Plotting Your Next Bead Adventure

Plotting Your Next Bead Adventure

I was just checking out the classes at Bead Fest Philadephia and having a nice dream about taking classes from one of the top-notch teachers who will be there this August 21-24. Sometimes it’s hard to make trips like this a reality, but being the superb plotter that I am, I’ve developed a quick plan on how I could make it happen:

The show is about 15 weeks away, so I have some time to ferret away money for the trip. First, I’ll cut $20 out of the grocery budget every week between now and then. (No one will notice that I’ve used T.V.P. in the weekly casserole instead of hamburger, right?) There’s my plane ticket. Next, I’ll take my hairdresser up on her offer of bartering family haircuts for beading lessons. There’s my hotel and food. And I think I’ll ask for an advance on my birthday present. Class fee. That was easy!

Manning the Ship
How will I get out of work? Hmm. Well, I could bring my laptop along and work on the plane and in my hotel room . . . Who am I kidding—I want to have fun! I’d just have to take a couple days off. I guess I’m more worried about the homefront, which turns into something from a post-apocalyptic nightmare whenever I leave home for an extended period of time. The show is the end of August, though—a perfect time to ship the kids to Wisconsin to hang out with their cousins.

All right, now I’m really getting into this! I’ll have to pack. Jeans and a T-shirt every day, because I’ll be the student, not the teacher. Easy! So I’ll really just have to think about packing supplies for learning. I know it’s important to bring all the essentials, but I don’t want things weighing me down. I’ll have to pick between a selection of beading travel kits:

1. Freewheeler
This combo is a little like putting a toothbrush and clean underwear in your purse. You’re one of those people who’s always prepared for a happenstance beading adventure. It includes a work mat, needles, nail clipper, and credit card. You could travel with this kit anywhere (including on planes) and it’s small enough to fit into your back pocket. If I brought this on my fantasy trip, I’d plan on buying a kit for the class and leaving everything else to chance.


2. Kitchen Sink
This studio-on-wheels is the picture of overkill, since it includes beads, thread, wire, wireworking tools, a few different working surfaces, and a bunch of other stuff I probably won’t need (except the chocolate, of course).



3. Sensible Shoes

This set-up is no-nonsense, much like a pair of sensible shoes. It’s made with a deep-profile metal case lined with a removeable Vellux mat, a spool of my favorite thread, needles, beeswax, scissors, chain-nose pliers, bead scoop, thread burner, and a place to clip the class instructions. It’s small enough to pop in my huge purse, but large enough to work on and hold my in-progress project. Probably my best bet for a show like Bead Fest.

Looks like I have my plans made. Now all I need is the moxie to click the button and sign up.

Are you going to Bead Fest or traveling for bead lessons this summer? Are you a Freewheeler, Kitchen Sink, or Sensible Shoes traveler? Let us all know on the website.

Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

26 thoughts on “Plotting Your Next Bead Adventure

  1. Wow, you are the planner that’s for sure! Good job! You make it sound so easy, maybe it is! Have a wonderful time! Linda, in Gettysburg

  2. Sounds like a wonderful plan!!! Wish I could jump on that bandwagon of yours. 🙂

    Pity that my flights alone would cost over $1000, let alone the rest.
    I always find myself wondering why they don’t offer webcam lessons, live, during classes, on a pay-per-session basis. This could be done in a way that I could sit here with my beads and equipment ready for the session, and enjoy the class feeling, without the class airfare. Even a webcam of “meeting the instructors” etc.
    Don’t you like that idea?

    Have a fantastic time!!

    “There is one happiness in life: to love and be loved!!
    Live well, laugh often, and love much!!
    Those who bring sunshine to others cannot keep it from themselves.”

  3. This was very interesting information…not because I’m able to go to the Bead Fest, but because I’m going to have surgery on my foot next week and will be non-weight bearing for 3 weeks. That means I will need all my “important stuff” close by. See… the concept is the same. I’ll certainly need one of those neat beading mats. Hm-m-m… what else can I select from your ideas.

  4. Well… since I live in the area [@ one hr. drive]…. there’s NO WAY I’m missing it… even though I attended Bead Fest Wire less than 2 wks. ago! LOL. My avatar photo is the Wire-Wrapped Swarovski Bangle project taught by Debbie Williams. She and her team were FANTASTIC. I STILL marvel over the fact that I MADE that bracelet! (Of course… I had help… but STILL!) I’m having difficulty now deciding which classes to take in August. I’m ready to fill my weekend w/classes, but I still need to have time to shop!! haha. Bead Fest is overwhelming to me… SO MUCH to see! The convention definitely takes its toll on my wallet and melts my credit cards, but oh, what FUN!! I’m also going to hit the Innovative Beads Expo in Allentown, PA next month…. to hold me over until August. LOL!!

  5. Sorry for the double post…. just want to add that it appears most instructors recommend bringing your own tools, magnification & lighting [if necessary]. I usually stash these in a backpack. Under each class description, the instructor indicates what is incl. w/your kit and what tools/materials you’ll need, and are req’d for the workshop. If you go…. enjoy!! =)

  6. I decided to make taking classes at Bead Fest a reality instead of just a dream and signed up for two classes within days of receiving my brochure. I’m taking the Crystal Windows class on Friday evening and the Ndebele Gone Wild class on Saturday morning. Hubby and I are staying over one night. He can hang out at the hotel while I take my classes and he enjoys going to bead shows with me and is very encouraging.

  7. Love your plans. Makes you think, you CAN do it, if you really want to!
    On my last plane flight I took a Kumihimo disk loaded with beads to work on. I did not have space on the plane (much too close yuck) but waiting in the airport, I attracted several people interested in seeing what I was doing. Fun!

  8. Debe-that’s actually a makeup case. I found it a long time ago at a department store during the holidays. It was filled with cheap-o makeup. Threw the makeup away, kept the case! Works really well…

  9. I’m definitely Kitchen Sink. A 3-day beading sojourn at my sister’s in another state requires a station wagon. I never know what I will feel like doing or what she will want to learn so I take most of the wire – pounds of the stuff – , all of the tools – more pounds -, an assortment of stones – more pounds; see a pattern? -, tutorials, patterns, and books – more pounds. Maybe this is why I only get, like, 8 mpg when I travel south? LOL!!

    Going to Bead Fest is only slightly less intensive since I might find myself in the hotel at night with nothing scheduled and will need something to do and “I never know what I’ll feel like working on.” Same thing when I travel for business or sit in the waiting room while someone has a process or surgery, etc. I guess my interests are too varied for me to focus on just one thing. Even when I call myself “traveling light”, it involves – yes, you guessed it! – pounds of STUFF. LOL!


  10. I made my plans for Beadfest back in February. Signed up for three classes, found out yesterday that Crystal Wick’s classes had been cancelled so I changed to Meredith Arnold’s Etching made Easy class. I took her Polymer clay class at Beadfest wire in 2008. She is a great and fun teacher. Still need to make hotel reservations but can”t wait til August gets here.

  11. Just prepared for a trip. I always do a project when flying. Packed the pattern, beads, beeswax, needles and thread and small clippers in a small cotton case and it is in my backpack and ready for the plane. I do try to “travel light” You sound like you have it all under control. Pat

  12. so enjoyed reading your post today. I am not going to bead fest but do take a week-long class every summer….I hate to say I pack the kitchen sink but I do! I drive there. This year I am going with a friend and will work with polymer clay…a relatively new medium for me. May only need a small box….ah, I am kidding no one. Will pack my tools……never know when a piece of metal needs my attention. Have fun! Trish

  13. as an instructor and a student, I’m stuck in kitchen sink mode. It was nice to see what happens when you don’t pack everything and the…. for a change! Thanks! Andrea

  14. I know this post is meant to be encouraging and helpful but to make it sound like if you just save 20 bucks and a haircut or two pays for a big trip, accomodations and classes is really out in deep space! Prices in the grocery store are up if you didn’t notice – we spend more just for necessities and so there is no cutting back to be done. I cut my own hair to so I can buy the supplies I already do. I’d love to take the classes and agree with Amanda. Can’t you offer these classes to those who cannot travel and pay for hotels also? Maybe after the show is over? There must be a whole lot of us who can’t attend but would pay for a class or two. I take online classes and they work very well.

  15. OH! I’m so jealous! LOL The last time I remember hearing about a Bead Show in Alaska it was 150 miles away in Anchorage and I couldn’t afford to attend. It sounds like so much fun.
    Now that the kids are grown up they and the grandkids live the 150 miles away, I now make the trip reasonably often.
    I fall somewhere between Sensible Shoes and Kitchen sink. If I’m sensible I carry only one of my beautiful handmade (by my dad) wooden boxes. It is about 14 x 16 x 2 inches, it holds my 8 inch divided ceramic plate with beads on it, as well as all kinds of extra tubes and pieces, thread, needles, scissors, wax…etc. There is foam on the inside of the lid so that when the box is closed it presses firmly against the top of the plate holding all the beads in place. It can be carried upright or tucked inside a suitcase.
    If I opt for the Kitchen Sink I have a wheelie tote the size of a small suitcase that will hold three of my beadplate boxes, as well as having all kinds of side pockets for tools and small plastic divided containers (like for fishing tackle).
    Which I choose depends on how long I’m going to be gone and how deep I am into a project at the time. I suppose if I were flying the wheelie tote would be out! LOL
    Have Fun! ~

  16. I’m off to the Puget Sound Bead Festival in July. I went last year and took some PMC classes! I had a great time. As I live in Portland my beading/packing solution was easy – I took EVERYTHING (more than the kitchen sink!) as I drove the 150 miles up there!
    I’ll be going to the Portland BeadFest too – Portland has a wonderful public transport system so I’ll be taking that!

  17. Hi I have the kitchen sink but I call it “Have Bead Will Travel” . I’ve taken it on vacation and when I go to my bead classes here in New Mexico ,USA . It holds every thing I need and more.

  18. Did you create the bead boxes or are they available. Just saw a rather lame craft item at Michael’s and I am in the market for something that would be all in one, instead of the myriad of small boxes plastic and otherwise that I usually take on vaca.

  19. I am kitchen sink plus bed and bath!! 🙂 I am going to asheville to work w/ a wonderful beader there at the end of May and can hardly wait. I’m packing beads daily to take there just to show her and glean ideas…. Just a few days away!

  20. i must say that i am between a kitchen sick and a sensible shoe. i carry just what i need with some wire and extra tools.
    why carry any more than needed. happy beadin’

  21. I am definitely “kitchen sink” as I travel with my beloved Bead Buddy stuffed to the bulging stage. My granddaughters even gave me a beading light that fits onto my ear like a Bluetooth gadget. Now I have everything I need at hand no matter where I find myself. Amanda: I’m with you. Webcam classes would be wonderful and I know there are more than just aa few of us who can’t make our way to Beadfest and thrist for the knowledge imparted there.

  22. I travel a 3-4 times a year for my day job, sometimes just for a week,but sometimes more. I just got back from 3 weeks in Atlanta. I always figure: evenings in a hotel room, no housework to do, plenty of time to bead! I try to pack the exact beads for one great project, and then an assorment beyond that. If I don’t have some propjects in mind, I pack an assortment of sizes in one set of colors – like 8s 11s delicas and 15s in blues and purples, with black, white, silver and gold. I don’t bring major wire projects because I fly and they are so strict about weight these days, not to mention tools! I ususlly bring just a foot or so of 20 guage, in case I need to create a finding or 2. however, I am hoping to go to BEadfest philly, and for that I will drive – so I CAN take the kitchen sink!

  23. I am full-time in a class A RV. So, I loved the sensible shoes idea. I recycle old wooden wine boxes, put the purse handle on one side and a jewelry lock&key on the closure side. I line the top with a favorite bead mat, (reversible colors. ) this will hold enough tools etc to do anything. I plan what I am beading ahead of time for travel days. I make up a dozen or so of my own kits, put pattern and beads ,etc into a gallon ziplock bag. I have a variety of projects to choose from. I bead daily,would love to have web-cam classes available.Mary B.

  24. On the subject of beading adventures, I would like to recommend Lima, Peru. The area near the Santa Domingo Convent is full of bead shops, packed floor to ceiling with beads of all kinds. Everything from wood and pottery to semi-precious stones and silver. And the best part is that the exchange rate is great. Hotels and food are reasonable, and beads are cheap.

  25. I am a sensible shoe kind of person but lean toward the kitchen sink as well. I try very hard to keep to the bare min. but I just can’t help myself. I am just sure I will need it all and find I don’t need any of it and end up lugging it around all day. That’s a real drag if you know what I mean. (pun intended) You would think I would learn but I guess I would rather have it with me just in case I do need it, than need it and not have it. for the most part I have’nt needed it yet. My next class I plan to stay sensible shoe style and see what happens. I can always buy what I forgot to bring.LOL