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Some Personal Notes on Bead Expo 2002

Many people told me that this was the best Bead Expo ever. I heard great things about the symposium speakers and topics as well as the bazaar. One friend remarked that not only was the bazaar big, but it was full of quality items. I think everyone was very happy with the entire gathering. And the weather cooperated.

The bazaar spilled out into three locations, each of which seemed to be very busy every time I walked through. I know what she meant by "quality." There were great booths and dealers in old and new beads and a significant number of beadmakers displaying their own work. It was a bead wonderland.

The Friday symposium was devoted to the Bead Replication and Collaboration Project. It was chaired by Dr. Marvin Smith, an archaeologist at Valdosta State University, who worked with glass artist Kimberly Osibin. Dr. Jeffrey Mitchem with the Arkansas Archaeological Survey (U. Arkansas)corroborated with the glass beadmaking family of Tom, Sage, and Beau Holland.

The idea had been born last year at Bead Expo 2001 in Miami when Marvin and Kim began talking about making a "Man in the Moon" bead. Jeff has started to work on a site in Jordan and he and Tom have begun trying to replicate some beads he has found there.

Marvin had emailed me earlier saying that he didn't think the session would keep the audience "enthralled" for three hours. He was dead wrong. It was a great hit and the idea is going to grow (I'm getting in on it, too).

Left: Man in the Moon beads, ripped off from the article on them by Lorenzini and Karklins in BEADS 12/13 available here.

The Saturday session was devoted to The Evolution of Glass Beadmaking. The foundation was set by Jane Spillman of the Corning Museum of Glass, who took us through a tour of the history of glass as a medium. James Lankton did a stunning powerpoint presentation of bead history based on his research and extensive travel. Hide Kawakama, a beadmaker, businessman, and inventor presented the history of glass beads in Japan with an overview of current scene there.

Sunday was devoted to Bead Industries Around the World. Torben Sode discussed the finds of glass beads at Ribe, Denmark and beadmaking in the Viking world. Isis Ray presented the history of and current work of mosaic (murrine) glass. My talk was on Chinese glass beads, especially since the Southern Song period (began 1127 AD). An illustrated summary is here.

On Saturday night the hall was packed to the ceiling to hear the Italian chevron beadmaker Luigi Cattelan present a talk on Venetian Seed Beads as the keynote lecture. It gave the audience a look at what had been an otherwise very secret operation.

The What's New in Bead Research session moderated by Karlis Karklins has become a staple at Bead Expos. It is a forum to report on their on-going and latest projects. It is always of interest because it is at the cutting edge of research into our favorite little objects. My non-delivered talk is here.

For pure schmooze value, I don't think anything beat the Beads-L Dinner on Friday night. Beads-L, an Internet discussion group monitored by Stefany Tomalin and Deborah Zinn, has become a power by itself in the bead world. About a third of its members were present and many met each other for the first time. As a result of Bead Expo, many new members have signed up.

And, of course, there were workshops. Sixty-five of them, no less, covering every aspect of beadmaking, creating with beads and studying them. My three Bead Identification Workshops went very well, although I was late the first day, the wake-up phone in my room having been disconnected and placed in a cabinet!

Of course, the best part of the whole thing was meeting old friends and making new ones. Really, it's not about the beads; it's about the people.

Miised it? You've got to be there yourself. Plan now to join us in Miami in 2003.

Other Bead Expos

Don't miss BEAD EXPO 2003.


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