Create a Beadwork Portfolio

Remember That Necklace?

Most people who know me will tell you that I’m horribly forgetful. And it’s not something I can blame on age or too much partying. It’s just the way I am and always have been. Age has become a factor, though, so it’s been necessary to come up with some tricky memory recall methods. The easiest one is to respond to emails instantly so I won’t forget to later. I also cut up recycled copy paper into fourths and use the little slips as endless memory jogs all over the house (“Dentist at 4:00,” “Buy cat litter”, “Turn off oven”). Names are the worst! The best thing I’ve come up with is to think of a song or movie title with the name in it and somehow assign that to a person forever.  So if I ever start singing when I meet you, you’ll know why!

Recently I had someone ask me about a necklace I made in 2002. “You know, the one with the resin and gold and exposed wire?” Blank stare. That’s when I knew I needed to come up with a trick for remembering the stuff I’ve made. Solution? A simple beading portfolio or “book.” This is not a new idea, of course. The first time I met Katie Hacker years ago she showed me her book. It made it so easy to quickly see her body of work! I was permanently impressed.

Keeping images of all your creations in one place is not only good for recall, it’s a great way to readily track your creative progress, color use, and technique. It’s also a good portable solution for those times when you want to show people your work and can't drag them to your studio or don’t have access to your web page, like at bead show gatherings, gallery meetings, or bead shop visits. This on-the-go visual vehicle is just another thing to add to your beading travel kit. (Speaking of traveling with beads, the Summer 2009 issue of Studios, my favorite new vice for fantasizing about getting my crafty rear in gear, is full of great articles and tips about bringing your crafty self on the road. Check it out!)

Organizing Your Own Book

Creating a bead portfolio is a pretty straightforward process:

1.  Images. Think about what you’d like to include in your book. Do you want to include just the highlights of the things you’ve made or absolutely everything? If you’re including published work, this is a great place to store the tear sheets you received from the publisher. For other work, make a document with a photo of the beadwork and a caption that includes the title, materials, finished size, and date created.

2. Book design. Decide to get as elaborately beautiful or as bare-tacks minimalist as you like. If you’re using your book for selling your work, get fancy by placing it in an artist’s portfolio with a few samples sewn right in. If you just need a record, a labeled accordion file stuffed with printouts is probably fine. 
Since I’ll be referring to mine more than occasionally, I don’t need it to look lovely, but I do need it to be durable, so I just used plastic sheet protectors in a regular 3-ring binder.  

3. Organization. File your pieces so you can find the images again easily. You might choose to file them by technique, color, material, or type of jewelry. Or you might have several different books (“for sale,” “sold,” “published,” “UFOs,” etc.) for different uses.

Have you created a beading portfolio? What’s inside? Please let us know on the website.

Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

40 thoughts on “Create a Beadwork Portfolio

  1. oh, this is a great idea! Why did n’t I think of this sooner? Someone recently did ask me about that piece with brown in it … you know – oh my, I really did not remember. I’ve made several necklaces with brown wooden beads. A portfolio would be superb. I have a few photos of necklaces that I’ve sold.

    I might get family members who like to take photos involved in my jewelry world.


  2. I haven’t made a book of the jewelry I’ve made yet but I have a special place on my computer for all my jewelry pictures. I was thinking to put them on CD/DVD so that I could print the pictures when I wanted but that I would always have a good clear picture to share digitally also.

  3. I do keep a journal. Three ring binder with sheet protectors. I date the pages and if I sell or give away the piece I make a note of that on the page. Time flies for a seventy eight year old and remembering when I made that piece gets lost in the race to make the next piece.
    Lee W

  4. Jean, you are so right on. I couldn’t fundtion without a visual reference of my beaded art. (I also keep one of my drawings/paintings online:

    I keep one on my computer in iPhoto (where I store all my photos). I also have one online if I need to refer to it when I am out of town teaching. And of course, there’s my gallery on my website which I use to remember all the published pieces:

    Sometimes I see a friend wearing a pair of earrings I like and think “gee – I could have made those – they look like my style.” And it turns out that I did make them, though I have no recollection of making them. Is it age, pre-menopause, or just that I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of pairs of earrings? Who knows. I only know I can’t remember anything without some kind of visual reference!

  5. Hey JEan,
    I have been photographing my work for a while, keeping a small photo album that includes the things I have done for others, especially. I had to show my work “in progress” once for a bead craft show…so I began to get a photo of each finished product. My how we grow from those first projects. I think I will try MelinaB’s idea about the CD of the photos I ahve stored on hard drive, now that film has left me…
    Judy odrezin, Savannah

  6. I recently made a photobook through Shutterfly with all of my nicest designs. It looks great. I have it on display in one of the shops where my jewelry is for sale. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it.

  7. Your idea is great for keeping a record of everything you’ve made. If you wanted a portfolio of your best work, you could have a photo book made up (I have had good results from I also have photos of my work in my iPod Touch. For craft shows, you could use one of those electronic picture frames to have a running slide show of your work.

  8. This is a great idea….also for use at shows the digital photo frames are great! They create movement so capture attention to your space. I have a space on my website where I can print the gallery, also a big help.

  9. I always photograph each piece I make, even though my photography isn’t the best, it’s still a great record of my work. I made a photobook at the end of last year with PhotoBox. I think it’s the best way to keep a reference of all my work. I labelled each photo with details of the stones I used and the length of the necklaces. And I’m planning to do the same at the end of this year too!
    A word of warning! Last year I lost all my data on my computer due to a hard disk failure. It’s really important to keep all your precious photos backed up elsewhere.
    I also use the same photos to make a catalogue of each piece, the type of stones, the length, the price, the date it was sold who bought it. I identify each piece with a unique number which is the file number in the camera. This catalogue is my private record, the photobook is my public portfolio!

  10. I purchased a digital frame and created a portfolio that I play as a slideshow at craft fairs and shows. It draws people in and helps generate discussion about custom orders.

  11. I do not have a book yet, but I do keep the creations on a usb port. I have another notebook that keeps track of the findings and beads used for the piece.

    Wow MistyD that is a great idea.

  12. I’m thinking about making a portfolio with pictures of all my creations on it. But I can’t find a place where I can put them on. Just a nice webpage with a easy name so you just write down the adress & anyone can see what you create.

  13. I too think it is a great reference tool. I scan and/or take photos of each piece, attach my inventory number to the copy and file by inventory number in a three ring binder.
    I make my notes on the picture as to length and materials used.

  14. “getting my crafty rear in gear”
    Oh, Jean…you are so very funny!
    I have wanted to do something more formal like this for a long time. But I am relieved to find that you are human too!
    I did have a simple photo album once upon a time that I used to do this with. That was when I took really crappy photos! Now that I have stepped up my photo game I really should revive this. I have a website that serves this purpose. It is always a work in progress, but that evolution is good to see. I have a growing list of publications as well. It never ocurred to me to cut them up and make a scrapbook. I even have a friend who is a professional paper crafter I might turn to to make it really stunning.
    I have a digital photo frame that I use for shows and other displays that cycles through photos of my best work. Seek opportunities to be the “Business of the Month” at banks and other service establishments. Put out a mail sign up sheet and raffle off a pendant or earrings. Great for drumming up new leads!
    I even subscribe to a service called that allows you to make really professional looking slide show e-cards that I have personalized with pictures for weddings, or tailored to a clients’ needs. They can see the pics in their inbox. Yet another way to connect.
    I do think I will follow your lead Miss Jean and get back to basics more for my own memories than anything else.
    Thanks for sharing the great tips!
    Enjoy the day!
    Tesori Trovati Jewelry

  15. I was just thinking about doing this… as I am starting out I thought it would give me a good idea of what I am creating, where it goes, ect.
    I am already kicking myself for not doing so with my sewing projects… as People will ask me about that red dress for so & so… no idea what they are refering to at times.
    Same thing with beading…pluss for selling I will (hopefullly) be able to see what goes well or what is not as well recieved. THANKS – Now to do it!!!

  16. Although I’m still a novice at this and from the very start, in order to keep track of the completed pieces that I’ve made, I decided to scan and appropriately name each completed piece of beaded jewelry. I also used plastic sheet protectors for each scanned piece that I printed in color and also included all the materials that I’ve used in making each piece so I have a record/reference for my future use, created tabs labeled Necklace, Bracelet, etc. & stored all in a 3-ring binder. A good friend of mine named Sandie, offered a wonderful suggestion: When you scan each piece, use a different colored background (i.e., construction paper, or colored 8.5×11 colored paper, etc.) to bring out the jewelry pieces. She also covered the scanner w/ plastic wrap so you don’t marr the glass on the scanner. Also, naming each completed piece helps in recalling my memory which is so much easier as you add to your beadwork portfolio.

  17. I have started a file folder of some of my work already, my question is: What is the best way to photograph my jewelry?
    With or without items in the background, on or off people, hanging or laying flat?
    Thanks for your help and suggestions.

  18. I’ve let a few pieces go without taking photos, and I always regret it later. Recently I got a free offer from an online scrapbook printing company to print a hardback book of photos, and I created one for my jewelry. I could have amde one of my kids, probably should have, but I love it! I carry it with me and when people ask me about my jewelry, I can ask them if they’d like to take a look at my portfolio. I’m getting ready to complete another one with photos of work done since the first one was published. They make great coffee table books, too. I use the photos I’ve taken of my work to sell online, so I don’t have to take any others.

  19. Hi, I’ve been beading and designing jewelry for about a year and a half. I have found it very helpful to make a section in one of my books for various instructions I have collected along the way. The bead store even called me about a week ago because they had lost an old set of directions. Thankfully, I still had mine and was able to help them out. This is so much more fun than banking!!!

  20. Hi, I’ve been beading and designing jewelry for about a year and a half. I have found it very helpful to make a section in one of my books for various instructions I have collected along the way. The bead store even called me about a week ago because they had lost an old set of directions. Thankfully, I still had mine and was able to help them out. This is so much more fun than banking!!!

  21. Hi, I’ve been beading and designing jewelry for about a year and a half. I have found it very helpful to make a section in one of my books for various instructions I have collected along the way. The bead store even called me about a week ago because they had lost an old set of directions. Thankfully, I still had mine and was able to help them out. This is so much more fun than banking!!!

  22. I have a sort of half-hearted record of my best pieces. I also have pages of things that strike my fancy — jewelry I see in magazines, things from nature, etc., that I think I might someday create something from. I keep those ideas in the same book. On the rare occasion that I actually DO make something that was inspired, I put the inspiration picture next to the picture of what I created.

  23. If you are ever in the San Francisco/Oakland area, try to get over to Kathy Getty’s studio in Emeryville. She has books upon books of her fabulous creations. Your heart will stop as you turn the pages. I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon looking through them for hours as she visited with a good friend. marilyn peters

  24. I have several scrapbooks with several labels: Classes (I take many classes and i like to keep the instructions together.) Techniques. Sometimes i find a technique on the internet that is really right on. Projects: Things i may make in the future and drawings of ideas of items that i hope to do something with someday. And Metalworking. I love my books but i find the computer to be very valuable too. I take pictures of most of the pieces i have finished. I have folders listed by instructors (yes Jean, you are in there), gifts that i have given, lists of websites that i find to be the best, things that i have sold, etc. This business of organization is never ending…! an important aspect of it all is to routinely back up your computer.

  25. I did have a small photo album that my sister-in-law made me for Christmas 2008, to show my work in a bridal shop. It was covered in lace, ribbons, and a few tiny silk roses, but the owner of the shop didn’t like the look of it, because it stood out so much in her shop! The decor is black and sleek, and she would accept a plain black covered book. I decided I would do a larger scrap book style, but never got around to putting it together. I did also want another for the same reason as you. Thank you for the reminder! Thank you also to the other artists who have responded here. Great ideas!

  26. I simply lay my pieces on the copy machine and make a copy. I also number every piece so if a client later says – can you make a pair of earrings to match #472, I can look it up and see what they bought. Many now know to hang on to the numbered tags! As a second check, when I sell the jewelry I also keep a list of the items each person bought so I could look through old records and see what they bought if they give a brief descrition. Needless to say my binder is for my own use – not a thing of beauty!

  27. I have been beading for a year and a half and each piece I created was for someone special and usually a birthday or another holiday. I receive orders from a few people to make necklace, earrings and/or bracelet for people I do not know. However being an astrologer, I get the birth data for the individual, their favorite color(s) and that gives me a starting point for the type of energy that person would like in a piece of jewelry. I have taken pictures of every I have made (except one and still kicking myself for that). I store the pictures on my computer, however, I want to put the picture of each project into a plastic page protector and also put one of each of the beads used in the protec tor because many times my photos are not true to the actual color of the beads. Also a note indicating where the beads were purchased. I have not done this yet, but writing about it now will get me started. I love reading the Beading Daily e-mails.

  28. I’ve been making jewelry for about 2 1/2 years now & from the very start I decided to keep pictures of everything I make. I actually keep two three-ring binders… 1 for me & 1 to show. I use notebook seperator pages to keep necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pendants, rings, etc. in proper sections, so I can locate anything I want easily. I scan/photograph every single thing that I make, as well as any information about it, such as stone type, length,etc., & put those pictures in both binders. Then, because each item is one of a kind & I don’t duplicate (unless a client orders it such as for a wedding party), as I sell pieces, I write sold under the pictures (as well as the person’s name, in my personal binder for future refernce). But in MY larger binder, I also have sections where I keep instructional pages, inspirational pictures, and anything else that I want to keep. There is also a section for all my informational items (what different stones mean, what birthstones are for what month, etc.) that I use at shows & home parties. These binders have proven invaluable because although I may have sold something, clients can still order something they like that will be “like that” & I can also reference a necklace that was sold & they later have decided that they want a bracelet to match.:)

  29. Jewelrybykathy Create a Beadwork Portfolio
    Ive been making jewelry for about two years and in business for one and a half. One od the first things I do when I create a new design is take a 3×5 or 4×6 lined index card and write down what was involved in making the item and the cost. I also put a picture of the finished product with the instructions. I have recently changed from a photo album to a 3-ring binder and sheet protectors. I also put the pictures of the piece on card stock and then insert that into a protector. To me it looks professional.

  30. I have a portfolio of sorts. I just have to get it printed and off the computer. I have been pretty anal about taking photos of things for 18 mths now…even though I’ve been beading for nearly five. When I think of what I made and didn’t record..oh my. I have everything in files that account for type (eg: necklace) and then whether it was for sale, personal (mine) or given away. I have been meaning to update and get more organised for a while and some of these ideas sound pretty good. So apart from making things for our local show (my first time at entering) I will get my portfolio together in print. Thinking about two folders – one for the really good stuff to show off and the other with everything, which would include everything to make said item & price.

  31. Another thing. I have downloaded a pricing program ($5, Eni Oken) and this helps me keep track of what it costs to make an item and I can include a photo. It also gives an indication of selling prices, wholesale and retail.

  32. I keep my work online albums, I have three at the moment. But I will at some point try to print & create hard copy folders. As someone stated organising is never ending, photographying & trying to make jewellery at the same time is hard work enough. I joke about needing a personal assistant cos I have mounting paper work.

    I will definitely be taking on board the hints & tips suggested, thanks to Jean & everyone. This is what I love about this forum, I can always get useful /helpful advice.

  33. I have kept all of my work photos on picasa This is a great way to refer to my work and also to let others take a look at it. I have family and friends that are out of state so they have easy access to view my newest creations. I also have a digital picture frame that I use as part of my display. Another great idea is to take your pictures from the computer, burn them to disk and take them to the local photo store. Most stores now offer photo books (or albums) that you create at the store. You can add text, design a cover and many other options. Price of course depends on how detailed the book is and what size you order. They also have a small “flyer” type that is great to showcase your best work and keep a few in your purse.

  34. My journals filled up too quickly for words (have been creating jewelry of one type or another for 20 years). The important pieces I photographed–outside in muted sunlight. Worked nicely for a long time. When I made antique reproduction pieces, I went straight to the xerox machine. I placed a clear sheet of plastic on the glass top at my mom & pop local shop, and placed the necklace (or earring) on top of that laid out flat so I could see the colors and the placement of the loops on the chain up close and in a real image. I could also measure the chain length right on the picture.This was so I could reproduce the necklace quickly again for my repeat custmers. I used the stiff plastic so the shop’s glass would not stratch (and I could keep coming back to do my work there.) I am lucky enough to have a large (castoff) filing cabinet that is separated into types of necklaces The xeroxes go in there. Some necklaces had no colors and I did them in B&W. My newer more recent polymer pieces are being done with a digital camera, up loaded onto my computer –with copies I carry around in a simple small picture album that slips nicely into my purse or carry-on at shows. One of my signature pieces in polymer has become my calling card – one side picture, other side, information. The overflow goes into my photo boxes (thank you Michael’s Arts & Crafts), with tabs outlining the content of each section. Those boxes are pretty to look at, too. Works for me. Laura /Laura’s Originals, New York

  35. What a timely article!! Thanks so much. I had much the same experience recently when someone asked me about a piece I had made several years ago. I plan to get to work right away, so thanks again for the reminder. Hallie J.

  36. I have trouble remembering pieces I made. So I take pics and the ones I may want to show to others I down load to my mp3 player. Extremly portable! Thanks, Sue V.

  37. I made a portfolio for some friends that requested me to do so, so they could take it to work and sell my creations for me. Yes, my friends, they are special!
    It was a print out of some of my selected creations (the ones that can be recreated) in protective sheet covers.
    The portfolio included:
    The picture, materials it was made with, sizes, lengths and the price.

  38. Wow! just today, after 9mos of full time RV, I decided to sort all my patterns. I had copied in color pages of some of the pieces. I ended up with a pile of colored finished jewelry. I now need to make individual information sheets on the materials used. As I have sold all of those items at Craft Sales.Duh! how much easier it would be to have the inforamtion with the color copy. Since I teach Beginning Beading, I wanted to make a notebook of the classes for next season. this is a great way to have a limitless supply of ready to teach items. Thanks a miillion, for all the wonderful tips.Mary b

  39. Yesterday, I stop by Snow’s Little Bead Room, in Benson,AZ and ask if she would put a finished bracelet on her copier for me.(my camera is lost in my RV:)( I now am keeping a color copy of all my finished pieces:)Thanks to your article. (& Thanks againg)The amazing thing is Fran, placed a white piece of computer paper over the bracelet. Why?to help the piece lay flat and keep out light.WaLA! I have a clear color copy with out all the black where the light sneaks in. Yeah! I promptly wrote on the back, the materials and cost. (& what I sold it for and to whom) Thanks for that tip also.Maryb

  40. I keep mine on a portable flash drive (thumb drive) and carry it with me all the time. That way, if anyone wants to see my work, all I have to do is plug it into a computer to show them.