisted swirl glass discs in several colors that had been faceted so that they sparkled like crystal. This was the first time I had come across this particular bead and, of course, I had to get a number of strands, one in each color.

As I hovered over a booth, carefully deciding and inspecting each strand I chose, David sat nearby patiently waiting for me and taking care of the bag with our purchases already in it. Unfortunately, near the end of the time we were supposed to be out front waiting for Bob's car, we got our signals crossed a bit, and I returned to find that David wasn't in the chair I left him in. I panicked a bit and wound up walking all over the place while he was walking all over looking for me and Bob was waiting in the drop-off spot wondering what was going on!

We all found each other at last, although by then I had really messed up that back muscle (ouch!). We ate quickly at the nearby barbeque place and took off on the return trip. We had about one-third of the trip before dark, so another chance to enjoy scenery, and then dark the rest of the way.

Once we got home, we immediately fed the cats, who were ravenous. They had missed their 5 o'clock meal by about 4 hours, so they got two cans instead of one (they had two cans in the morning early) for the four of them and the rest of his one can to our boy who has prescription food. That calmed things down enough that I could sit with a microwave hot pad on my back while we looked over our purchases briefly before falling into bed.

Then last night I took the photos and we started the process of cutting apart the strands and figuring out which compartments to put which beads in -- always a fun thing to do. Today I will need to "reorganize" some bead trays, combining some beads, to make room for the rest of the new beads! It's an addiction, for sure, but at least it's not one that harms anybody. Now I'm looking forward to designing earrings with the new beads and putting them up on the website. I am thinking about writing any article for Handmade Spark about some tips for buying beads based on my own experiences over the years.


  1. WOW! That's an incredibly beautiful treasure trove of beads! Glad you all had a good time.

  2. Hey, Susan!!
    What a good day you and David had!!!
    I love all colorful things you posted here. Can't wait to get together and try many things on me!! I want one!!