Guide to Bead Organization
Let's face it: creative types are not exactly known for being the most organized people out there. Our work spaces are often layered with piles of beads, tools, unfinished projects, beading magazines, and a variety of other craft supplies and materials. We often find ourselves looking for our round nose pliers so we can just make that one last wire wrapped loop and finish the pair of earrings we started a month ago. Or we buy 100 copper jump rings because we think we are out of them, only to find the 100 jump rings we ordered 6 months ago buried in the bottom of a drawer. It happens. With our SmartCollection™ categories, we offer an organized and convenient way to shop for beads. We would also like to offer some advice on not just how to stay organized when you shop, but how to keep yourself organized when you bead so you never have to ask where you put that pretty art glass pendant again...
Some people are fortunate enough to have their own home office or craft room where they can spread out their wares, while others work at the dining room table or on a lap tray on the couch in the living room. Wherever you work, you need a place to store your beads, supplies and tools. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you organize your stash:
- Find a place where you can store things. If you have a blank wall above your beading/craft desk, you may want to put some shelving on the wall; you can go utilitarian with shelving and brackets from your local hardware store or do floating shelves that are both functional and fun. If you have an empty corner or open wall, plastic shelving may be the way to go. Closet space is also an option if you have some to spare. Whatever you decide to do, try to put your beads, supplies and tools as close to your work space as possible. (If your materials are far away from you, you may find yourself getting distracted - or maybe a little lazy - and you won't return items to their proper homes.)
- Your local craft store sells plastic organizers with dividers. These are perfect for things like gemstones, pearls, glass beads, larger metal beads - and just about anything that isn't microscopic. Try keeping like things together: gemstones in one bin, pearls in another, chain in another, findings in another. And invest in a label maker so you can clearly label your bins. Organizing and labeling your beads will help you when you need to find that one 5-strand copper clasp needed to complete your latest multi-stranded bracelet design.
- We sell our seed beads in tubes. Those tubes make it convenient and easy for you to store your seed beads. If you are a habitual seed bead buyer, you may want to buy (or find) several small boxes and store your beads together by either size or color. This way, you can quickly find those size 8/0 orange seed beads you need to finish your peyote project. The cool thing about those tubes is, once the seed beads are gone, you can use them for things like crimp beads or head pins. Free reusable storage!
- For your tools, you can use something like an oversized mug or a coffee can or small basket. Our designers all use something different, but they all straddle the tools over their storage device for ease of use. (Plus, having to dig around in a basket for a Nipper Tool could be a little dangerous...)
No matter your level of expertise, buying beads can be an overwhelming - and costly - endeavor. Here are a few tricks to help keep you on the right track when shopping for beads and supplies.
We know what it's like to have a love for beads and crafts that can get a little out of hand. If you find proper ways to shop and store your items, it will make the process much faster and a little less frustrating. We developed our SmartCollections™ with this approach to organized creativity in mind, hoping to help you find that perfect color or metal finish in one convenient place. We know a creative mind is not always a tidy mind and we are here to do what we can to help!
- If you are a beginning beader, buying beads, supplies and tools can be as daunting as that first run to the grocery store when you move into a new house and need everything under the sun. It is best to start slowly and get the basics first. Instead of ordering everything you think you might possibly need to create any and every finished piece, pick out a few projects you like and order the materials for those projects. This will save you time and money and you will find ways to reuse many of the materials later on.
- If you are the kind of person who goes to the grocery store with a list, then making lists of beading supplies may not seem too out there for you. Sure, you should look for things that really excite you or wait for a great sale to buy those gemstones you've had your eye on. But while doing your shopping for those impulse items, it is wise to have a list handy of those must-have items that are always being depleted: head pins, eye pins, crimp beads, etc. This way, you don't find yourself without a key ingredient while cooking up your next brilliant design.
- Do you love to peruse beading magazines or websites for jewelry making projects? Do you impulsively buy the beads and supplies needed to complete those projects and then discover them months later, wondering why you bought them in the first place? Put all the components needed to complete a project in a sandwich or storage baggie and label it. If it is from a magazine, label the bag with the name, date and page number of the project. If the design came from a website, write down the website and title or - better yet - print the instructions, picture and all.