Making While on the Go – or How to Save your Sanity

March 29, 2017 , In: Inspiration, Tutorials

2500. The average number of miles I drive every month. When I tell people I spend a LOT of time in my car, and I don’t have a job like traveling salesman, they don’t understand how this is possible. These people probably do not have pre-driving aged teens who are very involved in an activity several times a week that is a 1-hour drive round trip. Or who go to a school that is a 1-hour round trip. You get the idea. 

In addition to driving, I spend a lot of time in between not driving my car and I try to always have something to do to save my sanity, which seems to be hanging by a thread many days. Sometimes I read. Many times I bring something portable to work on. This post is just a small sample of what’s possible if you find yourself frequently stuck in a car, train, bus, etc. 

First up is the Beading Pal, which is probably the most pricey of lot I’m sharing today, but worth every penny. I usually have 2-3 projects going at any given time, stored in this very portable case that holds everything you need to do bead embroidery on the go. I also use it exclusively while doing bead embroidery at home. As long as you keep it stocked with needed supplies, you can just grab it and walk out the door. 

Chainmaille is also very portable. Place the ring sizes needed in a tin. The lid doubles as a workspace. Grab your two sets of pliers and put the tin and pliers in your handbag. 

Have you joined the coloring craze? It is pretty  much impossible to go to any shop in the United States without tripping over a display of “adult” coloring books (I hate calling them adult because it sort of sounds like maybe it isn’t just pages of mandalas, forest scenes, or swear words….Oh…wait…) Keep a book and a make-up bag filled with colored pencils in a tote bag in the car and you will always have something to do if you find yourself with some downtime in the car.

Jenny sent me this lovely Zentangle kit while I was recovering from hip surgery over Christmas, which is completely self-contained, lightweight, and the size of a small book. This would be super easy to do in the car. I admit I haven’t used it yet as it’s so perfect and I haven’t been able to make myself mess up any of those tiles yet. Totally stupid of me as they are just paper…so I will be taking it with me as I travel over the next month. 

Next up are these adorable travel watercolor kits. The one on the right is brand new (as you can see…) The one on the left comes with a paintbrush. However, I have several brushes that you can fill with water so you don’t have to find a water source once you’re out “in the wild” and feel like painting. They don’t fit in the case, but are easy to add to a small bag with the paints and small watercolor pad. 

Perhaps you like to sketch. Here are two books I use frequently. The left is my bullet journal, a Leuchtturm 1917 hardcover book (I prefer grid paper, but there are other choices) which is basically my brain and a sort of journal and sketchbook. The right is a plain spiral sketchbook. The key to their success in being portable is how writing instruments are attached to each book, making them grab and go. I’ve attached a bandolier from Clever Hands to the bullet journal. 

The pencil case on the sketchbook is something I found at Michaels that I cannot find online. It’s basically a pencil case with an elastic band. It has two pockets; a main pocket that fits pencils, brushes, etc, and a small pocket on the front which fits smaller bits like erasers and blending stumps. 

While I have done all the things mentioned in this post in my car, the activity I do the most in the car and the one I’m currently most focused on is knitting. My mom made me the MOST amazing knitting bag ever, which is the larger purple one shown in the photo below. The bag sitting in front of it is small and perfect for socks, gloves, and other small portable projects. Both bags are easy to keep supplies in and grab on the way out the door. The question is, which is more appropriate for working on in the car/train/bus/plane. 

Lesley and Caroline also sent me a “don’t go stir crazy” gift when I had my hip surgery with a couple beginning embroidery kits. Lesley is working pretty hard at trying to get everyone, including AE writers and our readers, addicted to embroidery (see the evidence here and here). These small hoops are super portable. Just add your hoop with project, needle stuck in the fabric, floss, and very small scissors to a gallon ziplock bag, which is one of my favorite storage and transportation products and you have the perfect car project. 

While I sincerely hope none of you have to spend a similar number of hours in the car that I do, the downtime can be used in any number of productive and creative pursuits if you plan ahead and make it as portable as possible, without the need to make a kit every time you want to leave the house. What are some of your favorite portable creative pursuits?


Jennifer Cameron

Combining fire and glass since 2005, Jen Cameron discovered jewelry making after realizing a small child could disappear in the growing collection of beads sitting around the house. Jen is the adoring mother of two, jackpot winner in the husband category, and zookeeper of several pets. Jen is also the instigator for bringing together this team of innovative, talented, passionate and dynamic women to write for Art Jewelry Elements.
  1. Reply

    Wonderful ideas! Like you, I have a number of ‘kits’ at the ready. But you gave me some great new ideas!

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