5 Tips for Organizing Jewelry-Making Supplies, Tools, and Beads
“Spring cleaning” can happen any time of year. Something about our inner psyche, though, has this phenomenon kicking into high gear right as the days get longer and the sun feels warmer. We find ourselves opening windows to let stale air out and fresh air in, washing those windows to clean away winter debris, dusting everything, and in general, getting things in order.
In our warehouse, spring cleaning means you get to clean up! Be sure to tune into all the specials going on so you don’t miss out on all the great deals.
In my world and in my jewelry-making space, I find myself wanting to do a little more than tidying up. I know better than to go into full-remodel mode but I do feel the urge to really overhaul my studio and office. The best approach for this will be to look at things with a different perspective.
To follow are five tips for organizing your jewelry-making supplies.
1. Determine How You Design to Help Guide Your Framework
Everyone sorts their jewelry-making supplies in different ways. Every once in awhile, it’s good to step back and assess if your system is still working for you or if it’s time to evolve.
I sort my jewelry-making supplies by color. Originally, all beads of one color family went into one box. As my stash grew, I needed to rethink this method. I decided to stick with sorting by color but I needed to remove smaller beads from the mix. Recently, I had to do another sorting and now all seed beads have been moved to jars and tubes so they can be seen more easily and so I could free up space in the boxes for other types of beads.
For a free how-to on creating your own larger seed bead containers from your favorite ice-cream containers, including how to remove the ink from the jars, read Free How-to: Bead Storage Solutions.
I also dug out beads I could hang (above, top). I focused on beads I need more frequently as well as those already on hanks. Functional but they also help dress up the place.
2. Label, Label, Label Jewelry-Making Supplies
Putting beading and jewelry-making supplies out where I can see them has helped save me time, for sure. This step has also helped me not buy the same things over and over again just because I couldn’t see them. But, not everything looks pretty on display nor do I have room to put everything out in the open. So, how to organize in a way that makes it easy to find your materials, keep things tidy, and make it easy to clean up when you’re done? Enter labels!
As time consuming as it might seem to label your containers, believe me, it’s worth the effort! And, if this is a new step for you, start by labeling your containers to identify what’s inside — for example “red beads,” “sterling silver findings,” “sterling silver metal sheet,” etc. And if needed, use plastic bags to house a finer level of sorting – “earwires,” “clasps,” and “jumprings.” As you progress, label the tubes you place your seed beads into. (Find the bead tube organizer below at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. )
Label your gemstone strands so you don’t forget what was written on the receipt you filed with your taxes 3 years ago and label your tool bins which are sorted by soldering, bench tools, hand tools, etc.
Add labels to your decorative storage bins. These bins in particular have coordinating label frames you can easily change as the contents change.
These frames slip over the edge of a box and are chalkboard in nature so can easily be written on then updated.
3. Find Creative Ways to Expand Your Space
My day-job office and jewelry making and bead studio share the same room. It’s a lot to fit into one space. And it’s a lot to make one area be more office in nature and the other a suitably creative space.
One storage solution I love is this old medicine cabinet turned shelving unit.
A coworker remodeled his bathroom and put this up for grabs –– and so I did! For a long time I stored my rubber stamps on the shelves so I could see what I had to choose from. More recently, my husband painted it matte black and I now store my personal effects so they’re nearby yet not on my desk.
Speaking of my desk, to maximize storage, I use an old door on top of bookcases. This gives me lots of room for magazines, office supplies, more knick-knacks — anything! This worked out so well I did the same thing for my studio table, subbing in a butcher-block countertop in place of the door. The only trick here was finding storage containers that fit inside the cubbies.
4. Place Your Tools in Easy Reach
Regardless of your type of craft, you likely need tools. And if you’re like many of us, one tool of the same kind is never enough. How to keep those tools at the ready means different things to each of us. As time has gone on, I’ve adapted a few things to work for my habits and me.
Consider suspending a rod between two brackets then hang up your pliers and cutters. In the picture below, I found wrought iron towel racks in my father-in-law’s barn we then retrofitted to fit my wall. The benefit with either of these ideas or something similar is getting the tools off your work surface, seeing which type of plier or cutter is which, and keeping them from banging against each other if you were to store them in a box.
I love this lazy-Susan type organizer for jewelry-making supplies and tools. I can use it to hold lots of different things and keep them all within easy reach. Sometimes the compartments get overstuffed (I don’t always put things back where they belong!), but a quick resorting does the trick so I can see what is where with a simple spin.
5. Dress Up Your Space Without Taking Up a Lot of Room
Even if you’re the neatest, most organized person, you likely need a little bit of inspiration in your space. From a painting to magazine tear sheets stuck to a corkboard, from fabric banners to wild curtains, we all draw from something. This something is not always easy to work in, and in my case, my walls have become my storeroom.
Enter this bound-for-the-bin mannequin!
Not only is she my partner in crime, she brings a sense of flair to the office. She doesn’t take up a lot of floor space and serves as a wonderful model for photographing a necklace. This made-over flea-market find never complains even when she has to wear several necklaces while I prepare them for instructions or selling. She graciously receives a coat or two when company arrives and doesn’t interrupt when I’m on a conference call.
You may not find the humor in my office mate, but maybe this idea will spur a way for you to work in some inspiration into your studio. Maybe it’s a monkey hanging from the chandelier? Whatever works for you works for me! But please, share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below so we can keep this conversation going!
For more on organizing, check out these other posts: