We just attended our very first Canadian jewellery show, which happened to be the fifth annual Canadian Bead Oasis Show held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre September 19 - 21. This bead expo featured over 50 artisans and suppliers and here are a few of the highlights as I see things.
It was very interesting meeting with Nortel Manufacturing Ltd. of Toronto to discuss their quality line of flameworking torches, ArrowSprings kilns, assorted glass, tools and accessories.
We are in the early phases of our research regarding the glass studio that I want to build and these folks have all the tools and advice anyone could want.
From a supply point of view, my favourite booth was BEAD IT of Montreal, a firm that has the most amazing selection of extraordinary gemstones I've ever seen like Wonderstone, Thunder Egg Jasper, Yellow Black Agate, Turritella Agate and Lepidocrocite.
Noteworthy too is the fact that these folks actually run a real online store AND they're making an above average attempt to list online most of the fabulous specimens they carry in inventory!
So needless to say, I'll be frequenting that online boutique and making my fair share of purchases there.
I fell in love with the incredibly beautiful glasswork of Susan Hood of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Susan's booth was laden with her new Phantasea Shell necklaces (see collage above) and a myriad of other perfectly executed and exotic lampwork delights.
The next time I'm in the maritimes I'll definitely want to stop by Susan's Glass Harp Gallery in order to gape at more of her wonderful creations and drink in the artistic vibes that radiate from this glowing goddess!
I invited Susan to join our eSMArts etsy team but alas I fear this gal who is on the road (doing exhibits, seminars and volunteer projects) five and half months of the year is way too busy for our little initiative. :( Anyhow, we'll stay connected via email and I will follow her career with continued awe and amazement.
I also had the pleasure of visiting briefly with Fran Davis of Dragonfire Studio located in Edmonton, Alberta.
Fran is in the process of offering her beautiful lampwork creations on etsy. Her new online shop Dragonfire Beads will contain her latest creations along with some old favourites. I hope to keep in touch with Fran via the etsy venue (and yes, I invited her to join our street team too!).
The best assortment of Thai silver was from ANDS Bali Silver Inc. of Toronto, whose website doesn't list all of their large selection of bead, spacer and sterling component inventory. My advice is to email them if you're looking for something that you don't see listed online as they likely do have what you're looking for.
I was thrilled to see Crafts of Tibet's very good selection of hand picked Tibetan ornaments and jewelry items. On my wish list are their genuine Tibetan Buddhist artifacts like prayer wheels, incense holders and singing bowls. Email: richodyuthok [at] hotmail.com.
At Designers Findings of Toronto I bought some unique gemstone specimens, but for flat out gem and finding purchases I'm still a fan of the large InterGem shows like that in Chicago where the number and variety of exhibitors is huge and the deals are plenty.
However with the rising price of gasoline, many of us are looking for online and local purchase alternatives so I'll no doubt continue to keep an eye on the Canadian Bead Oasis Show for contact and supplier info.
One thing that shouldn't be overlooked is the rather large array of local flamework bead makers and handmade jewellery designers who assemble at this expo such as the members of the Toronto Bead Society. It's perhaps possible to acquire stones and findings online and elsewhere but rarely will you find such a diverse grouping of bead makers all under one roof here in Toronto. So mark your calendars for the Spring Show... And just so you won't miss out on the next Bead Oasis Show, here's a handy email list where one can sign up for show alerts.