Turn Your Stash of Jewelry Supplies Into Amazing Jewelry Projects

About a year and a half ago, I bought my first house after a lifetime of renting. I spent a lot of time and energy organizing and decorating my much larger space. (Moving from a small two-bedroom apartment to a three-story four-bedroom house gives you LOTS of possibilities.) My closets are organized, my kitchen is organized, my office is organized, my library is organized–even my basement is organized. Only one space in the whole house remained a disorganized mess. Unfortunately, it was my closet of jewelry supplies. I put it off and put it off until I just couldn’t take it any longer. So my spring project was to pull everything out, purge what I didn’t need, reorganize everything, clean it up, and put it back.

jewelry supplies: stash organization before

Organizing Your Stash of Jewelry Supplies

Oh, yes, that closet was a mess. Tools mixed in with metal scraps, glass and stone cabochons in among glass and plastic beads, half-finished projects everywhere. My stash of jewelry supplies had grown exponentially and was even spilling out of the closet and taking up residence in my office space. (My office doubles as my work area for jewelry making.) Some of my best stones, cabs, and wire pieces were jumbled haphazardly on an old computer stand with a dying Mac and assorted books and office supplies. All of this made working on any new jewelry creations a big chore—definitely NOT good for the creative process.

So I dug in—with “help” from my little cat Bubba, who loved all the fun toys I was pulling out. (Well, Bubba thought the jewelry supplies were toys. Beads and packing materials are fun!) I came up with a plan for the organization. There were certain items that I’d need regularly and would have to have close at hand: my favorite tools, my dapping block collection (yes, I have a collection), my preferred findings and metal, and of course, the cabs and beads I had definite plans for. So those needed to be conveniently located. Other less-used jewelry supplies needed to be available, but they could be behind or below other things.

I laid everything out on the office floor and piled them into categories: tools, findings, stones, beads, finishing materials, packing supplies, etc. Separately, I set up a category for things that I take when I sell at craft shows. Though I don’t do craft shows very often, it’s nice to have those supplies and display items all together.

Then I used the divided plastic organizers I had on hand, a couple of packing boxes, and a large plastic bin to put everything back. And the results? Awesome!!

jewelry supplies: stash organization after

Order from Chaos

I’m very proud of myself. All of the beads and cabs are divided by material (stone, glass, plastic, miscellaneous) and color and stored in plastic organizers. Findings are also sorted by type and placed into organizers. I stacked all of the organizers with findings on top for easy access.

I discovered that I had TONS of metal sheets and scraps, way more than I thought. Nice! I have a small black padded case that is the perfect size for the small sheets and scraps I use most often. I’d completely forgotten about the case, so it was a nice little surprise. I also found a lot of wire that I placed with the metal.

My hand tools are all organized into a very nice tool box. It keeps them all together and is very convenient for moving the tools around the room as I need them. My dapping blocks fit in a couple of small boxes and are right next to the tools. (I found more Cut Lube that I forgot I had. Score!)

All of my craft show supplies are organized and placed into the large plastic bin for easy access and quick loading into the car.

The stones and other items that I have more immediate plans for are laid out where I can see them at a glance so I don’t forget about them. No, I don’t know what I’m going to do with the collection of tin African masks. I buy at least one of those every year at the African Art Village Show in Tucson. I adore them! Maybe I just like looking at them. I’ll do something with them eventually, I swear!

Oh, yes. There is one fairly large packing box in the back (with the metal on top of it). That’s large tools and miscellaneous extra stuff. I’ve found that you usually end up with one miscellaneous box. I’m just glad there’s only one.

And the little green mouse? That was Bubba’s contribution. Thanks, kitty.

jewelry supplies: Leland Blue pendants by Karla Rosenbusch

Jewelry Supplies: Stash Treasures

One of the best things about organizing my stash of jewelry supplies—other than finally being able to find everything—was coming across hidden treasures that I had forgotten about. So I took a few of those treasures and created three new easy pieces “on the fly.”

As I was sorting through my stones, I found three pieces of Leland Blue that I got from Gary Wilson in Tucson. I absolutely love Leland Blue! It’s made from iron ore slag that was dumped into Lake Michigan and eventually became some of the prettiest stones I’ve ever seen. Beauty from industrial waste—gotta love it.

Two of the Leland Blue stones are freeform rough. And since Leland Blue is a porous stone, it often has little holes. So I simply ran some of the wire scraps I found through the stones, made a loop, and twisted the wire into bezels. Voila! Two instant pendants that I hung from leather cord—all set to go. (Does one of them look to you like a map of the United States? It does to me, although it’s missing my home state of Michigan. Close enough!)

jewelry supplies: Leland Blue pendant by Karla Rosenbusch

The third piece of Leland Blue was a polished cab that was vaguely heart shaped. That one deserved a little more attention. Fortunately, I had some pretty long scraps of wire. So I did a fairly decent wire wrap—not my best wire-wrapping job, but it wasn’t bad considering it was all done with stash scraps. I wore that one to family wedding recently. Appropriate, don’t you think?

jewelry supplies: random bead cuff bracelet

As I was organizing the stash, I realized that I a lot of mismatched beads in my jewelry supplies—I mean a LOT! There were stone and glass and plastic beads that were part of a string or a set at one time. But now there were only one or two left of each kind. So since I also discovered that I had some leftover memory wire (I’m nuts about the springiness of memory wire), I made a random-bead bracelet. All you do is make a loop at one end of the wire, randomly string your beads, and make a loop at the other end. You get a nice bracelet that fits any wrist. And it reminds me of the beaded necklaces and bracelets that my Mom had in the 1970s. It just has that vibe!

Attack Your Stash

If you’re looking for a worthwhile project around the house (aren’t we all), trust me! Organizing, purging, and cleaning up your stash of jewelry supplies is definitely worth it. Who knows what you’ll find? And not only will it be easier for you to use everything in your stash, you’ll get some new ideas about what to do with everything when you see it all laid out in a different light.

And if you need help deciding what to do with all the random stuff in your stash, check out Interweave’s Stashbuster Sale. (I love the name “Stashbuster.” I want a T-shirt that says that.) You’ll find books and ebooks and videos and more that you can use to spark ideas for turning those random leftovers into beautiful jewelry creations.

So start digging through that stash. Maybe you’ll even find a little green mouse!

–Karla
Managing Editor, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

 


Get your studio in order and make the most of your jewelry supplies and tools with these resources!

3 Comments

  1. Michele W at 7:47 am June 15, 2018

    Good Morning. Had the same problem. Went to Dollar Store, bought shoe boxes, then, labeled both sides with the name of beads, put beads in boxes. Used black marking pen so info would not wash off. Put each item/string in clear plastic bags, These can be purchased at JoAnn’s, Staples, Walmart, etc. Then went to Staples, purchased small white mailing boxes. Labeled each box, (necklace, bracelet etc.) After I made an item, I would put the item in bubble wrap, then place in the corresponding white box. Hope this helped. Have a great summer.

    • TammyJones at 10:54 am June 15, 2018

      Great info, Michele, thank you for sharing!

    • Anonymous at 4:33 am June 16, 2018

      Excellent ideas, Michele! I was fortunate in that I already had a bunch of clear plastic organizers (with dividers inside) so I can see at a glance what’s in them. I do want to label the organizers to make it even more clear what’s inside. I was thinking of a label maker, but I like your idea of a good black marker. I may try that! Thanks for the thoughts!

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