Finding the Perfect Work Surface

By on September 30, 2015
Print Friendly

by Judy Ellis,

Wire Jewelry Tip for September 30th, 2015

Chain Mail Tips – Finding the Perfect Work Surface

by Marilyn Gardiner

Some crafters work at their chain mail projects at a desk—or maybe on work bench—or perhaps at their kitchen or dining room table—or even as a passenger in the car on a trip. And how about in a waiting room (e.g. optometrist, hospital) And even at the beauty salon. And, of course, in a workshop. (I’ve done all of these!)

The key to staying a happy chain mailer is a work surface that doesn’t move around when you touch it or set down your pliers.

When I’m bead weaving, the ubiquitous Vellux mat is perfect because you can park your needle in it, and piles of seed beads don’t roll around and onto the floor. But, it just doesn’t work well for chain mail.

The best solution I’ve found for a work desk is a 20″x15″ padded work mat. The blue surface appears to be a tightly woven fabric on top of a black, non-slip, flexible rubber backing. It even has a ruler in inches and centimeters printed along the bottom edge!

The non-slip back means that it doesn’t move around when you set down your pliers. The large size gives you adequate room to set out rows of open and closed rings for the steps of the project you have in process.


A bead store where I teach in Toronto has outfitted all the student work stations in a classroom with these. They’re perfect for my chain mail classes! When the room is used by beading teachers, a vellux mat goes on top—and it doesn’t move around either.

This mat is too large to be a portable work surface—but I’ve found a great alternative. Go to your local, big box electronics store, to the computer section, and look for the mouse pads. Yes, there is a mouse pad sized version of this mat! You’ll recognize it by the bright blue surface.

In this photo, my mat is sitting on a lap desk I bought at a craft show: it has a nice cushion base. I use it when I’m working in a comfy chair, and when I’m a passenger on a long road trip. The top is varnished wood, and I’ve added a piece of non-slip shelf liner. The liner is textured, so the mouse pad surface on top is perfect for the jump rings—they don’t snag, and they don’t move around.

The small size (9.5×8″) means that this mat is very portable. It slides easily into a gallon size zip lock bag along with all of the materials and paperwork for a work-in-process.



I hope you enjoyed this simple tip from Marilyn. Check back for more great tips or articles from our new contributors!

Happy Wrapping!