Looking for advice on organizing beading room

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Mkatbyrd wrote
on Aug 6, 2012 12:10 PM

I have a beading room with quite a bit of storage but I'm looking for advice on how to organize it.


I have a peg board to hang bead strands, findings etc. Is it best to organize by type or color? I want to use it effectively and be able to find all of the items I have.


I'm also looking for ways to organize the magazines. How do you organize designs that you find in magazines without tearing them out but in a way that you can always go back and find them? 


I don't want to miss out on all that I have in the room and I want to be able to utilize it in an affective way so that I can enjoy beading without having to spend alot of time looking for what I need. 


Any advice is extremely helpful.



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D.M.Z wrote
on Aug 6, 2012 1:46 PM

Organizing is a very personal thing. I reorganized my beads by color and then just about tore my hair out in frustration, other beaders can't imagine any other way to organize except by color and will mix all sizes and shapes as long as they are the same color.

It strictly depends on how you work. I work by manufacturer's numbers for 11's to make my patterns on a loom. Other beads are separated by size (8/o, 6/o, 15/o) and then sub-sorted by mfg as they can be different sizes. If you are following a pattern from a magazine, try to work with one mfg or you can come up with odd results unless the designer specifies the exact bead she used, then follow that.

I file my magazines by Name first, date order and mark individual patterns with post it flags. That way I can remove the flag once I've done the pattern. If it is going to go with me to bead society or open bead meeting, I photocopy the pattern. I also copy if I am going to need to mark off my position in the pattern. I never cut up a magazine because it always turns out that what was on the back of the page was important. If I make changes in the pattern, I will insert a note about what didn't work or what I changed and often times I will mark on that note what colors and mfgers I used.

My pegboard turned useless, so I now have samples of stitches and my biggest messes on it, keeps me humble to look at those. Once you have pulled a strand or two out of a hank, it may be too loose to hang back up (imagine a pile of beads on the floor) so I just tube the hank up once it is used.

Hope this has helped you, no matter how you organize your space you may find something you use often is too far away or not accessible and then you'll change it. My bead cave has had several reincarnations and now it is just how I need it for the way I work.

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Turbosaurus wrote
on Aug 9, 2012 1:05 PM

I am a fan of ripping apart my magazines. I dont like everything in a magazine and often I only like one part of a design. For example, I might like the bezel, but not the rest of the piece, I might just like the beaded toggle, I staple together the project pages so the photo of the part I like is the front page. If it is a favorite project from a book, I'll copy it with my scanner/copier and do the same.

I keep them in an accordion file, and I separate them by complexity and type of project. So I have one file for rings (that you would wear on your finger), one for basics (where I keep the instructions for basic net RAW, odd and even peyote for quick reference) one for beaded toggles and clasps, one for 3d peyote shapes, one for spiral and rope designs (CRAW, Catipillar, cellini, round net designs etc), one for beaded beads, one for "beaded fabric" designs where flat RAW or peyote or nets would go. I keep one that is photos I print of other peoples work that dont have instructions for, and one for "super projects" that I know will take weeks to complete. the most important is the one up front which has my favorites- always 4 or 5 that are on my to-do list so I don't get completely overwhelmed picking out my next project. When a new one goes in the "to-do" file an old one has to come out.

As for beads. I have so so so many, all in different size and shape containers with divisions. Some have large divisions that can fit tons of beads, some have small divisions, some can be manipulated and some are fixed. Some beads come in their own containers and some come in bags that need to be put somewhere. I used to organize by color, but that system worked very badly for me. I'd have this huge space with a dozen little bicones in it. Or I'd have to fill 3 or 4 divisions with a single bead because they were big, it wasn't efficient use of space.

Now I sort by bead type and size, so all my plain vanilla 11seeds are together, all my toho 11s are together, still in their tubes. All my 4mm bicones are together. All my 6-8mm rounds are together. I find that most often I am inspired by a specific project, and I like bead weaving where bead size ratio is the most important part. I need to match the bead size more often than color. A project can be mono-chromatic or use complimentary colors - you can go anywhere with color. I have one of those plastic storage drawer towers. All the containers that hold seeds and little beads are in one drawer. All my metal findings are in another. cords, strings, and wire are in their own. crystals have their own drawer and round unfaceted stones have another.

I DO store my metal findings by color, and findings are in their own containers, separate from beads- and I keep all of those containers in a separate drawer. My best tip, is leave empty space in your containers so you are not constantly re-adjusting your system. In the beginning I would come home from a bead trip and spend hours just rearranging my system and trying to put like colors together, gold beads with gold findings, moving from one container to the other and back. It never worked out.

Also, if you're handy (or your significant other is) you can very easily and inexpensively create your own storage for beads that come in their own vials with scraps of 1x wood and a drill but that is just a slightly larger diameter than the tube, or look on ebay for test tube racks.

If you're like me and get bored or frustrated with a project and want to come back to it later- keep a bunch of small containers with adjustable dividers handy and empty so you have a place to store the beads from each project. This way you can temporarily scoop out all the beads of a specific type into your "project case" I am anal about putting beads back where they belong, and if a certain project calls for beads normally stored in 5 or 6 different containers I don't want to have to leave all that mess out on my desk. Nothing bugs me more than bead soup. So even when I am working, I still like to keep them somewhat separate. This allows me to eventually put them back where they belong. I also will cut a piece of fabric for a bead mat that is the same size as the container, close it with the bead mat in place on top and then you can travel with it and the beads wont travel from one section to another, and in the mean time, your larger containers can go back in the drawer or shelf where they belong.

Final tip- when you buy beads and put them in their compartment, add a little scrap of paper that says how many you have, or write it with marker right on the top of the container and keep track. Often a project will call for x number of beads of a certain size, and its a pain to count every time, or worse find out you cant finish because you ran out.

Hope this helps

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Mkatbyrd wrote
on Aug 20, 2012 8:18 PM

Thank you so much for the advice. I have started marking my magazines with post it flags. I also have them arranged in order by magazine and date. So, I'm thinking of doing a cataloging system on my laptop to help me locate specific designs within magazines. I just need to get everything in the room straight first and then do that later. I have alot of magazines that only have a couple of items that I like, so I may tear those out and put them in a binder with plastic sleeves according to design.


I understand what you mean by organizing with color. So, I will probably try to organize by type of bead and go from there. I really do appreciate your advice. I know that I'm probably not going to have everything within arms reach but I will at least know where it is to grab it quickly.

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Mkatbyrd wrote
on Aug 20, 2012 8:20 PM

Thank you so much Turbosaurus. What a great reply!!!! I think you have some great ideas. I really appreciate you sharing all of them with me. I think the idea of marking how many beads you have in a container is a great idea. I have reached the end of a piece and not had enough beads so I absolutely understand what you are talking about. I will definitely try out a few of your ideas in the room. Thanks again for taking time to reply. I really appreciate all of the advice.

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SimplyDaily wrote
on Aug 20, 2012 11:08 PM

My stash is still fairly small, and I do work primarily with seed beads. I organize my tubes by type of bead then color within that. I organize my findings by color and type within color. As for unfinished/ handmade beads I store them together until I can get more room in my workspace.

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ottercat wrote
on Aug 21, 2012 5:07 AM

Figure out how much room you need to work, what's easiest for finding what you need, and if you can simply leave your project out (will stay as you left it). 

I've been using spice bottle sets (usually 16 in a holder); I get the bottles with holder and my husband gets the spices.  Since I have seed beads (mainly), each holder is organized by size (10, 11, 12, 13, 15).  Each bottle is clear (some glass, some plastic) and labelled (I use the original label if available) by type, color, date bought and where.  One looks like a farris wheel (holds 20 bottles), the rest are vertical and rotate on their base.  I even have a small storage container round tower (four layers that were filled with screws, bolts, washers) that holds other beads of various sizes, colors, etc.  I'm still working on organizing my work space; mostly everything is still in a large cabinet (beads, threads, wire, other materials, files).  I usually set-up the pattern, small containers (with caps or type that screws together), thread and needles in a metal tray (insert for a metal clipboard/folder); easy to pull out to work, then put everything back into tray and set on shelf.  Pattern (charted for 90 Degree Off-Loom Stitch) is held in place with magnetic strips in tray. 

Like our projects -- storage is a work in progress.

Sarah Coffee 

Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken.  ~ Oscar Wilde

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