International Quilt Festival, Houston, Texas and Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In my time I have attended both these shows. The latest being the Bead and Button Show this past June. IMO these two shows are the Disney world of their genre.

How to compare them? Mmmmm…., interesting concept. Let me try.

The content is different. Fabric versus beads. Easy. Erm… not so fast. When I go to the IQF I find at least 2 aisles of beady stuff, along with knitting yarns, and a variety of non-quilty goodies. And the B&B Show has knitting yarns, I didn’t notice any fabric stuff (though it might have been there and I blocked it out), and a variety of non-beady goodies. The majority of vendors are true to the show they attend.

The dedication of the attendees is equal. Many, if not most, suffer from a mild to monster degree of OCD. Or perhaps, more kindly, OCT – obsessive, compulsive tendancies. (Certainly I do, having been invited, in previous times, to exhibit my work at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Would you believe, they have an entire gallery dedicated to OCD artists? And the rest are primarily self taught – ie. more OCD artists.)

The gender of people who attend these shows is the same. A vast population of women. And a smattering of the male sex at both. Though I notice more male teachers at the bead show.

Age is interesting. There appear to be a higher proportion of younger women at the Bead and Button show. Perhaps the percentage of personally adorning young people is higher than the bed/wall covering textile age bracket?

You can’t say the attention span is different. Both skills/art require a vast amount of patience. See OCD reference above!

Workshops are taught at both. The top teachers and artists from each field gather at these events.  I get the impression it is an annual meet up. Perhaps the only time some of them get to see and talk to those whom they have only known as internet friends.

At the Teacher’s Reception I briefly spoke to Heather Kingsley-Heath who traveled from England. Later she mentioned in her blog how much it meant to her to catch up with other luminaries. And note how eloquently she explains the convergence – ″this is also a roll call of kindred spirits, a gathering from many countries where it is simply joyous to meet and hug and renew our friendships. And yes we talk beads non-stop.″

This applies to the attendees. A friend goes to the International Quilt Festival nearly every year. I asked her why she goes. Her response: “I go to the show to see my friends, of course, but I also go to get inspired by what other people are doing. I go to take classes with people that will never visit our guild. I go to shop for things that might not appear in the local quilt shops. I find that each time I attend I come home energized and ready to move beyond whatever rut I am stuck in at the moment.”

Pretty good reasons it seems to me.

You can certainly brush up on your skills at both events. Well known teachers give workshops and lectures. Your choices only governed by how fast you can apply online for the classes.

This year the online registration for the Bead and Button show opened at noon, I was at the hairdressers and didn’t get home till 1 o’clock. Every single class I had earmarked was filled. RATS! Should have been there with my fingers on the keyboard.

Masterclass - Playing with Possibilities with Marcia DeCoster
Masterclass – Playing with Possibilities with Marcia DeCoster – photo by Marcia DeCoster

But I was lucky because the organizers chose to run a second 3-day Masterclass with Marcia DeCoster which I snapped up. Read her Notes from a Masterclass for a feel of the workshop.

Garden Medley - hand applique class with Karen Kay Buckley
Garden Medley – hand applique class with Karen Kay Buckley

At the International Quilt Festival a couple of years ago, I took a hand appliqué class with Karen Kay Buckley – Garden Medley. It was an all day class and I learned so much. You would never believe serrated scissors were a good thing – but they are! Sometimes we get set in our ways and working with an expert jogs the wheels in another direction.

Then there’s the time. The years both venues have been running. I just received a flyer in the mail about the IQF and note it is the’ 39th annual edition of the International Quilt Festival, Houston’. So they tell me. That’s a long time. The Bead and Button Show has an informative page about its history. It began in 2000 – not quite as long as the IQF! Each event is headed by an iconic woman –Karey Bresenhan is the Director Emeritus of the IQF, and Marlene Vail manages the Bead and Button Show.

The Hilton hotel is hooked up to the conference center at both shows. You need never walk the streets, so to speak, if you would rather not. I love the sky walks in Milwaukee. You cross over streets and streets from one hotel to another, to another. And by the way, just for info, the Ramada in Downtown Milwaukee is a minute across the street from the back door entrance of the Hilton. Even if it’s pouring with rain (which it did this year), you can dash across and into the rabbit warren of floors and corridors. And the Ramada has free wi-fi and a very reasonably priced special every night in their restaurant (and an excellent breakfast buffet on Saturday – I know because……..)

These shows are something we look forward to each year. We stash away our pennies so we can pay for the hotel, the airfare, meals, classes, and of course, the marketplace. Do not think you can get away with budgeting a certain amount.


Craftsy Right Angle Weave Online Class

For a long time most of my learning was via books, diagrams and instructions. But when I began beadweaving I discovered all the video tutorials out there. There’s no doubt if you combine book learning with actually seeing how something is done you can really expand your knowledge.

I find the best way to deal with online videos is to first watch it all the way through. You can’t get all the information in one fell swoop. Or at least it doesn’t work for me. My brain does an overview and then it can work on details! Continue reading “Craftsy Right Angle Weave Online Class”

Bohin Quilting Finger Cots

Bohin Quilting Finger Cots - SmallBohin Quilting Finger Cots - MediumBohin Quilting Finger Cots - Large

We’ve started carrying these finger cots from Bohin in Small, Medium, and Large. They are tougher than the little rolled up finger cots we used to have. They are really useful when you hand quilt as they stop the needle slipping out of your fingers. So… you put your quilting thimble on your middle finger and one of these finger cots on your index finger – bang, you speed up your work.

I used to have a needle grabber resting on my quilting hoop, ready to help me pull the needle through. But now I will try one of these. It means I don’t have to stop, pick up the needle grabber, pull the thread through, then put the needle grabber down.

Plus you don’t get all sweaty as the cots allow your finger to breathe.

Susan Cleveland, the Piping Hottie, (don’t you just love it?!), recommends using these finger cots.

Oh – and if you are curious. She wrote the book Piping Hot Curves, and there’s a Piping Hot Binding Kit.