Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show
The 2007 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show started on Friday. I adore the Gem Show. I have lived in Tucson since 1981. For the last 10 years or so, I have been going to the Gem Show one or two days each year.

In the early 1980s, the Gem Show was primarily fossils. OK, interesting, yes, but fossils didn't draw me to the show each year. For 15 years or so, I didn't go to the Gem Show at all. What changed my viewpoint from "somewhat interesting" to "gotta go"? Beads!

In 1996, my friend Ann turned me on to the bead shows at the Gem and Mineral Show. Her favorites were the wholesale shows in the funky motels along Interstate 10 (Days Inn, Sheraton Four Points, Pueblo Inn, etc.) Beads from Tibet. Beads from India. Beads from China. Piles of beads. Strings of beads. Finished jewelry. I was hooked!

A few years ago, the more established bead vendors along I10 were joined by a few African bead and knick-knack vendors. The African beads are often made with recycled or found materials, such as recycled glass, cow bones. Now there is an entire African Art Village near the motels. It is sooooo cool. They have not only beads but also many home decorating items--statues, masks, rugs, furniture. I love buying direct from these African vendors. Within the past year, Target introduced home decorating "themes"--including Chinese/Asian, African, and others. (I guess they figured out that not everyone wanted to buy red plastic and glass.) Their displays are interesting-- for a big box store. But why buy African knick-knacks that were made by Chinese children when you can buy direct at the Gem Show?

About five years ago--after several years of religious I10 motel Gem Show attendance--my friend Merrill introduced me to the Holidome Bead Show. WOW. More beads, yes, but the Holidome Show also has beading supplies--Beadalon wire, findings, tools. After having found the Holidome, I was destined to go the the Gem Show twice a year--not once a year.

Well.... today's the day to go see the Africans! Gotta go.....

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