Ruthee in Baltimore

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RutheeSchn wrote
on Jul 31, 2008 8:29 AM

HI there. I was in hospital for three years, and while I was there, my daughter bought me a copy of Beading Daily Magazine. I fell in love with a necklace which I saw in one of the Beading Daily Magazines and decided able to make. Since then I have been collecting beads and tools and other materials. My question is this: What are some of the ways that people keep their beads and supplys organized? I have tried a lot of different ways, but things always seem to end up all over the place. It seems that no matter which container or bag I use, it is never enough space to keep everythig neat. I am bed bound, which also makes it even more difficult because I need to have things within reach, but I have very limited space around me. Do any of you pros (or aspiring pros) out there have a suggestion for me?  Which ways have you tried and which ways have you found successful?  I have used the plastic boxes with compartments in them and different sized bags, but they don't hold tools and string etc. I appreciate your input and attention to this matter. Thank you so much! Help! Please!!

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LyndyLou wrote
on Jul 31, 2008 11:44 AM

 I am a relatively new beader. I collect containers as a hobby (I don't just take the wrapper offWink). So when I started beading, I just gathered containers from my collection. All of which are things we use everyday. Some are: powdered creamer containers, coffee barrels for wires, tools, and big beads, sour cream containers for just about everything, baby food and canning jars also for just about everything. This is just a few of the possibilities. Look around your house and you'll find LOTS of things you can store in.


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on Jul 31, 2008 11:55 AM

 Hi Ruthie

I own a Beading Store so you can bet that I have found all kinds of ways to store my personal collection.  However my favorite is a bag (with a hand AND shoulder strap) which has "pages" inside with zipper compartments.  The "pages" velcro in, so you can add or change what is in the bag.  The compartments are different sizes, so I can keep tools in some and beads in others.  I just fold coils of wire in the middle.  Its amazing how much it holds!  The best thing is that It is small and portable--I can leave it home or take it with me.  Its a great favorite with my customers too.


Caldron Crafts Baltimore Md

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Sheila H wrote
on Jul 31, 2008 7:11 PM

 Unfortunately you will get a little different answer from each person. I do simple stringing so I have a fishing tackle box or small tool box that can hold my tools. At the local Lowe's in the organizing dept there was this plastic case that has like 36 drawers. Mostly small but about 6 that were a little larger. My tools will fit in the larger ones if placed at an angle. However, each drawer has a very small hole in the bottom at the back. So if you use small beads they will fall out.

You don't mention you beading "addiction" of choice so I think that may change how you store your beads and supplies. Anything with a lot of smaller compartments would be helpful.

Also be careful of the plastic storage container with the drawers as there is no back on it. If it gets tipped then the beads can fall out the back. And yes makes a HUGE mess and that bit of advice is from experience.

You may have to try one or two of a container typer or style until you find the one that you like. Someone had a bunch of tubes in a shoe box.

There are some other postings so you may want to browse around and read those as well as there is some great advice in those as well.

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Posts 40
on Jul 31, 2008 11:06 PM

Hi Ruthie, 3 years is a long time to be in the hospital. I'm glad your daughter kept you up to date on beading while there.

 As for my favorite containers.....I have started using those clear cylinder containers that come in a box with a lid. They come in various sizes from tiny, which I am using for my cubic zirconia's. Then a meduim size that I've put my dichroic cabs in.  Then there is the large container that I use as a catchall when I purchase new beads and findings I put them in there until I can get them into the proper boxes.

 My cousin got a portable bead container with shoulder strap that has 3 drawers in it and a tool compartment. Its so cool for traveling, you might want to find that one for your beads at bedside. It was bought at Joann's and only cost $20.00. I also use two sizes of tool boxes for my wire wrapping stuff.

 Every time I find a new container I ask myself how can I add it to my collection. I bought 10 rectangle containers with compartments at the tucson gem show and they were filled immediately. Like Beads containers can be addicting.......BeBe of tucson  Cool

on Jul 31, 2008 11:40 PM

Hi Ruthee,

I'm so glad you've been making the best of a less than ideal situation.  Beading is such a great artform since other than the storage issue, it usually doesn't take up too much space to actually work on it.  Sheila's right-ask a hundred beaders how they "organize" and you'll get a hundred answers...

I use a combination of things, pretty much like everyone else does.  It's amazing how you start collecting them once you have things that need storing.  A couple of my favorites are:

-Stackable plastic containers with handles that lock onto the tray above, with a lid on the very top container that fits any of the others.  I found them in a Walmart/Target type store in Belgium, but I'm sure they can be found in the States as well.  It's great for putting all my bits & pieces for several projects in, plus my tools, and if it falls it won't spill everywhere.  I use this when I'm travelling and it's great.

-I found some storage containers at either Michael's or Hobby Lobby that have a bottom area of large sectioned spaces that are adjustable, and the lid has smaller sectioned spaces that can hold loose beads, and when you close the lid, it locks down so the beads don't spill into the other containers.  The box has 2 tabs that holds the top to the bottom so it doesn't pop open.  The top is also clear so I can peek at my beads and not have to open it if I'm just browsing for something.

I have 2 different craft totes with removable storage cases that stack inside (one is a fancy tackle bag) and I use one for finished pieces and the other for storage or travel, but they can get a bit heavy trying to lug them around.  I don't guess you're too much into lifting heavy objects at the moment.

Ikea makes some nifty wooden desk storage untis.  My hubby & I each have one.  His has 2 large drawers and 3 small ones that you can pull all the way out, and mine has 9 small ones.  It's not too large-maybe 12x12x14" or slightly more.

Hope that helps you just a bit. Good luck!Big Smile


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Sheila H wrote
on Aug 1, 2008 4:27 AM

Ruthie I just thought of something else that may help you. I am not sure if you have a bed tray or what that you use to bead on but somewhere someone had posted that they went to the kids toy or craft section and bought a kid's tray. It had was made of hard plastic and on the "legs" part that comes down the side of your leg to the bed there were compartments on each side. 

They said this was great as they could put their pliers cutters etc in there while they were working. But that they had a nice tray area to work on with an edge to keep from loosing the beads. I know that I have seen them. However, the ones that I have seem come in bright primary colors. Oh though I like that. 

You may want to get some bead mats ( I got 3 at Hobby Lobby for like $3-4 ) and put this down before you dump the beads. Makes clean up a lot easier. I started using one just so I don't have to chase the darn beads around everywhere. 

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Posts 791
on Aug 2, 2008 11:30 PM

Hi Ruthee,

First off, I'm sorry to hear you were so long in the hospital, and I'm glad (like all your beading family) to hear that you seem to be better.  Hopefully you're at home or in a much more comfortable place than the hospital.  I will pray that you continue to feel better and are able to get around more and more.

I understand about the challenges of being bed-bound, I've had debilitating neck and back problems lately myself and was laid out for a few weeks.  I'm also one of those people who just can't seem to just lay in bed without something to do, so I picked up some of my un-finished projects and got busy, and then the beading bug hit me again and like a lead brick.  So, when I give you this advise, it comes with just a little bit of experience.

You first need to really look at your space: how big a bed do you have, one night-table or two, where is your path to necessary "facilities", just exactly how much space do you have and are willing to devote to your storage issues.  Your second issue is how much you want to spend and can easily afford, keeping in mind that while investing in storage is important, it does take money away from your bead treasures and supplies.

I am in an apartment with my 15-year-old son, 2 dogs and 3 cats, so anything I brought in for that time I was laid up had to have a place once I was able to get around.  I first did some internet surfing at different sites to look at bins and boxes and containers, etc.  I came across a listing for a set of drawers, you know the kind, the hard plastic with opaque drawers easy to see through and on wheels.  Well, my son happened to have one that he wasn't using, it has 4 equal-sized drawers deep enough to hold almost everything I had at that time.  The top is flat so I was able to set things on top of it, especially my bed tray at the end of the day.  And having wheels meant that I could easily pull it up to the bed when I was ready to work and push it away if I had to get up from bed.  The few things it didn't hold fit easily into a couple opaque shoe boxes I had so I could easily separate my wires and threads from my tools and other findings.  Go to, chose the Home tab, then Storage and Organization; there you'll find several different drawers/carts under $50.  They even have shipping to your home in case your daughter can't help you with it.

Another solution you could consider is one that I just re-thought for myself.  I used to do quite a lot of embroidery and counted cross stitch and during that phase, I collected all the colors of floss.  I put all my floss into marked plastic bags and in order by number and kept packets of 25-50 colors on rings (I don't remember the name of the rings though, they're easy to open and close), I then put all my packets into a portable craft tote.  I had a friend who used this same method but kept her floss arranged by color.  This might work for you as well, if you have a more manageable collection of beads and supplies.  You could use snack sized Glad bags and using a one-hole punch, make your hole on the closing section of the plastic instead of in the storage part of the bag itself.  Or if your daughter or a friend could help out, they sell these bags in the embroidery floss section of your local Michael's or Joanne's, they may even have the rings there as well.

Without seeing your living arrangements, we each can give some great ideas, but ultimately, you need to take it all in and weigh what you've done that doesn't work with what you hear that makes that big light bulb above your head come on.  Hopefully though, I've also given you some good insight and ideas.

Let us know how it all turns out.  Good luck & happy beading!!

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Sheila H wrote
on Aug 6, 2008 3:12 PM

 Ruthie...I just had this thought today at the store for storage. Could you use ice cubes trays? You would have to be careful that they did not tip or you would have a huge mess. I don't know if there are ice cube trays with lids but they stack neatly and would hold a decent amount of beads.

Anyway, just a thought but with warning to be careful if you try this one.

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Posts 791
on Aug 6, 2008 6:57 PM

 Sheila, I think that's a great idea.  And how about, if you really need a lid, one of the plastic wrap companies now makes the sticky wrap.  Don't know if anyone's familiar with it, it's got a slightly sticky surface on one side.  You could put some of that over the top and press it down along the sides of each cube.  When you need a certain bead, just pull the top back far enough to get to that cube and then simply stick the wrap back into place.  The beads might stick to the stickiness, but that could work to an advantage too, easier to see what's in each cube.

What do you think?

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on Aug 6, 2008 7:06 PM


  I use a lot of different containers:

Small cardboard boxes -- some small items, such as my wireless card for my laptop, come in 1-piece boxes. Avoid boxes made of stuff like the backs of paper tablets.

Altoids boxes -- Plastic pencil boxes -- 35mm film cans from WallMart-- storage/parts containers, plastic with snap latches on the lid -- etc.

Just be sure what you use can be closed securely, and that you can open them easily.

That last line is proably the best advice I can give you -- I spill more than my share if they are not in securely closed containers.

Stan B.

Stan B.

Lakeland, MN


Ignorance is curable; Stupidity has neither cure nor excuse.

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Posts 791
on Aug 6, 2008 7:27 PM

Oooh, and Billy had a great idea too on a different post.  Medicine bottles.  Just mark the lids with a description.  Or, if you're going to store these standing up inside a bigger container, you could even glue a bead or 3 to the lid so you can just visually see what's inside.  I need to go through our medicine box, I know we've got several bottles that are empty - if anyone wants them, just email me your address and I'm happy to send them to you.  I always ask for the easy-open lids as I don't have young kidlets to worry about and sometimes the safety lids do hurt my hands, so you won't have to worry about that.

Keep those thoughts coming!!

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Sheila H wrote
on Aug 7, 2008 1:25 PM

 I had forgotten about medicine bottles. I wonder if your local pharmacy would sell you any empty unused ones? I don't know but it is worth a shot.


Okay so I had this thought just now and had to edit my response...

What about water soda/pop bottles? The plastic ones. Some of them are clear, you could remove the label, it has a lid, the only thing is they would need to be washed out. ONce it was really dry, you could put beads in those. You could store several in a plastic shoe box standing up. You could still glue a bead on the top to know what is inside. If you had a TON of the same bead...2 Liter.

I don't know maybe I am just getting crazy now so I will leave it at that...

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