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Beading Tips and Advice

Tips and Advice for Beading Equipment

Looking after your Bead Mat

Vellux bead mats can attract a lot of dust and debris, so there are a few things you can do to keep them in good condition:

  • First when not in use store them upside down, if no dust can settle then your mat will stay clean! When you are using your bead mat avoid putting anything heavy down on top of it, it can leave an impression in the foam. The mark does usually come out over time but it can cause damage.
  • When you are starting to notice a build up of bits and fluff you will need to give it a clean (or whenever you start a new project – I can never start a new project unless I have an empty, clean bead mat, is that just me?). Use a micro fibre cloth to gently wipe the surface of the mat. It's amazing how much fluff will come out!
  • As tempting as it is, don’t eat or drink on or near your bead mat. I know you all do it! Once there is a stain on it I have found it almost impossible to get rid of it without leaving a mark or damaging the surface of the mat. When I am about to tuck into some crisps I will put my tray down, enjoy my crisps – wash my hands and start beading again. You can actually wash a vellux bead mat with a cold hand wash and this works well if its looking a bit grimy.
  • Eventually your bead mat will start getting old and the foam core will start to degenerate and pieces of the mat will come away, usually after a couple of years. As you have looked after your mat so well it just means its time to treat yourself to a new mat! Interestingly the manufacturers of the vellux material actually recommend you wash the material at least every 6 months for the very reason of keeping the foam core hydrated to stop it disintegrating. This is not always possible with a beading mat if it is integrated in a tray system, but I have been wondering if an occasional saturation with a water spray would help. Its not something I can recommend at the moment but I am going to give this a try and report back!

Keeping Embroidery Scissors Sharp

This is a quick little tip that is very effective. Every so often fold up a small piece of tin foil and use your embroidery scissors to snip it. The metal of the tin foil will clean and sharpen your scissors, it's a great way to keep them in top form.

Using a Thread Zapper

Some people seem to have trouble with using thread zappers; getting through many tips and wearing the zapper out quickly. I have been using my zapper for years and have never changed a tip, so what am I doing that they are not? Read on!

The main reason a tip will wear out is from too much debris forming on the tip. This also makes it ineffective - your zapper will not be zapping your thread either making it pretty useless. So, how do we avoid this?

  • First always preheat the tip. Switch it on and leave it for a few seconds to heat up before attempting to cut your thread. If you press a cold tip against the thread you won’t get a nice sharp cut and the thread will melt onto the tip – not at all what we want!
  • Touch the tip against the thread where you want it to be cut. You are not supposed to be burning all the thread away, just like a pair of scissors you want to snip the thread.
  • If you do get debris on your tip, heat it up again to burn this off. Don’t rub it, touch it or use a cloth to wipe, the wires are very fine and will damage.

So follow these tips and I can assure you, just like me, the thread zapper will be your friend and a trusty tool in your beaders stash.