In life, I wouldn't call myself a Type A personality, but my hands sure do get that way when I bead. This especially happens when I'm working quickly on a deadline or am striving for tight tension...it's like my fingers become little green Incredible Hulks, breaking needles and taking names! It's one of the main reasons I use either a sharp needle (they have super sturdy bodies that don't break as easily as the English style) or a Tulip beading needle (these things are industrial-strength and actually, hardly ever break). I still do, however, break my needles from time to time. It's an unavoidable occurrence, and I try to be very careful about disposing the broken pieces, especially after the living-room-floor-wrestling-match incident! Don't even ask.
My favorite way to dispose of broken needles is to first stick them to the magnet that I keep on my work surface:
When I'm finished beading for the day, I wrap those broken pieces in clear tape to cover the sharp points so they don't end up in someone's hand, foot, or backside (please refer to aforementioned wresting incident).
That's probably the most common way to get rid of broken needles, but check this out: There is a whole FESTIVAL in Japan devoted to getting rid of broken needles. Carol Cypher shared this link through her Tulip Needles Facebook page, and I highly recommend reading the whole publication. In general, the spirit of the festival relates to how connected we are to our needles...that we create beauty and keep the home together with them...we laugh and cry with them...they are like our soul mates. And so, like any death, when that needle breaks, we need to thank them for a life well spent, respectfully say goodbye, and hope for continued creativity and industriousness for ourselves in the year ahead. During this festival, people press their broken needles into a tofu cake (to make the needles comfortable, of course), and bid them farewell. What a beautiful nod to respecting our tools, and I especially love the anti-waste spirit of the ritual in the face of our crazy consumerist culture.
(Photo copied from Carol Cypher's Facebook page)
How do you dispose of your broken needles? Please share your tips right here on the Inside Beadwork blog!
Senior editor, Beadwork magazine