[We received an iPad "postcard" for the jewelry-beading community from Marcia DeCoster, author of Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence. Like many jewelers and beaders, as well as general rockhounds, Marcia attends the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show each year. The show actually is a constellation of many shows, with about 50,000 people descending upon Tucson during late January and February. Thanks to Marcia for this report! ~ Ray Hemachandra, Lark Jewelry & Beading]

Tucson, Arizona – As much of the country digs out from snow, Tucson is experiencing record cold. This has been hard on many of the venues, which rely on tents to house their vendors. They’ve scrambled to put propane heaters and blowers into place, and it promises to warm up tomorrow. I didn’t realize my new winter coat bought for my New York trip would come in so handy, or that my sandals would be so unnecessary.

Marcia DeCoster

Certainly attendance is down from a few years back, and it’s hard to see if there is a year over year improvement. Parking spaces can still be easily found, and your favorite vendors are easier to approach with less of a crowd. It’s nice for shopping but not so good for the vendors, although all of them still seem positive. There are a few less vendors then in previous years, with some no longer making the Tucson trip.

I spent time at the To Bead True Blue show at the Doubletree, where the ballroom and a large tent house the vendors. New discoveries for me were a knitted wire with a ball chain running through the center to keep it tubular. It came in a variety of colors with crimped on findings. I think it’s going to have great possibilities. The company SilverSilk was here last year, but its product line is greatly expanded this year.

Also at To Bead True Blue was Leather Cord USA with a large selection of colored leather cord in multiple sizes and styles, including a braided cord. All sizes had corresponding metal findings to attach to the ends.

Many of my other favorites were there, including Tierra Cast with a new line of keys, hearts, and brass and black finishes in many of their standard offerings.

Alacarte Clasps had many brilliant examples of the wire lace from Italy and clasps that can be customized with Swarovski Elements.

York Novelty Imports had a huge selection of peacock dagger beads, which I have a personal weakness for, and a Swarovski Create-Your-Own-Style Workshop by Val Hirata showcased them beautifully.

Over at Swarovski‘s Bonita Avenue venue, the newest innovations were launched. I can say there are some beautiful new shapes and colors. Being a fan of bronze in my seed-bead work, I am totally enamored with the new bronze-shade crystal, which I think will pair nicely with the crystal light opal. There is also a line of new heart-shaped pendants, a new pearl color, and a stairway bead that has grand possibilities. Also launched was the inaugural magazine Issue Water, which will be an annual publication. The magazine is beautifully laid out with compelling photos and projects to be made.

At The Best Bead Show I talked with Green Girl Studio‘s Andrew Thornton and picked up a few beads. The robot is the cutest thing ever! I spent a short time with Kate McKinnon, whose booth was beautifully and artistically presented, and neighbor Joyce Rooks, who does amazing lampwork and finished jewelry. Lisa Kan was there with a new pendant bead, and Paula Best, who I always love to see, had some new fabric and beaded beads incorporating her painted faces.

Of course being a seed bead and crystal girl I had to stop in to see Betcy from Beyond Beadery and Beki from Out on a Whim, who both have incredible selections for the seed bead artist.

Over in the tents I found a feather vendor and then the Lillypilly Designs girls, Jodi and Heidi, who along with their original line of etched and colored shells have a very exciting new line of colored metals with huge possibilities. This non-metal girl bought some and can’t wait to begin experimenting.

I ran into Debra Saucier at the Swarovski venue. She has a new line of Crystal Clay, two-part expoxy clay that is used to imbed Swarovski crystal. The design possibilities with this product are limitless! Again, I can’t wait to get home and use some.

I got to talk with Lark Jewelry & Beading authors Brenda Schweder (and have a peak at her new book, Steel Wire Jewelry), Diane Fitzgerald (who was teaching at the Swarovski venue), and Sherry Serafini, who managed to fly out of snowbound Pennsylvania.

Today I will be working on rounding out the shopping list at the Gem Mall, where I will be looking for Czech fire-polished beads at Raven’s Journey International and Wild Things Beads and see what other finds I come across.

It’s been a blast as always!

Sent from my iPad


16 Responses

    Sabine Lippert says:

    I always love to read how Marcia shares her “traveling” with us! Thank you for the “look inside” Marcia, have a great time and a safe trip home later ;-))

    Andrew Thornton says:

    It was great seeing you!

    I spent 2 weeks in Tucson. Too bad we didn’t run into each other!

    Val says:

    Marcia, it was so nice to see you in Tucson this year and the comments about my Sparkling Fairy Lilies necklace
    using the Czech daggers (which I also have a weakness for) :)
    love your designs.

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