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Beading Equipment

Bead Mat

Our beads are tiny, cylindrical and they roll all over the place! A bead mat's job is to add a little friction to the surface to stop the beads rolling around. This ensures you are able to pick a bead up with your needle directly off the mat. I would not bead without one, and I mean that literally. I would be forever chasing those little suckers around and I would never even get the chance to bead.

There are two types of bead mat, a material one or a plastic based one with sticky surface. Both create a surface with a little friction to hold the beads in place. Most material bead mats have a very short pile, fabrics such as velvet, velour and vellux can be used. By far the favourite material is vellux. It has a nylon flocked surface with a polyester foam core.

I find the foam core of a vellux mat gives you a little cushion and means you can develop a technique to flip the beads onto your needle, speeding up your beading. The sticky mat I only use when I am working with larger beads, which is not very often.

in the last few years a new style of beading board have come onto the market and are proving very popular. On these boards there are cut out sections you place your beads in to stop them getting mixed up with each other. Sections are usually marked A-Z so you can cross reference beads in the section to a colour in your pattern. A beading board is a very useful tool to have and really helps in a pattern with lots of colours.

Check out our tip for looking after your bead mats, Tip: Looking After Your Bead Mat

My Recommendation

I prefer using a vellux bead mat by far. I use our own brand of Beading board which has a vellux base and has been especially designed with our patterns in mind. This board is something I have designed myself using my many years of beading experience.

I took a great deal of care during the design process to ensure that all the niggles I had from my previous beading solutions were dealt with. So from ensuring there is a nice flush finish and no sharp corners to snag your thread on to even designing the compartments to make getting your beads in and out of the sections easy whether by needle or scoop. For me not to have these problems as I bead is something I appreciate each time I use it.

The bead mat insert on my board can be changed depending on the project. If I am working on.a pattern with lots of colours I add the A-Z plus 9 bead mat insert. I like this board configuration the best as it has lots of overflow sections so I can change the beads in them depending on the part of the design I am on. Sometimes a pattern will have fewer colours and then I will reach for my A-M half moon insert. If I am designing however I may just swop it for the plain bead mat insert, as I tend to only use one or two colours and do lots of ripping out while perfecting my design so this I find works for me. I like the flexibility this board gives me and so it’s always the one I reach for.

A beading board is more of an investment than a regular bead mat, and whilst it makes it much easier to follow a pattern I would not recommend getting one initially unless you are sure beading is the hobby for you - one of the basic bead mats placed on a cushioned laptray suited me well for years.

A4 Beading Board and Lid - Ruler By ThreadABead
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A4 Bead Mat Insert - A to Z Right Hand Side plus 3 (Lavender)
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A4 Bead Mat Insert - A to M plus 3 Half Moon (Lime Green)
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A4 Bead Mat Insert - Plain
Bead Mat 3 Pack Set
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2 x Bead Mats 8" x 8" in cream colour
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The Bead Smith Sticky Bead Mat
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Beadsmith Sticky Bead Mat 5.5 x 3.25 inches
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Treasure Mat 14 x 11 inches
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