Kalmbach Publishing Co.
The Bead & Button Show in downtown Milwaukee's Midwest Airline Center (MAC) over the weekend provided some unexpected enchantment. The magic was due to a combination of things: art, anthropology, artistry, creativity, wonder and playfulness. Even good old-fashioned people-watching.
The largest bead throw-down in the country included workshops, demonstrations, master classes, a social and auction and an opportunity to shop a marketplace of beads that was nearly intimidating in its breadth. In its seventh year in Milwaukee, the extravaganza was produced by the Waukesha hobbyist publishing company Kalmbach, home of magazines including Bead&Button, BeadStyle and Art Jewelry.
More than 370 vendors came from all 50 states and several countries, and 3,000 bead addicts, fanatics and crafters registered for nearly 500 classes and workshops. People came from as far away as Japan to learn and buy beads.
Heidi Viau of Lillypilly Designs in Louisville, Colo., took time to explain how she laser engraves and dyes the surfaces of materials like wood and mother-of-pearl. The resulting beads and pendants are reminiscent of Necco wafers or the prettiest guitar picks you'll ever see.
At Artgirlz, of Charlestown, R.I., artists Tracy and Allison Stilwell explore the world of crafting with Shrinky Dinks. Remember: If you're making a charm or pendant, you must make the hole for the jump ring before you shrink.
One vendor said she liked the Bead & Button Show because the customers have a respect and passion for the work.
It's a privilege to be with a group of people with that sort of desire, and to see the surprising ingenuity of human hands.
As the resurgence of crafting among twenty- and thirty-somethings attests, people must make things. People also need to be connected to the artists and craftspeople who make the things they buy. That's how communities form.
This year the Make-A-Wish Foundation came through for a north Texas girl whose wish was to attend the Bead & Button Show and take classes with her mother.
"The wish coordinator told us the foundation had never encountered a wish like this before," the show's manager, Marlene Vail, said.
When you're ready for a break, tea's the ideal accompaniment to a relaxing chat on the merits of arts and crafts, and the George Watts Teashop, 761 N. Jefferson St., provides the ideal site, perched atop a charming housewares store dating from 1870. The menu includes tea fare like cake and torte, omelets, sandwiches and salads.
If you prefer your tea experience with more of a Zen sensibility, Anaba Tea Room, 2107 E. Capitol Dr., might suit you. Located in the basement of a gardening store, Anaba serves loose teas by Rishi, a Milwaukee tea company, including black, white, green, oolong, pu-erh, herbal and chai varieties. The basement area is lit by skylights, creating a lovely and serene atmosphere. And the food is scrumptious! Afternoon tea, including scones, crumpets and tea sandwiches, is highly recommended.
Both tea establishments host events like etiquette classes and tea tastings.