The Bead Spill

Not everyone has a bead spill. Certainly all beaders have flipped beads into the air with the tip of their Beading Needle, but for those of us who have upset a full beading dish
it is akin to an initiation. It may seem as if time stood still: the bead container flies, precious treasures are skittering, bouncing, diving off the table and even with the world in slow motion, you are unable to stop it.
All that time preping and planning is quickly disappearing into the carpet. The investment of time in culling, the careful separation of colors!
It can feel like a disaster! What bead artist doesn't know of this?
It has happened to many of us; you have arrived fellow beader!
Welcome to the Club.

First step after the bead spill is corralling children and pets away from the jumble. Begin picking up what you can. A bead scoop, bead shovel or bead funnel (with a finger shutting the bottom) can be helpful. Or use a piece of firm paper and the back of your hand (or a dust pan and brush) for this first wave. If the spill is on carpet, a nylon stocking firmly secured over the opening of a vacuum hose can retrieve quite a few beads (use rubber bands or tape AND a very firm grip). Prepare for the vacuum release when you turn off the machine, empting the beads over a bucket, a towel, a sided tray or one fashioned out of paper. If the bead spill was into a damp area (split coffee?) try blotting up the beads with hand pressing firmly with paper towels. The beads may come up with the paper and then you can brush the beads off onto one of the surfaces mentioned.

Although pleased to have retrieved the majority from the bead spill,

your treasures are now full of fuzzies and certainly
all mixed up. If the beads are very small, a sieve may work for sifting the beads from the chaff. Or, while working with tweezers, you'll learn very quickly how much of a bead loss you will be willing to sacrifice before deciding the jumbled colors make a mighty fine bead mix.

Since the bounce and skitter of the bead spill is natural for our tiny treasures, a plan for minimizing catastrophe is in order. Most of us pick up seed beads with our needle tip from a low container or palette with a rim. Why not pour out only a small amount of beads, close and set aside the larger container. If you work out of the plastic bag, use two. Pour a bit out into a second, working bag; fully seal the larger supply and safely set aside.

Underlining the work surface is another excellent assist for minimizing scatter in a bead spill. Use a beading pad, a piece of felt, a bit of napped fabric (even a pillowcase) for a non-rolling surface. This is useful even under a bead board, loom or hoop. Loosen strands from hanks of beads OVER a butcher's tray, a rimmed palette (shown above), folded paper, or a baking pan borrowed from the kitchen. Work with hands inside a high-sided bucket if you have heavy hanks, or many hanks, to open at once. It doesn't hurt to place your bead spinner inside a low rimmed container or on that non-rolling surface before you give the spindle a whorl!

To avoid the bead spill, expect to pour from more than one container when repackaging beads. Use a bead scoop or shovel, a rounded or folded piece of paper to scoop up beads. Empty beads from flat surfaces into wide mouth containers with a curved side or pout corner that facilitates pouring into a smaller storage container or plastic bag.

In addition, develop good habits with needle handling and appoint a home base for this valuable tool. A magnetic needle safe can be useful, a fabric needle safe, or a small box top open and ready on your work surface. Should a bead spill flip the needle onto the carpet (or even into the work) a strong magnet can help draw it out.

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"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door
and the whole world will be clean." GOETHE
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