My priorities for beading are basically:
2. Everything else
This explains why my studio space is in no danger whatsoever of being featured in one of those beautiful, inspiring magazines like Studios. It would be wonderful to have a studio with gorgeous cabinetry for storing tools or beads or a custom-made work surface for designing jewelry, but that would take more time and money than I currently possess. In the meantime, my hodgepodge mix of recycled items works just fine. The main advantage is that it doesn't cost a lot of money (more money for beads!) and I'm free to change my mind at any time without feeling guilty about wasting money. Here are a few ways I use recycled items:
1. In-Progress Project Storage
Since I tend to work on multiple projects at once, I'm always needing a way to safely store in-progress projects. Luckily, I enjoy beading projects that usually have small parts that can be created separately and joined together later such as a series of stitched medallions. This means that the small, round Laughing Cow cheese boxes work perfectly for most projects. These are light cardboard, fairly sturdy, and most importantly, come with lids to keep the projects intact and dust-free. As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, I've also used little metal mint tins to store some of my beaded swatches.
2. Needle Storage
I can never find a needle when I need one. I'm still working on the perfect solution to this, but in the meantime, I'm storing some of my needles in this little swatch of felted wool. This is a tiny leftover scrap from a thrift store sweater that I'd felted and used to make a bag. My needles still aren't very organized—I have sewing and embroidery needles mixed in with my beading ones—but at least I'm getting better at not leaving my needles on a table or a sofa arm where they tend to roll off and bury themselves in the carpet or sofa cushions. (Ouch!)
3. Bead Design Tray
For a long time, I've used a box lid as a beading tray that I can put in my lap. I like the sturdy ones from office filing boxes. I find shoe boxes too small and flimsy and metal baking pans too heavy. I just put a Vellux beading mat inside the box lid and I'm ready to go.
4. Bead Sorting Dishes
The little paper coasters that cover the tops of drinking glasses in hotels make good dishes for sorting your beads. I like that they are flexible and you can bend them to pour the leftover beads back into their original container. I've been known to ask my friends to save me those from their trips.
How about you? Do you have any tips for using recycled items in your beading life?