5 Tips for Clearing the Clutter from Your Beading Studio

Jul 7, 2011

I don't necessarily like clutter, even though clutter is sometimes a necessary part of my creative process. Keeping clutter under control can be a challenge for someone like me who lives in a small house. (It's hard enough keeping my son's toys organized!) When my basement office was wrecked during flooding we experienced this spring, I decided to look at it as an opportunity to start over from scratch and make my new office and beading studio a place where I could easily stay organized and keep the clutter from spreading to the rest of the house.

 If it feels like you're always cleaning up clutter from around your beading studio, there are a few things you can do to keep the clutter under control and get organized at the same time:

1. Keep things you use close at hand. On my work table is a small set of tabletop drawers where I keep my tools, needles, threads, findings and supplies - all the things that I use on a daily basis. It helps to keep them near me so that I can reach them easily and I always know where they are. You'll be amazed how much time you'll save by having your most-used tools and supplies within an arm's reach!

2. Take time to keep things organized - put beads and tools away as soon as you are done with them. All too often, I finish a beading project and I rush on to begin the next one without properly packing up and putting away the beads and supplies from the previous beading project. I've found that if I take five minutes to properly sort and put away all the leftover beads and supplies from each project, I can sit down at a clean table and start fresh. It actually feels great to start a new beading project with a clean table and a clean work pad!

3. Designate drawers for each set of items - tools, beads, threads, embroidery supplies, findings, etc. Take a photo and step back. This seems like a no-brainer, but it's really saved me more than once. I have one drawer just for clasps and cones, one for earring findings, one for tools, and another for beading threads and stringing wire. This makes it easy when I need a particular supply or finding - I always know exactly where they are among my ever-expanding stash of beads and findings.

4. Make use of spaces under tables and desks. I have a high table in the corner of my studio where I can keep two sets of drawers and still have enough leg room to be comfortable. Don't forget that you can keep drawers, bookshelves and file cabinets under your desk or table to get the best use out of your limited space.

5. Take a photo of your space to take a step back and see where you can organize and add storage space. Sometimes it helps to see things from a different point of view. (I decided not to put in a photo of my currently unorganized work space because I didn't want to scare anyone!)

Of course, organizing your books and magazines is another way to keep the clutter under control. Here's what Bead Fest instructor Jill Wiseman of Tapestry Beads discovered recently:

Jill Wiseman will be teaching at Bead Fest Philadelphia this year! Don't miss it!

 

"In the ten years I've been beading, I have amassed quite a pile of magazines since I refuse to throw a single one away. My problem is that are taking over my bookshelf. And closet. And another bookshelf. So when I saw that I could get a full year of Beadwork Magazine on a CD, I was super curious. Would that format work for me? I ordered one CD to test and it out. I was thrilled! I can easily flip from project to project using the included sidebar menu, but if I want to go page by page I can do that too. Sometimes I'm looking for inspiration or new color combinations or maybe for another project to make, and having options for flipping through my digital magazines is important! The pages are exactly as how they were originally printed, so that means that when I'm looking for that one clasp I saw in an advertisement, I can still look for those "needles in the haystack", too! I'm sold! I'll be ordering the rest of the CD collection and working on replacing my old hard copies of Beadwork magazine!"

Take your first step to reducing the clutter in YOUR beading area and check out Beadwork magazine on CD. You'll get six issues of Beadwork magazine on one CD. And did you know you can search the entire CD? You'll find basic techniques, expert advice from your favorite bead artists and all of the beautiful projects from Beadwork magazine.

Do you have a great tip for clearing clutter and staying organized? Share it here on the blog! (Please! I need all the ideas I can get for my new office!)

Bead Happy,


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Comments

mfuchsel wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 8:34 AM

For inexpensive organization containers try your hardware store.  Harbor Freight is my favorite although I have to go online to get there big tool container.  Since it's not classified as "jewelry" it is such a better price too!

Margelo - MF Designs

on Jul 8, 2011 8:35 AM

I am fortunate to have my old kitchen cabinets (white) installed in my basement "studio";  then I had a double sliding door closet installed to wall off the space.  My children are grown so I have plenty of time to bead/sew.  One set of cabinets is over my sewing machine with a handy desk area for the machine to sit on and the other set of cabinets is across the room (about 12 feet apart) for beading.  All shelves are pull out with a soft return.  I am in heaven on earth everyday.  Two white bookshelves are in between for books, magazines and CDs.  I am also a scrapbooker, do embroidery and quilt.  Retirement is fun!

DianaK@29 wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 8:50 AM

Both purchased at yard sales: train case (handle on top, inside - removable top tray with room below) to keep all my tools and related items. Another great find (at a yard sale was an old cosmetic (train) case with handle on top.

SharonKaye wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 8:58 AM

My basement beading studio has pegboard on the walls and I have installed hanger on one wall. I save those nice little zippered plastic bags that curtains or certain linens come in and reuse them. It helps organize my seed beads by color and size so I know what and how much I have at a glance. The little bags usually have a grommet or hanger that makes it easy to hang.

on Jul 8, 2011 9:02 AM

One of my most prized possessions in my Studio is a retired library card catalog.  At first I envisioned it holding my client information, but I do prefer to keep that electronically.  Then began the obsession:  C for crochet hooks, K for knitting needles, J for Jumbo knitting needles.  N has needles for beading and the sort, while T has much of my beading thread.  The S drawer is filled with various scissors (we all need 20, right?), and the list goes on.

Since I work with a lot of Swarovski crystals, I have what once was a charm box for a retailer, one with 60 drawers.  The drawers are interchangeable, and I've tagged them with color names.  Inside the 8mm beads are loose, but any matching color bead inside is in a nice storage tube.  Shades like crystal with so many sizes, with and without AB, earn two drawers.  I try to keep the bottom row empty so that if a new color moves in, it is just a matter of shifting one column around.  For the birthstone crystals I use frequently, I have those in a space saver jars.  I keep the reorder sticker from the original package in each space, and it is awesome to just grab the stack for bicones or rounds and get started on a project.  It also makes it easier to view and decide when to reorder instead of pulling so many drawers.

The newest gadget I'm moving into is a metal cupboard with six drawers.  It used to be a film-strip organizer.  My plan is to finally get all my tiny accessories organized instead of always having to reorder since I cannot remember where the magnet clasps got stashed, or the desired spacer is among volumes of metal rondelles that have accumulated over time.  Everything from pinch bails to the expansive collection of jump rings (now that I've learned chain maille), along with split rings, eye- and head-pins, metal beads and crimps will be neatly organized in drawers either in tubes, recycled diabetic containers and occasionally a zip bag for larger items like key split rings and kilt pins.  

I'm a nut for organizing as much as I am for creating...how can we create if we cannot find what we are looking for?  I'm far from perfect, and still tend to apologize for the mess when folks come into the Studio.  I have a thought to make a new sign, "Creativity is Messy and I am VERY Creative!" to forewarn guests.  One good soul thought nothing of it all, noting that you could clearly see the floor!  That made my day.  :)

Happy Creating, and Organizing!!

Brightest Blessings,

Christine

Kathy Raney wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 9:06 AM

I don't know about anyone else but I tend to have mulitple projects going on at the same time. What I do to stay organized is to keep each project in it's own  zip-loc freezer bag. I use this kind of bag because it has room on the front to write notes. I note what items I need to complete the project, who the project is for, due date, etc. I also keep a needle or other small tools in each bag. I also include sketches of what I want the project to look like finished, and if necessary,  I'll include a copy of instructions from a book or magazine. This way I can grab any project bag and have (most) of what I need to pick up where I left off. This idea works great for other craft projects like cross stitch, quilting, scrapbooking, etc.

Dita Basu wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 11:14 AM

A very important part of the beading process you have addressed here.  This is MY problem.  I get so carried away with my artistic urge and  I don't want  to lose the muse . Sometimes I  get totally lost in the clutter I create and get absolutely buried in that.  

Your ideas are very important And I'll remember them.  One thing I have started is giving me a precise time to organize every day after my work.  I literally put a timer to clean up things before I start when I am a bad girl the night before and leave my toys all scattered.  I do my stuff mostly in my studio only.

SallyM@40 wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 12:55 PM

I got a 3 tier lazy susan type that has holes that you put each tool, pen, etc in.  I use it to hold my at home tools.  I have so much thread in colors and sizes that I made a hook system that allows me to put the size and color spools such as fireline.  I also have my clasp in drawers by silver, gold and copper and earring backs etc in the same arrangement.  I can only say the more you have the more you have to organize it.  I have drawers of beads which are by color and then I have drawers for my bugles, crystals and so forth.  I want to design or follow a pattern I can go to the drawers and get the right size and color needed.  I use pencil boxes (clear is best) to put the thread, beads, scissors, etc in and when I am going on a trip I pack several of these.  If I need a pattern it is in there too.  I make a copy of the magazine pages and I can have less bulk to travel.  Enjoy.

bookfiend wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 1:59 PM

I had a problem with the containers I had just bought: the dividers didn't match the base all that closely and the cover had no groves for the sides to go into.  Therefor the seed beads I put in had to be bagged the next day when I discovered the problem of leakage.

So I have decided that the next ones I get MUST have the groves in the covers, I can deal with the non-matching dividers [and the grooved cover will keep them as closed as possible].

I agree with cleaning up right after a project is finished. And keep a spoon handy to scoop up the beads easily.

Denise-au wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 2:00 PM

I have two tips that might be helpful.  I used to have trouble saving the wire when cutting eye pins & head pins until I tried using a Kraft Parmesan Cheese jar - the flip top lid lets me cut the pins into the jar without them flying back out again.  I can re-use the longer pieces and discard the small bits.

I also use a glass jar with a slightly wider base than the neck, so it will hold my tools, pliers and cutters without toppling over.  Simply place one of the handles of the pliers into the jar and the other will be on the outside, poised ready for a quick grab when needed.  The jar holds 5 or 6 styles of pliers comfortably, as well as a pencil, bead scoop, etc.  It's also a handy place for loose bits of wire and thread that you don't want.  When you're done beading, you can put the tools into a drawer or box for storage and dispose of any rubbish bits.

cdbeader wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 3:11 PM

I went the expensive route, but I can't tell you how much it has literally changed my life!

Look up The Best Craft Organizers on the web.  I was lucky to find a dealer in Missouri, even though I had to drive 2 hours to get there.  It was much better than paying shipping and handling.'

The secret to these cabinets (actually, it's the drawers) is that they are 12 x 12 and come in different depths.  You just keep putting more and more stuff into these drawers and they never seem to fill up.  I had two sets of wire shelves in the basement and one set in my bead room.  I condensed everything down into 4 cabinets.  I only bought 2 double minis and 2 single minis.  I'm planning on getting some more for my bigger items.  I got rid of 3 garbage bags full of cigar boxes, plastic shoe boxes, trays, baskets, and paper bags that I had beads in. I am now using 1/3 the space I had before. I also used a label maker to label the drawers.  Another benefit is that they sell inserts for inside the drawers...again all different depths and sizes.  They are clear flexible trays divided into sections.  They're perfect for tiny things or large hanks of beads.  Watch for sales and coupons.

KipperCat wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 4:15 PM

What perfect timing.  In today's email, I also received notice of a podcast on organizing bead studios!  Mandi Ainsworth interviews Gayle Goddard, who is a professional organizer and an avid beader.  This page also shows a before and after pic of Mandi's studio.  There is also a studio tour video on her site showing the complete room, and how she has set up her materials & work area.

beadcircle.com/bcp-05-organization-with-the-clutter-fairy

KipperCat wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 4:16 PM

I forgot to add that Gayle is offering an online class in the near future.  I found the broadcast helpful in its own right.

monkeydo1958 wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 5:06 PM

When I order a magazine subscription, I would like the option of getting it digital or the actual magazines themselves. I don't throw out any either, but I don't want to have to pay for the hard copy and digital too. It would be a nice option and good way to save a little more money. Anything helps these days as we all know....If we choose both it is always optional to donate your hard copy's later to someone that can not afford a subscription. I have done that with a few duplicates myself and they are always very much appreciated!!!!

monkeydo1958 wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 5:14 PM

When I order a magazine subscription, I would like the option of getting it digital or the actual magazines themselves. I don't throw out any either, but I don't want to have to pay for the hard copy and digital too. It would be a nice option and good way to save a little more money. Anything helps these days as we all know....If we choose both it is always optional to donate your hard copy's later to someone that can not afford a subscription. I have done that with a few duplicates myself and they are always very much appreciated!!!!

sewsweetpink wrote
on Jul 8, 2011 5:58 PM

A fellow beader who was moving house gave me a hardware 'cabinet' with 60 drawers, each two inches wide and 6 inches deep. The drawers are see through plastic, come out easily to be transfered to your working table and are interchangeable. The cabinet sits at the back of a dresser in my spare room, very out of the way yet at eye level so I can easily see through the drawer fronts. I never thought I would use this but have found it a godsend for organizing findings, spacer beads, pendants and chains. The drawers hold a surprising amount of stuff and I can put my hands on the right size jump ring, matching metal clasp or the clips for the end of an ID lanyard in the blink of an eyelash. Love it!

Carol@633 wrote
on Jul 9, 2011 12:28 PM

I find double decker lazy susans with garage sale clear glasses-jigger sizes-are great for storing beads in an easy to see and get-to system. I also use spice racks with their 18, 24, or more clear, rotating jars for storage.  And an antique spool drawer cabinet with 6  2inch deep drawers. Then there is the almost clear plastic storage case for 6 fireline reels (125yds. size). I also love the under the shelf/table slide out drawer hardware which I attach a thin board to and have a pull-out "shelf". I can't seem to clean up right after a project-something is always lying around to be completed when the mood occurs, but I do clean up/put away before I start working on things again-at least somewhat clean up.  I'm lucky to have a "porch" room with a 5x10 foot low window and also a north window right over my work area-and a big mirror--I am filling every possible spot with more storage.  The clearer the plastic the better- I find the 12"x12"ish scrapbook storage boxes-about an inch deep are great for 2 rows of 6" tubes. I love arranging my seed beads by size and warm, cool and neutral colors. Thanks for all the comments-I was really impressed with those drawer-cabinets too when I saw them in Tucson. Maybe I'll find a place to add some of them too.

Cinder

Carol S@3 wrote
on Jul 12, 2011 10:03 PM

Label maker--can't live without it.  Small double sided clear snap boxes from www.plano.com--perfect for storing all you small findings.  I stack them 4 high across the back of my deep table and put a white wire rack above them to store more stuff on top.  Don't forget to label.  Rubbermaid/Sterite plastic stacked drawers--again line them up and you can store stuff on top.  My biggest issue is that I spread out all over the table, and I have had some success going UP--store stacked stuff, mounting magnetic strips on the wall for tools, inexpensive curtain rods on the wall for storing spools of thread/wire, etc.  I am lucky to have acquired a very old watchmakers stacked drawers--very shallow draws fit three trays of bead.  I have filled them with 42 full trays!  Definitely a space saver.  An storage under the table with reserved leg room has given me a footprint of about 5 feet x 8 feet in the corner of my basement.  

on Jul 13, 2011 12:40 PM

Great tips! I use these wonderful organizers called Tilt Bins they come in assorted sizes, stack and even mount to the wall. The little draws are clear and even come with labels so you can get super organized! I purchased min from a local office supply store but they are available on line and in many home imporvement stores as well.

On another note.... I have  posted the link to this post to my blog to share these great tips with my readers!

Have a Grand Day!

Christine - Fezelry Jewelry Designs