Monday, June 6, 2016

Favorite Things: Beading Mats

As beaders, we each develop little habits, or even manias, around our hobby. Products are created for us, some better than others, and practice has led us to see the flaws in them. Most of us have learned ways of modifying or adapting the use of these products to get a ‘just right’ beading experience that suits our particular styles. This time around, I asked team members what they preferred as beading surfaces. There are no ‘right’ methods to beading, we all simply prefer different things!
Patrice Thomas ( shared that her favorite beading surface was a small, round metal sewing can with a hinged lid and that she has been using it for 15 years! “I have never beaded on a mat. I store my current project along with the beads, needles and threads inside the can and when I'm ready to work the lid of the can becomes my work surface. The can is well worn and really needs to be replaced. I will admit that sometimes I'm embarrassed to take it out in public. I have not replaced it because I have not been able to find a suitable replacement. This is my favorite thing because it works for me, it allows me to do what I love anywhere I am. When I teach beading classes I bead on the lid while my students bead on a mat. It fits in my purse and travels with me, even on vacations. It makes my beading portable, me productive and when I'm beading in public, it often sparks conversations which gives me an opportunity to tell my story about the can and share my love of beading!”

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough ( responded with a conflicting comment pinning Bead-On-It boards versus vellux blanket scraps. Bead-On-It boards were invented and are made by Dee Pyatte ( and consist of a circular vellux sheet sown to a thicker velvet border, which unlike with just a piece of the material, keeps beads from rolling away too far when there is movement. Elizabeth had previously attempted to stick her vellux scrap piece inside a cookie thin, but had an issue when the beads would roll to the edges and hide underneath with movement. She much preferred the Bead-On-It board.

Her opinion was the same as Pamela E. Troutman’s ( who believes a Bead-On-It board is only comparable to a Swarovski mat, which comes with a printed ruler- so useful!

Christine  Boyer, team captain, ( uses a homemade system: “I gather all the beads for each project into a cigar box (only about a dollar from local cigar shops) lined with a $1 velour bead mat. It's easy to keep everything together and even take along with me. My other favorite thing is that little souvenir state spoon. I bought a couple at a yard sale once and find it perfect for spooning out beads and putting them back. And speaking of bargains, my favorite needles are Beadalon's size 12 hard beading needles (from Michaels). They are perfect for going through size 11 & 15 seed beads, last a long time, and cost only about $4 for a dozen! I'd rather spend the big money on beads, everything else is a bargain for me!” Who knew a little spoon bought at a yard sale could become so essential to a beading routine!

Lastly remains my own favorite things ( I use my oh-so-special beading “plate” for laying out the beads I need without having them roll away. I came upon the following beading tray long before my beading years. As a baby, I used to eat out of it this, now it serves me a completely new purpose. As I am still a Winnie-The-Pooh fan, I cherish the memories in this favorite thing, every time I bead.

I am personally addicted to the Tulip Beading Needles, in the incredibly small yet sturdy size 13. As I work mostly with 15/0 seed beads, these needles allow me to pass through a bead many times without breaking the bead with needle pressure. I keep my needles in their little vial in my travel beading set up that I have organized myself. I can keep all the beading tubes I need for a project as well as a small vellux mat, rolled up to the right. This travel kit was given to me by my sweetheart. It originally contained wire jewelry tools, but he knew I would be clever enough to repurpose each little elastic holster for beadweaving supplies!

Thank you everyone who has participated in giving me your input. Comment below on or facebook! Do you share these members’ favorite things? Use something else? We want to know!

1 comment:

  1. I love tulip needles. They last so much longer for me without bending. I also use the Bead-On-It board and love the cheetah design. For large projects I have a much larger plastic tray with lips and a foam bottom that I got at Joanne's Fabrics. I then took some flat sticky back foam, cut out 30 circles in it and stuck it onto the foam bottom of the tray. That way when I use lots of colors, each one has a spot.