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Rebecca’s Bead & Button Adventure 2013

Friday, May 31st

6:40 AM
Well, I’m off for my 10 day teaching/learning/visiting/vacationing adventure in Milwaukee. The class kits and tools were shipped last week and have already arrived at the hotel. The instructions are printed and packed (over 600 pages!). My bags are checked and I made it through airport security without incident.

Thanks to Joanna’s tip about the quiet corner workstations, I’m now comfortably camped out in the Tucson airport waiting for my 9:05 AM flight to LAX.

7:43 AM
Of course there are other things I should/could be working on (like the July class schedule), but I was updating my 6-page adventure itinerary and noticed that Miranda (my best friend) is leaving Friday afternoon. My mom is taking Richard’s class Friday evening and that gives me a three hour block of free time! Hmm what to do with three hours to myself? I suppose I could take a nap and lounge around. Or I could take another class! And so now I’m browsing the show catalog looking for class with open seats that doesn’t have a tool list that exceed the contents of my suitcase. Soutache is looking good, but I’m already taking one Soutache class with Miranda on Wednesday. Hmmm…

Cast of Characters
That’s me in the hat. I’m Rebecca Combs. I’m flying to the Bead & Button Show to teach 6 kumihimo classes and to promote my upcoming kumihimo book.

The handsome guy with me is my husband, Richard Swanborg. For the last five years we been working our growing our “Life Less Ordinary” together. He’s flying to Wisconsin later in the week and he’ll be teaching a chain maille class.

I’ve enlisted the help of my best friend, Miranda Methven, to help me at the show. She’s flying in from Maryland. That’s us at Camp Stonybrook (circa 1998). I’m on the far right and she’s 2nd from the right. It was at Girl Scout camp that we really honed our crafting abilities. Miranda, I promise we’ll get an updated picture on this trip!

These are my parents, Alice and Marcus Combs. They’re partners with Richard and me in Design & Adorn. My mom is flying in from South Carolina to help us with the show. My dad’s staying home to watch their variety store in Loris. My mom taught me arts & crafts since I was a baby. In fact she’s the one who turned me one to kumihimo.

8:09 PM (Wisconsin Time)
Even though is says eleven times on my itinerary to “Wear wrist watch every day!” I forgot to acquire a watch last night while I was packing. Luckily the airport gift shop in Tucson had some cute ones and so sporting my mother-of-pearl and gold leather wrist watch I confidently know when I am without consulting my cell phone.

My flights were uneventful (just like I like them!) and I arrived at the hotel as planned. My book editor, Mary Wohlgemuth, met me at my room to “loan” me my necklaces so I can play with them in my photography class tomorrow as well as display them in my classes. It was great to finally meet her in person. All this time we’ve just talked on the phone or sent emails. As a surprise, she brought me a rough early layout of my book. It still has a long way to go before November, but it’s exciting to see it take shape!

Saturday, June 1st

9:00 AM – 5:30 PM Light And Shadow: The Art of Photographing Jewelry and Glass
Instructor: Doug Baldwin

This is the third photography class I’ve taken this year(The other two were with Sun Street Studio in Tucson), but I still learned a lot! We went over the three main things you can fiddle with on your camera: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. This was review for me, but it was helpful hearing it described from another perspective. The focus of the class was product photography intended to generate sales of the product, not the photograph itself. We toured some Etsy sites and critiqued the photos. Then it was on to practice.


Doug designed the lights we used in class and they are great! Far easier to use than the light tents with fixed lights that you see advertised on the internet. I used to have two of those, but got so fed up with the awkwardness that I pitched them. I ordered three of Doug’s lights and they should arrive in a couple of weeks.

The last time I really studied photography was back in high school and we shot everything on film. It was really nice to be able to ask “stupid” questions about my digital camera without being made to feel stupid. For example, “Where did my light meter go?!” Answer: “Your camera went to sleep.”

The Show Stopper - new photo, black acrylic background
Original Show Stopper class catalog photo

So here’s a photo a took of my Show Stopper necklace. What do you think? Should it be the new picture for the catalog? I like it, but I also took a few on white and grey backgrounds. I think I’ll have fun playing with this!

The class was well organized and fun! I would for sure take another class with Doug Baldwin. If 8 or so of you Tucsonans are interested maybe we can organize a class here at the shop.

Class photo with self timer. Doug Baldwin is the tall guy in the middle.

Mom arrived in the afternoon during my class and Miranda shortly after class let out. Everybody was hungry so we mosied over to Mader’s German Restaurant for dinner.

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