Thursday, January 15, 2015

Have Beads Will Travel

 This is my "studio" in Oaxaca, Mexico. Or as my husband affectionately calls it:  My Southern Branch Office!
Since I'm spending the winter in Oaxaca, Mexico, I had to think long and hard about what I wanted to bring with me, bead-wise.  I have an obscene amount of beads at home, so clearly I couldn't bring them all.  Also I was stymied by the way I design my pieces.

You see, I usually only have a general idea of what I want the outcome to look like when I start a piece.  I sort through my stash and pull out all the beads that might potentially work for my project.  At that point I've got piles of beads all over the place.  Then I narrow things down and set to work.  But along the way, I usually decide that a bead I thought would look good, just doesn't fit with the design.  So then I rummage through the stash again, until I find something else that looks better in the overall design.  That method, if you want to call it that, works well for me at home.  But it is dependent on having a huge stash to rummage through and that just wasn't going to work here.

So what did I pack?
Tools - just the most essential ones.
A selection of art beads, including some of my own, in a limited palette of colors.  I figured it would be easier to select a "supporting cast" of commercial beads, if I limited the colors of the art beads.

I packed the commercial beads in a light weight plastic container to help keep things organized on my work table.
I also decided that I would be able to bring fewer beads (which are bulky and heavy), if I finished most of my necklaces and bracelets in chain or leather.
I didn't bring a storage container for the leather.  I'm just storing it in a bowl from the kitchen.

I also thought these three months without my whole bead stash, would be a good time for me to improve my wire working skills. I intend to make clasps, connectors and fancy ear wires, so when I'm designing back home, I'll have lots of my own ready-made wire components to incorporate in my designs.
I didn't want to pack Cindy Wimmer's whole wire work book (too heavy), so I just photocopied some of my favorite links.  I also have an extensive wire work board on Pinterest that has enough tutes to keep me busy for several years!
And although I haven't done any drawing since I was a kid, I brought some art pencils and a sketch book to play with!
And here's how it all looks when it is put away!
Remember that neat desk you saw at the start of my post?   Here's a more realistic picture of it, that I just now took.  It is easier to keep it clean when you only have a fraction of your crap treasure with you!
 I hope this post has given you some ideas about how you might travel with beads.  Do you have tips that you could share with us?  I'd love to hear your ideas!


  1. I spend my winters in the Keys so I have to pack my beading materials into a small area but I am not as limited as you. I enjoyed your article and it may help me down size more in the future for these trips. I bought Cindy's book as an ebook and I have a few other ebooks and magazines that I don't have to physically pack and have any where I have Internet.

    Have fun in Mexico!

    1. I like the idea of ebooks! Why didn't I think of that??? Next time I will do likewise. Thanks Kathy!

  2. Hi Linda, I enjoyed seeing your Southern Branch Office. I design like you do pull it all out then eliminate and go back for more. Having one color palette sounds like a good move. I also like the idea of making findings during this time.

    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one who designs like this! hehehe!

  3. Phenomenal planning!

    I recently was able to get some beading tools under 3" apiece that I can carry on the plane!

    Those don't apply in your situation, of course, but I do mention it.

    I haven't flown with beads yet, but I plan to!

    1. i have some of those baby tools too, but they made my hands hurt, because they are soooo teeeensy! ;)

  4. Very impressive, Linda. You're all set for 3 months of creativity. I bet you'll create more with your limited resources than normal. There's something to be said for a minimalistic approach and having a narrower focus. I like you have too much to choose from when making and it can overwhelm my muse at times! thanks for sharing your organization for traveling. I can't wait to see what comes out of this "down time" for you.

  5. Your space is beautiful! I think you did a great job planning your nook and what you will be using to design! Enjoy!..and I can't wait to see what you make!

  6. Great tips. I like the idea of limiting a color palette. I was recently unexpectedly away from home (and most of my beads) for about six weeks during which I made things for several challenges. I was really pleased to see I could design things I was satisfied with even though I was limited in supplies. This isn't about packing, but I also had a few draft blog posts that I could publish so that I didn't have to stop blogging.

  7. Wow - I am impressed. I'd have a tough time editing my studio down that much. Great job!

  8. It's amazing how much creativity expands when we limit ourselves. I think the component of the month sort of does that too. Trying to select what to take for 3 months would have been very difficult and stressful, though. Wire is always a good plan because it's so versatile. How is your sketching going?


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