Why Beaded Beads Make The Perfect Summer Road Trip Project
Living in Colorado I’m fairly close to the center of the United States, which means that summer is always a time for road trips. Since I’ve lived here I’ve driven to several nearby states: Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska. There’s lots to love about a summer road trip: more legroom than any narrow airplane seat, time to listen to music and audio books, naps and snacks, unusual roadside attractions and historical markers, charming small towns, and lots of wide-open spaces with nothing but miles of road and endless fields.
Of course, some parts of those trips can get a little dull. Once the initial excitement of a trip has worn off, I love to unpack a little beading project for myself. (To be clear, I’m not driving at the time, but beading from the passenger seat.) While I can bead at home, somehow it’s more fun and rewarding while on the road. At home, I sometimes feel guilty in the summer that I’m not outside working in the yard trimming back the roses or pulling weeds. On the road, beading makes me feel virtuous. I become a multitasking master: traveling and beading at the same time.
Here’s why I think beaded beads make an ideal summer travel project for the road:
Beaded beads can be made with many different bead stitches.
In the 12 Beaded Bead Projects to Make digital download, designers use various combinations of right-angle weave (flat and tubular), netting (flat and tubular), square stitch, peyote stitch (flat, circular, and tubular), ladder stitch, tubular brick stitch, and triangle weave. If you want to make a beaded bead, chances are excellent that you can use your favorite bead stitches to make one.
Many beaded beads use limited colors and bead shapes, which makes packing easy and quick.
Ideally, I look for beaded bead projects made with 3-5 types of beads for a short trip. I prefer colors that are distinct and will be easy to identify even when I’m distracted by a crazy billboard or a funny bumper sticker on a passing car.
Beaded beads are individual components.
For me, the tricky parts of jewelry projects often come from attaching components such as a clasp or focal. Those steps often require my full concentration or I’ll end up with the wrong halves of the clasp together and a backwards focal. With beaded beads, you can spend your travels making just the individual beads and worry later about combining them into a wearable piece of jewelry. (Plus, if you do that, you do not have to pack jewelry findings such as clasps or ear wires.)
Beaded beads often incorporate larger beads such as crystals, fire-polished rounds, and shaped beads.
Use of these larger beads makes beaded beads work up faster. They also make a nice, easy-to-remember stopping place if you need to step out of the car before your beaded bead is finished.
Many beaded beads are symmetrical.
Beads created with the same basic pattern on the top and bottom of the bead make it easier and faster to create. You may not need to study the instructions with as much intensity for the bottom of the bead if the instructions mirror those for the top.
Beaded beads make quick gifts.
Beaded beads can make great last-minute gifts. You can string a single bead on a ribbon or chain for a quick necklace. With two, you can create a striking pair of earrings. This becomes important to me when I go on family road trips and may not know ahead of time that I’m going to a surprise birthday party for a second cousin I’ve never met before.
Beaded beads make a fun group activity.
Some of my beading friends love to take buses to bead shows such as Bead Fest Philadelphia. Wouldn’t it be fun to all work on different beaded beads while traveling and then trade them once you reach your destination? Everyone would end up with unique beads that they could use to create special jewelry to remember their fun road trip with beading friends.
Thinking of making some beaded beads on your next road trip? Here’s my quick checklist of common items I usually pack:
Thread. Limit yourself to a single spool of one color and size to save room. If you’re making different types of beaded beads, choose projects that use the same type of thread.
Beads. I like to put my beads in small tubes with secure lids, bringing only the amount I need for the project. I find I have a hard time opening small plastic bags without experiencing “exploding bead syndrome” where the beads shoot all over the car in all directions.
Needles. I find it helpful to keep these in a little tin or hold them with a small magnet. I always take multiples because when I take just a single needle I end up losing it.
Work surface. In the past, I’ve made a DIY bead board by adding a soft piece of vellum to the bottom of a box with a lid. If the box is large enough, it can also hold all your beading supplies when not in use as a beading tray. (I learned this idea from former Beadwork editor Melinda Barta, who has an awesome bead box for traveling; see how she makes it HERE.)
Good lighting. This is especially important if you think you might bead at a hotel. Hotels never have great lighting for detailed work. I use a small portable light that folds up.
Scissors. If you’re traveling by car, you can take any type you like to cut your thread. If you’re traveling by air, check that your scissors will be permitted.
Project instructions. These could be on your phone or tablet or a printed magazine or book.
Other essentials. Depending upon the project, I’ve packed a magnifier, ruler, pencil, jewelry findings, bead stoppers, and Thread Zapper.
Download a copy of 12 Beaded Bead Projects to Make for Your Next Road Trip