Beading on the Road with Michelle Gowland

Michelle Gowland’s bead “studio” is certainly unique! She and her fiancé live full-time in an RV, traveling between Maryland and Florida for her fiancé’s job. Michelle considers the world her studio, and you can often find her beading outdoors or in a baseball stadium. Learn how Michelle keeps her bead stash and in-process projects organized while she beads on the go.

Q: Where is your current workspace located?
A: I used to have a craft room in my house. I had a recliner dedicated to beading, a big OttLite floor lamp, a scrapbooking desk, you name it. But as an RV dweller, the world is now my studio! I bead at baseball games, at the beach, in my van, sitting outside the RV while listening to the radio, or inside the RV when it’s raining.

Beading on the Road with Michelle Gowland

Michelle beading at a baseball game

I organize my supplies by project, in zip-top bags. That way, I can easily grab the correct supplies for a particular project and I don’t have to tote around more beads than necessary. (It’s amazing how heavy those tiny little things can get when you start accumulating them!) I also have several closeable bead boards that I use as project boxes. They fit perfectly on my lap and in my backpack. I throw a couple of bead boards in a backpack that I hang off the back of my wheelchair, and I pull a couple of bags of supplies based on project. This allows me to bead anywhere!

Beading on the Road with Michelle Gowland

One of Michelle’s project bags

Q: How is your studio/workspace organized?
A: Organized? LOL! My main organizational system is to keep all the beads for a particular project that I’m working on in a zip-top bag. This allows me to grab what I need for whichever project I feel like working on.

The rest of my bead stash is stored under the bed, or near it, in the RV. All my 2-hole beads are stored in tackle-box type bags that hold four or five clear plastic boxes, sorted by bead type. For example, I have boxes with Tilas and Half Tilas; Rullas and RounDuos; and 2-hole pyramid studs, spike beads, and Tipp beads.

Beading on the Road with Michelle Gowland

One of Michelle’s storage bags that holds several bead storage boxes

I love 2-hole beads, so I keep those where I can get to them easily. I also have a bag of size 8 seed beads, a bookbag of size 11s, and a box of size 15s handy. Plus, I have a backpack of SuperDuos near the bed because I use them so much.

Beading on the Road with Michelle Gowland

Some of Michelle’s bead stash/storage

My bead storage shifts and changes a lot because I tend to work on multiple projects at different stages as inspiration hits. I spend a lot of time shuffling things between project bags!

Q: What do you love about your beading space?
A: I love that the whole world is my studio. It’s very freeing to work “en plein air,” like a painter. Dragging my supplies around can be a bit of a hassle, but beading is the ultimate in portable hobbies! That’s mainly why I bag materials together by project — to reduce the amount I have to carry. When we’re in Florida, I’m close to a bunch of great bead stores, so supplies are easy to get if I run out of a particular bead or want something new.

Beading on the Road with Michelle Gowland

Beading en plein air, by a lake

Q: What’s the ONE thing you would change about your studio if you could?
A: I wouldn’t mind having a bit more space in the RV. I’d love to have a recliner to bead in again. And I’d like a dedicated place to keep my beads all together and out of the way. We’re hoping to trade our RV in for a larger model soon, because my fiancé would also like a recliner (and an outdoor kitchen!).

Beading on the Road with Michelle Gowland

Michelle’s indoor beading space

Q: What’s your favorite beading tool?
A: I love size 10 Tulip beading needles and SoNo and K.O. beading thread! I buy any of these whenever I see them in a store. (My needles take a real beating — I tend to bend them a lot — and Tulip needles hold up to my abuse.)

Another set of “beading tools” that I couldn’t live without are my cell phone and Nimbus Cloud Dome. I use them together to take pictures of all my steps as I create new patterns. Back when I was really sick in 2015-2016, I had to get in the habit of taking pictures of each step as I made a new project, so I could remember how I did it! This ended up being a great habit, and using my cell phone and Cloud Dome is much easier than dragging out my large studio camera in our small RV space. I know these aren’t really beading tools, but they make my beading life a lot easier!

To learn more about Michelle, including her design process, see “Meet Michelle Gowland, a Full-Time RVer, 2-Hole Bead Junkie, and Bead Fondler.” To see some of Michelle’s finished work, check out the October/November 2017 and June/July 2015 issues of Beadwork — or visit Michelle’s website, The Rolling Beadweaver; follow her on Facebook (Rolling Beadweaver) or Instagram (@the_rolling_beadweaver_); or contact her via email ([email protected]).

Lavon Peters
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine

Find Michelle’s designs in Beadwork magazine, or subscribe now!