A few months ago I got a simple bead mat as a freebie with a bead order, and it sat in my beading cupboard for ages, still in the package. Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t really have any reason to use it. But now that I’m juggling at least two projects at a time while making tutorials and designs for my shop, I need another mini workspace that I can easily put away. Since I still haven’t found a replacement for my dilapidated bead tray, I’m already behind. So, one night while moving from one project to the next, I decided to get out the bead mat.
Since the project that I was working on – the patchwork cuff tutorial – required a lot of bead colors, the bead mat did come in handy for keeping little piles of seed beads steady. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I couldn’t simply place the mat on my table and start pouring beads onto it. I needed a portable backing for it, so I grabbed a cookie tray out of the cupboard. It looked a little awkward, but worked just fine for middle-of-the-night beading. Since then I’ve been swapping back and forth between my old bead tray and the new one when necessary, though I’m still on the hunt for something bigger and washable. To me, the cons still outweigh the pros with bead mats.
1. The matte surface prevents beads and tools from moving around much.
2. It’s lightweight, and stores easily when not in use.
1. I’ve only used it for 3 projects and it’s already starting to collect…stuff. I don’t know where those red and blue threads came from. All of my nymo is black and green.
2. It’s pretty small, and if I don’t use cups and saucers, the beads get all mixed together. It takes forever to clean up.
3. It’s square when everything else I have in my space is round. (That’s not really a con, but I ran out of complaints.)
4. I'm afraid of what will happen if I wash it. Will it fray, or get filmy from the soap? And if I were to glue it down, I’d never be able to wash it, beyond shaking it out.
Over the summer I’ll be keeping an eye out for two suitable beading surfaces that will fit in my workspace and hold all of my beading implements at once. I considered momentarily using the cookie tray by itself, but it has a giant poinsettia in the middle and I’d really prefer a neutral surface. Until I find the perfect pair of bead trays, I’m stuck with one that’s falling apart and one that looks like I slapped a door mat on a cookie tray.
What kind of beading surface do you like to use? What features work best for you?
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