Tuesday 26 November 2013

The Gem Expo

I think the blinding snow squalls and bitter winds conspired against all of the vendors in terms of overall sales at this November Gem Expo, but I for one sure had a great time meeting so many new and old friends, and four days away from this hated computer was just grand.

As before, my post may be more of interest to people who are starting out doing craft and bead shows -- certainly I'm still learning even now, away shows being a different type of show than the ones where you can drive home at night and the next morning bring the items you forgot the day before ;-) -- everyone else can look at the pictures.

Bidding on The Gem Expo Charity Auction items has been extended until November 30th.
My donation is this partial string of 20 Sleeping Beauty turquoise nuggets.

You can bid on this and other items to benefit disaster relief in the Philippines at:

Online Charity Auction Link

Bring extra table cloths & definitely invest in bed/table risers:
This time, I paid for a corner booth with three tables. Unfortunately, I didn't realise until it was too late that only the artisan tables came with cloths and table skirts, so I ended up having to use a mish-mash of four different colours of cloths to cover my tables to the floor, three of which were originally intended to cover my table at night. It looked reeeeeally junky when I was setting up, but actually worked out fairly well after all the beads and jewellery were laid out on the table.

Setting up the table was made much less difficult because I finally bought some bed risers, used to raise the tables by six inches so people don't break their backs after hours of looking at beads. If nothing else, people will remain a much longer time at your table. I could not believe how low tables really are until the end of the show when I was dismantling my booth and took the risers away. Feels like about knee level.

I also discovered that many people have never even heard of bed risers -- I hadn't until just a few years ago, if for no other reason than I had no need for them. They are sold in sets of four (I paid $7.50 per set for mine) because -- of course -- most bed frames have at least four legs. I suppose many people have never heard of them because beds tend to be higher since people are taller, or it could be that it's because mattresses are thicker than they used to be... or we only need them when our knees become toast. In any event, they are absolutely indispensable and I finally found some after looking for them for a couple of years. Some people use white plastic pipes cut to length, but the problem with those is they don't work if the table legs are completely straight. The pipes are only good with folding table legs have that curve to them.

I know -- they look like flower pots, don't they!?!?

The business end -- this is what they really look like.

Make sure to center the table leg in each riser or you'll have a tippy table,
especially when someone leans on it.

I loaded up the truck and was on the road to Tronna by 8:30 or 9:00 Thursday morning. I noodled along in the slow lane, found parking immediately at my favourite secret parking spot downtown and went to the wholesaler's where, among other goodies, I scored some Roman glass beads from Afghanistan.

If anyone is interested, I have these Roman glass beads at an incredibly good price. Email me for prices and availability. Note that the string of green coin beads second from the right is gone. 
After the wholesaler's, I headed over to Queen Street West, stocked up on plated clasps at Arton, and got myself a slice of potato pizza drizzled with hot sauce and dusted with Parmigiano and a can of Chinotto at Pizzaiolo, my favourite pizza place since Amato's seems to have disappeared from the Queen West scene, and killed time pretending I was still in Italy until I could go park at the Hyatt .

In case you ever wondered... 

Parked at the Hyatt Regency on King and hiked my bags over to the Strathcona, my home away from home, and ended up with an incredible surprise: since I am now officially a repeat customer, they bumped me up from my cozy converted broom closet (remember last time when I got a room smaller than the freight elevator at the Hyatt??) to a king room. I was beside myself -- literally. I lay on one side of the bed to watch TV but slept waaaaaaaaaaay far over on the other side so I could answer the wake-up phone call Friday morning. I have to say I did miss the shower stall in the Eco room as I have a hard time getting in and out of bathtubs these days. At least this bath came with a grab bar. And I got a desk with an office chair. And a window. Not that I spent much time looking out of it, mostly only to see if it was still raining (no) or if a foot of snow had fallen (no, again).

There was a last-minute change and we couldn't start setting up in the Hyatt Regency ballroom until 9 pm, so I met Ruth for dinner after she finished work. The pub at the Strath was full, loud and positively tropical with the exhalations of umpteen hockey fans. Ruth had a craving for French onion soup which sounded like a fine idea to me, and we ended up at Bardi's, a small two-story steakhouse next door to the Strath. Neither of us was particularly hungry but wanted something a little nicer than the ubiquitous Tim's across the street and, since it was an at-home game, we knew every restaurant in the area would be crazy packed and noisy anyway. We had good hot soup, split a Greek salad and an order of cheese and garlic toast, and I splurged and had a glass of Merlot, usually impossible for me in our zero-tolerance province as I tend to end up driving. I would have taken a picture but my phone was charging back at the hotel. Suffice it to say, we spent 2-1/2 hours there and I will definitely go back and try their steaks. Ruth and I spent a lot of time observing and lusting after what other diners had ordered. I have fond memories of Barberian's Steakhouse up on Elm Street from the early '70s and Bardi's is of similar ilk, reputation and vintage.

Rough but methodical setup on Thursday night:
Walked over to the Hyatt and met George who was going to haul stuff up from my truck and help me set up.

In the bottom of the U-shape below the black wooden shelf I set up my small folding table as a work station & to write receipts, etc. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of the table in place, but it was super handy to have it there. 

Kinda looks junky with so many colours going on, doesn't it!?

I had done really well at the July show selling earrings and necklaces, so I brought a lot with me this time -- ending up selling one pewter bird necklace and two ropes of pearls -- and they took up a ton of table "real estate". I won't be doing that again.

Saturday morning setting up:
First things first: breakfast. It's absolutely critical to have a good breakfast because once the show opens you won't get a meal break unless you are lucky enough to have someone with you. I don't have a fridge in my room, so it's hard to bring "healthy" foods, although I did bring apples and bananas. This particular show opens on a Friday; with morning set-up starting at 7 a.m. and the show running from 11:30 until 9 p.m. that makes for one looooong day. During the week, Dunn's on King Street about two blocks east of the Hyatt has what I've always considered a classic Toronto breakfast special and miss terribly, although I fear the $1.29 breakfast specials of my youth are long gone. Give me perfect poached eggs and I'm hooked. Unfortunately, Dunn's is closed when I come wandering by on Saturday and Sunday show mornings. But their Friday breakfast is something I now look forward to having, and they have really good coffee.

Something I also discovered this trip is that, at least in Toronto, Tim Horton's now has GREAT cappuccino. (I need to find out if they have cappuccino machines in the local Tim's.) Tastes like the real thing, not to be confused their caffeine-free chemical stew called French Vanilla Cappuccino, AND trust me... it beats anything Starbuck's has on offer all to hello operator.

1-3/4 hours to showtime:
Low-grade panic...

I dithered for two days about getting the clear plastic reindeer to make a non-specific and subtly festive touch to my table and they were the most-commented upon item on my table. Yahoo for Dollarama, and I think I am in the wrong business. More people commented on those reindeer...

20 Minutes to Showtime:
...shading into high-grade panic. Panic ensues when one is confronted with a new table layout. Plus I discovered I really need at least three more lights, mainly because one of them died on me. More lights go to the top of the shopping list for the next show, as well as bins with lids and a dolly. None of this waiting around for my turn at one of the few the hotel has and none at other venues.

During the show:

Miriam's turquoise birthday present to herself

Food, glorious food:
Friday night, I got back to the Strathcona and headed downstairs to the pub. I had wonderfully crispy coconut breaded shrimp with a Thai dipping sauce and a half pint of icy Alexander Keith's, went straight back up to my room and fell asleep. In the morning, stopped in at Tim's two blocks east of the Hyatt and discovered cappuccino -- Tim's has real cappuccino! -- and snagged one of their bacon, cheese and egg on an English muffin sandwich. Ruth brought cappuccinos to me multiple times every day. She also brought me real food on Sunday, her mother's marinated chicken and a side of pomegranates, fruit salad, green salad and some lime and chili peanuts which are really tasty and must be tracked down soon at a local Metro store.

Saturday night, Ruth and I hit the Strath Pub again and split a chicken burger with fries and a massive mountain of tortilla chips. It was so good. And another half pint of Keith's. Alas, Sunday morning arrived way too early, I slept in, had to pack up, check out and got to the show about 20 minutes to opening with no breakfast. I had had to dump my bags in the truck and, with sub-zero interest in going back out into that infernally cold wind and backtracking the two blocks to Tim's for more cappuccino and an egg thing, I had to settle for enhhh hotel coffee and a croissant until Ruth showed up with the aforementioned chicken, salad and peanuts -- and another Tim's.

Beginning to pack up:

Thank you to George and Ruth for all your help, because without you two I have a feeling I'd still be there struggling to get those heavy grids down and into the truck.

Thanks for looking and I hope to see many of you back at the March Gem Expo!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Packed & Ready for THE GEM EXPO

Friday November 22 11:30am - 9:00pm
Saturday November 23 10:00am - 6:00pm
Sunday November 24 10:00am - 5:00pm

Hyatt Regency on King
370 King St West, Toronto, On M5V 1J9
Entrance Fee: $4 / day or $8 for all 3 days

Yep. It's 8:30 on Wednesday night, truck's gassed up and loaded already with non-freezable items, all the beads are still down here, but everything I need is packed and ready to go first thing tomorrow morning.

I really do have to work on a better system of packing, like maybe put everything into the same size bins so they can stack... duh. Acquire a trolley-dolly of some description. And just maybe stop bringing so much stuff with me.

The good news is I got my storage area cleaned up. The work tables are another story. Total disaster.

Here is the item I am donating to The Gem Expo Silent Auction with all proceeds going to Philippines disaster relief. You can get information how to place bids online on this item as well as the other vendors' donations on the Gem Expo website, or you can place your bid when you come to the show.

20 Sleeping Beauty turquoise nuggets
And........ just because "it" is on its way (possibly even this weekend), not to mention I find this hysterically funny.......

There are all kinds of draws for fabulous prizes, so come early, come often -- price break if you buy a three-day pass. I was surprised at the July show to meet so many people who came at least two days, if not the three. There is a lot to see and do -- many different classes at all levels of expertise, not to mention many great gifts for Christmas.

Mailiing list entry for personal $2 off coupons

See you at the show!

Wednesday 13 November 2013

The Gem Expo Countdown...

EIGHT days to go until next Thursday evening when I'll be in Toronto at the Hyatt Regency setting up my tables for The Gem Expo. Friday, November 22nd, the doors open at 11:30 a.m. I'm already packing up turquoise, lapis lazuli and glass beads, pewter pendants and other goodies including skulls -- this time, I have a few drop-dead gorgeous resin crow and raven skulls in various sizes and finishes -- and finished jewellery, with many items -- and beads -- particularly appealing to guys, a somewhat under-served market.

Here are pictures of a few of the many beads I will be bringing:

Beads will be available in full and partial strings, as well as individually.

Campo Frio, Nacozari, Kingman, Castle Dome, Sleeping Beauty, Hubei, Ma'an Shan, Tibet, Afghanistan

Glass, Stone, Shell, Bone:
Fair Trade African, Indonesian reproductions, blue Hebron, shell heishi, chevrons, etc.

Brass, copper, pewter, coin silver, sterling silver, PMC silver

Skulls & Fetish Beads:
Turquoise, bone, pewter, copper, base/plated metals, sterling silver, resin, ceramic

Friday, November 22nd: 11:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 23rd: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 24th: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.


See you at the show!

Sunday 10 November 2013

Goddess Necklace & A Long Skull & Crystal Rosary Chain...

I wrote that last Sunday Lynn was over for a jewellery-making session and came up with a goddess necklace using a resin pendant she'd been keeping for some time. She roamed through my bins picking out earthtone bone and horn beads. The thin white and black spacers are African ostrich egg heishi. Yesterday, she brought the necklace to the market where I crimped and added a copper clasp and wire-wrapped the earrings. Here is the final result:

Lynn's goddess necklace

Hi Barbara,
I'm famous again ! . . . thanks to you!!!
I enjoyed wearing my necklace all weekend.
Thanks, Barbara, for your help --
I like coming to your 'Jewellery-making boutique on the Grand'. 

While at the market, I had time to rosary-wire-wrap black skulls and Chinese crystals. I debated about making this into a choker as is, but I decided to add a long adjustable Greek leather cord. This way, the necklace will extend to about 40", or it could be wrapped multiple times around your wrist and still be perfectly adjustable to fit anyone. I used jump rings to join each section, so it's possible to piece in more segments or to add your own dangles.

Tiny dyed black howlite skulls, Chinese rondelle & bicone crystals,
tinned copper wire & black Greek leather, adjustable to 40"


Nice drape
I can't believe how chewed up my fingers get wire-wrapping

Because Lynn had brought her own pendant and sterling earwires and did her own designing and stringing, the final bill for everything was about $20 in new beads and wire-wrapping/crimping on my part. This is a very cost-effective and easy way to make your own jewellery that will look exactly the way you want in the colours you like and fit perfectly while spending productive time hanging out, sharing a potluck lunch and laughing a whole lot. You can learn techniques and how to use tools, or just pick beads and I'll do the rest for you. Email me to chat about what you'd like to do and I'll give you a quote for a morning, afternoon or all-day jewellery-making session (except Saturdays). For now I can only accommodate two people maximum.

Yikes, in a week and a half I'll be at The Gem Expo at the Hyatt Regency on King Street in downtown Toronto where I'll have turquoise, matte lapis, jade and carnelian, lots of handmade reproduction Javanese glass beads all in full or partial strings or loose, as well as interesting and unusual pewter and fetish beads and pendants. And skulls. Lots and lots of skulls. I will also have finished necklaces, bracelets and earrings made with my turquoise and lapis ready and waiting. Do all your Christmas shopping in one fabulous 3-day weekend, November 22nd, 23rd & 24th, with me and all the other great vendors at the show.

Thanks for looking -- if you're local, come and see me on Saturday mornings at the Woodstock Farmer's Market or check out my new showcase seven days a week at the One-of-a-Kind Antique Mall, and definitely see you at The Gem Expo!

Mailiing list entry for personal $2 off coupons

Friday 8 November 2013

Raw Lapis & Javanese Glass Choker...

Strangely unproductive afternoon. I had all these plans for making things but time slipped away. Fridays are like that for me. I have to be pretty much finished up by 5:30, packed up by 6:00 and then winding down so I can be horizontal by 7:00, 8:00 at the latest, and asleep not much later than that depending on how much I read. I did get a half-dozen guy-style chokers with pewter pendants put together, as well as this raw lapis and Javanese glass bead leather choker. What usually happens is it looks okay for real, but then I can see all the holes and/or weaknesses in the colours and shapes when I see the photos.

I'm trying to decide if those beigy-coloured stone beads should get replaced by lapis beads of the same shape. Probably... d'ya think?

I'm also curious if there will be any response to this tinned copper seed bead rosary chain necklace with the very subtle addition of a dangling clear glass skull and Chinese crystal pendant.

I have lots of rosary chains in different colours all made to about 19" in length. I plan to spend tomorrow adding clasps. But now I'm wondering about an all-crystal rosary chain... Having finally finished watching the currently available Bones seasons on Netflix, I will queue up the last few episodes of Human Target and start making a crystal chain. I have been immensely productive here in terms of chain-making. I need to set up a small table at 90 degrees to my computer setup here for my beads and bead mat and I'll be able to string, as well.

It took me a while, but by the second season of Human Target I figured out it was filmed in Vancouver. (Bummer that it's been cancelled. It's a pretty good show. I'm not sure if that's because so many other movies in particular that I've tried to watch are so abysmally awful that this is good in comparison or not. Certainly the fight choreography is pretty good.) My first sight of Vancouver was in September of 1978, arriving at the train station after three days crossing Canada. Absolutely magnificent scenery and, certainly in those days, fabulous food and service on VIA Rail. It was almost shocking to see that it looked exactly like in my memory of the place, minus the TV show carnage, of course.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday 7 November 2013


Here are the pictures of the showcase filled with my jewellery and Nancy's collectible bowls at the One-of-a-Kind Antique Mall in Woodstock. I think Nancy did a beautiful job laying everything out on Sunday. Yesterday, Wednesday, was my first view of it -- I got my truck brakes fixed on Tuesday after being permaparked for a week. Thankfully, it wasn't too-too big of a hit to the ol' piggy bank. However, the mechanic did say that it really wasn't worth spending the money to fix the oil drips... meaning it's long past time to start saving for a new vehicle. One more winter is all I ask and anything past this is a bonus. On the other hand, that's what I've been saying for four years now.

Looking the length of the showcase from the right end, as you walk in the front door.
Looking down the length from the left end of the showcase
View from the top.

It's surprisingly bright in here and I think the slightly coppery colour of the tablecloth I picked shows off the jewellery very well, particularly the turquoise. Initially, I was a bit leery that the stripes might make it too busy. Now to hunt down more of these tablecloths from Dollarama for my Gem Expo tables in Toronto.  
Closer view of some of the jewellery
Thanks for looking!