Studio Storage Tips and a Free Circular Brick Stitch Project!

Oct 23, 2009
Leslie editor of beading Daily Spacer 10x10 pixels

Organized Chaos: Mess for Success
I am totally self-indulgent when it comes to beading. I start this, that, and the other project as my stash inspires me, and though I finish tons of jewelry, many projects wait to reach fruition. Each time I need to bead, I’m as likely to start something new as to finish something in progress. My indecisive, creative frenzy tends to make my studio unruly, though fun for people to explore. Still, I want to keep track of everything, or I forget where things are. Plus, my play time is limited. To get right to it when I have that precious "window" I have my WIP (Work in Progress) organized and on display in many ways. I can choose whatever floats my boat when the time is right.


Bags of projects in progress Spacer 10x10 pixels I forgot I had this!
I hang bags of materials and experiments I'm playing with on a bulletin board. Not only does this keep me visually inspired, it keeps my memory fresh–especially after a Bead Fest shopping spree when I come home with a plethora of strands, tubes and beads wrapped in tissue. New treasures go right into clear baggies and pinned on my board to prevent any lengthy spans of forgetfulness. Though it is a strange thrill to rediscover things I forgot I bought, I'd rather remember.
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foil tray storage  

Eeenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe
Which project should work on today? I stack mini foil baking pans, each with its own project. Needles, beads, findings– all the parts I'm playing with for each idea go in these trays. I can pick whatever I feel like working on and know all my materials are already together. So I don't forget where all my beads are as I separate them with various projects, I pour the selected colors into smaller bags with each WIP. The main tubes or bags remain in their color-coded bins so I know what I have.

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project bags  

Circular brick to go.
I always have project bags packed and ready to go. I spend lots of time waiting– in airports, as a passenger on long car drives.  My little bags contain everything I need to finish simple projects that are well underway. My favorite to-go projects are component-oriented, so I can make one or a bunch, depending on how long I'm waiting. Circular brick stitch is one of favorite component-making stitch of mine, because I can play around with variations and at least get satisfaction by finishing a single component.

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Crystal Radiance Brooch by Tina Koyama   Free brick stitch project!
So hey, here's a free circular brick stitch project for you. Tina Koyama’s Crystal Radiance Brooch is an eye-catching, component-oriented design, and a technique which will inspire you to play with many variations. Gather and sort all your favorite combinations of crystals and beads in trays, project bags or on bulletin boards, and hang them up neatly, to keep your studio full of reminders to play.

Decorating my studio with my stash—finished and unfinished—keeps me fired up. For more décor inspiration you’ll want the new Fall 2009 Studios in your library. Leave it to Cloth Paper Scissors magazine to give us yet another special issue of artists' spaces to motivate and encourage our creativity.  Keep Studios on display where you can look at it every day! There’s so much to enjoy, you may not finish it all the first time you sit down with it.

What's your favorite way to display work-in-progress? Share with us here!


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on Oct 23, 2009 7:47 AM
Recently my grand daughter started eating baby food and now Gerbers offers food in individual servings in plastic containers with lids. I keep them and use them for projects. They are really great because they stack and I can sit them on my work area or on a shelf. They are also great for travel as you can put all your beads, and findings in one spot for each project until it is finished. Wendy (Clarith Designs)
LindaM@240 wrote
on Oct 23, 2009 8:22 AM
I also use the Apple sauce plastic containers with lids. (I use the applesause for cakes since my grand sone stopped eating them) I make a lot of bracelets with matching earrings to sell. I do not like the tubes for storage since they come in so many different sizes, so i use the small jars with screw tops that you cna get at Joanns. THhey come in 3 sizes with plactic boxes to keep them in order. (plus htey are clear so I can see what is on my shelf and it makes my studio pretty adn sparkley) I use the smaller one for my 11s and 15s and the larger oned hold 8s and 11s as well as chips nd larger beads. The medium size works for small amounts or color combinations that I make up my self and work well for crystals. I then use the tubes to store all the makings for a specific bracelet. I inclue the clasp if it will fit, nd the crimps etc. Since I start most of my bracelets with a wire threaded with the center/focal beads, I make tme up and attache the clasp (usully smaller toggles, that fit the tube, I then can do the flat spiral or the fringe or whatever whereever I am. Frends laugh and call me the BeadLady, because I am l was working on something: in the car at the doctors , waiting for them to get there for lunch, etc. For more complicated pieces, I use the compartmentalized boxes at Hobby Lobby ($3.99) it is a fold up and snal shut case that measures about 4 by 4 inches and 1 1/2 in thick. I\One side is open and I double stick tape a jewelry mat cut to size for a work spsace. Things don't move much. I sotre the beads and findings in the other side that has 4 small (1 inch squares) and 4 (2in by 1in) oblongs for supplies. They come in clear so you can see your colors from the outside and htey are uniform in size for taking on a trip. Wen I finish somthing. I just transfer the bracelet from the tubes tothe case and store the extra for the just finished piece in the now empty tupe. It saves a lot of space and I hate dealing with zip lock bags sliding around everywhere.
debbie@308 wrote
on Oct 23, 2009 8:23 AM
I have been beading now for just over two years and what I have found that works for me is fishing tackle boxes. The ones that I use have 4 seperate containers that fit nicely into a holder with a handle. When I purchased it I found that I could make the openings to my preference - some large some small. They are compact and when I go to play with my beading friends everything is there ready to scoot out the door. Deb E.
on Oct 23, 2009 9:43 AM
Funny tube story--I also remove beads from tubes to store, but I used to pack beads in tubes for travel. I rubber band a bunch together. Well, on one trip I got pulled out of line in security because guess what that bundle of tubes looks like on an X-ray machine, along with my wrapped skeins of extension cords and task lamp??? --Leslie Editor Beading Daily
Jackie@154 wrote
on Oct 23, 2009 10:36 AM
I am a new beader - 6 months now - and I tried several ideas before coming up with one that works very well for me. I don't have a "studio" for my beading, it is a card table in the living room, so I am space limited, but not enthusiasm limited, so I acquired a lot of beads in a very little time. I have used the plastic boxes I bought at WalMart that have the little individual storage containers inside and I bought the hobby "tool box" with tray and handle. I didn't like the tool box for every day use because I had to empty it find what I needed. Then I went to Lowes and bought one of the nut and bolt organizers they sell. I bought the big one that has 36 drawers. 30 smaller ones and 6 large ones. The drawers are clear plastic so it is easy to see what is in the drawers. There are small containers for individual beads, findings, and other treasures that fit exactly in the drawers and I can get 10 of these small containers in each of the small drawers. I separate rings, spacers, crimp beads, and clasps in separate drawers and try to organize the other drawers by either color or type of bead. (Still a work in progress.) I hold my projects in the small drawers, too. Those I haven't started, those I am working on, those I need additional inspiration to complete, and finished projects I am waiting for someone to give them to. The bigger drawers hold my thread, wire, cord, etc, tools, tubes of seed beads, and larger storage containers of beads. I am pleased enough with this system to go get my second one - I seem to be buying beads faster than I use them... When I travel, I select those projects I want to work on and place the contents of that drawer into a zip lock bag and put the bags, small containers of necessary findings, tools, and threading material into one of the original plastic storage boxes or the tool box and I am ready to go.
LeslieY@2 wrote
on Oct 23, 2009 11:10 AM
For project storage I have found VHS cassette boxes work really well. They are stackable and close tightly and have labeling space.
on Oct 23, 2009 5:54 PM
I love the idea of packing projects in progress in pencil cases! I am getting ready to head on a long trip to visit my family which involves five hours on a plane and three hours at the airport, and I was wondering how I was going to organize my projects to go. Now I know! Thanks for the suggestions, Leslie!
Ceracita wrote
on Oct 24, 2009 4:02 AM
I have used vintage sewing boxes for storage. Pretty and functional. The tackle box idea is great! In the same sporting goods department they have a six spool fishing wire container. I love it because it has a rubber stop-gap that holds the wire in place without slipping ready for the next project.
on Oct 24, 2009 8:36 PM
I am a Plano tackle box fan They are oten on sale in Hawaii with so many fishing families. Thanks for the great idea of pouring out a sub sample of seed beads from the tubes. I like to choose colors of beads and crystals to harmonize ahead of time for a project and that often means I have tubes stashed here there and everywhere if I don't finish quickly. And then I can't figure out how come I only have 3 tubes of pink in their storage box. Since I have a lot of shades in some colors think I'll label the sample zip bag with color name and bead size.
miracatta wrote
on Oct 25, 2009 5:07 PM
I am a new beader with almost no space. I've devised a Ten-Minute Setup Mini-studio. It consists of a large tote back filled only with beads, another tote filled with anything that strings (wire, cord, chains, etc.). The third tote has findings and tools. Books/magazines are on a shelf nearby. I don't empty all of them all the time, as I work only on one project through completion, then put it away. The beads are in plastic baggies, sorted into groups of roughly compatible beads. The groups are constantly changing, depending on what inspires me. Several baggies can be viewed at a time. It works well. I get a good view of what I have and what goes with what. Placing the bags in different configurations gives me design ideas I would not have had otherwise. When I start a project, I know I'll change my mind several times. Then, I look at the baggies again until some sort of inspiration comes. At the end of working, the studio can be torn down and stored in under ten minutes, stowed away under a bookshelf. I work on a large kitchen table with 2 bead boards and felts. I have cats on the table. Three of the cats are very good about staying away from the beads. The fourth cat decided to be my assistant and has been banished to the great outdoors during beading time. The cats are a comforting and natural presence who enhance my work.
frantastic3 wrote
on Oct 25, 2009 9:59 PM
I store my in-progress projects in labelled ziplock bags. Most have a sticky inside detailing what parts I still need or have on order. Otherwise, by the time my order comes in, sometimes I have no idea what the objects are for! I have a cute antique wash stand to store all my beading stuff. Tools hang from the towel bar, books and current project are on top, works in progress are in the drawer and the rest of my supplies are in various containers in the storage section below.
babylou wrote
on Oct 26, 2009 3:04 PM
All my projects are in a little area in the corner behind my chair in the motor home we live in. My WIP (works in progress) are in bags in three plastic storage containers. My beads are in a small three drawer unit I used for my minatures. Unfortunately, they are not in any order, except by size. Finished items are stored in the basement area (of the motor home). Because of limited space, I have to finish each project before I start a new one.
Cpi wrote
on Oct 26, 2009 10:26 PM
I've just started hanging the beads that come on strands on the pegs of a clothes rack I had on hand. For 11/0 or smaller seed beads, I love the flip-top boxes that come in 4x6x1.5" clear stackable boxes that I get from Fusion Beads. I've been sorting by size and color but I can't decide if I should sort by type. On one hand, if I combine all my beads by color (triangles, drops, cubes, etc.) I'll know exactly what I have to work with color-wise. And it reduces the number of boxes I have to pull out to find everything I need. But, on the other hand, it can be hard to visually distinguish between the seed beads & the tiny triangles, drops, etc. at those sizes. And I get more inspiration when I have to go digging...but sometimes too many ideas just slows down getting stuff actually done! Advice?
on Oct 28, 2009 12:31 PM
Use sharpie markers on little baggies to note the shape and size--before you develop a permanent squint from trying to tell if beads are hexes or triangles! Leslie
bylynette wrote
on Nov 2, 2009 10:58 AM
Had to laugh at the comment "I seem to buy beads faster than I use them"!! Don't we all? I love storage with see-thru drawers, but also have bead tubes in flat drawer, hanging hanks and a fabric-covered wall unit onto which I stitched a long elastic band at intervals, providing enough stretchy loop to hold a bead tube. I need to see my beads! I also love to recycle containers so I save those big rectangular boxes we buy fresh greens in. I have a stack of empties in my studio which are useful for storing larger projects or categories of found objects, seed pods, fibers, garage-sale jewelry awaiting sorting and desconstruction. I write on the end with a large Sharpie, they stack well and I can see at a glance what's inside. My other favorite is an old printer's typeface drawer which slides under the sweeps drawer of my workbench on large metal flanges . It's great for holding sets of large beads, stones and charms and is easy to get at or push back into hiding.