This year's Silver Bella in Omaha was the epitome of sociable creativity. Everyone's style was welcome, since students brought most of their class stash to suit themselves and the classes were wide open to individual interpretation of the teachers' samples. Visiting among the class tables to see others' works-in-progress was stimulating and gratifying, since everyone seemed so willing to share ideas and extra bits of foof. In its free-form approach, Silver Bella seems to attract a fortuitous blend of paper artists and mixed-media artists, all intent on enjoying themselves among understanding peers. Since last year's Silver Bella, many of the women have forged friendships through their blogs. Now they were happy to meet each other in person (again or for the first time) and share a creative buzz, including numerous swaps prepared before the event.
So many Silver Bella photos have already been generously shared on those blogs, so I'll content myself with just a few more. This first photo looks back from the Old Market area to our hotel -- yes, we were that close to great shopping and restaurants. On our first evening in Omaha, after an afternoon of energetic shopping, my wonderfully talented roommate Carol and I shared a relaxing dinner at the Upstream Brewery with Becky and Kelly, both of whom live just outside the city. Becky has a great new photography loft (visit her blog to see), and Kelly's daughter's pre-wedding photos were among the first to inaugurate the new studio space.
Before the Thursday evening gathering in the hotel, Debby joined Carol and me for another day of shopping and eating, including my birthday lunch at the Twisted Fork, a new urban cowboy restaurant. Amid taxidermy heads on the brick walls, a velvet settee with cowhair pillows, and a long bar overlooked by a cowboy at the old watering hole, we ordered from the "things you don't rope" section of the menu for our lunch. All day long we kept bumping into other Bellas intent on finding treasures to add to their stash. Thursday evening's Silver Bella Meet and Greet included the wondrous site of a ballroom filled with over 150 women embroidering and laughing, visiting and swapping (more on my swaps later).
In between Friday and Saturday classes (another post), we indulged in another shopping spree at the foof-fabulous Friday evening Vendor Fair. Carol welcomed me to sit at her table, since my name never appeared on the vendor list. Inside the ballroom, all the creative finery dazzled the eyes, including the prom dresses.
Audacious Amy glowed hot pink from head to toe, earning the title "Prom Sweetheart".
Stellar Stacy wore my favorite color and foofed up her grand dame gown with strategically placed tissues.
Vendor tables heaped full of glorious goodies, made and found, filled the ballroom. Andrea Singarella's One Hundred Wishes displayed oodles of ribbon and velvet leaves on a charmingly flounced tablecloth she made from hand-dyed shower curtains.
With lots of help from my last year's classmate Mary Beth and other family members, Megan aka Princess Lasertron built and hand-painted a delightful play shop around her fanciful button corsages.
Amanda of HodgePodge, besides displaying her interesting mix of vintage and glitter, made me the most fantastic Eiffel tower carousel for the Glitter House Swap (photos in the next post).
Sweet Charlotte Lyons brought her warm fuzzy felted cockeyed trees, snowmen and mice to lend homespun charm amidst all the glitter.
By the time I reached Kim Caldwell's Artistic Bliss table, her pile of gorgeous custom-designed scrap totes was seriously depleted. Good thing we arranged an earlier private sale in her room during a break between classes, or "Valentina" may not have been available to come home in my suitcase.
Although the dark lighting in the ballroom makes it more difficult to see the full effect, Analise of Sugar Sugar has a wonderfully lighthearted style with pink and aqua. I'm a fan even of her cheerful painted clothespins.
At French by Design, I was immediately attracted by the piles of old French books, postcards and other souvenirs. Those paperbacks remind me of the ones I read constantly during my studies in Paris and Pau. The older hardcover books I purchased now smell a little musty after the trip home, so I'm chilling them out on the deck.
One of my favorite booths for its atmosphere was Carol Spinski's Raised in Cotton, where her eye for the faded, jaded but still elegant found items was augmented by her handmade versions.
The retail shop The Curious Sofa set up its own well-known atmosphere under the practiced eye of owner Debbie Dusenberry, who shared an interesting offer with me as I extended my business card while purchasing various items in shades of white.
Having recently started a collection of sugar shakers for my glitter needs, I loved this "tree" festooned with hanging salt shakers and of course added one to my collection.
Among my Curious Sofa purchases were the white cotton-boll trees by a Kansas City artist, while my friend Debby Schuh couldn't pass up that white straw basket.
To round out the weekend, Carol, Debby, Janice of Papier Valise and her husband, and I shared a dinner table among many other Bellas at the Upstream Brewery one last time. After a leisurely Sunday morning, breakfasting with Debby, Amy, Hope, and Mary in the hotel, Carol and I lugged our at-the-limit suitcases to the airport where, you guessed it, all my bags were opened and even my laptop was taken aside to a special station to discern what strange things I was up to. After all, Bellas deserve special attention.