Beading Supplies I Love: Ceramic Bead Dishes

Nov 1, 2011

ceramic bead dishes beading supplies
I love using ceramic bead dishes for certain beading tasks. Here is an assortment of my ceramic beading dishes with beads for various projects in them!
When I first started beading, I used to pour my seed beads into large, bulky plastic storage boxes and then bead with them right from the box. No bead mat, no tray, no nothing. I would find myself working on a piece of beadwork, cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by three or four of these humongous storage boxes, each containing a dozen or so colors of seed beads, and using only one color from each box. Talk about making something more difficult than it has to be!

A few months into my beading journey, I discovered a tiny bead shop not too far from my university in upstate New York. I quickly signed up for their beading classes and was presented with my first ceramic bead dish. From that day on, I was in love. I found that using those ceramic bead dishes was so much easier than scooping my beads directly from their original storage containers - especially when it came time to tackle an intricate amulet bag with more than fifteen colors of cylinder beads!

I still love to use my ceramic bead dishes when I'm working on a bead looming project or when I need to see how a particular color palette of beads will look without mixing bead colors. (I'm one of those beaders who does not like mixing her colors!) Using ceramic beading dishes instead of plastic doesn't create a lot of static in your beads when you're working, and the beads are easier to see.

There are a few drawbacks to using these ceramic bead dishes, though. If you drop one on a concrete or tile floor, it'll shatter, so take care to keep them on your beading table. Ceramic bead dishes don't usually come with a cover, but you can use a piece of heavy duty plastic wrap as a temporary cover. Emptying the beads out of the dishes takes a little extra care, too, since there are no funnels or other mechanisms for neatly pouring beads out of the dish.

Many online bead suppliers still carry ceramic bead dishes, or you can check with your local bead shop.

Have you ever used ceramic bead dishes? What did you think about them? Do you have a special bead dish that you prefer over the ceramic bead dishes? Leave a comment and share your thoughts here on the blog!

Bead Happy,



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arlinej wrote
on Jan 28, 2012 8:49 AM

I've experimented with many different types of art work before I found beadwork. You can use the inexpensive watercolor plastic palattes to set out beads. Their wells are larger than the ceramic dishes, and only a few beads jump around.

CynthiaD@26 wrote
on Jan 28, 2012 10:38 AM

I too have used these ceramic trays and love them as well. I also have the same complaints! They do make a difference though.

Peg247 wrote
on Jan 28, 2012 10:58 AM

I am a beginning beader-more for art quilts than jewelry, altho that may come someday!  I use a vintage white deviled egg dish.  When I am adding beads to my cross stitch pieces I like to use butter pats.  I have taken a couple of classes where the instructor introduced me to the valor (from an old blanket) mat - but I keep going back to my pottery dishes.

MorgJess wrote
on Jan 28, 2012 12:18 PM

These trays look similar to ceramic palettes available in art supply stores. There are several different configurations from which to choose, so you can decide what's right for you. I am not sure how the prices compare, but it is worth a look!

MyLadyK wrote
on Jan 28, 2012 12:51 PM

I have started recycling the caps and lids from various sized bottles for holding my beads. I cover the bottoms with a piece of car polishing chamie so the beads don't roll around much. Some of the lids have a slightly rounded lip that also helps keep the beads from jumping out.  The lids make it very easy to pour the beads back into their permanent containers.

Patriciakoko wrote
on Jan 28, 2012 1:04 PM

I don't use mine as much as I used to but when I did, I found some round plastic containers with lids and a locking mechanism (simple) at a Dollar Store that were just the diameter of the dishes.  I then cut bead mats in circles to cushion the dish and I could transport at least 3 at a time in relative safety.  Just say'n. sometimes we need to look at other sections of stores to see what can be repurposed for our use.

floozette wrote
on Jan 28, 2012 7:09 PM

I believe that these 'bead dishes' are actually palettes for watercolour painters.  I have a couple which I purchased for that purpose, although I agree with your assessment of them as great for holding beads too.  I have used them for sorting mixed up beads but I guess there is no reason not to use them as you do.  Good thought that, thanks.

on Jan 29, 2012 2:02 PM

I've used the ceramic dishes for years.  I've tried many different other methods but I keep coming back to the ceramic dishes.  

These can be found for less money in art supply stores.  They're really watercolor palettes.

I have cats.  There's no way I can leave beads out.  Also, I do a lot of my beading in the car.  I need something that closes up quickly and securely.  I've found that a plastic pistol case works great.  Turn the foam inserts so the flat sides are out.  I can fit 2 ceramic dishes inside and still have room for scissors, a thimble & Thread Heaven.  The foam compresses against the dishes and keeps everything in place.  Just make sure you have the right side up when you open the case!

Julie in San Diego

JadedMyst wrote
on Jan 29, 2012 7:20 PM

I too love the ceramic beading dishes and would so love to find the Big Mama beading dish. If anyone knows where I can find one will you let me know?

leacy wrote
on Jan 30, 2012 10:44 AM

I like using round (or even square) pill boxes - the kind  that you sort pills into that have seven separate compartments with their own lids. That way you can transport all the colors you need for a particular project and they are easy to pour into their storage containers when you are done.