by Jean Campbell, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

You may have seen people knitting, crocheting and working needle-point in public places, so why not beading? Ours is a clean, low-tech and small-scale craft where projects can be worked a little at a time--the perfect portable craft. Don't you think more of us should bead in public (BIP)?

BIPping is a relaxing way to spend the time you might otherwise be whiling away in waiting rooms, traveling or in meetings. It's also a great way to multi-task by getting your unfinished projects out of the closet and closer to your jewelry box. The added benefit of BIPping is that it definitely gets people talking!

Here are some common places that are just waiting to be BIPped:

Waiting Rooms, like those for kids' music lessons or at a doctor's office, are great places to get a little beading done. Bring a project that doesn't require too many tools or materials, like an off-loom earring. For quick and easy access, just place your beads in one space-saver jar compartment, your needle and thread in another, and your project in a third. Screw the compartments together and pop that and a foam bead mat in your purse. You'll be able to quickly unfold the mat in your lap and get to work as soon as you arrive. You might also like to include a metal sorting tray to whisk the beads off the mat in a flash when it's time to go.

Jury duty, Rehearsals, Department of Motor Vehicles; there are so many opportunities just waiting to be beaded. A space-saving solution to this kind of longer waiting time would be to fill a plastic one-cell storage container with a six-compartment round organizer full of your beads. Add in your tools, your project and you're good to go! Don't forget a portable surface--a traveling bead mat or silicone bead board are perfect solutions.

Sporting Events like gymnastics, swim, track and field meets often include hours of waiting-around time. Next time bring along this lap desk that includes a bead board, work surface and bead storage area with a pillow bottom that nestles nicely in your lap. All the parts snap into place, so there's little risk of spillage when you need to take a break to cheer on the team. Pop in a few plastic zip-top bags to keep in-progress work contained.

Airplanes are the perfect place to bead. The seats even provide a little built-in beading desk! Beading on a plane is even easier when you carry on this versatile poly tote bag. This tote comes with a bead board, trays, tool bag and space for beads and findings. It's so roomy you could probably fit your wallet, tickets and a little book, too! Flight security regulations require that you can't bring sharp scissors on the plane, but you can toss in a box of dental floss and use the metal plate to cut your thread.

Vacation is another opportunity to bring your beading along. By the pool, on the beach, in hotel rooms and in rainy-day cabins are all great places to bead. You can pack your projects in a display case with a velvet pad insert. Lay tubes of beads and your tools inside the case and cushion them with a foam bead mat. This thin-profile case fits nicely into a suitcase, and is another good lap-top solution to beading on the go. If you'll be on vacation for a long time and have lots of projects, pack multiple display cases in a jewelry tray carrying case.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Beading in Public," as featured in a newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

''Excellent article on portable beading! Especially the dental floss idea - never thought of that! I use nail clippers in an emergency. Another idea we use in Arizona is a 2" high cookie tin - cut a microfiber pad and glue in the lid. You can use it as a beading surface and with the lip, beads don't roll off the surface, and the tin is big enough to hold your project, tubes of seed beads and other tools."
- Virginia

''The Beading in Public article is nuts.All it takes is one bump of your bead tray or other container and a hundred tiny beads go flying all over.Also, the light in most places is not good enough to see what you're doing or inspect each bead for quality control as you string it.I wish I could bead in public but it's just not realistic."
- Dugan

''I like your suggestions for BIPing. I will use them in the future. Very good ideas on how to carry also."
- Marcia

''I always have a zip baggie with a crocheted beaded rope project in my purse. All of the beads are on the thread so they aren't going to escape. The only tool you need is the crochet hook. I can bead almost anywhere and have."
- Susie

''Re BIPing, and the bit about beading on airplanes. I didn't think you could take pliers, crimpers on a plane."
- Cindy

''Hi Folks, I've done a lot of beading on planes and you're right, it's perfect. However, I have had needle-nosed pliers taken from me by airline security so I don't bring them anymore. I don't want to risk losing them all!"
- Kim

''I enjoy your newsletter very much but I was a bit concerned when I read the article on BIPping.The article mentions airplanes. With all the restrictions they have imposed over the years, I am questioning if I would be able to get my tools on board the plane with me or would they be taken away. I fly at least once a year to visit family and have always entertained the thought of taking something with me to work while flying. But was afraid my tools would be taken away from me while going through security. Has someone checked this out thoroughly?Very curious. Thanks"
- Olga

''I love to bead crochet and decided to bring my current project along on an international flight. The security personnel at the airport would not let me take my beading crochet along ... so people should find out before traveling, what is and what is not allowed on board!"
- Yemmy

''I loved the article by Jean Campbell about beading in public. I do it all the time. One thing to note, the airlines have loosened up and now I can take small scissors on board. Here's their rule to be able to take on board: Scissors - metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches. Also, I made my own mini-tray. Went to the dollar store, found a trivet that was encased in a cork piece. Replaced the ceramic trivet piece with Vellux fabric. Works like a dream and is very portable."
- Mimi

Jewelry-Maker's Note:
In regards to bringing beading pliers on airplanes, according to, tools and pliers seven inches or less in length are allowed in both carry-on and checked baggage. The Security Officers may ask to inspect the tools, but as long as they are seven inches or less in length, they should be allowed on the aircraft.

''I found the BIP article useful and especially timely. It was a creative way to expose customers to products that they might otherwise not have known about. I may be making a long international flight in Jan. and would not have considered taking my projects along with me before reading the Beading in Public article."
- Mary

''This is such a great site and the info you provide is ALWAYS welcome. BIP is a great idea. But I'm not sure sporting events is such a great place to do it with all the cheering and jumping around ... But hey it could work ..."
- Elaine

''I enjoyed your article about Beading in Public. I ride the train everyday and I have a great item that I use called a Tacky Bob. It is a little bit smaller than a CD case. Inside the case one side has a sticky material that keeps seed beads in place. I have had several of them over the years and find them invaluable. I can take my project anywhere without worrying about the beads spilling. Maybe it is an item that you could start carrying. I would purchase them from you. I have attached a picture of one. Thanks and keep up the good work."
- Linda

''LOVED your article about BIPping! Makes a lot of wasted time worthwhile. Thank you for the great suggestions."
- Carol

''BIPping ... my friend and I BIP on a regular basis. We go to dinner, eat, clear the table, and then bead until 9:00 or when the restaurant closes (Jason's Deli or Perkins) ...."
- Mary