Catching Rock at the Tucson Gem Show

February 25, 2014 § 3 Comments

For many goldsmiths and jewelry designers, both professional and amateur, the annual Tucson Gem Show held in January and February is the ultimate buying and networking event of the year. After hearing about it for years, I finally decided to see it for myself. Fortunately, my dear friend Cori Dantini agreed to join me, which made it all work AND all play. Thanks Cori!Tucson_Gem_and_Mineral_Show

In Tucson there are dealers from literally all over the world, and while it is possible to obtain colored gems and stones from places like New York, Hong Kong and Bangkok, to find exceptional examples of colored stones, or rare and unusual specimens, Tucson is almost like going directly to the source. And, if you are wishing you had a crystal ball to see what will be trending next year, look no further. Gem trends are set in Tucson.

For the novice, attending the shows can be overwhelming. Tucson Gem Show is actually 46 separate shows and each individual show can house 50 to 500 vendors, so there are many venders and venues, all with interesting products, good prices and helpful experts. If you are interested in attending the shows as a jewelry designer or goldsmith, you will likely want to attend the AGTA GemFair™ Tucsonwhich is the premier show that also includes seminars. The JOGS Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the GJX Gem Show, the Gem & Lapidary Dealers Association Show and Pueblo Gem and Mineral Show are also great wholesale shows to attend. In order to get in, you will need to register and provide credentials such as a resale certificate. You will also find bead shows and classes, ethnic and tribal jewelry and unique and unusual minerals. There are many satellite shows including mainstream hotel shows where dealers set up displays in their room. “Fringe” hotel shows somewhat removed from the city center that usually cater to a particular industry such as tools, machinery, gemstones, jewelry, gifts, etc. There are also outdoor tent shows along Interstate-10, and local wholesale showrooms. If you have a vender you like to buy from, get on their mailing list to find out where they will be located, or find them on the Tucson Show Guide. Most venders will take credit cards, however you will have more bargaining power with cash.

There are many places to stay in Tucson, so there is no shortage of rooms. However, the inexpensive rooms are in short supply. Motel chains like Motel 6 may have nice rooms for around $85 per night, but getting a reservation during the show can be difficult. You should spend some time online hunting down good prices. We stayed at the Best Western Royal Sun, which is conveniently located to the best shows, has nice rooms with pool and jacuzzi, and includes a fast breakfast in the adjacent diner.

If you want to visit many shows, the AGTA GemFair offers a shuttle that can get you to all of the shows and save you money on parking. However, if you want to save time or plan to visit places further outside of Tucson like the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or the Arizona State Museum, or to check out the shopping at La Encantada,  you may wish to rent a car at the airport. Taking a cab to see these sites can run as much as $40. (which is also what we paid to get to our hotel from the airport.) Flying into Phoenix can get you less expensive airfare, then you can rent a car, and drive the 2-3 hours down to Tucson.

After a long day of hunting and gathering, there is nothing more needed then a great meal and cool drink. Our favorite dinner experiences were at Cafe Poca Cosa, a lively Mexican bistro where we were greeted by chef/owner Suzana Davila who heard our tale of woe (we did not have time to eat lunch – too busy looking for gems) and immediately found us a table (thank you Suzana!). Traditional and delicious! Another night we dined al fresco at a sidewalk table at the Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, an innovative fusion of French and Southwest cooking.

What started 60 years ago as a show created by 18 local mineral enthusiasts and held in an elementary school has grown over the decades into the premier hunting ground for those looking to buy or sell anything from drop dead gorgeous tourmalines to massive geodes. The Tucson Gem show can be overwhelming and exhausting if you are not careful. Make a plan for where you want to go and pace yourself.  You are not going to see the entire gem show, even if you were able to stay for a month. But don’t miss it! Tucson is the place to go to see every gemmy thing your heart desires, in one place at one time.

Catch Rock!

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Antique Expedition ~ Fall 2013 Brimfield Antique Show

September 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

One of my favorite events of the year is the Brimfield Antiques Show where I look forward to chatting with venders about jewelry history and culture as much as I do discovering a new piece for my designs. Most of the components for my vintage inspired jewelry are found right here in New England using locally sourced vintage textiles, buttons, and costume jewelry, and with up-cycled materials such as discarded findings and components from bygone jewelry manufactures. This Fall my mom, Barbara, joined me for a week of antiquing, inspiration and education on everything from hand hooked rugs and mid-century dining tables, to antique silver native american beads and Victorian mosaics.

My Brimfield Antiques week started off with a one day indoor Vintage Textile and Vintage Clothing Show in nearby Sturbridge. Approximately 250 Vendors set up at the Host Hotel, selling everything from vintage fashion and textiles to buttons, belts and shoes, to hats and jewelry. We spent the next few days walking the many fields, starting at 7 am, going until we couldn’t walk another step.

Here are a few finds that inspired us:

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My trusty side-kick (Mom) taking a break in one of the many fields we visited during our week at Brimfield, MA antique shows.

IMG_1920IMG_1919IMG_1935Antique Treasures Found at Brimfield Fall 2013IMG_1933 IMG_1926IMG_1938

The Brimfield Antiques Show is the largest outdoor antiques show in the world, with over 6,000 dealers and 130,000 visitors during the course of one week, held three times a year in May, July and September. I always look forward to attending! While I refer to the week as “Brimfield”, the entire show is composed of 23 fields, owned by individual promoters who lease spaces to dealers from all over the world. The large fields of venders are located on a mile long stretch of a two-lane road (both sides!) just outside the town of Brimfield, in central Massachusetts. Different fields open on different days with unique venders, so each day is filled with new discoveries!

Treasure Hunting At May 2013 Brimfield Antique Show

May 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

I feel very lucky to have a wealth of knowledgeable antique and vintage experts in my own back yard. One of my favorite events of the year is the Brimfield Antiques Show where I look forward to chatting with venders about jewelry history and culture as much as I do discovering a new piece for my designs. Most of the components for my vintage inspired jewelry are found right here in New England using locally sourced vintage textiles, buttons, and costume jewelry, and with up-cycled materials such as discarded findings and components from bygone jewelry manufactures.

My Brimfield Antiques week started off with a one day indoor Vintage Textile and Vintage Clothing Show in nearby Sturbridge. Approximately 250 Vendors set up at the Host Hotel, selling everything from vintage fashion and textiles to buttons, belts and shoes, to hats and jewelry. Tuesday to Friday I stayed at a delightful bed and breakfast, Lord Manner, and walked the fields from 6am to 6pm. I was not the early bird though! By the time I arrived some people were already carting their treasure off to new homes.

Here are a few of my most memorable finds – I didn’t purchase any of them, but found them to be inspiring!

IMG_1527 Vintage Dress Form Industrial Chic Mirror Mid Century Earrings Jenne Rayburn Brimfield 2013 Arts and Crafts English Candlesticks Jenne Rayburn Brimfield 2013 Victorian Woodwork Architectural Salvage McLaren's Industrial Tables Powder Canisters Jenne Rayburn Brimfield 2013Custom Industrial Chic Lighting

The Brimfield Antiques Show is the largest outdoor antiques show in the world, with over 6,000 dealers and 130,000 visitors during the course of one week, held three times a year in May, July and September. I always look forward to attending! While I refer to the week as “Brimfield”, the entire show is composed of 23 fields, owned by individual promoters who lease spaces to dealers from all over the world. The large fields of venders are located on a mile long stretch of a two-lane road (both sides!) just outside the town of Brimfield, in central Massachusetts. Different fields open on different days with unique venders, so each day is filled with new discoveries!

explorations and adventures… The Little Kings love a good museum

November 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am thrilled that my family happily indulges my love of visiting museums. I am continually inspired by artworks old and new. Ofcourse, for some, it is more fun to be photographed with the art then to contemplate it…

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The Market of the Living Dead – SoWa Come Celebrate The End Of 2012 Season

October 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s hard to believe that this Sunday marks the end of the open market season. We will have our last trunk show at the SoWa Open Market on Sunday, October 28th, 2012. Featuring a costume contest, pumpkin carving and live music, the last SoWa Open Market is entitled “The Market of the Living Dead”. Looking at the pictures from last year, it is a very serious costume contest!

Designer Handbags and Scarves by Jenne Rayburn

Designer Handbags and Scarves by Jenne Rayburn

The SoWa Open Market is held Sundays from May through October, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., at 460 Harrison Avenue. One of Boston’s hippest neighborhoods, The South End has been touted as the best outdoor shopping in Boston. At SoWa Open Market you can buy top-notch items from local artisans, making everything from couture fashion and leather accessories to jewelry, glass, and custom framed art.

Jenne Rayburn Blue Dyed Silk Scarves

Jenne Rayburn Blue Dyed Silk Scarves

Always on the hunt for rare or out of production vintage textiles and findings, and unique ethnic specialty fabrics, the Manu collection includes silk, local wool, organic cotton, and leather. Several of the fabrics have been hand-dyed or graffiti printed in the studio, a technique I discovered while traveling in Japan and studied after returning home.

Designer Leather Clutches by Jenne Rayburn

Designer Leather Clutches by Jenne Rayburn

I am passionately curious about other cultures, their identities and design traditions, and I love to I travel the world hunting for materials, sketching and photographing. Everything I discover and experience is incorporated into my design process. Hand-selecting unique materials with distinctive details or that have an elegant flair; antique buttons, vintage Lucite handles and elegant trims often find their way into my designs.

Jenne Rayburn Leather Clutch with Antler Clasp

Jenne Rayburn Leather Clutch with Antler Clasp

These many beguiling finds are playfully combined with sometimes unexpected colors and textures to create unique, timeless designs – blending surprise and romance. Manu designs are inspired by my personal aspiration to feel sexy and confident with a sophistication that is also whimsical and fun.

Hope to see you Sunday!

A Summer Camp Experience Like No Other – Haystack Mountain School of Crafts 2012

August 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

With the goal of researching ideas and acquiring new skills in support of my enamel jewelry design work, this summer I had the opportunity to travel to Deer Isle, Maine to participate in a two-week intensive workshop on enameling with renowned artist Jamie Bennett. Jamie’s course focused on experimenting with painting on enameled copper using over-glaze china paints to create wearable works of art.

Jamie Bennet Haystack 2012

Enamel Technique Demonstrations by Jamie Bennet

Jamie Bennett’s work is known for its meticulous use of color and his interpretations of nature that combine historical reference and contemporary explorations. Bennett is a Professor of Art in the Metal Program at the State University at New Paltz. Bennett’s work is the subject of a monograph, Edge of the Sublime, The Enamels of Jamie Bennett, published by Hudson Bay Press, which accompanies a retrospective exhibition of his work that traveled to six museums nationally through 2010.

Enamel Designs by Jenne Rayburn

A few of my enamel technique explorations, and the enamel earrings I submitted to the Haystack End of Session Auction

From the interesting people you meet, to the talented instructors and their passionate support of craft traditions, to the glorious ocean setting, Haystack is an inspirational and life changing place. Yes – working in the studio all day (and into the evening) proved to be exhausting, however it was incredibly rewarding and a luxury I never have at home. It enabled me to hone my process and see new connections between familiar ideas and techniques – my work has grown tremendously.

Takeshi Yasuda at Haystack 2012

Clay Technique Demonstrations by Takeshi Yasuda

Each summer at craft schools around the country, diverse communities of beginner to advanced artists gather in non-competitive environments to develop craft skills and nurture the creative spirit. Taught by national and international practicing studio artists and university faculty, craft schools like Haystack enable artists to question their preconceived ideas, reassess their work, and challenge themselves to experiment in unfamiliar artistic territory.

Yoshiko Wada at Haystack 2012

Lecture by the renowned textile artist Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, who was teaching the Shibori Workshop, at the exhibit “Ragged Beauty” that features a selection of traditional Japanese textiles that collectively explore the themes of recycling and repair.

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts is an international craft school located on the Atlantic Ocean in Deer Isle, Maine. Hugging the rugged coastline, the campus was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, and added to the National Historic Register in February 2006. The school offers intensive studio-based workshops in a variety of media including clay, glass, metals, paper, blacksmithing, weaving, and woodworking.

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts Photos

Left: A view of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts Metals Studio. Center: A view looking out to the Bay. Right: A snapshot from my walk on the beach

A Week-end At The Vintage Bazaar

June 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last week-end Jenne Rayburn Jewelry joined antiques, architectural salvage, vintage clothing, and original art at The Vintage Bazaar, an upscale outdoor market in Salisbury, MA.  Despite being book-ended by rain on Saturday, the two days turned out to be delightfully warm with great live music and homemade ice-cream.

Jenne Rayburn Vintage Jewelry

Vintage Inspired Necklaces by Jenne Rayburn at The Vintage Bazaar

Thank you to Devon Chouinard-Allen for her hard work and wonderful style, which made the week-end a huge success. You can check out pictures from the day on The Vintage Bazaar Facebook page.

Jenne Rayburn Handmade Jewelry

The Jenne Rayburn Jewelry Display at The Vintage Bazaar

The feedback from the day was amazing, especially from customers admiring the recycled plastic necklaces.  And the other venders were so generous with their advice and wisdom.  We had a great experience!

Jenne Rayburn Recycled Plastic Jewelry

Jenne Rayburn Recycled Plastic Jewelry and Vintage Flower Necklaces

Here is the treasure I let slip away – Owl fire irons circa 1950…

The Vintage Bazaar

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