Taming My Bead Stash

When our basement flooded, my beads sought refuge on top of the radiator!

My beads are in need of a really good re-organization, and I'm sure that you'll agree after you read this! For years, I've been accumulating beads and findings and fibers and components, and I've always organized my beads as I went along. As my bead collection grows larger, I have to find new ways to organize and store them. Things sort of got out of control this spring when, for the first time anyone in our neighborhood can remember, we actually had water in our basement. Of course, this was about two weeks after I started here at Beading Daily, so it meant we had to relocate my office and fast! It took a couple of months for us to get everything dried out, but now we're finally ready to start moving things around again and get my "new" work area organized!

I have been collecting beads for a long time – a very, very long time! When I was fifteen and still in high school, I had one of those little "Indian" beading looms and a couple of packs of seed beads. I poured the seed beads into one of my grandmother's tiny cookie tins, and that was what I used to carry around my beading projects. As I added to my bead stash, I started storing my beads in plastic bags, grocery bags and little cardboard boxes, but didn't really have any kind of organized storage system. Until…

Right after my husband and I moved to upstate New York, I went to visit my family in Texas. While I was gone, my husband went to the local department store and bought four fishing tackle organizers. When I came home, he had sorted all of my beads by color and neatly organized them all in these fishing tackle boxes! I didn't know what to say – but now we like to joke that this was the beginning of the end. Once my beads and tools were sorted and organized, my productivity increased, and I started teaching myself new beading techniques and started making a lot more beaded jewelry!

The bulk of my bead stash is kept in these storage drawers.

It's been over ten years since my husband bought me those fishing tackle boxes, and my bead stash has grown to take up four large storage cabinets. The larger drawers are where I keep my seed beads, and the shorter drawers are for things like cabochons, handmade focal beads and special components, findings and clasps, and "special" categories like gemstones, shell beads and my collections of vintage Lucite and vintage glass beads. The first house that we rented had a small "craft room" off the master bedroom, and that was where I did most of my beadwork, but then when we bought our current house we decided to give me an "office" in the extra bedroom. It was an entire room full of beads, beading magazines and beading books! (We eventually turned that extra bedroom back into a bedroom shortly before our son was born a few years ago.)

I use a Bead Pavilion to keep my Delicas and size 15 beads handy.

I also bought a few more sets of drawers to keep on top of and under my work table in my temporary work area. These really need a good cleaning and sorting, since I've just been tossing beads in there when I finish a project without any thought to where they might actually belong! I've also been using this fantastic Bead Pavilion from Sova Enterprises to store my Delicas, size 15o beads and my triangle beads. I've always kept these beads separate from the rest of my bead stash so that I can easily see what colors I have available when I need an accent bead or a bead for stitching a bezel around a cabochon.

My plan for the whole thing is that as we finish cleaning and start rearranging my office, I'll sit down and start sorting through my drawers and put everything back where it belongs. Even those drawers get mighty messy when I'm in the middle of Beading Project Overload!

What does your ideal beading studio look like? How do you have your beads stored? Does your stash require just a few cookie tins, or do you have the kind of bead collection that requires an entire room? Share your stories and your favorite bead organizers in the comments here on the blog!

While I'm going through my beads, beading books and beading magazines, I'll make sure to see if I'm missing any issues of Beadwork and Stringing magazine. If you're missing a few issues and need to complete your collection, take advantage of the great back issue sale going on now in the Beading Daily Shop!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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