Learning How to Bead: How to Set Up Your Beading Area


When I first started beading, I found myself sitting in the same position for literally hours. I was so focused on my beadwork that unless I got up to change the video tape that I was watching, I wouldn't move for hours on end. From an ergonomic point of view, that's not such a good thing. It's also the reason why I can't listen to the radio while I'm beading – I'd never get up if I don't have to change the station!

So when I'm teaching friends and students how to bead, there are a few very important things that I cover in my lessons for setting up a comfortable place to bead. Sure, materials and techniques are important, too, but unless you have a good work area set up when you're learning how to bead, you may find yourself suffering from some very uncomfortable symptoms like eye strain and repetitive stress injuries. There are three key components to creating a comfortable beading area, whether you are just learning how to bead or if you are a seasoned bead pro!

If you're just learning how to bead, setting up a comfortable place to bead is very important!

1. A good work surface for beading. If you're just learning how to bead, this is a great place to start. You'll need a comfortable, stable and sturdy surface on which to do your beadwork. It can be as simple as a clean tea towel on a kitchen table. As long as you have a surface that allows you to clearly see your beads and will prevent your beads from rolling in every direction, you're good to go. Just remember that if you prefer to use a soft bead mat, make sure that you place it on a table that doesn't wobble and is at a comfortable height so that you don't have to stoop to get to your beads.

2. A comfortable chair. As someone who has suffered from debilitating back pain, I can't stress enough the importance of having a comfortable chair that encourages good posture for long hours of beading! All too often, I've seen students who are learning how to bead sitting in chairs that just aren't comfortable and result in stiff backs, stiff necks and even headaches. The good news is that you don't have to spend a fortune on a fancy ergonomic chair if you want to bead for hours at a time – a simple pillow to support your lower back is sometimes all you need in your favorite chair. To make sure that your chair is the proper height, you should be able to sit in it with your knees bent at a 90o angle and both feet touching the floor. You shouldn't have to reach up or hunch over to reach your work surface, either.

3. Proper lighting. Now that you have a good work surface and a comfortable chair, the last part of the equation is making sure your work area is well-lit. Natural lighting is always best, but if you don't have a good window near your beading area, a "daylight" task lamp can provide you with excellent lighting. These task lamps not only reduce eye strain by allowing you to see your beads, they also can make it easier to choose bead colors for your beading projects. Having a well-lit work area when you are learning how to bead will reduce eye strain and can prevent headaches and neck aches.

You'll find great tips and hints for learning how to bead on our new How to Bead Topic Page!

Are you or someone you know just learning how to bead? You can find more information about learning how to bead, including techniques and basic beading skills, on our new How to Bead Topic Page. You'll also find a whole catalog of helpful resources from your favorite Interweave bead artists like Melinda Barta, Dustin Wedekind and Carol Huber Cypher.

Of all my beading reference tools and books, my hands-down favorite is The Beader's Companion by Jean Campbell and Judith Durant. It contains hundreds of definitions, illustrations, step-by-step instructions and reference charts for all your favorite beading techniques. (And it's great for learning new favorite beading techniques, too!)

Is there something that you wish you knew when you were learning how to bead? Are there any products, books, videos or beading supplies that you would recommend to someone who is just learning how to bead? Or if you are a beginner beader with a question, feel free to ask a question here on the blog!

Bead Happy,


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