With more than 30 instructors and 100+ classes, you can take workshops with your favorite instructors at Bead Fest. Classes cover techniques from bead embroidery to metal clay, metalsmithing, polymer, and more. Plus, Master Classes are back! These special two-day workshops include daily breakfast, and a dinner with your instructor, along with other perks. This is your chance to dive deep into skills you want to learn or polish.
Shown above: Make a Statement design in progress. Image courtesy of Julie Sanford.
Meet our two Bead Fest instructors offering master classes: Julie Sanford and Edgar Lopez.
Julie Sanford is an award-winning designer who has been creating and exhibiting artisan jewelry for over 30 years. Daughter of a rockhound, Julie Sanford started making jewelry as a teenager. Today, she is a full-time artisan jeweler, gallery owner, and jewelry instructor. Her career path includes 15 years in fine jewelry retail and 5 years as a K-12 visual art instructor. Combining her love of art, jewelry, and education, she is now the director of Studio JSD, a metalsmithing workshop and gallery in Grand Haven, Michigan. Studio JSD houses a fully equipped studio space, private bench rentals, a jewelry tool and supply store. It’s also an artisan gallery featuring the work of over 25 local and regional makers.
Q: Julie, what are the top three things making jewelry provides for you?
- Playfulness and joy in creating new objects out of beautiful, rare and interesting materials and raw metals.
- A sense of accomplishment in watching my skills improve, observing how techniques that were once rough and clumsy become more effortless with time.
- Delight in making connections with people who share the same response to the materials and aesthetic of my work.
And ultimately, making jewelry provides a channel that keeps the legacy of my dad alive.
Q: What do you like best about teaching?
It is so rewarding to see the overall self-confidence, self-sufficiency and self-motivation of others improve by teaching techniques in jewelry making. It is also fulfilling to bring a diverse range of people together to form a common bond. There is such a feeling of friendship, collaboration and mutual respect in the creative space of membership. We all belong to not just a local but also the wider maker community.
Beading with Edgar Lopez
Edgar Lopez is a gifted goldsmith who fell in love with beading and found his creativity shifting in a whole new dimension. Beads allow him the possibility of bringing shapes and colors together in entirely new ways—and he isn’t afraid of intricate stitching. Edgar recently moved to Long Island, New York, from the Dominican Republic. He enjoys working with crystals and gemstones to make colorful, dramatic jewelry inspired by his life in the Caribbean.
Q: Edgar, have you always been a creative person? How did you get started designing jewelry?
I come from a very creative family, and they have always been supportive of my interest in learning new things. I went to university to study architecture and that was my foundation for understanding the use of color, shapes and design. Then, I started to make jewelry as a hobby, and I realized that jewelry was what I wanted to do. So I started studying jewelry design.
Q: How does your interest in goldsmithing relate to your passion for beadwork?
I spent a year studying fine-jewelry making at a school in my country. I learned a lot of different techniques using metals, but I fell totally in love with beading. I love to design beadwork because it gives me the opportunity to play with shapes and colors.
Q: Is teaching, selling, and creating beadwork a full-time job for you?
In the beginning, making jewelry (including beadwork and other techniques) was a hobby for me, but I soon realized that this is my passion. I’ve made this my full-time job because, for me, happiness is doing what you like and being able to make a living from it. This has taken me many years and many sacrifices, but I put love into everything I do.
Students and Bead Fest instructors alike frequently say that the best part of taking classes is simply spending time together. This year’s Master Classes provide longer periods of time to learn and grow together. You’ll master new techniques and perfect your skills, with extra treats along the way.