Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tool Spotlight: Bead Coasters

Readers often ask me where I got the stainless steel beading cups that I use to hold each of the bead types I’m using for a particular project. Since these are my go-to tool for keeping my seed beads and other materials separate and accessible while I work, there’s always at least one or two on my bead tray each week. The trouble is, I can’t say for sure where to get the exact cups that I use, since I repurposed them from a mug set that was gifted to me years ago.

Bead Coaster Holding Pods of Awesomeness

I recently went on a hunt for similar coasters that would be perfect for beading. It’s surprisingly difficult to find coasters of just the right design. Most are simply flat slabs of one material or another, and don’t have a rim that will keep beads in. Others have an enormous rim, which defeats the purpose – the reason these coasters work so well for beading is that they don’t get in the way of needling up seed beads one-handed.

I was able to find a few coaster designs that fit all of the criteria, and a few that are just so stylish that it might be worth it to have them in your workspace even if they’re not perfect for the job. These are my favorites:

These Elegance stainless steel coastersare by far the best of the bunch. Although I don’t like to use metal materials in my work, I do like it for my tools because they’re better for the environment than plastic overall, and very sanitary. These coasters could be soaked in warm soapy water if needed, and will be dry and ready to use again in seconds. They’ve got a smallish rim for keeping beads in place, and no extra decorations to take up space. The only downside is the holder. Unless you go long periods without doing any beadwork, or clean up completely between every single project, it’s not likely to get much use.

This InterDesign Rain Coastersset has all of the size and shape features that I like, but sadly isn’t made from glass as I thought when I first spotted them. To be fair, the plastic coasters would be very lightweight, making them nice for taking a project on holiday. Plus, they're just as washable as a stainless set.

This handmade ceramic coaster from Pottery by Saleek is gorgeous, and has a nice ridge, with some inspiring decoration. The only downside is the size – it’s meant for wine bottles and takes up a whopping 5 ½ inches. This one would be great for bead soups or anytime you only have a single material to work with.

These bamboo coastersby HealthPro are very pretty and have all of the right features, minus the unnecessary holder. They should be fairly lightweight, which is always a bonus. The only real downside would be that they’d have to air dry after washing. If you’re a disorganized or procrastinating beader like me, you might struggle with timing clean ups for periods when you won’t be needing them.

Another handmade ceramic set, these coasters by Laura Harmon Pottery are really lovely to look at. The decorative edge would take up a lot of workspace, so these probably wouldn’t do for a bead tray like the one that I use, but they’d be great for an open workspace. Washability is definitely a bonus, and they wouldn't be prone to shifting around your workspace or spilling unexpectedly.

Although the rims are much too high for beadwork, I couldn’t resist including this vintage coaster set from DayJahView. The design is gorgeous, and the holder could double as a tray for tools, finished projects, or just about anything in your workspace that needs a transportable home. While not ideal for seed beads, these coasters would work really well for larger beads and other materials that don’t require a needle to pick up.

I also found some great DIY projects for making your own coasters. The most functional one is this tutorial for mosaic coasters made from old jar lids on Running with Sisters. If you’ve already experimented with resin pouring, it should be a snap. You could easily create coasters with the rim height that you want, and include an inspiring design.

I highly recommend checking out the thrift shops in your area and scouring the housewares for coasters that would work in your beading space. Even if you can’t get a matched set, these bead holders are a wonderful addition to your tools, especially if work with plenty of tiny seed beads. You can also keep an eye out for mug and coaster sets with the right features. Use the mugs for coffee or to hold your other tools and pencils!

Do you have any repurposed tools in your workspace?


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1 comment:

  1. love the idea of the last coasters, how cool is that. I use a pet bed as a bead board, I have a few of them actually. I also use these small plastic appetizer spoons to pick up beads off my bead boards. I love them. Not sure if these count. I have always wondered where you got those silver "plates" at.


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