Beader's Stash Contest Finalists, February 2008


Congratulations to these beaders for sharing such great organization tips! Be sure to check out the top five winning tips.

Bowls, Test Tubes, and Other Creative Containers

I use my mother's cut glass dishes to sort and organize my beads. These dishes were hidden away in the china cabinet, but now they are where everyone sees them and I am enjoying every day with my favorite activity! It makes my bead area look beautiful. I think of my mother (or grandmother) when I am beading, knowing they used these dishes for special things too. They sparkle just like my stash!--Mary Ann Dudley

I realized that seed bead tubes fit nicely in test tube racks, which are available from scientific/medical supply vendors and are inexpensive. Right now I have 12 racks, organized by color and size (larger beads in one rack and Delicas in another) and labeled on the shelves over my work area. Need a color? Grab down that rack and pull out a tube.--Donna Jadis

I store my considerable collection of vintage beads and baubles in vintage tins. The theme of the tin is a hint to the contents. For example, animal beads are in a vintage animal cracker circus tin and vintage heart beads and cupid embellishments are in a pink tin with cherubs. That way I can enjoy my tin collection every time I do beading.--Mary Caroline Dean

I use portable ceramic beading trays with dividers for the different beads, so you can see them at a glance. Each tray has a different project. When I am finished for the day, I use Glad Press and Seal to cover the trays, this way none of the beads move around and stay organized. If I get tired with a particular project, the tray can stay sealed until I am ready to tackle it.--Karen Panella

Here's a tip for people who don't really like to be organized but try to be for efficiency's sake: I keep heavy, ceramic Japanese noodle bowls on my beading table within arm's reach--one for threads, one for needles and triangle scoop, and one for the seed bead tubes in my current project. The bowls, which do not tip over easily, keep my work area relatively clutter-free, but I can toss a thread bobbin back into its appropriate bowl quickly without much fuss. (A related reuse tip: The beautiful bowls were taken out of kitchen use because they got chipped.)--Tina Koyama

Keeping Track of Beads and Projects

How much did I pay for that bead, wire, or finding? Where do I get more? Are you forever trying to keep your beads with their prices and vendor info attached? You'll need a computer and scanner. When you purchase something, make sure you have price and vendor info (a business card works). Scan the beads with all info. Then label the computer file and organize in folders in a way that makes sense to you. I have folders for "Pearls", "Findings", "Silver Beads", "Precious", etc. Then just organize your purchases in your storage boxes with similar labels.--Louise Edeiken

As soon as I get my new beads or other materials home, I break down each cost per unit (e.g. $4 per strand breaks down to .20 per bead). I then put it in the storage box or drawer with its kindred beads or findings (e.g. jump ring drawer, clasp drawer, pearl drawer). This enables me to go right to the drawer I need, find what I'm looking for in a relatively short time, and know how much it cost me as I sell my work and need to price it right.--Kelli Peduzzi

To keep track of beads I need to buy or I need to match other items, I string a couple of each bead onto a memory wire bracelet. When I head out the door to a bead show or my local bead shop, I just slide my bracelet on my wrist and viola--instant shopping list!--Ronda Rice

I go through each magazine I receive and cut out the projects that interest me. Then I put them in a clear sheet protector and into a binder separated by stitch or project type. Whether it's spiral rope, peyote, loom, precious metal clay, right angle weave, ladder, or herringbone, all I have to do is go to that section, pick a project, and i'm ready to bead!--Wendy Chercass

Help with Specific Beads

I use vials to store headpins to keep them straight.--Susan Jacob

I was forever losing my container of crimp beads among all my other containers of the same shape and size of metal beads and spacers. I label my crimp bead box or vial with bright colored labels: fluorescent colored paper or a strip off a pad of bright colored sticky notes work well.--Lalia Harris

Use elasticized fabric hair bands to stop rolls of tiger tail from unraveling. Check out $2 shops for the perfect size. Make sure the bands are wide enough to cover all the tiger tail. For easy ID, write on the roll in a felt tip pen. Store rolls of tiger tail standing on end in a shoe box with a lid.--Bernadine Stoopman

When I kep getting my wire and ribbon tangled I knew I had to fix it. A simple wooden dowel, a few bits of leftovre cord, and three small hooks later, I had a fabulously organized stringing station. With the addition of a small pair of wire nippers and a tape mesure added to one end, I can now pull out my tape measure to the length I want and cut. Cost? Under one dollar.--Serena Polheber

Traveling with Beads

When traveling by car, plane, or even from the bead room to the couch, I use pill containers to store the seed and bugle beads for my current projects. The transparent plastic, 7-day, flip-top type work best for me as they hold a good quantity of beads, are easily transportable and I can tell with a quick glance what beads are inside.--Cynthia Winters

I ALWAYS visit bead shops when travelling! I carry a portable palette of my existing seed bead stash by putting 6 to 8 of each type I already have on a long head pin, make a 1/4" loop on the end, and string these "sample pins", sorted by color, on a ball-chain key chain. At home, I use these "sample pins" to search my stash at a glance, see how loose beads look when strung together, and to find good color combinations, without digging through the whole stash.--Mary Kenesson

Studios and Other Workplaces

In my workshop, I have shelves 14" deep with a series of Lazy Susans. These hold three sizes of clear, round, stackable containers (stacks of 14, 1-2" tall screw-together containers). The containers are organized by color and labeled.--Heather Geddie

I realize this may not work for everyone, but I opened a bead store. Talk about room to organize!--Myra Fox

Use the "C" formation so everything is within arm's reach. I use two rolling scrapbook units with six drawers each for bead storage to form one short end of the C. The long edge of the C is a table for my workspace and holds tools, wire, task lamp, magnifier, and small chests for components and findings I use most often. The other short end of the C is a second table. This provides additional workspace and baskets for storage. Under this table is a large basket for design tablets, bead boards, jewelry boxes, and beading magazines.--Sally Spindler

I took a large picture frame I found at a thrift store, cut out a piece of plywood to fit inside it, covered the plywood with felt and then put the plywood inside the frame. I added handles to either side. I now have a work area for when I want to sit on the couch and bead. When (not if) I spill my beads, they usually stay on the work surface and I don't have to crawl around to pick them up.--Irene Lenihan

Finished Jewelry

I adore recycling and using unconventional items to keep my jewelry supplies organized. Here is one of my favorites: Trading Card Boxes to hold my finished designs and bags of beads in a "file" format. --Nichole Jeske

After completing a new pair of earrings, I loop them through a button with at least two holes. I make sure the button compliments the colors in the earrings. What a great way to keep the pair together when stored with others!--Kim Ihle

I use a computer scanner to record the beaded pieces that I make. I like to have a visual record of every piece I have made and the color images I print are full pages in color. It is easy to record the front and back, and to emphasize fine details if desired.--Ruth B. Bernstein

Recycling at Its Best

I love to use Styrofoam packing pieces from shipping boxes (computer boxes work best) for beading-table organizers. My tools and pens spike into the Styrofoam, and I can insert chopsticks to hold thread spools or beaded-bead bases I've painted. Each piece is a different shape/size, and the taller ones lift everything off the table top for more surface area and good visibility. Best of all, when I've poked too many holes in one, I can just discard and scout around for a new one!--Donna Knoell

Solo souffle cups are an inexpensive way to store beads in containers that are safe, study, and stackable. A hank of size 11 beads fit in the two ounce size, while the one ounce size is convenient for smaller quantities. The lids are secure, making traveling a breeze. Sort the covered cups into a handy carrier or large Ziploc-storage bag for easy transportation. The clear lids make identification of the contents easy; or peel the label off of the bead tubes or packages and tape to the side. You can get 250 containers and 100 lids for less than $8.--Paige Beauchene

Our 20-year-old dish washer died recently, and before the truck came to haul it away, I took one last look inside. Immediately I spotted a use for the old silverware/utensil basket. Equipped with several slots and carrying handles on each end, the approximately 16 inch long by 4 inch wide basket became a caddy for my beading and wirework tools. I can easily spy which tool I need, and can easily carry it to another room. It can be easily re-organized to hold bead tubes. What a great "free" find!--Melissa Freeman

Storage Space on Doors and Walls

I have taken a large piece of denim, put loops on one end to put a dowel through, so it will hang on the wall. Sew several long strips of elastic horizontal every 7/8 of an inch. You can then slip tubes of seed beads into the elastic and can see what you have at a glance. Mine has enough room to hold 160 tubes of beads, but it could be made any size you want.--Vicki Philippus

So far, my best bead organizer is an over-the-door shoe organizer. The bags are large and allow me to put several strands of beads in one bag. And, since they are clear, I can see what's inside each bag. I start at the top and arrange my beads by color and follow the color wheel starting with red to orange to yellow and gold, to the greens and then blues, purples, blacks and finally whites and clear. Works for me!--Janet Gunther

Kitchens and Beading

Buy a small, wrought iron pot holder and hang it on the wall near your worktable. It's shaped in a semi-circle and comes with S hooks. Color code and hang your strands from it. You can buy more S hooks at the hardware store.--Susan Salman

I live in an apartment so space is limited. I use a kitchen rolling cart with three tiers of pull-out baskets with a wooden cutting board on top as my rolling projects organizer. When inspiration strikes, I just roll out my cart to the living room and I have my beading supplies all in one place. I just roll my cart back when I'm done beading!--Pauline Fertig

To prevent my little girls from messing with my projects on my desk, I put the top of a rectangular cake carrier over my project and place a heavy book on top. It prevents them from scattering beads to the four corners and I can bead whenever I get some time to myself.--Joan Cromley