Bead Storage Shopping!

Jul 6, 2012

When I get ready to start on a new project, I like to lay out all of my supplies so that I can see what I have to work with, and assess potentially interesting material combinations as I brainstorm. The only problem with this method is that by the end of the process, I am too impatient to carefully bag up all of my supplies and re-organize them. Instead, I usually end up just tossing everything in oversized ziplock bags and then shoving them back in my closet (I think my supplies take up almost as much room as my clothes do!). I have been carrying on this bad habit for so long that my stash is just a jumble of beads, wire, and findings. I have to dump everything out on the floor in order to find anything! I decided today that this is no way for a jewelry editor to live and resolved to find a storage system that works for me (and my limited space) and GET ORGANIZED.

I have been shopping around for different storage systems and have found that there are a ton to choose from:

This storage set from Fire Mountain Gems and Beads could be a good option for me: it's space-efficient, the clear boxes make it easy to see what is in each box, and I can purchase and stack as many units as I need to accommodate my stash.
$64.97
Of course, a more cost-effective route might be to just buy flip-top boxes like this one from Beadaholique. Pros: a little less expensive and I can buy the exact number of boxes that I need. Cons: while I would save a little extra space by stacking these boxes instead of using a shelving unit like the one above, it makes my stash a little more cumbersome to transport, which is a factor for me.
$11.00
I found that Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores had a ton of options on their site, including this beauty. In the end, I think this handy rolling bead organizer would be a worthwhile purchase for beaders on-the-go, but most of the time I am only moving my stash from one room to another, so I decided to hold out for something a little more basic.
$139.99
Thinking outside of the beading box and looking for more generalized storage systems yielded some very interesting options, as well. Something like this storage cart from Target could be pretty perfect for me: it's fairly affordable, it won't be an eyesore if it needs to live in a corner of my bedroom, I can store 3 or 4 flip-top boxes in each bin, and the bins can be removed from their shelving for easy transportability.
$41.59

 Any thoughts on these units? This is my first bead-storage shopping mission--I could use any advice you can spare!

Chloe


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Comments

TashaMc wrote
on Jul 6, 2012 6:08 AM

If you have Ikea in the States, the Billy cabinets with glass doors on the front make a great bead cabinet. I have my beads in the original tubes or ziplocks, sorted into Glis lidded boxes by colour. The best bit is that my storage matches my bookshelves perfectly :)

D.M.Z wrote
on Jul 6, 2012 11:59 AM

Chloe, that last item, the rolling file cart, is a good idea in that you could buy "box bottom" hanging file folders and put your clear plastic boxes in the file folders and get some organization that way. I use the translucent three drawer stack units because the drawers are prox 9x12 which fits tubes and baggies or any other items and lots of them. The three drawer stacks line the back of my bead work top and I can move individual drawers around so that what I am working on can be put away easily. For things that I have smaller quantities of, I have five drawer stackers that are prox 4x6 each drawer and only about 11" tall overall. They hold things that I don't have in large quantities including things like rondelles and bugles. I also have large rolling floor units that hold my looms, picture frames, fabrics and bulkier things like that. These can be shoved around easily. I don't care for plastics, but for bead storage my one time purchases will last a lifetime and that works for me. Donna

Paka wrote
on Jul 6, 2012 12:15 PM

Chloe, my storage issues differ, so my solutions also differ.  Two principles that have become paramount for me may, however, prove useful to you.  One is transparency.   The more easily I can see what is inside a container without opening it, the better.  The other is, oh, let's call it modularity.  (Sorry.)  I like to be able to mix and match when I am designing.  When I travel, I don't want to take ALL of the red beads, just the ones that fit the projects I have more or less planned.  I am tending toward putting my beads and findings into individual containers that can be grouped/stored in larger cases.  When I design or travel, I can look through the cases and just pull out what I need.

Jorry wrote
on Jul 9, 2012 12:06 PM

I've used the flip top boxes to seperate my metal components by the finish, and to store Chinese crystals in different colors and sizes. I have aslo found these great stackable boxes from Target. These storage containers have 3 boxes that snap together one on top of the othere with a lid that has a fold down handle. I can put a project in the box with the lid and take it with  me to a class or on vacation. I store all of my seed bead tubes in these. I love these! I also use plastic pencil boxes from the Dollar store to put projects in for future work. I line the box with a bead mat cut to fit and I can see what's in each box. When I'm ready to make something I just grab one and get  to work.

MSJAZZZZ wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 10:48 AM

i have all of my beads in wonderful drawer cabinets sold by Northern Tool.  Here's the link:  www.northerntool.com/.../category_storage-organizers+bins-racks+stack-on-multi-drawer-storage-cabinets.  And the 60-drawer cabinet is only $26.99.  One tip:  if you put in your seed beads, put a piece of tape over the small hole in the bottom of the drawer so the beads can't slip through.

shezzy48 wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 11:07 AM

I bought an Elfa storage cart at the Container Store.  You can design yours any way you like.  Mine has five slide out drawers with several compartments in

each.  It's on wheels so I can move it to wherever I'm working.  On top sits a stoage box from the hardware store.  It's probably meant for nuts and bolts, etc, but works great for all my findings.

shezzy48 wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 11:07 AM

I bought an Elfa storage cart at the Container Store.  You can design yours any way you like.  Mine has five slide out drawers with several compartments in

each.  It's on wheels so I can move it to wherever I'm working.  On top sits a stoage box from the hardware store.  It's probably meant for nuts and bolts, etc, but works great for all my findings.

Tisia wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 12:04 PM

I liked the bead On-the-go storage,  When I go to Costa Rica it will go with me .

Tisia wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 12:07 PM

I also the one from Fire Mountain, I'd be able to stack them in my spare rm. without taking much space.

DHouck wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 12:14 PM

I was looking around in my local Walmart yesterday and came across some wonderful large fishing tackle soft-sided, portable cases with 4 to 6 large plastic compartmentalized containers.  The outside pockets of the soft cases have room for pliers or cutters or whatever and there are pockets on every side.  I don't remember the brand(s) and I didn't end up getting any because I'm really looking for something with wheels and am opting for an old computer case and putting plastic containers in for now.  

My non-portable storage is 2 large 4-drawer file cabinets and cheap plastic silverware containers that I separate my bead strands into and label the drawers.  My problem with this is visibility as well :-(.

Finding are separated by metal type (sterling, gold-filled, copper, silver-plated, etc.) in kitchen clear plastic ware with snap lids and some with handles.  I tend to keep things in original bags or containers and label them with price info so when I make a piece I know how much it is costing me in materials.

I'd like suggestions on whether anyone stores their beads by color rather than by what the stone or gem is, as I do currently.  Seems like that would make it easier in the design stage.

TiP2 wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 12:24 PM

I do like what you have here & for starting out this is similar to what I started with, I was also looking for storage solutions & it led led me to getting stuff that was too deep to bulky & to hard to find space for but in the end I got a 10 drawer unit from staples, & it comes with wheels that you can attach, I bought 2 & then had to buy 2 more!  LOL  But they are great sized drawers, about 2 inches tall & they work great, they are not divided so you can do that yourself but they hold lots of beads LOL Also they have a divided top section so you can put an upcoming project or some new beads that you havent had time to put away.  I utilize the top alot for colors I use alot in my design work.  

This idea doesnt work for the traveling part but you can set projects into each drawer & the divided flip top ones like from above can set inside a drawer so that you can just grab & go as needed.  or leave in there as a way to organize your smaller bits & pieces.  I did that with my clasps as I didint need tons of small individual containers filled with tons of different clasps in 1 drawer.  

Hope any of this helps you out.

PCMomwad wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 1:07 PM

Consider the packaging of your beads.  I have some plastic containers like the beadoholic divided boxes and it holds some stacking plastic boxes that I wish I could get more of.  I also have beads and findings in small zip locs "crammed" into each compartment.  I sort my supplies into each plastic container by category, such as gold and gold filled findings, silver findings, base metal findings, crystal beads, other beads, and beading cord on the cards. These six containers are stacked on a shelf.

I'm also fond of some small vials I got from Fire Mountain Gems, that are similar to the tubes you can buy seed beads in.  I sort tubes full of seed and bugle beads by color  into  ziplocs bags then put them into a plastic shoe box.

If you are shopping in person instead of online, I suggest you take along some bead containers and the tools you want to store, and make sure the items fit.  Then you may not have to dremel out some dividers like I did in the tool box I keep my silversmithing tools in.

on Jul 14, 2012 1:32 PM

I find that friends always pick up the bug, so I 'gift' them with some of my storage containers that have not worked as planned or I have outgrown.  They are always tickled to get it and then they can spend money on beads instead of boxes.  My sister and I give each other special pretty boxes and tins with birthday mad money $1. bill for every year old we are with stickers bows and confetti.  It's a party in a box and we don't care how old we are because it just means more guilt free bead money.  Then we use the box for projects and memories.  Love you Sis!

GIJillie wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 6:43 PM

I adore the plastic containers with the little tic tac like boxes inside.  I can organize them by color and just get out the ones needed for a particular project.  I can also re-distribute them in the boxes as needed,  Since I work mainly with small beads and seed beads this works wonderfully.  For my larger beads I found these FABULOUS little Tupperware type containers on Amazon called "Sure Fresh Square Mini Storage Containers 2.3 fl oz".  They are the perfect size and I love them, here is the link:

www.amazon.com/.../ref=oh_details_o01_s03_i00

My stash takes up 4 plastic dressers with 3-4 drawers each!  I have only been beading for 2 years, hopefully it wont grow much bigger!

Jillie

CindyP@14 wrote
on Jul 14, 2012 11:36 PM

Hit the fishing section of the store and check out the tackle boxes, as DHouck suggested but don't stop there! Those little fishing accessories can really spark up a piece of jewelry! Also stroll through the hardware area of the store and look up! At least I had to, to find the neatest metal sided, see-thru plastic drawer filled, stacking hardware storage! They come in different sizes and with different sized drawers. And don't forget the big hardware chains, too.

I usually sort by color, findings metal, and specialty like focal or buttons,etc. Im lucky to have a small bedroom all to myself and I've gutted the closet to put in 2 "columns" of staggered 4ft shelves, I've hung a door organizer on one closet door (the inside) and put shelves on the walls. I also have a piece of peg board next to my work table, with hooks & hangers for all sorts of tools and stuff.

I'm sure any one or several of these ideas might help regardless of the size of your space. Remember to use the inside of closet doors, too! One more idea...use one of those gallon bucket tool holders that you can find in the garden area. You can carry a lot of tools around the outside of the bucket and the inside is big enough to carry several projects or to stash a whole bunch of stuff!

on Jul 15, 2012 3:20 AM

My favorite storage is clear, so I can easily find the beads I'm looking for, and has individual removable containers so I can take only what I need or play with colors while I am designing.  I like to organize by color.  It is made by Darice and I get mine from Jo-Ann Fabrics when they are on sale.  I like that they come in different sizes.  I use the tiny ones for my small findings like crimp tubes, jump rings, and earwires.  I usually put the tag from my strand purchase or write on a little piece of paper and put in the container with the beads so I know what they are and how much I paid for them.  Here's the link:

www.joann.com/.../prd54008

I stack the boxes on my bookshelf when not in use.  You would still have to follow up with putting the containers away when you are done though.

lohmalinda wrote
on Jul 15, 2012 11:26 AM

Oh Sweetie, I sure wish I could fit my beads into these storage options!  But I have found that the best craft organizer is the ONLY one that will accommodate my growing collection.  I have three of the double mini's on rollers and am getting ready to order the triple wide with 90 drawers!  How do you keep the collection down?  FireMountain has a sale and I order 45 packages of Swarovski's.  Next thing I know they are stashed in every room in the house!   Check page 31 of the latest Beadwork and you will see how it works.  These folks are all over the board with scrapbooking storage.  But they are over the moon when it comes to bead storage!  

SewMagical wrote
on Jul 15, 2012 3:27 PM

I recently went through a similar process. At this point my stash is in 5 units:

1) a tackle box from the fishing section of Walmart. It has 4 plastic boxes, and a tray section on top.

2) An ArtBin Mega Tote, soft-sided. It has 6 plastic boxes, with pockets on the outsides.

3) A Darice tote, similar to above, but with 5 boxes.

4) A plastic see-through tub, with a handle on top

5) An old metal tool box, with one large compartment.

One thing I do which nobody seems to have mentioned yet, is to make an inventory list. I labeled each of the boxes in the totes. For example, the fishing tackle box is red, so the boxes are marked as Red 1, Red 2, etc. Then each box has it's contents listed, with a short description, such as "red glass, mixed", or "silver crim-p covers, 3 mm". Everything is listed on a spreadsheet, which I printed out.

Doing this, I find it easy to sort findings, etc. I can also update the sheet as my stash changes. And I find that entering everything into the spreadsheet makes it easier to remember what I have, and what I am low on or still need!

on Jul 16, 2012 2:07 AM

@MSJAZZZZ- Thanks for the link! i have been searching for these. Used to be able to find them everywhere, but not anymore. And, these are really cheap! Best prices I've seen! Thanks again.

One hint.  My  Walmart carries the clear divided storage boxes & guess what? They prevent tarnish!  Very inexpensive too.

Anna Paradox wrote
on Jul 16, 2012 12:27 PM

Transparency is important to me, too! I am inclined to seed beads, in as many colors as possible, so I love the fliptops in little cases, like these: beadsbydee.com/.../BeadStorage.html

You can fit eight 6 by 4 cases in each level of these: www.joann.com/.../zprd_01145838a

Then you have a little room on top and on the edges to fit in tools, thread, bead mats and so on. I sort just what I need into a single level to travel. Or, if I'm traveling light, I take a 6 x 4 case or two and a small cosmetic bag with needle, thread, a mini bead mat, clippers, and a bead scoop.

I really love this system. My beads look so beautiful when I can see them all in the cases!

Anna Paradox wrote
on Jul 16, 2012 12:27 PM

Transparency is important to me, too! I am inclined to seed beads, in as many colors as possible, so I love the fliptops in little cases, like these: beadsbydee.com/.../BeadStorage.html

You can fit eight 6 by 4 cases in each level of these: www.joann.com/.../zprd_01145838a

Then you have a little room on top and on the edges to fit in tools, thread, bead mats and so on. I sort just what I need into a single level to travel. Or, if I'm traveling light, I take a 6 x 4 case or two and a small cosmetic bag with needle, thread, a mini bead mat, clippers, and a bead scoop.

I really love this system. My beads look so beautiful when I can see them all in the cases!

JoseyNC wrote
on Jul 17, 2012 6:46 AM

I look at the storage organizers and I laugh and I laugh and I laugh (until someone starts talking about soothing potions and naptime for the old lady). My problem is that the word "Stash" doesn't even come close to my bead pile ... more like a "Mountain of extreme obsession". The funny thing is that I haven't set needle or plier to the hobby since 2002 (except an occasional repair) but haven't quit buying 'stuff' for when I can 'get to it'.

thredz2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2012 4:56 PM

I use the small drawer cabinets from the Hardware Dept. at discount stores. I have several that come with both large and small drawers. I color code the storage (ROYGBIV) and use a different cabinet for different types of beads. Most of these cabinet drawers are deep enough to accommodate all manner of bead tubes, cases, and baggies. I then only need to pull out the drawer, choose my bead packs then replace the drawer. Like another comment says, if I'm traveling with them, I can choose the beads and put them into a purse or carrier. For the most part this system works beautifully, but there are tubes that are a bit too long, etc. The best part about owning sever cabinets (I spray-painted mine to match my craft room decor) is that the drawers are all interchangeable, so I can move things around, or add a new category as I please. Oh, and I pay about 20 dollars per cabinet.

Katie Joung wrote
on Dec 27, 2013 6:41 PM

Getting organized is part of the fun! I went to Home Depot and purchased a two-level rolling tool cart with a long handle. It's heavy grade plastic and both levels work as independent units where my individual flip top boxes fit. Unfortunately, I have already outgrown this unit and use shoe box sized plastic storage for seed beads and flip top boxes from Michaels like the one above except I wait for a sale and buy the cheaper version at $1.99 or so. For the smaller portions of my stash, I use smaller plastic flip tops that I purchase from my local bead shop (though they have become too pricey).

So many beads...so little time!