Where do you get all those materials?
It’s a common question here at IBISwoman — and completely understandable. Visitors see our varied ready made jewelry. They peek into our workshop area behind the gallery’s main desk. Yeah, how *did* you get all these goodies?
I acknowledge our collection is, umm, unusual in its volume and breadth. We don’t sell our materials except as part of our designs. The large IBISwoman collection of working stock serves us well in responding to jewelry wishes and ideas from our clients. We often still have in stock materials from 10 years ago; that comes in mighty handy when trying to make a match for a lost favorite earring. (One of our best tricks, I must say.)
So answer the question, Kathy. Where?
After boiling down 16 years of research to just one major source, I’d say the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral most informs the range of IBISwoman materials.
So that’s one-stop shopping, Kathy? Not really. The Tuscon show is a collection of several major shows and many smaller exhibits, each revolving and overlapping over about a month’s time in late January and February. From the largest convention center to the smallest corner tent, in motel rooms and recreation centers, Tucson is chock-full of materials for sale. Huge block samples of uncut stone to finished jewelry. Handfuls to huge pallets. Quality and price levels galore.
You ask: How do you know when to go and where to go in Tucson? That’s a trick. Unless someone is able to stay in Tucson for a couple of weeks, they will need to read and research to narrow the time and scope of the trip based on what they want to see. Initially it’s a shot in the dark.
What if you don’t know what you want? My first Tucson show meant that I picked a three-day period of the show based solely on advance research, then set a budget hard and fast. During those three days I walked massive exhibition tents morning to night. It was visually overwhelming — and I was such a small buyer.
Yes, mistakes were made in those early trips. It’s the homework that helps — and discipline.
These days the Tucson budget is still firm and stay short, and it includes Briana when she can get away. The learning curve has been steep — and still is as we work together. We look forward to seeing craftsmen and their representatives who we have been pleased to meet before. We relish talking with skilled professionals and long-time vendors, soaking up (and critically weighing) their tips and observations. Sometimes the information leads us to people who don’t sell at Tucson. Sometimes the comments lead us to fresh interests and down a rabbit hole of new research.
Of course, finding something just right for IBIS customers amid Tucson’s annual hubbub is a hands-down thrill for both of us.
Whether it’s luck or prepared minds, we’ll take it.