Traveling with Beads
At the drop of a hat you can find yourself on an airplane. This happened to me when my dad was suddenly and unexpectedly in the hospital on the other side of the country and I wasted no time in getting to him. I packed a tiny suitcase so I wouldn’t have to check my luggage, and realized that despite the basics, I just had to pack some beads to take. This makes sense, since a long hospital stay for him meant long visiting hours there for me. A bead project would be a great thing to have to put my hands to use and keep my mind busy so I wouldn’t stay fixated on my worries over him getting well.
Have beads, will travel!
Looking back on times in the past when I’ve lugged my beads on long trips, weekend adventures and afternoon day trips, it got me thinking about what I’ve brought and how I’ve brought it. What’s the best way to pack your beads up to keep them safe? How do you make them portable and still user friendly? This is worth exploring!
Round tubes, tic-tac tubes, baggies or whatever containers you normally store your seed beads in at home is perfectly fine to take on the road as is. A sure bet way to keep containers from spilling or popping open is to lay them in a row together on a piece of plastic wrap (like Saran Wrap) and then fold them tightly up. The plastic wrap will cling to itself to keep the beads right where you put them, but is easy to remove to use. You can even recycle the wrap for your trip home.
A cut above
Bringing scissors or wire cutters onto an airplane is a no-no these days. But you can get around it by using one of these Clover Thread Cutter Pendants for threads such as Nymo or Fireline. It will cut through some fibers that are more course, like waxed linen or Conso, but it won’t work for wire that is used for wire wrapping beads. You can hang this pendant on a chain for your neck, but I simply toss it into my bead box and its non-threatening to my fellow plane passengers.
What I left behind, and what I managed to take
Abandoned at home were my triangle trays (a pointed, sharp weapon according to airline security crews), my extra needle packages, and my tiny scissors. I brought one small needle case that didn’t really look like a needle case and a tiny bottle of nail polish to seal my knots, since glue is a no-no. I brought one tiny pair of pliers that had a built in cutter on it, and that managed to get past security. The wire I left in its original packaging so they would see that its meant for making jewelry and not for making a weapon of mass destruction.
Making a kit
When I have more time to plan ahead, I make a kit of my project that I want to do, and bring only what’s necessary so I don’t have too much bulk with me. A pattern and the required beads along with thread, needles and scissors, plus any embellishment beads tucked away in a clear plastic bag will allow me to see what it is at a glance. I try to bring more than one of these kits with me so that I can work on the one that tickles my fancy at the moment. At home I have a travel basket that has a few projects in it that I keep in the car meant for beading on the go. When my husband is driving I pull out a purse I’m crocheting that will turn into a felted purse in the future. Or when I visit a friends house I can bring in some beading so we can sit and bead together. These projects only get worked on when I’m out and about… but you’d be surprised at how much you can get done in a year from these beauties!
Darn! I forgot my ______!!! (fill in the blank!)
Too many times I get settled to bead in a strange place and I realize I forgot to bring something important. Like a beading tray or mat, my Ott light or crimps. It’s a great idea to make a travel kit with a few clasps, crimps and other items so you’re sure to have them. If you’re like me and you buy beads while you’re traveling, then its great to have a bit of Soft Flex wire so you can make something up on the spot. Your kit can be small and space friendly, but also keep important things in it… you’ll be glad you had it!
On the spot beading!
Years ago my friend CarolAnne and I visited a great B&B in Maine called The White Wolf Inn. We adventured out into the tiny town and found a great bookstore with these gorgeous flat polished stones that were approximately 2”X3” or 4”, and I bought a big handful. Then we went outside on the front porch where there was a courtyard garden reading area and right there we sat and wire wrapped those stones into pendants with beads and charms for embellishments. They were stunning and I eventually sold them all, not keeping even one for myself. (Beady regrets!) It just shows you that you can make the most of a moment and it creates so many memories. I don’t remember much else from that trip… except the amazing Inn décor and the incredible grilled cheese with sautéed mushrooms that I specially ordered in the dining room and they eventually put it on the menu! Delish!
A beady gift
When someone is hosting your stay you may want to whip up a pair of thank you earrings or maybe a bracelet to show how grateful you are for their hospitality. If you pack a bit of spare beads into your kit you can find some that matches their personality and taste, and you’ll have a tailored gift on the spot! I also carry a couple of small drawstring bags just for this occasion.
Beads or bust!
So when you’re on the move, bring beads! Then...share beads, buy beads, gift beads and make sure you remember to bead. :-)
“My favorite beads from a trip I recently took turned out to be the stuff I picked up off the ground. Some stones, shells and driftwood that I plan to drill in to beads. Oh, and the lovelies I picked up at a tiny vintage bead and fiber store. German 1940 I think. They’ve found a home in me. I’ll have those beads forever!” Lei Lani Grace-Hughes, who travels for a living and buys beads at every stop.