Tips for Beading While on Vacation

Wahoo! I'm on vacation. A sleepy Florida beach on the Atlantic Ocean where there are so many shells that every step makes a cruuuunch. It's been so nice to take my long early-morning walks, looking out at the thundering waves and see the sun peaking up from the East. Palm trees and seaside grasses. All is green and blue. A far cry from my subzero white and gray suburban digs.

Did I bring my beads? Heck, yeah! I'm working on a Delica-rich patterned bracelet that's just for me–not for a book, class, or article. Just like this vacation–it's just for me!

If you're going on vacation and can't keep away from your beads, here are some things I find useful when I'm far from home.

  • Unless you're visiting friends that want to spend lots of time beading, bring only one project. Chances are you get so wrapped up in whatever you're doing for R&R, you don't even get to the beads. So don't bring more UFOs (UnFinished Objects) than necessary because, if you're like me, you'll just feel guilty that they're being unattended.
  • Put everything for that one project in a workbox instead of bringing a bag with a bunch of little tubes and supplies and junk bouncing about. You're flirting with tube-explosion danger!
  • Make a workbox that works for you! What I've done is use an old flat wooden cigar box and lined it with a piece of Vellux blanket that's a little wider than the box so a) it cushions the beads so they don't roll around and b) I can pull everything out easily without dumping it all on the floor. There's a thin magnet glued to the side so I don't lose needles. I usually tape the pattern I'm working on to the inside top of the lid.

Cigar boxes have a little latch, but I also put a couple of thick rubber bands around the box, just in case. I suppose you could get fancy by attaching a more elaborate latch system on there, but I don't like to spend too much time on that kind of stuff, so rubber bands it is. This system is nice because it's so transportable: I can work on a project whether I'm in the car, on an airplane, or on a deck chair, and it fits nicely into a suitcase.

  • Speaking of packing up all your supplies, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) guidelines say you can bring a scissors onboard if they have blades shorter than 4 inches. I'm a bit paranoid about losing my favorite scissors (a surgical pair for removing stitches–very hard-won!), so I always put them in my regular baggage. If you must bead on the plane, there are little cutters available at bead shops that you can wear around your neck to cut thread, but I just slip a box of dental floss in my carry-on and cut my thread on the little metal gizmo. It doesn't work as well as my scissors, but it does the job just fine.
  • There doesn't seem to be anything on the TSA website about bringing beading needles onboard, and I've never had a problem with them, but you might want to check on that before you go.
  • The TSA guidelines say you can bring pliers onboard if they are shorter than 7 inches. But I'm a bit weird about that, too. When the restrictions were tighter, I was relieved of a brand-new set of plastic-tipped pliers I forgot to put in my luggage. TSA took them all, even though they were plastic-tipped. My anger was abated somewhat when I imagined one of those big TSA agents popping them in his pocket and going home to straighten wire to complete his French-wire flower arrangement!

I'm sure you all have great ideas about beading while traveling, too. Send them in! In the meantime, I think I'll go pick shells.

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!

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