I know most of y’all are not beaders, but stick with me here, because I really believe this applies to everyone who does any kind of work. Purists tend to think that all you need to do the work is the essential tools, the “Just the facts, ma’am” school of working. So if you’re beading, all you need is a beading needle, beading thread, and beads. And, in truth, you can work that way. But here’s what I’ve discovered in the many years I’ve been doing handwork: there are ways to make your life so, so much easier, and it’s worth going to the effort to figure out what those are.
For years, I beaded with just the basics, pouring beads out onto a piece of cloth and picking them up with my needle, chasing down the strays that rolled onto the floor or behind the couch cushion. Then when I began beading more seriously–here, for instance, is the piece I just finished:
I started paying attention to how other people worked and started thinking about ways I could make it easier to do what I love. Some beaders use double-sided tape stuck to the back of their hands for holding loose beads. Others use felt or low pile fabric. Some use long beading needles, and others use shorter betweens. Over the years, I’ve figured out what works best for me, and it’s truly changed the way I feel about long, involved beading projects. Sure, they’re still tedious, but having the things I need to make the job easier has made a real difference.
The first thing I’d recommend is a tray. I have half a dozen of these, all purchased after random holidays at Target when they went on clearance. The one above is a cheesy sparkly gold one that I love for its glitteriness, which, alas, does not show up here. Because I most often bead while sitting cross-legged on the day bed, I need some way to bring my supplies up closer to work level, rather than having them sitting on the bed. A tray like the one above fits nicely across my knees or on a pillow in my lap, plus it allows me to carry everything from room to room–I, like my cats, follow the sun, starting out in the eastside rooms in the morning and moving to the westside rooms in the afternoon. If I spill beads, they’re mostly contained in the tray. If your tray has hand holes that allow stuff to roll out, you might want to tape a piece of cardboard or mat board over those.
OK–I’m out of room here today, so come back on Monday for Part 2 and I’ll explain the rest of the stuff on my sparkly little golden tray.
For more tips on beading, check out Beading Basics, by Carole Rodgers, available in the shop.
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