8 funniest, trendiest and best-of moments from the 2018 Bead&Button Show

Expect the unexpected! That’s my motto when I scour beading booths. This year’s Bead&Button Show, held from June 3-10 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, did not disappoint, as I found many happy surprises. Listed below are eight of my favorite finds from the week-long celebration.
Cloud the service dog.
#1 Biggest, fuzziest, best-behaved individual

Working dog Cloud wins this honor paws down! If you stopped by i-bead.com (Booth #114), you might have seen Cloud. She’s big, but she’s also calm, quiet, and, usually, hunkered down on all fours. Cloud was easier to spot when i-bead owner/designer Amy Loh-Kupser was on the move, visiting at other booths. I saw the two at the silent auction area where Cloud perched her snout on my knee; how did she know that was just the pick-me-up I needed after a long day of organizing donations for the fundraiser? Visit Cloud’s owner’s website to see kits and more.


Visit the Wild Things Beads website to read about African ostrich egg beads and more.

#2 Best stories

It was hard to pick just one story-spinner from the show to spotlight in this category! But after nearly a week of meeting and greeting new friends and old companions, I have to say that this honor goes to Guy Lynn from Wild Things (Booth 325). Guy had the best stories about his travels as an international importer, tales of life in Zimbabwe, Africa, and thorough knowledge of his beads, buttons, baskets, and hidden surprises. You can read some of the husband/wife team’s experiences on their website, Wild Things Beads, and click on “article.” Be sure to read “Beads of the Bushman,” since Guy and J-Me explain the fascinating way ostrich shell beads are made. (Spoiler: They are crafted by hand and mouth!) 


Wild Things sold hand painted buttons with quite a story behind these mermaid images.

#3 Splashiest trend/theme

Mermaids! I saw mermaid themes all over the B&B Show floor. There were hand-painted mermaid buttons, enchanting clasps and charms (not just Green Girl anymore!), and mermaid beads made of everything from polymer to glass. There was even a vendor, Mountain Mermaid Shimmers (Booth 836), turning adventurous individuals into land mermaids. I can’t say that I added that bit of sparkle, but I certainly saw quite a few shoppers and vendors with silk tinsel woven into their hair. Check out their video transformations on Facebook.

Kummli Tea Party 1
“Tea Party” by Heidi Kummli.
#4 Most inspirational

The BeadDreams competition (Booth 933) never fails to provide full-on-drool beading inspiration. From concepts to execution, every single participant provided incredible submissions.

My top pick was “Tea Party” by Heidi Kummli, for her mad embroidery skills! Heidi’s work scored her the grand prize for Objects and Accessories. Close behind that pick was “Golden Dragon” by Kseniia Korobko, for her necklace that looked like it was creeping around the neck form and resting between flights.

New to this competition was Cliff Swain-Salomon, who won the People's Choice Award for “Spirit House.” I loved all 59 entries – there was even a mermaid jewelry set by Erin Simonetti. Click here to view a gallery of the 2018 BeadDream Winners.


Read Carl’s story on his studio website.

#5 Funniest innuendo

Another vendor with the gift of gab was Carl Clasmeyer (Booth 1201)! Get him started, and he will entertain the troops.

When I was shopping the show floor on Sunday, I brought my daughter and introduced her to Carl. Per usual, Carl talked up a storm, and then he asked if we wanted to see something really great. He pushed away his shirttails and started unzipping....his fanny pack! Whew! Jokingly, I suggested Carl not do that in front of my daughter. Carl proceeded to pull out his phone, but I think I made him blush. He chuckled that he liked the way my mind worked, and went on to show us the magnificent wedding ring set that he crafted. 

Carl's work is stunning. If you are unfamiliar, be sure to check it out!


Nothing like giant “Crystallized Wings” to make everyone look super.

#6 Most unusual booth prop

Last year, there was a crystal encrusted Porsche Roadster. This year, Swarovski (Booth 433) erected a giant photo backdrop. The prop was set up for anyone to take selfies in front of the enormous, sparkling “Crystallized Wings.” The only thing missing was a fan to blow your hair back in super-model style.


New glues to experiment with!

#7 Best new product

There were so many great products to choose from! Surprisingly, I have to give this award to a new adhesive. If you like E-6000 but hate the fumes, you’ll like this product as much as I do. SUPERTite MULTI-GRAB 360 by Supertitle Adhesives (Booth 8) is versatile glue, which is perfect for all our jewelry-making needs, plus it is odorless. You can read all about the science behind this adhesive along with its suggested uses on the SuperTite website.


For the jewelry maker that has everything: catheads!

#8 Oddest thing for sale

Hands down! No doubt! Cat head pins were my pick for the “winner!”

I kept asking everyone at the show if they saw the cat heads for sale? Of course, these were not real kitty carcasses, but they sure were oddly realistic. Fuzzy 3-D cat heads with pin backs! I’m not sure why Super Time International Corp. (Booth 519, 618) was selling these, or, more importantly, how people were incorporating these into jewelry designs.

The cat heads beat out many unusual things, including the bin of skull beads made from bone, or the porcelain heads used for Czech puppetry (so Guy at Wild Things told me, since both the skulls and heads were from his booth). If you see anyone who incorporated the cat heads into their jewelry designs, please send me a picture.

That's my roundup for 2018. If you found other unique items at the 2018 Bead&Button Show, please share your photos with us on Facebook! I can’t wait to see what will top this crazy collection next year!

Be sure to mark your calendars and plan now to join us next year in Milwaukee! Next year's show will take place June 2-9, 2019, at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. We feature hundreds of classes and the world's largest consumer bead show. It is the most fun that you can have making jewelry! 

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