Thursday, July 26, 2012

What I'm doing on my summer vacation

"One more for the road (ro-oh-oh-oh-oad)."

At some point I must have thought it was a good idea to append two vacation trips of entirely different natures. And to that I can only say, what was I thinking?!

Tomorrow morning early we leave for the annual international conference of glass bead makers. Known as the Gathering, it takes place in cities around the country each year, the main criteria apparently being that the city has a Hyatt hotel. Because I can't think of another reason for two conferences in Rochester, NY, just three years apart.

We aren't going to Rochester though, we are going to Seattle. I've only been to one Gathering before, Miami 2009, when I had been making beads for just a little more than a year. Not only did I win a scholarship for that one, but both my parents were alive and living an hour's drive north of Miami. Attendance was reportedly down that year, with just 300 attendees.

Seattle is expected to have at least twice that number, the Pacific Northwest being the bosom of glass art culture, or at least one breast, the other being Corning, NY. Which, come to think of it, is about 100 miles from Rochester, a geographic combination worth considering. But the Seattle area is home to many of the largest glass importers, distributors and even manufacturers, although Portland, Oregon boasts the most American companies that actually make glass cane for lampworkers. Sheet glass for stained glass workers and batch for glassblowers is made from the Midwest to the Carolinas and probably other places I don't even know about because if it's not made for torching, it's just not my passion,

So, Summer Vacation Part 1 is 4 days in Bellevue, with events from Silent Auction to Open Torch to Silly Hat Contest to Bead Bazaar. Most folks have already arrived for the official opening reception tonight, and many convened as early as last weekend, for pre-conference classes. The technical vendor area opened at 10 am today, and some glass no doubt already has sold out, but a good friend is holding aside some special silver glass test batches for me. I'm going to try not to be ridiculous about buying glass this year, especially considering the logistics involved with Summer Vacation Part 2.

Because from Seattle we are taking an Amtrak train called the Empire Builder to Glacier National Park, where we will stay for a couple of days before getting back on the train and embarking for Chicago, in the process fulfilling my husbands wish to visit all 48 continental states. He will get to tick off the last one, North Dakota, probably as we hurtle through it at high speeds in the dead of night.

I've just spent the better part of the last 48 hours packing for both a glass bead conference and a hiking trip and man, that has been a beach and a half. I'm selling beads and frit at the Bazaar, and since I am unable to do things other than excessively, I kept adding more beads to my baggage. For a bead show one must have business cards, bags for merchandise, sales receipts, credit card gizmos, and even with a minimalist approach to a display, tablecloths and trays. I jarred and bubble wrapped at least 100 jars of frit and I lost count of how many beads but I'm estimating a couple of hundred at least.

There's a Bead Swap on Sunday too, and just in case I sell out at the Bazaar (one can dream), I packed trade beads too. I also have a bag of 50 beads for Beads of Courage. And jewelry, including a necklace of beads with all of my frit blends, lots of earrings and pendants, because this is the place where the people who share your passion will notice these things. And I figure, the more jewelry I wear, the more I can get away without makeup, because I've come to regard makeup as an enemy. Eye shadow does not look good on older eyes, I am hopeless with eyeliner and mascara, lipstick has never been my thing, so I'm down to SPF 15 face powder and a little blush.

And now my bags are packed, I'm ready to go, the hiking boots are jammed in with the bead trays, the beads pretty much fill my carry on, and the extra large spinner I just bought at TJ Maxx even accommodates my hiking poles. Less than six hours from now the alarm clock will set this adventure in motion. United willing, we will be in Seattle by lunchtime. Let the party begin. Sing it with me.

"One more job oughta get it, one last shot, and we quit it, one more for the ro-oh-oh-oh-oad."
Boz Scaggs

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