Wow- what a weekend- I thought I was going to be teaching but I think I did as much learning as everyone else!
The main thing I learnt was that in the UK we think we're bead deprived when in reality we're very spoilt.
We look to America with their variety of magazines, retreats, museums and shops and wish we had that but it is only when you look at other countries you realise just how good we now have it.
When I started beading it was all amulet bags- it was all I did at first as it seemed to be all that was available. All the books around were American, all the magazine were definitely American and so were all the websites. There were only a few shops and I even found the need to set up my two other websites (Beadelicious and Beading In London) to help others to track down what was out there. Eight years on and what a different situation.
In England/ the UK we now have 2 beading related magazines with pages of projects where all the materials can now be easily bought here. We also have pages of adverts where we can look for supplies, find out about our local shops and see the latest products out there. There are a multitude of groups, the Beadworkers Guild and The Bead Society of Great Britain. I'm sure there's probably a bead or craft fair most weekends somewhere we could travel to and stock up on everything we want.
Contrast that with France (and Belgium!) and what do you find? No magazines, barely any books, a couple of shops in Paris but no where else to buy your beads without going online or ordering from the UK or America (and definitely no where to find Delicas). No fairs, no groups and no classes. But what you do have is lots of dedicated, talented and enthusiastic beaders sharing with and supporting each other to produce the most fabulous beadwork!
From my internet explorations and emails I knew there were French beaders producing wonderful work so imagine my surprise this weekend when I learnt that they really were all doing this under their own steam and helping each other and trying their best to grow beading in France and Belgium (and the rest of Europe!) I never imagined that all of this work was being done without all of the resources that we now take for granted.
I hope you like the photo of some of us working hard along with an intruder!