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!