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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

Bead & Button Show crafts a good time for all


"Everybody likes shiny things."

That's a direct quote from Bead & Button Show 2007 attendee Janis Casey, owner of Hot Heads salon in Milwaukee, and it could also serve as the show's tagline.

Now in its seventh year in Milwaukee, the Bead & Button Show features about 370 vendors from around the world, selling beads of every type, color and size imaginable.

Even if you're not a "beader," you'd get a kick out of immersing yourself in the sea of handmade beads, pearls, gems, gold, silver, art glass, vintage beads and ethnic beads that is the Midwest Airlines Center through this Sunday.

"I've found that people just really like to do handiwork; it's a satisfying outlet," said Tracy Stilwell, who, along with her sister and business partner, Allison Stilwell, brings her "Artgirlz" wares from Rhode Island.

Stilwell also brings some jewelry-making advice, in addition to felt beads in a variety of colors and shapes as well as pewter charms in the shapes of arms, legs, hands, purses, shoes, cowgirl boots and more.

"Be brave when you create," she said. "You have to trust your imagination, follow your instinct, just trust yourself."

Sally Roesler, who owns The Bead Goes On in Martha's Vineyard, has been coming to the show as an exhibitor for seven years. Her shop specializes in Karen Hill Tribe Silver and glass beads from Indonesia.

But her hottest offering right now is plastic beads from Germany, shaped like stones and treated in various colors and finishes, including metallic. They provide the texture and appearance of rock, but without the weight.

"The beading business has become really demanding in the 18 years I've been in it," said Roesler. "I keep coming to this show because it's the biggest."

The 2006 Bead & Button Show drew more than 14,000 people. Visit Milwaukee, the area's visitor and convention bureau, estimates that the 2007 show will generate an economic impact value of about $1.6 million for downtown Milwaukee.

If you want to see what all the beading buzz is about for yourself, you can download a $2-off coupon here: beadandbuttonshow.com/coupon.

The deal gets sweeter; if you print it out and bring it Sunday, you can "Grab a Friend" and both get in for $10.


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