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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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@example.com).
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine
Find Michelle’s designs in Beadwork magazine, or subscribe now!