I remember buying my first spool of gauged wire. It was a little spool (maybe 30 feet) from my local bead shop. I needed a little piece for a jewelry project and I was ticked at having to buy so much. This was obviously a lifetime supply. I would never, ever use that much wire in my life.
Yeah, right! That wire spool is long gone, but there have been many others that have taken its place. My problem is no longer how to use up my wire, but how to store it so that it's ready for my next project.
Whether you buy mostly spools of flexible beading wire for stringing, gauged wire for wirework, or braided beading thread for beadweaving, one of these solutions may work for you:
1. Ribbon Storage Container
You can find numerous storage containers for spools of ribbon that can be easily adapted for wire storage. I bought this container several years ago at Tuesday Morning, the kind of shop that sells low-priced odds and ends. (In other words, the kind of store where you never know what kinds of things you might find on a given day.)
Best for: This kind of container can be inexpensive, particularly at craft stores where you may be able to use coupons or find them on sale. They come in lots of different shapes, colors, and materials. Some look like plastic baskets with holes on the side (for pulling the ribbon through) and others have one or more wooden dowels like mine does. They all require some table space. (Mine sits on top of my bead cabinet.)
Erin Siegel stores her wire on a pegboard, along with many of her other materials and tools. (Look at all the beading cord and ribbon. Can you tell she co-authored Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry?)
Best for: Wall space is an often overlooked storage option. It's great for small studio spaces since you don't have to sacrifice any table space. Pegboard is found at hardware stores. You can easily rearrange the hooks or buy more of them, making this an expandable solution. Having everything together and displayed also makes it easy to keep track of your inventory. Since my materials are mostly tucked away, I am usually surprised when I run out of wire or another essential item.
3. Wire Stand
Kristina Johansson a.k.a Maneki made her own wire storage unit using heavy steel wire form the hardware store. This clever holder can either stand up on its own or be hung on a wall. She shares the details on her blog, Wild Roses and Blackberries.
Best for: This is an inexpensive solution and one that's easy to customize in height or make duplicates whenever needed. (And from reading Maneki's blog, it sounds like it might possibly be cat-proof or at least cat-resistant.)
4. Vintage Drawer
Cindy Wimmer, author of The Missing Link, stores her wire in a wooden vintage drawer that fits well with her design aesthetic.
Best for: This drawer is easily portable, making it possible to make jewelry wherever inspiration strikes. (It's used more like a decorative box than a drawer.) It can be very satisfying to take an old or discarded item and give it a new purpose. (If you enjoy vintage storage, you might also like the old kitchen holder used by Heather Powers of Humblebeads. It used to store tinfoil, wax paper and paper towels.)
5. Drawer in Storage Cabinet or Dresser
I store my gauged wire in a single drawer in a tall cabinet that also stores my findings. I label the plastic spools with a Sharpie marker if the wire doesn't come marked. I've thought about adding drawer dividers to keep them organized by gauge or metal type, but I haven't done that yet. (And honestly, I don't think my wire drawer is that out of control yet.)
Best for: If you prefer a tidy workspace (or work in a shared space like a dining room), it makes sense to be able to completely hide away your materials. It also works well if you have wire that comes on several sizes of spools or in flat packages.
These are just a few of the storage solutions I've seen. Clever jewelry designers have also used pant hangers (the kind with the long bar, not the clips), fishing tackle boxes, stacked serving trays (the tiered kind with the center pole), and baskets. And then there are those busy beaders who never seem to put their materials away—they are always in use on their design table. But you wouldn't know anyone like that, would you?