So your going to Beadfest? There are a few Beadfests that take part in several areas in the United States and at different times of the year for more information please visit www.beadfest.com .
Beadfest is held in Oaks, PA Summer August 17th-21st , , Tacoma ,Washington Fall October 13th-16th and Sante Fe, New Mexico Spring March 23rd-26th 2016!!!!
It's one huge motherload of a festival which I often refer to as " Adult Disneyland". If your a jewelry designer or bead addict like me you'll get that reference. I happen to live about 40 minutes from the Beadfest that takes place in Oaks Pa at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.
What IS There To DO At Beadfest?
Well my lovely , let me give you a first hand experience (please note I do not work for or am not involved in any process of Beadfest, I am just a Beadfest lover, buyer, and attendant) Beadfest offers a variety of affordable classes ranging in prices from $5 and up. There is something for everyone and at all levels of experience. Many well known artists prepare yearly for classes they host during Beadfest. It's an amazing experience, I highly recommend taking one class or 10 lol. This year I am taking two $35.00 classes because as a mom of three that's what is in my budget. I am taking a Saturday class with Candie Cooper www.candiecooper.com on how to doodle and paint on metal findings using gold leaf, and color pencils as well as sealing techniques. On Sunday I will return to take a class with Kate Richbourg www.katerichbourgjewelry.com on simple stamped rings where I will learn to anneal metal (softening it up to get a better stamp impression) using a torch, creating a cigar band style brass ring to create gorgeous stamped rings as well as a sealing technique for brass. Each class we get to finish a completed project to take home. Though I've been creating jewelry for nearly 10 years and selling for 7 years there are many techniques that I have not tried. Candie and Kate are both artists whom I admire that offer techniques and design inspiration on different mediums. I don't create using only one medium , I use them all.
Classes start on Wednesday and run until Sunday, not every class is available each day , some instructors teach over 14 classes while at Beadfest. So if there is something that interests you check it out , join a class.
In addition to some amazing classes. Beadfest is open to the public Saturday and Sunday for shopping. It's a huge building, with a ton of amazing Vendors. There is a vendors list on the Beadfest website as well as a list of classes, instructors , and a FLOOR PLAN which you may want to look at prior to going.
There is alot to see & do. It is air conditioned, there are restrooms located in several areas that are clean and tidy, there is a food court that offers a variety of foods, snacks, and beverages with fair pricing and tables to sit to eat . There is free wifi available as well. Which I love because I will be doing some on the spot LIVE facebook broadcasts (with permission of the artists that is) !! There are vending machines , and lots of Beadfest Staff and volunteers to make your Beadfest visit nice and smooth. This is an all day event , there is so much to see and do that I've often found myself in one booth for over an hour without even realizing it. So be prepared.
Helpful Tips !!!
1. Wear comfortable Shoes and clothing (it is air conditioned and your on your feet for hours)
2. Bring a water to carry with you as well as a light snack (ie: crackers, protein bar, granola bars, pretzels, anything that won't melt while in your bag)
3. Bring a bag that you are comfortable carrying on your shoulder or a backpack to carry your Beadfest purchases in. ( I believe there is a bag check that will hold items for you as well but I have never used it) Some people bring a small roller case (looks like a mini suitcase) however I do not recommend this unless your really doing some mega bulk shopping, the booth isles are small and can be crowded with people making it hard to use a roller case. I do recommend stopping over Artisan Alley and purchasing a handmade bag from Staci Louise Smith of www.stacilouiseoriginals.com her bags are hand dyed, hand stamped with her original art designs, they are the perfect size for storing your Beadfest goodies. (if you go tell her the Beadwench sent ya :)
4. Be sure to bring your Photo ID and Credit/Debit Cards (if that's your choice of payment method) , Cash, Tax ID/Wholesale paperwork if you have it. There are ATM's located in the venue. (a lot of vendors use Square and Paypal so if your unfamiliar with either of those please familiarize yourself prior to going)
5. I'd say make a list of general things your looking for, however there is so much that you end up buying more than you thought you would lol
6. Take a small notebook to make notes on Booths you may want to return to and also what your spending not every Vendor gives a receipt and you may not remember what vendor your purchased something from. I make notes all day lol
7. HAVE FUN AND TALK TO PEOPLE!!!!!
Can Beadfest Be Done On A Budget?
Something I hear and am asked quite often is "I don't have enough money to buy anything, so I can't go" and "How can I budget for Beadfest? I have no willpower"
Well then I'd say your missing out on a wonderful experience.
Beadfest absolutely can be done on a budget. I'm a mom of three, with bills, necessities, etc.
I don't save money leading up to Beadfest (normally thought this year I managed to stash away some bucks ( now if only Candie Cooper would stop listing beautiful items to use in jewelry making I'd be good to go hahahaha) But its not even alot and compared to most Beadfest shoppers I've got pocket change lol However it can most certainly be done. Every year I have a budget, one year I had $75.00 that had to include gas to get there, coffee I made at home, I packed water and snacks, as well as a cooler with my lunch in it. That costs also included my entrance to Beadfest Fee. Normal admission is $15.00 Beadfest has a $3.00 off coupon if you sign up online bringing your admission to $12.00... but...... if you hold out many vendors will post on their websites/blogs/facebook/instagram/pinterest pages with a coupon for $10.00 making your admission fee just $5.00 ...... so that saves you $10.00 right there!!!!
That left me with approx $55.00 ($10 for gas & $5 for admission)
I knew I'd have no will power lol but I made a general list of things I needed not wanted , needed in order by which I needed the most. There are many Vendors with amazing deals on items such as crystal strands, fresh water pearls, gemstones etc They can run $1.00 and up, if your going on Sunday there are alot of discounted deals going on. What I did was take my list of needed items , walked thru all of Beadfest , kept notes of which vendors had what I needed , what their prices were, then compared & went thru a second time to make my purchases.
I must say that I made out very very well, I came home with quite a haul that even my husband was impressed. I had strands of gorgeous fresh water pearls, gemstones, crystals, I had gemstone focals (like 8 different types of Jasper, Jade, Laboradite, Amazonite) , wire from Parawire 3 small spools, a rubber bench block, a new chasing hammer, my 6 in 1 looper tool, Lampwork beads, ceramic beads, and some swarovski crystals beads and focals.
Yep I got all of that for $55 !!!! Did I want everything I saw???? Well YEAH OF COURSE I did lol who wouldn't it's Beadfest. It's chock full of Yummalisciousness!!!!
I still don't eat lunch in Beadfest, I always bring lunch and go out to my car to eat ,this gives me a chance to leave what goodies I have so far if I need to and also get some fresh air for a few minutes, I check over my list think of what I have and what I would like to go with it etc.
I highly recommend going even if you have only $20 or less to go. Just the experience is amazing, the vendors are all wonderfully nice and a joy to talk to, the staff is always friendly and happy , the artists are all amazing, I have met the most amazing artists just by having a small conversation even as busy as they get, as long of a day as it is everyone is so super nice and friendly. Just getting out and socializing is worth a trip. You can always collect cards and visit many of their websites to make purchases later down the road.
As a side note if your from out of area go visit the Beadfest Facebook site many times people carpool together and share hotel rooms/expenses to keep costs down as well!!!
So I hope this was helpful!! I hope you go to Beadfest, and I hope you have as much fun as I have.
If you see me Betony aka THE BEADWENCH come and say Hello :) I'm the short, squat one with a skull and rose tattoo on the left side of my neck , as well as tattoos on both lower arms :) I can be found wondering all over, drooling hahahahahaha!!!! But seriously come say hello, I will be doing on the spot LIVE facebook broadcasts and taking selfies for my after beadfest blog !!!! Where I will share my goodies, experiences, and pictures from the weekend.
My goal is to get the largest Beadfest Selfie ever so let's see if we can make it happen!!!!!!!