Heidi Munan reports on a crafts event she recently attended:

The Melbourne Bead Expo is one of the activities organized by the Bead Society of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. It was beads, beads and beads for three glittering days at Kingston City Hall, from the 9 – 11th November 2012.


Ann Marie Powers, our friend in Melbourne, kindly helped Heidi Munan at the BIBCo 2013 stall

The Expo falls into three main components; there is a large bead fair, an exhibition of original bead-work, and a series of workshops.


A small section of the Melbourne Expo


The bead market occupied one floor of a large hall, where twenty-eight vendors spread their wares. Each ‘stall’ took up three or four tables, many also added tall display frames, fancy lighting and backdrops to display the merchandise to the best advantage. There were beads of every kind imaginable, from conkers the size of mandarin oranges to the tiniest of ‘seeds’, bugles, tubes, fancy shapes and figures. A number of glass artists showcased original, one-of-a-kind lampwork beads. It is impossible to describe even a fraction of the many-hued display – every turning up and down the aisles opened out to vistas of new treasures.

Many stalls concentrated on materials, fastenings, threads and findings, the essentials of good quality beadwork.

The workshops, held on a separate floor, went on from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. daily, with breaks for lunch and dinner. Well-known bead designers like Melanie Potter from the USA taught advanced beadwork for advanced beaders. This year, the main accent was on the baroque: ‘Queen Ester, Band of Jewels, Honeycomb Lace, Lotuses of the Nile’. Other workshops incorporated beads with textiles, one taught the use of polymer clay to make beads, another the art of cold-working copper foil. Margaret Mueller, a bead researcher and artist whom we are looking forward to welcoming at BIBCo 2013, taught a workshop called ‘Steamin’ Punk Pendants’ assembling metal and recycled components to make unique little works of art.

The Exhibition showcased exquisite beadwork done by members of the Bead Society, and the results of a competition that is run in conjunction with the Expo. A most original part of this was the ‘Bead Challenge’: each entrant buys a set of identical beads several months before the event. This ’surprise package’ is all or she may use to make a necklace, bracelet or any article of choice, to submit to the judges when Expo draws near. The 2012 BSV Bead Challenge kit included ‘a variety of gorgeous bright red glass beads, three types of chain and a filigree component’. The results on show at the Expo proved the versatility and creative imagination of Victoria’s beaders to the full!


One of the splendid entries at an Expo Beadwork Competition, by bead artist Meg Seller

Visiting the Melbourne Bead Expo was an interesting and stimulating experience, which I would heartily recommend to any of our friends who find themselves in that part of the world next October! Keep an eye on the web page of theMelbourne Bead Expo , or that of the Beads Society of Victoria