What Do You Do With Your Leftover Beads?

Leftover beads? What are those? Oh, that's right – those are the dozens of tiny plastic bags you have in your bead stash that contain just a few beads. For me, they are everywhere: at the bottom of every drawer, mixed in with my seed bead drawers and even in the pockets of my organizer totes. These little leftover beads just seem to appear everywhere when I least expect it. I suspect that they multiply while I'm sleeping and then infiltrate my bead stash in the wee hours of the morning.

Many of them are from beading kits that I've purchased, and sometimes I just use up a whole tube of seed beads when I'm making a beaded strap for a cabochon pendant or a beaded necklace and I just don't bother to reorder that specific color. And when it comes to my Swarovski crystal bicones and my fire polished beads, I always order more than I think I'll need for a particular beading project so that I have a few extra in case I drop one and it disappears forever.

So what can you do with all of these poor, lonely leftover beads? I've got a few ideas for you.

When you're making a complex beading project, Marcia DeCoster recommends keeping a little bead "repair kit" of extra beads.

Make a bead repair kit. This idea is actually from Marcia DeCoster. She suggests always keeping a small amount of every bead you use for a beading project in a small plastic bag labeled with the project name. If your finished beadwork  breaks at some point, you'll always have a few extra beads from the project for repairs.

Make bead soup or a bead mix. If you have a whole bunch of related (or unrelated) colors of seed beads, drop beads, bugle beads and cube beads, toss them into the same bag or tube, give 'em a shake and make a bead mix! Bead mixes are great for doing freeform beadwork, trading with your beading friends or for making fringe for other beaded jewelry projects.

These Good Witch earrings by Tina Koyama are perfect for using up a few leftover flower beads.

Make a pair of earrings. One of my favorite things to do when I have just a few crystals or fire polished beads left over is to make earrings! The great thing about beaded earrings is that you really don't need a lot of beads to make a pair of really gorgeous earrings.

Donate them. Every once in a while, I'll sort through my bead stash, pull out all the tiny bags with just a handful of seed beads in them, and bring them over to one of my local schools for their art classes. The kids (and their teachers) are always happy to get new craft supplies, and I get to clean out my bead stash. Or use them to make a little beading kit or care package for a beading friend and brighten someone's day!

Have a giveaway. If you blog or have a Facebook page for your beading business, why not have a giveaway? Put together a small bag or small box of beads from your left overs and offer it up as a prize for a little giveaway. Because really – everybody loves free beads!

Want to learn about more ways to use your beads? Pre-order Series 1500 of Beads, Baubles and Jewels on DVD. In 13 episodes, you'll find new ways to use your seed beads, crystal beads, wood beads and metal beads as well as ways to make your own beads. Celebrate the 15th anniversary of Beads, Baubles and Jewels with artists like Sherry Serafini, Leslie Rogalski and the always fabulous Kristal Wick!

What do you do with your leftover beads? Share your ideas on the blog!

Bead Happy,



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Beading Daily Blog
Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!    

6 thoughts on “What Do You Do With Your Leftover Beads?

  1. I am new to the site, so hi everyone.

    I never class any of my beads as left over, they usually get used for something, earings at the moment. especially as I went through all my beads and seperated them in to different plastic tubs, by colour. My son who is 14 and my daughter 9, have great fun designing earrings with me, and we have great fun on holiday doing this pastime together.

  2. In the Columbus, Ohio area we have a bead store that collects beads and materials and donates them to Children’s Hospital for the kids to make art projects. Some of the stories are life changing, like the little girl who made bracelets for her friends and family so they would have something to remember her by when she was gone.
    She is gone and those people treasure those bracelets.
    I can think of no better use for my left overs, how about you all?

  3. What to do with “left over beads”? Well there are never any left over beads; they are just beads waiting to go into a creative project :O) I don’t have the heart to rid myself of any beads. Sad I know!

    Nancy N
    Orlando FL

  4. S R wrote.

    Many charities have large galas with silent auctions. Make something with those leftover beads such as earrings or bracelets and donate them. Every penny counts in charities. YOu can also deduct the cost of your project on your income tax.

  5. I have also bead repair kits but i keep them only for my own pieces – whenever I sell a beadcrocheted or knitted piece I hand it out to the customer together with 1m of yarn
    I use the tiny little plastic boxes to keep a portion of the used beadsoups as well so if anybody wants a matching bracelet some time later I’m able to remix it

  6. You wonder how you will use up all your leftover beads, well ………… I am in a totally unique situation. I got my mother interested in working with seed beads when I showed her the beaded orchid cover from B&B October 2001. She promptly went out and bought every colour seed bead hank that the wholesaler had, spent over $2500. Took all her treasures home with her, starting bagging and numbering every hank, but never made it to the other side of the inventory process, unfortunately passed away, never getting to enjoy her new found love. After her funeral tea, I boarded the plane to come back home, but first I had to explain why my one suitcase weighed 150 pounds. The baggage handler could not fathom how something so small, could weigh so much. It took me several years, and many methods of stashing my inventory before I came up with a system that works for me. I use TONS of small plastic bags, and 2 dozen plastic shoeboxes with lids and metal racks to store my treasures. I bead daily, and thank my mother daily for her precious gift. And yes, much to my husband’s dismay, I add to my treasures, regularly