Are you a messy or neat beader?

Posted by Marcia DeCoster
on Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Tour around my studio of messy bead trays.

Another view from my studio trays.

A necklace by Cynthia Newcomer Daniels - nice and neat.

My bead mess on the right versus Cindy's neat beads on the left.

A while back my house was full of beaders, and my usual trays of in-progress projects (and past projects and future projects) were around and the thought was that I must have spilled my trays. There was much empathy for my 'situation'....having 'spilled' all those trays and now needing to sort them, ha!

The truth is I am a messy messy beader. To the right is a typical tour around my studio of bead trays.

It is part of my design process to be messy, at least that’s my story.  Especially in design mode I will spill out a seed bead or crystal color, try it in the design, decide against it and push the unwanted bead to the side of the tray.  I might repeat this several times until I find the right bead! 

For me the colorful mess helps fuel the creative process.  I love the way the beads look as they interact on the tray and might even find combinations that look lovely together that I hadn’t thought of. 

I’m also of the mindset that having the beads inter-mingled or at least in very close proximity makes me faster.  If I am using multiple colors in a project, I can easily pick up beads next to one another rather then moving my hand to either end of the board to select from the right pile.  This is a nuance for sure, but when I am using two colors I will purposely intersperse the pile so I can pick up either color quickly. Given that I am often designing with RAW or CRAW I am picking up two beads at a time before completing the stroke.  I can see that if I were to pick up only one bead each time, that having separate piles might be useful……I can see that, I still don’t do it though.

As for sorting those beads when I’m done, well …… The first thing I do is pick up a scoop containing a few of each bead used.  This I put in a baggie and label repair kit.  If a piece of beadwork ever does fail it is likely to be far into the future when you have no idea where to source the beads, dye lots may have changed or beads have been discontinued.  This little baggie will solve that problem.  Next I will pick up and put back any expensive beads.  The rest?  Either the start of a bead soup or the leftover vase!  I have a tall glass cylindrical vase where all left over beads are ‘stored’.

I know there are neat beaders.  I bead with some or see photos of their trays, as they are busy with creating.  Small little piles of lined up beads, each color or type separated by space from the neighbor bead.  In these examples from Cynthia Newcomer Daniels (at right) and Cindy Holsclaw  you can see that even the orientation of their photo is neat!  Here is one contrasting Cindy’s and Marcia’s trays.  Seeing my bead trays makes them twitch.  I find most beaders are in one camp or the other and seldom the two shall meet. I’ve tried to be neat….I’ve failed. 

Marcia DeCoster designs colorful and fun to wear jewelry and shares her designs through teaching and writing. Remembering her own early attempts, Marcia recognizes that everyone learns differently and so takes great care to provide clear, concise and comprehensive instructions, graphics and text.

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