What do you recommend for a work table surface for beading?
You can work on anything from a laminate counter top to a wooden jeweler's bench. A smooth, hard, level surface is best. Depending on the type of surface you decide on, having portable surfaces you can put onto your tabletop would be a good idea, i.e. ceramic tiles when working with tools that produce heat.
Your choice should be whatever is most comfortable and available or affordable. A kitchen table may be your go-to spot but you may find it doesn't offer you the best height to work at for long periods of time. If that is the case, consider placing a hollow-core door across filing cabinets that are a little higher than the table--then find a good chair. Or place a piece of kitchen counter material (available at your local home goods supplier) across two bookshelves. A jeweler's bench, made of wood, will provide you a surface positioned at a good working height, and depending on the design, drawers and cubbies to store your tools and beads in.
There are many ways to set up your work table and how you do it depends on what type of beading you plan on doing. Make sure you have adequate lighting, bead mats, bead boards, organizers and trays. If you're seed beading or stringing, a simple tablecloth will do, preferably made out of a material your beads won't roll off of. If you'll be doing any gluing or messy creations, put down a plastic tablecloth. If you need something more durable use a shower curtain (they come in a wide array of colors). Then place your bead mat/board on top of the protective surface. I have a habit of using a bead board per project then stacking them on top of each other if they need to be moved or I need to work on something else. Currently my stack is 12 high! I just love those things! Another great portable work surface is a lap desk; a hard, smooth surface that is good for beading on the couch.
- Kristal Wick, Designer, Author and Jewelry-Making Expert