|Stage Coach Inn, Salado, TX|
Over the summer I spent a few weeks in the UK sailing in a regatta and then sailing on my own boat for our summer holidays. Before I left Bahrain I knew I'd love to have something to do during the weeks in between and in the evenings or if stormy weather kept us harbour bound so I came up with a plan....
First I explored the web I was looking for some sort of holdall that would be small yet contain plenty of beads. I found a Craft Mates solution - a slightly padded canvas tote bag that takes six to eight of their handy "ezy-locking" trays. They cost a tad over £50 from UK suppliers but as I was also looking to increase my beadstash dramatically my plan was to find one on eBay. Eventually after bidiing on several, thirty odd pounds plus carriage snagged me a fully stocked one. Inside were loads of seed and larger beads plus findings in various metals. I am grateful that some people decide to sell-up!
A bit more shopping and I managed to acquire a wallet containing some dinky tools whilst shopping in Kingston upon Thames too, it has everything you'd need. I just added a pair of crimp pliers and a memory wire cutter as they were missing from my kit back in Bahrain. I was ready to go.
There was one problem though. having bought one bead stash on eBay I couldn't resist a few more. One lot of old stock from bead resellers procured me a life times supply of silver head pins, chain and a miscellany of other objects. Another lot from a former bead addict provided me with a large selection of big, and I mean big glass beads in every colour. And finally I acquired a couple of vintage lots. One was a few hundred pendants and I can't wait to be reunited with them as I have lots of ideas for bracelets, necklaces and earrings to recycle these into new bling! Another was for me a heart shaped jewellery box in purple leather complete with the previous owners contents.
I sorted out my purchases to ensure I had an assortment of stringing materials, earring wires, catches and crimps to go with the beads. Mostly the caddy compartment size defined the maximum size of any bead or component but I put in a couple of small plastic boxes to hold memory wire coils and some larger red beads. I also added a bead mat from Beads Unlimited - it folds in four and tucks into the tote. My plan was to purchase focal beads locally.
I packed my toolkit in the suitcase as it had sharps like thread and wire cutters but took the tote as hand luggage (Continental allow you one "personal item" like a computer bag in addition to your carry-on baggage, but do check with your airline before you travel). At Heathrow after x-raying it I was asked to unpack quite a lot for re-X-raying as it was so dense! But the staff have seen it all before and weren't phased by my array of beads and findings. In Houston when we changed planes it went through without a hitch.
And how have I got on? Well the dinky tools are a little small, I wouldn't want to be doing lots of fiddly wire twisting but for the occasional loop they're fine. The tiny cutters are actually wonderful as you can get really close to the work but you do need to put in some omph to get them to cut even reasonably thin gauge wire. The kit had a thread cutter and a bead scoop both new to me and now I couldn't be without them. There were two things I forgot - head pins and a supply of silver wire but they were easy to acquire here.
And I have made lots of necklaces over the past few weeks, see my previous post. So now I feel prepared to travel anywhere with my beadkit but I'd love to hear of any travel tips you might have.