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Back From The Gathering Part II

The last night of the Gathering was the bead swap/closing party. From what I had read, I thought the bead swap would be a friendly, get to you/glad to know you, what a great Gathering kind of thing. I was very disappointed. It turned out to be a get the best deal, hustling, show off, kind of thing. I did not turn around and immediately go back to my room for the night though. Instead, I got a glass of wine.

I was soaking up the atmosphere and feeling very insecure about my beads, when a very nice lady that I had met at the opening reception offered to trade with me. She was very gracious, but I felt like I got a much better deal and felt a little bad about it. She left saying she would be able to say “I knew her when…” so I guess that’s a compliment. Then I swapped with another lady who seemed very nice, but very shy.

So I was sitting there with my beads spilled out on the table (next year I’ll have to have a better way of transporting/showing my beads), drinking a glass of wine, and watching this other woman at the table work it while steadfastly ignoring me. I think the only reason I was still there was because I still had wine in my glass and I wasn’t quite ready to go to bed. I was fairly well discouraged and a bit embarrassed – not good.

The dynamic changed when Harold Cooney came in and plopped his suitcase-full-o’-glass down on the table. Even though I wasn’t that familiar with him or his work, I recognized him as one of the presenters, and knew he was a hot shot glass artist. So, my first thought was “oh no, I’m done for.” Then I got a hold of myself enough to make a joke – I looked at the woman who had been ignoring me and said, “I need another glass of wine!” She chuckled a little – I guess it wasn’t a great joke.

Then I really got a hold of myself and said to Harold “I think the fact that you sat down – without asking – at this table that I was already sitting at, obligates you to make a trade with me.”

He said “Oh really?”

“Yes.” I said with as much confidence as I could.

“I think we can work something out.” He said.

Now I was a bit surprised – “Oh really?”

As it turns out, Harold was looking for beads to pay rent on his double wide. Evidently his landlord will take beads, but only pays $5 – $10. My beads were perfect.

He asked me if I haggled. I said I had in the past… But when he asked me to place a monetary value on my beads I hesitated. Harold very kindly let me know that was a mistake. Oh well. He picked out a few beads and handed me one of his pieces. I wasn’t thrilled with the first piece I looked at – it was beautiful, but not really my style. I ended up picking out the piece above from his bag. I really like it – again, not something I would buy for myself, but now that I have it, I really enjoy it. This piece may be worth more than the first bead he handed me, because he grabbed a few more beads. Maybe I do haggle.

So, after that I put all my beads up. I hung out just long enough to finish my glass of wine. It was a great way to end a great experience. I’m glad that I got to go, and that it worked out so well. It is fortunate that I’m sturdy enough to make a trip like this by myself – it was by no means certain when I made the plans in April.


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Back From The Gathering Part I

Well, the bad news is that I’ve gained ten pounds. The good news is that I’m still not smoking and I’ve done all the traveling I plan to do this summer. That means I can pay attention to diet and exercise and hopefully get some of this weight off.

Speaking of traveling, I had a wonderful time at The Gathering! The only touristy thing that I did was going to the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the de Young museum in San Francisco. That was Tuesday. I asked a woman from my class (more on that in a moment) if she wanted to go to the exhibit, and we made plans to go. When she found out that we had to take a bus, she said she couldn’t go. So, I went by myself. I got lost and almost decided to go back to the hotel, but I persevered. I even met a very nice woman who does freelance illustrations. I’m glad I got to see the exhibit. My favorite room was the one where Chihuly said in the audio tour that one day he woke up and wanted to use every color there was. There was a lot of color in that room. It was cool.

That evening, I did something that profoundly affected the rest of the trip. I called Beth – the woman who was going to go to the exhibit with me – to see how she was doing. We got to talking and became fast friends. I was certainly happy to have someone to hang out with and go to dinner with and so forth. I think I would have had a good time anyway, but having a Gathering buddy was definitely better.

The class on Wed. – Glass Bead Making, From Hobby to Business – was really interesting. I learned about the Hobby Loss Rule, special problems in inventorying glass, to be a business you have to act like a business, and other things. I also realized that I’m not going into business any time real soon. But I got some good information, and I think when I am ready to open a business I will know how to go about it better.

I think my favorite part was the technical vendor area. Every time I went in there I spent more money! There were all sorts of tools, and glass of all sorts – mostly 104 coe. All different kinds of glass bead-making incidentals – oxygen concentrators, torches, magazines, jewelery findings – on and on… I mostly bought glass and a few tools. I did buy a couple of ribbons from the Fiber Goddess. She had some very nice fibers.

I really enjoyed the presentations too. I probably should have taken notes, but there is no test, and I’m not wanting to copy anyone anyway. I got basic ideas and tips and tricks and lots of stuff to think about. Plus it was nice to spend a couple days watching accomplished flame workers work. Different people had different approaches to basic techniques – from this I got experimenting ideas such as trying different tools for the same task to see which one works better – for example, tungsten pick vs. steel pick for raking.

The Bead Bazaar on Sat. was really great also. I bought four beads – and spent way too much money. The show opened at 9:00 AM for attendees only and then opened to the general public at 10:00 AM. I was sure to be there at nine with my plan of attack all ready – I had read in the forums that it was best to be there early. It was funny in a kind of creepy way, but there was a small crowd waiting to go in, and there was a countdown. I’m not sure that was warranted, but I’m glad I got there early. I really enjoyed looking at what other people had made and how it was displayed. I saw some amazing things.

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Glass Holder Contraption

This is what my mother and I built out of pvc pipe, glue, and duct tape. We’re still working on it. More layers and a stand are coming soon – well they’re coming anyway! Last weekend we got all the pipes cut and today we glued these together. The pipe is glued in rows – the rows are not glued to each other. The back ends are closed with duct tape.

This morning, while drinking my morning coffee, I ordered a sample of Satake glass from Dogmaw Glass. I’m so excited! I’ve been wanting to try Satake for years now. The sample pack is 20, 11″ rods in whatever colors you want to pick for $35. I picked out 10 transparent colors and 10 opaque colors. I can hardly wait ’til I get it.

Speaking of packages, I got my kiln couches etc. a couple of days ago. The kiln couches work great – I can get more beads in the kiln, so that’s good. And I’m looking forward to another package tomorrow. I got a sample pack of Effetre special colors (the yellows, oranges, reds, and browns), and orange and red transparents. I’ll have to figure out what I’m going to do with all the orange and red – other than sticking it in my glass holder contraption that is.

I joined the International Society of Glass Beadmakers. I’m thinking of going to the convention in August. That would make two conventions this summer, and the obligatory trip to visit my father. That’s a fair amount of traveling. So, I spent some time today looking at the convention book (downloadable from the website), and it looks like it will be a lot of fun.

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